There’s nothing like an RV for comfortable self-contained living while enjoying the outdoor adventures. You have everything you need to keep you environmentally at ease — and that’s especially true when the weather turns nasty and you need to retreat inside for the duration.
RV manufacturers are applying full-bore creativity when it comes to improving inside living spaces and some of the new designs are a bit surprising. At the same time an RV also serves as the base of operations for living in exterior surroundings.
For example, motorhomes and larger trailers have featured exterior entertainment centers for years, with stereos and TVs mounted in outside-access compartments for campsite entertainment, plus awnings, outside patio lights and other outside-the-rig amenities. Some of today’s RVs include dramatic new features that further enhance this outside living aspect.
The Jayco Skylark travel trailer (www.jayco.com) is one such unit with very different cosmetics and a striking new interior component. This compact 22-foot 21FKV trailer weighs just 2,950 pounds (manufacturers’ dry weight), so it’s towable by many smaller rigs.
The Skylark’s boxy body and angular graphics are eye catching, but the V-shaped front wall, like the bow of a boat, is the distinctive feature that helps cut down wind resistance when towing. It also creates interesting interior design opportunities.
The V-shaped floorspace inside houses the kitchen.
Its wall-to-wall composite-effect HPL countertop and adjacent cabinets feature curved surfaces, which unlike most RVs with flat cabinetry, adds an upscale touch to the area. A stainless steel sink and two-burner cooktop fill part of the area, but the rest is roomy work area countertop. The design creates a very cozy workspace that’s set apart from the rest of the trailer.
Jayco uses aluminum-framed laminated construction with polystyrene insulation, Lamilux fiberglass skin and Azdel composite substrate in all laminated assemblies.
For many years, RVers have been hauling portable camp stoves and ice chests on camping jaunts to facilitate cooking and time spent outdoors near the RV. Numerous companies have now made available built-in “exterior kitchens” that make full galley facilities accessible outside the vehicle. Rigs equipped with these auxiliary kitchens have been displayed at RV shows across the country, usually to a lot of attention by show attendees. Buyers have two general style choices to select from.
The Durango 1500 travel trailer from KZ Recreational Vehicles (www.kz-rv.com) includes an exterior-access mini-kitchen in its curbside rear corner. The large top-hinged compartment door is supported by gas struts for hassle-free use. Behind the door there’s a galley with a sink, small microwave oven, single-door refrigerator and a two-burner propane stovetop on a swing-out counter extension.
Storage cabinets built into the Durango 1500 galley — plus the workspace countertop, paper towel holder, worklight and towel rack — add up to a handy means of preparing meals outdoors using the RV’s propane supply and electricity.
Pacific Coachworks (www.pacificcoachworks.com) has taken an alternate approach to the same idea with its Outdoor Kitchen Slideout, which is available as an option on a number of the company’s Tango travel and fifth-wheel trailers.
As the name suggests, this galley is housed in a power-operated slide-out unit that extends from the sidewall at the rear of the RV.
The Tango outdoor kitchen also includes a sink, dual-burner stove, refrigerator and microwave oven, along with convenient storage drawers and cabinets. It’s also fitted with a 26-inch flat-screen LCD TV, so you can enjoy watching the game while tailgating, for example.
Buyers would need to be aware that the Tango unit adds about 1,200-pounds dry weight to the trailer and about 26 inches to the rig’s overall length. This could be a modest concern if storage space for the RV between trips is at a premium.
In both of these instances, the exterior galley is clearly aimed at fair-weather use. Rain and wind, blowing sand or dust could impair one’s desire to have too much food prep hardware exposed to the elements. An overhead awning would reduce rain problems, but other environmental factors would still come into play to determine if such a kitchen unit could be effectively used.
These outside kitchens can be especially useful during hot weather when you don’t need the extra stovetop-generated heat inside the rig, or when you have something like fish on the menu and the cooking odors are best kept outdoors. You probably don’t want the inside of your rig smelling like fried oysters.
For those times when the stars align and users can enjoy the outdoor cooking experience, these new outside galleys add an interesting and fun new angle to campground mealtime. — Jeff Johnston, Motor Matters
Copyright, Motor Matters, 2010