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Rigs at the Good Sam Rally 2011

Originally Published in Trailer Life Magazine

The almost perfect summer weather in the heart of Central Oregon can’t claim credit for the high-flying spirits that ran through this year’s RV rally. Nor can the beautiful backdrop of the snowcapped Cascade Mountains be held responsible for the show’s success. Rather, it was the thousands of attendees who made The Good Sam Rally, presented by DISH Network, one of the best rallies to date — but the pleasant climate and majestic views certainly were welcomed.

From July 14 to 17 at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center in Redmond, 6,500 rally-goers smiled as they walked their way through the many events, seminars and displays at the show. Near the registration booth, attendees placed a pin on the Home Town Map, sponsored by Rand McNally, showing their place of origin; the thousands of pins scattered across this nearly wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling map was proof positive that people came from all over the continent to attend this grandiose affair. They met new friends and reconnected with old ones, hung out on club days, toured the area, packed seminar rooms, played golf, participated in the annual dog show and were entertained by the likes of Vince Gill, Bobby Vinton, Peter Noone, and the High Street Band. But the main attraction, as usual, was the shopping: Row after row of new RV products lined nearly 400 booths in the exhibit halls, and more than 600 new-model RVs were on display on the fairgrounds.

We were right there with them, shopping for the coolest 2012 travel trailers, truck campers and fifth-wheels on display at the show. Although there were many onsite, we narrowed down the list to include 15 of our show favorites. They range in size and price — from entry-level units to a full-timer’s dream mobile. Also, each model that caught our attention featured something special, such as a camp kitchen, luxury appliances, cedar-lined walk-in closets, a fireplace, hydraulic jacks and so on. We’re excited about this new-model year.

The following is a roundup of 15 of the 2012 models we checked out at the show. Here we share web-exclusive interior photos and floorplans of each.

Cameo by Carriage

Carriage produces luxury resort fifth-wheel travel trailers not only for the United States and Canada, but also for Europe and Australia. These fifth-wheels really are upscale. We checked out the newly redesigned 2012 Cameo F34SB3, a product line that has been evolving and growing for 13 years. We were impressed with its new front-cap design, upgraded decor and quality kitchen and bath fixtures; the cabinetry, countertops and beautiful wood-floor entry were just icing on the cake. Its two slides on opposite walls of the lavish living area give it an abundance of space, but the many large and totally redesigned window treatments that surround the unit are what really grabbed our attention.

Carriage Resort Vehicles, (800) 348-2214, www.carriage inc.com.


Aerolite by Dutchmen

Dutchmen’s Aerolite 294RKSS Super Slide Series was on display at the show, and its small but practical outdoor two-burner slide-out cooktop with windscreen was nifty enough to call our attention from across the way. Originally designed back in 1994, the Aerolite was one of the first ultralite travel trailers built in the USA, but its new exterior look, aero­dynamic front-profile design with lightweight Aluma-Lam construction, upgraded slam-latch exterior storage-compartment doors with impressive storage space inside and out, cool swivel entertainment system and the latest in modern amenities inside proves that this unit has successfully evolved through time.

Dutchmen Manufacturing Inc., (574) 537-0600, www.aero-rv.com.


r•pod by Forest River

We fully tested the r•pod in the August 2009 issue, and we’ve since followed its growth in popularity. Of all the entry-level travel trailers on the fairgrounds, this diminutive unit somehow consistently placed smiles on people’s faces. Perhaps it’s the r•pod’s simplicity that makes it so charming. This product line is TRA certified green, and the RP-182G on display features bunks in the back, a dinette in the front, wood cabinetry in the very small but fully equipped kitchen, a wet bath and enough netted storage spaces for a weekend getaway. It also has an outside entertainment center that includes a freestanding LP-gas grill, TV, sink, cargo nets and other nifty features.

Forest River Inc., (574) 642-3119, www.forestriverinc.com.


Everest Triple Slide by Host

On display along the main path where lines formed for the Vince Gill and other concerts at The Rally, the Host Everest 11.50 Triple Slide caught everyone’s attention, and “Wow!” was the word heard most upon its entry — maybe because it’s much bigger inside than it seems. With all three slides extended, the Everest is a whopping 10 feet 10 inches wide and 13 feet 2 inches long, plus it has a 71⁄2-foot cabover bedroom length. Or maybe the wows were due to its quality wood flooring, full kitchen, dry bath and tasteful decor — a lot of stuff and style. Host builds its campers to order, adding whatever the customer wants — within space realities of a slide-in camper.

Host Industries Inc., (541) 330-2328, www.host campers.com.


Bighorn by Heartland

The details are what piqued our interest in Heartland’s 2012 Bighorn 3455RL fifth-wheel. The fascia moldings that surround every flush-floor slide room, oil-rubbed bronze hardware and Amish-crafted hardwood cabinet doors throughout were stunning. This model is elegant. It also has an abundance of storage; in fact, Heartland claims this model has the largest exterior storage space in its class. It also comes standard with cool features like a “welcome back” light that activates when the entry door is opened, hydraulic front landing gear, 30-percent increased turning radius and spring-loaded and hidden hinges used throughout.

Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC, (888) 262-5992, www.heartlandrvs.com.


San Antonio Landmark by Heartland

Heartland’s No. 1 selling unit, the San Antonio Landmark fifth-wheel drew a lot of attention at the show. Noteworthy are its one-touch, four-point hydraulic auto-leveling system, numerous drawers and cabinets for storage, swivel-bracket TV stand, mirrored closet at entry, electric fireplace and enough quality amenities and appliances to be a true full-timing RV. This model has more upgrades than we have space to mention, but some of our favorites include its elegant woodwork, four slides that create huge living space, and its “suites” bedroom/bathroom arrangement, which features a large linen closet with enough room for a stackable washer/dryer and a larger walk-in front wardrobe dresser.

Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC, (888) 262-5992, www.heartlandrvs.com.


MPG by Heartland

Moving from Heartland’s full-timers’ fifth-wheels to one of its smaller entry-level units, we checked out the MPG 181 ultra lightweight trailer that was curiously situated just outside of the motorhome section on the fairgrounds. This sweet little teardrop-style travel trailer has ABS fenders, a one-piece seamless aluminum roof and a retro look that made us a bit nostalgic. It’s marketed to the environmentally conscious and is available in four 19- to 20-foot floorplans, three with slideouts. It’s fully equipped with amenities such as ducted-air conditioning, a wet bath, three-way refrigerator and two-burner stove.

Heartland Recreational Vehicles LLC, (888) 262-5992, www.heartlandrvs.com.


Skylark by Jayco

All of Jayco’s products are green certified, and its Skylark 21FKV earned the highest rating — an emerald certification — for its environmentally friendly standard features, a rating that could make a first-time RVer feel good about a purchase like this. But the Skylark is much more than an entry-level trailer; it has more amenities, more storage, more livable space and more high-end features than what we typically deem to be an entry-level RV, and its lighter weight and aerodynamic V-prow front end make it easy to find an appropriate tow vehicle. And this little trailer is chic, accented with Euro-style cabinetry and curves and contoured design features that make the layout feel like home.

Jayco Inc., (574) 825-5861, www.jayco.com.


Pinnacle by Jayco

Manufacturers can’t always pull off an “at home” feel in their RVs, but Jayco seems to have done it in its Pinnacle 31RLTS, with its freestanding furniture, optional fireplace and high-end entertainment center. But what makes this fiver extra special are the double-paned floor-to-ceiling windows in the living area. Full-timers could also easily enjoy this floorplan with accents such as the cedar-lined walk-in closet and the kitchen’s high-gloss Corian countertops and pullout faucet. A seamless rubber roof, vacuum-bonded layered construction with fiberglass exterior and MOR/ryde suspension are just a few of its other quality features that should help this fifth-wheel stand the test of time.

Jayco Inc., (574) 825-5861, www.jayco.com.


Keystone’s Premier by Bullet

It was the full outdoor kitchen — which includes a stove, sink, fridge, counter space and cabinets — that initially pulled us toward this nice-size travel trailer. After stepping inside the Premier Ultra Lite 27RBPR by Bullet, we were surprised to see yet another even larger kitchen amidst a very sensible floorplan. This unit is no doubt for those who enjoy mealtime and guests. It has a central entertainment system that swivels between the bedroom and living area, stylish laminated flooring, comfy furniture and a huge bathroom at the rear. It is also insulated throughout with optional packages to help weather all seasons.

Keystone RV Company, (574) 535-2100, www.keystone rv.com.


Alpine by Keystone

Keystone’s new Alpine 3700RE should look slightly familiar, as it used to be the Everest; however, this second-generation model has some fine upgrades for 2012. This luxury fifth-wheel is marketed as having a 30-percent better turning radius and an improved Equa-Flex suspension, but we’ll have to test that out another time. At the show, we did spend some time walking through this unit, and we were immediately impressed with its separate living room with huge windows, full Corian countertops, its extra storage compartments with many deep drawers, upgraded appliances and bonuses like a hide-away leaf under the dining table and a huge cedar-lined walk-in closet.

Keystone RV Company, (574) 535-2100, www.keystone rv.com.


Majestic by New Horizons

If we had to choose the jaw-dropper among of all the fifth-wheels and travel trailers at the show, it would have to be the Majestic F39RLQSS. Just one look and its quality is apparent. New Horizons builds luxury SURVs and fifth-wheels in this product line, and it just started offering travel trailers in the Majestic luxury class. Everything in it is top-notch and polished — such as the elegant living area with its upscale fireplace and the bathroom’s vanity with its beautifully integrated bowled sink — yet it has a comfortable ambiance that seems to invite anyone on a full-time luxury trip of utter rest and relaxation. While its living area is a standard 6 feet 8 inches high, the 2012 line offers an optional 6-foot 10-inch bedroom/bath height.

New Horizons, (800) 235-3140, www.horizonsrv.com.


Windriver by Outdoors RV

A true four-seasons travel trailer, the WindRiver 250RLSW is definitely for the seasoned RVer. This rig has tons of storage, an extra-large fridge, stainless-steel kitchen appliances and even a built-in hair dryer in the bathroom. In fact, the company calls it a luxury-lite home away from home. Features such as Goodyear tires, shock-absorbing suspension, a power A-frame jack, marble slate-type flooring and a home-theater system let you know that Outdoors RV didn’t cut any corners. Later this year, be on the lookout for yet another new 2012 WindRiver 280RLDS floorplan; it will have a rear lounge, L-shaped galley, side aisle bath and other cool modifications.

Outdoors RV Manufacturing, (541) 624-5500, www.outdoorsrvmfg.com.


Timberridge by Outdoors RV

Its large windows are what initially lured us to the TimberRidge 260RLS, and after stepping into this travel trailer, we were even more impressed with how these windows bring the outdoors in. As a four-seasons model, this cozy trailer is loaded with weather-resistant features, such as Astro-foil insulation along the entire length of the floor, and the entire chassis is enclosed from front to back. Also, it has beautiful Beaufloor “wood” flooring throughout the interior that’s designed to be resistant to cold cracking down to 50° F below zero. Other 2012 features include a new bathroom design with a residential walk-in shower and a swivel entertainment center.

Outdoors RV Manufacturing, (541) 624-5500, www.outdoorsrvmfg.com.


Model V-340 by Space Craft

We tested Space Craft’s V-340 in the June 2010 issue of Trailer Life, so we had to check up on it again at the show to see what’s new for 2012. The 2011 triple-slide fiver we reviewed was gorgeous: high ceiling, beautiful cabinetry, drawers galore, mirrored closet to make the already large bedroom look even larger and so on. Well, Space Craft now offers five to six slideouts for this fifth-wheel, so it’s even grander. It also now has a new front kitchen with very classy bar-style dining, and in the bathroom a whirlpool tub or steam shower are also new for 2012. Like all Space Craft fifth-wheels, each unit is fully customizable.

Space Craft Manufacturing, (888) 463-7520, www.spacecraftmfg.com.

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