Attending the Pomona RV show this past weekend was a real treat for my wife and me. We finally were able to see close up most of the trailers and products that only came our way through pictures on the Internet, magazines and sales brochures. Itís strange the perceptions we create looking at only images and how sometimes they change after looking at the real thing. Our experience at the RV show was no exception. Hereís our take on some of it with an emphasis on the Oliver
, the primary reason for the visit.
Iím not a stranger to Airstreams but couldnít resist seeing their display. Itís mentioned here first only to say that I find the 16í Bambi (International, Ocean Breeze or DWR) floor plan to be the most appealing for a small trailer. Itís bright, open and yet seems to have all of the conveniences. The only similar floor plan offered by another manufacturer is the Escape
. Enough said about Airstreams though.
Our experience with the Oliver
was both bitter and sweet. No doubt the Oliver
is a step up in quality from the Casita
but as mentioned earlier, little was done by proportion in staking new ground with a different and more innovative floor plan. I think this was a perfect opportunity for Oliver to answer many of the recurring complaints and wish lists of Casita
owners. The Bambi floor plan mentioned above wouldíve been a step in the right direction. A forward to aft sleeping arrangement in addition wouldíve been a home run in my opinion. Most of the improvements and refinements over the Casita
will probably fall
on deft ears by most especially because of the premium in price. Thatís unfortunate because the Oliver represents exceptional value for their asking price. Regardless, here are a few observations on the Oliver 17.
The fiberglass work, both interior and exterior looked beautiful. Jim Oliver and company has definitely taken great pride in their creation. The first notable difference with the Casita and other fiberglass trailers for that matter is the recessing built into the molds for most if not all exterior fixtures. Strange that no one has mentioned this before to my recollection and it isnít even mentioned in the manufacturerís literature. The result is a more refined look as opposed to the standard practice of cutting an opening in the fiberglass and slapping on a surface mounted fixture. Not even Bigfoot
or Airstream go through this extra effort. The Oliver shell definitely has a more solid feel, probably because of the doubled walled construction. A few taps on the exterior and the difference with the Casita becomes apparent.
The combination battery
and outside shower compartment was well put together. Again, it was recessed for a more refined look. The sliding battery
tray seemed very handy as opposed to the customary stationary arrangement. The tray itself was high quality with ball bearing rollers. Nice touch! The fixture used for the outside shower was also of exceptional quality unlike the cheaper varieties used by others. The only complaint I have, if you can call it one, is seeing the battery
every time the outside shower is used. On second thought, scratch the complaint. Maybe having the two in the same compartment is a good idea and I havenít realized it yet. In any event, it isnít a distraction.
The outside perimeter lighting
was interesting along with the absence of the usual overhead porch light
. This is one of those things that probably went over my head. Is it possible that the perimeter lighting
at ground level replaces the need for the porch light
? Is it actually more efficient or better because of the reduced shadows? Maybe I was too quick to suggest that an overhead porch light
The front propane
cover was very well done with the high quality and heavy-duty chrome hardware. Jim mentioned that they were working to clean up the gap between the cover and trailer body but I didnít find it objectionable as is. How often do you find a manufacturer that offers a more critical eye than the buyer?
Another quality touch by the manufacturer was the selection of marine grade water inlets as opposed to the much cheaper plastic variety often used by others. They are either stainless steel or heavy chrome plated with chains.
Canít say much about the aluminum frame because most of it is hidden by the construction method used by Oliver. A good portion of the fiberglass tub bottom actually sits into and wraps around the frame. All that remains visible are portions of the aluminum cross braces. The tanks, plumbing, wiring, etc. are above the bottom tub. Does this make the trailer suitable for 4 seasons? If so, that would be a major plus. I donít know much about the included bulldog hitch except that they are more expensive, stronger, and more foolproof and most other manufacturers donít include them. Iím equally a stranger to the advantages of the telescoping tongue but itís there and it doesnít look cheap. So much has already been said about the cool drop down rear bumper/storage compartment. I canít think of anything more to say about it other than itís a thumb up for me too.
On to the interior Ö First off, I have to disagree with some that said the all white interior was too bright or sterile feeling. One of the advantages I immediately noticed that Casita had over the Scamp
in their deluxe versions was the brighter interior. It seemed to open up the small space. This is just my opinion but I donít think you can have too many windows
or colors light
enough in such a confined space. Besides, the white fiberglass would be an excellent backdrop to accent the windows
with different colors. Iím not a clean freak or one sensitive to allergens but the smooth surface should be a slam-dunk for those folks. The chrome pole between the bed and dinette was not at all obtrusive as shown on Oliverís website and as some have mentioned. Itís actually much smaller and is hardly noticeable. I like it. It goes well with the chrome strip around the inside. What I didnít necessarily like were the sliding cabinet doors. This is one (of many) feature that doesnít pay to be like an Airstream. My preference would be for a hinged door like the Casita but using more European style hardware and a thick colored Plexiglas door. My wife also commented that items in the bottom of the cabinet might get lost because of the depth of the lower lip. The Elite included window treatments were everything good mentioned before. Exceptional!
This is already much longer than intended. So, let me conclude a few things about the Oliver before going on to a few more trailers. There is no question in my mind that the Oliver is the highest quality trailer that Iíve seen so far. Yes, even better than comparably sized Bigfoots and Airstreams. I donít mean to offend owners of other trailers but quality requires time, effort and expense. The Oliver folks have earned that bragging right in my opinion with what they currently offer. On that basis alone my choice would be an Oliver. The only question that remains for us is whether weíre willing to settle for a floor plan less than what we consider ideal. That will remain the question at least for now.
And now Bigfoot
Ö. But before going further, please donít take these opinions personal. They are just that, opinions. We read a lot leading up to the show and as a result had high expectations for this brand. Our impression was that a Bigfoot
trailer was the epitome of quality and style, at least in the molded fiberglass community. I wonít get into the specifics on quality except to say that it was no match for we found in the Oliver. The floor plans for the 17.5 were even more disappointing, lacking even the size bed offered in much smaller trailers. Although the interiors seemed well done (wifeís opinion) they began to take on a pedestrian appearance similar to the cheaper stick builds.
Lastly, we almost missed the Genesis
912 by American Sport tucked between the towering stick builds. This is one of those pleasant surprises. We knew about the Genesis
before through our Internet searches but immediately dismissed it because of the outside galley. Itís still not the trailer for us but I sort of wish otherwise. Itís well built, adequately appointed and looks just plain fun. The more time spent with it the more it grows on you. You begin to ask, what more do you need to enjoy the outdoors?