Downsized towable RVs gain sales momentum

December 15, 2008|By JEFF JOHNSTON / Rolling Homes

Small trailers that can be towed by small, economical vehicles continue to rise in popularity, and manufacturers are adding them quickly to their product lines.

The Holiday Rambler is long known for its top-quality, higher-end trailers and motor homes. HR took a significant side trip with the recent introduction of its new Campmaster lightweight trailers, but it's a move that makes sense. When you have a significant loyal customer base and your product name carries a lot of brand equity value, putting a new entry into a new market arena is a good move.

"Holiday Rambler has been synonymous with RVing for more than 50 years," said Brad McKinney, Holiday Rambler national sales manager, towable division. "We are pleased to offer an ultra-lightweight travel trailer that clearly demonstrates its worthiness to wear the Holiday Rambler name."

The Campmaster is available in four floor plans, including a pair each of 23- and 30-foot models, so they aren't excessively small in the grand scheme of RV trailer size, and the larger models include deep, flush-floor slideouts.


Typically for the breed, the Campmaster features a rounded, raked-back front end for improved aerodynamics. Its enclosed underbelly helps the trailer slip through the air by reducing underside turbulence.

Equally typical for a Holiday Rambler product, the Campmaster features top-notch assembly starting with laminated construction. Inside, the cabinets use residential-style mortise-and-tenon hardwood joinery and high-grade fabrics. Standard-issue aluminum wheels accent the exterior and take the unit's cosmetics up a level in eye appeal.

RVers who use smaller rigs develop a system for making the most of the limited space inside the vehicle. It takes some compromises, compared to living in a full-size rig, but sensible interior design and careful planning help users enjoy their camping time. The Campmaster is fitted with storage cabinets throughout, dinette and bed equipment that fits full-sized adults.

The galley has all the features of a larger rig: stainless-steel sink, a stove with oven, a dual-door refrigerator and optional microwave oven. The exterior includes a large pass-through storage compartment that can handle longer items like skis or fishing poles so you needn't try and store them inside.

The Campmaster starts at $20,500. The base dry weight is at 3,349 pounds for the smallest model, and that weight will of course be increased by options, fluids and cargo in the trailer. For more information go to

Meanwhile, Coachmen RV Group debuts its new ultra-light M-series trailers.

"There are many travel trailers today that claim to be ultra-light," says Bill Martin, vice president of marketing for Coachmen RV Group. "But often they are still not light enough for the buyer who is looking for something to tow with his or her existing vehicle."

M-Series opens up the RV experience to a new segment of buyers. It's great for experienced RVers who want to downsize their tow vehicle. With the M-Series they can downsize their trailer without downsizing their quality or amenities.

Coachmen is offering five models under 3,100 pounds (dry, empty weight) that are less than 19 feet long, and two models under 5,000 pounds (dry, empty weight) about 21 feet long. Laminated construction with aluminum framing and fiberglass skin are standard, as are the interior Beauflor slip-resistant floor and Equa-Flex suspension. Equa-Flex is a rubber-cushioned spring equalizer assembly that takes most of the harshness out of the trailer's leaf spring suspension.

Although compact overall, with trim 7-foot exterior width, the interiors have 6-foot 6-inch ceilings that can accommodate most RVers.

The interior includes durable fabrics, for heavy-duty and enthusiastic camping use, a fully-equipped kitchen, well-planned storage spaces that make good use of the available square footage.

Even the smallest model offers 28 gallons of freshwater and 25 gallons each of gray and black water capacities, which are enough for modest dry camping. All M-series models include 30-gallon propane capacity and 6-gallon water heaters.

Popular options include an LCD TV, a rear-bumper bike rack, portable propane grille and aluminum wheels. The M-Series models start at about $16,000.

Visit, Motor Matters, 2008.

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