The Motorhomes, Trailers and Campers to Consider During the COVID RV Boom
There’s more to the industry than Airstream and Winnebago
“Summer vacation is canceled.”
That was the refrain heard round the world as COVID-19 effectively halted the travel industry this spring, with some sources postulating as many as 50 percent of Americans nixed their summer plans. But if that figure is to be believed, what did the other 50 percent do? One word: RVs.
As the pandemic made previously necessary travel services risky, if not totally out of the question — like airplanes, ride-sharing apps and hotels — the recreational vehicle market has skyrocketed. In May, RVshare, the Airbnb of RVs, touted “the highest recorded booking numbers in company history,” and those numbers translate to sales as well: after an initial downturn, the RV Industry Association reported that June marked the most wholesale RV shipments since October 2018.
It only makes sense — even the most basic towable RVs act as a hotel room on wheels, and when you add an extra zero or two to the price, they can be your transportation, bedroom, dining room, kitchen, lounge, bar and even spa. And while the coronavirus summer may seem like a momentary blip for the industry, don’t be surprised if the trend continues through the rest of the year. As RV Industry Association President Craig Kirby told Reuters, he predicts more people will start to work out of RVs come fall.
The only problem? RV companies are having a hard time keeping up with demand, and thus dealers are frequently out of stock. As the team at Bowlus Road Chief told us, not only are they currently experiencing their highest sales numbers since relaunching the luxury brand in 2014, the demand for winter-season delivery is also up 100 percent. So whether you’re working from home for the foreseeable future (like Google employees) and want a roving office or just have your hopes set on a superior weekender-mobile, you’d do well to act sooner rather than later.
To help first-time buyers sort through the fluff and old-timers get acquainted with some newer brands, we picked out a few favorite models below, as well as sought out recommendations from Jon Ferrando, CEO and President at RV Retailer, one of the largest dealership groups in the country.
- Model: Bushwhacker Teardrop
- Price: Starts around $8,990
- Why it’s worth considering: This was one of two models Jon Ferrando of RV Retailer singled out from the teardrop category, which he cited as an increasingly popular segment in the industry as a whole. Despite clocking in at just over 13-feet long, the Bushwhacker can be configured with two separate mattresses, wall-mounted air-conditioning, a two-burner cooktop, a built-in sink and one of those electric Coleman coolers that acts like a mini fridge.
- Model: TAB Teardrop Trailers with the Boondock package
- Price: Starts at $27,262 (for the basic TAB models)
- Why it’s worth considering: The second of the teardrop brands recommended by Ferrando, nüCamp adds a proprietary off-road package to both its smaller TAG line and the larger TAB trailers. The reason to consider the latter is all of those models include a seriously spacious bathroom. The Boondock add-ons include things like off-road tires, extra exterior cargo storage and roof racks, and a “pitched axle” which provides better clearance.
- Model: Basecamp
- Price: Starts at $38,400
- Why it’s worth considering: Yes, you already know about Airstream, but within the brand itself there’s something buyers should know. “All models are in high demand and hard to keep in stock,” Ferrando explained. “Many models are on order for deliveries in December of 2020, as the demand has been unbelievable for the product over the past 90 days.” Specifically, he’s talking about the classic silver bullet designs, which means the newer, more modern and more affordable, but no less luxurious, Basecamp model may be just the ticket for people who want an Airstream stat — especially one that can sleep up to four people with a bathroom onboard.
Bowlus Road Chief
- Model: Endless Highways Performance Edition
- Price: Starts at $225,000
- Why it’s worth considering: If you’re just hearing about Bowlus and wondering why it looks like an even more photogenic Airstream, that’s because the company traces its roots back to 1934, when designer Hawley Bowlus built a trailer that would go on to inspire the household name. Their newest offering is a Performance Edition of their standard Endless Highways trailer, which offers upgrades both in aesthetics (like sympathetically designed skylights) and convenience (like an electrical system that allows for two weeks of travel off the grid). It’s retro done right.
- Model: LTi
- Price: Starts at $590,000
- Why it’s worth considering: While Ian Broekman of Mil-Spec Automotive picked EarthRoamer’s LTi as the best doomsday vehicle, we wanted to make clear that it’s also one of the best options for people simply looking to visit family or some national parks. The LTi is the smallest model in their lineup, and based on a Ford F-550, so you don’t have to worry about learning to drive it for weeks in an empty parking lot. And as a relatively new company (compared to heritage brands like Airstream and Winnebago), they understand that today’s buyers want things like a carbon-fiber body, solar power and the ability to go off-grid instead of from RV hookup to RV hookup.
- Model: Realm FS6 Presidential Luxury Villa Bunk with Spa
- Price: Starts around $1.4 million
- Why it’s worth considering: “High end luxury continues to improve year after year,” Ferrando noted. As an example, he pointed to Foretravel’s latest exercise in opulence: the Presidential version of their already decked-out Realm FS6 motor coach. Here, you’re not just getting a 45-foot condo on wheels that’s bigger than many New York apartments, you’re also getting two full baths featuring a massaging, Chromatherapy, VibrAcoustic tub. Don’t know what that means? Then you probably can’t afford it.
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