Lightweight travel trailers are all the rage with today’s cost-conscious RV consumer. Recently, we spent time in a Dutchmen Aerolite model 195 (www.aero-rv.com) and the experience truly caught our attention.
The occasion was a video segment shoot for our cable show, Rollin’ On TV (www.rollinontv.com), and we were able to spend four days in the Aerolite. We towed it with a Toyota Tundra pickup, somewhat of an overkill towing solution. Given the Tundra’s 10,400-pound tow rating, the 4,000-pound Aerolite was a modest load matched to the truck’s specifications. It made for a strong towing combination that was stable and fun to drive on the highway and once parked it provided easy living at camp.
First, the Aerolite feels solid underfoot and well-made in use. Some lightweights feel a bit, well, lightweight. Not this one.
We started taking extra notice when packing the trailer for the trip. We tend to pack light, lighter than a vehicle owner would due to the short-term use we enjoy as opposed to years of ownership, and the rig’s abundant storage spaces took everything we threw at them, and more. Exterior-access “dirty” storage for leveling blocks, hoses, tools and the like is realistically sized and roomy with its pass-through design.
It was our fault that we reserved a Labor Day campsite at Silver Falls State Park, or too late (in July instead of, say, February) but we wound up in a non-hookup site. That’s never a problem for us; in fact it’s our preference when RVing, and it gave us a chance to exercise the trailer’s self-containment features.
Due to the “tent camping” nature of Silver Falls its parking area was a bit tight, but the compact 24-foot overall-length of the Aerolite 195 was tucked easily back into place without hassle, and we settled in and enjoyed the park’s beautiful surroundings.
The Aerolite was fitted with a 46-gallon fresh tank, 28-gallon black and 39-gallon grey tanks, respectively. For a test crew of two adults savvy about RV resource conservation, those generous capacities represent several days worth of comfortable time afield with realistic showers and other water usage. Some small trailers cut corners with such capacities.
Speaking of fluids, the Aerolite 195 floorplan includes a bath that extends wall-to-wall out back, and within that space is a corner shower — with skylight — that’s large enough for full-size adults. The stool is placed for efficient use, and streetside, the storage cabinet includes a tall wardrobe space, drawers and shelves with a practical amount of room therein.
A 6-cubic-foot refrigerator plus generous-size range and sink facilities are supported by storage cabinets nearby and clear working counter space that make the kitchen functional and fun. Likewise, the dinette is comfortable and works great for meals or leisure activities.
A good night sleep is vital to our camping fun, and the Aerolite’s island bed did the job just fine. Its flanking shirt wardrobes and overhead storage helped round up come extras, and underbed storage — hindered somewhat by semi-worthless “hydraulic struts” that were no help holding the bed platform up, as designed — also gave us a place to stash bulky cargo like lawn chairs and some cooking supplies.
In all, the Aerolite 195 caught our eye and kept it happy during our camping time together. In the midst of a lightweight trailer shopping experience, it may catch your attention, too. — Jeff Johnston (10/2/2010)
Photos courtesy Jeff Johnston: RV manufacturers are getting smarter about how to fit a lot of livability in the small space available in a lightweight trailer. The kitchen, dinette and bath in the Dutchmen Aerolite 195QB are smartly done and work well.
Copyright, Motor Matters, 2010