Remember when the iPod first came out in the early 2000s? Not only was the iPod a useful device for playing music, but it was also small, cute, and fun to use.
Similarly, R-Pod travel trailers are super cute little trailers with a distinctive shape and design made for endless camping fun. If you’ve seen one of these travel trailers on the road or just heard about it from friends, you might be wondering about this tiny travel trailer and whether it is right for you.
The R-Pod is marketed as an affordable luxury at the lowest tow weight in its class. Its small size is to increase towability while still offering lots of roomy functionality on the road and while camping.
Here we’ll explore all the ins and outs of this unusual travel trailer, looking at who makes it, what it’s best used for, and what customers have to say about it. Read on to learn a little more about this fun little camper.
All About the Company
The R-Pod is a travel trailer made by the well-known company Forest River RV which was founded in 1996 by Peter Liegl. Leigl’s aim in starting his company was to create what he considered a better RV that would help people experience the joy of the outdoors.
Forest River RV is just part of the larger company, Forest River, Inc., which also makes pontoons, buses, cargo trailers, and commercial trucks. Forest River, Inc. was purchased in 2005 by Berkshire Hathaway Inc, a conglomerate company that counts insurance, energy, manufacturing, and retail companies among its holdings.
Forest River RV remains one of the largest RV manufacturers in North America and makes a variety of RVs including Class A motorhomes, Class C motorhomes, travel trailers, fifth wheels, and toy haulers.
Unlike many other RV manufacturers, Forest River has multiple manufacturing facilities in the Midwest and West coast. Unlike the smaller mom-and-pop family RV manufacturers, this makes it easier for the company to fill orders because there is a shorter transport distance.
This also makes it less likely for a company like Forest River to feel the need to cut corners and rush through jobs to get products delivered quickly to dealerships and customers.
Forest River Owner’s Group, affectionately nicknamed FROG, is a free community of RV owners in North America with over 100,000 members. FROG members can attend rallies and tours from small local gatherings to large, international meetings.
The only prerequisite to joining FROG is being a Forest River product owner and being a fan of the RV lifestyle. Events are held across the US and Canada and an international rally is held annually.
Also available are decals, patches, clothing accessories, and other paraphernalia as well as a newsletter with information on new products, trips, and service tips.
Forest River makes a whopping 22 lines of travel trailers. These travel trailers vary widely and include recognizable names like Flagstaff, Cherokee, Rockwood, and RV Pro’s Best of Show 2018 lines Impression and No Boundaries.
The line we’re featuring here, the R-Pod, has been around for the last 10 years. This travel trailer has a distinctive rounded shape and solid construction using durable, sustainable materials.
A lot of work goes into this little travel trailer. One distinguishing feature of this line’s construction is the use of Adzel in its exterior.
Azdel is a composite material constructed with a blend of polypropylene and fiberglass. This unique combination makes a product that is strong, lightweight, quiet, odorless, environmentally friendly, and both weather and temperature resistant.
Azdel has twice the insulation value of wood and is great at absorbing both sound and energy. That means the walls of the R-Pod keep the interior cool in the summer, warm in the winter, and nice and quiet even in noisy campgrounds.
R-pod’s composite walls are layered with a fiberglass exterior, Azdel, insulation, and an interior panel. This fabrication is also designed to be water- and rot-resistant.
The R-Pod also features aluminum framing around every RV opening which gives this travel trailer the best structural integrity in its class. It also features automotive window seals which are both watertight and weatherproof, advertised as “zero maintenance.”
Underneath, the R-Pod rides on a torsion axle, meaning that the axle is mounted directly to the trailer’s frame and is made of thick rubber cords inside the axle tubing which resists torsion and creates suspension.
Up top, the R-Pod is fabricated with a one-piece, seamless fiberglass roof.
Features and Options
R-Pods come with some pretty great features standard. Most R-Pod models include a Thule powered awning with a built-in LED light strip. Thule is known for making sturdy, lightweight awnings.
If your model includes an outside kitchen, or you choose to add one on, you’ll find a two-burner cooktop and a spray port with dry sink, all of which are completely removable.
You can also opt for a convection microwave in the kitchen, a 13.5K BTU air conditioner, and a 24-inch LED flat screen TV. The kitchen comes standard with a 3.7 cubic foot 3-way refrigerator, residential-style cabinets, and hardwood drawers.
Storage areas also include expandable cargo netting, which is handy at keeping things tucked away and organized, even when the shape is non-standard.
All R-Pod models include the roof-mounted solar prep, and the Solar Package is available on every model. If you do choose the solar option, that includes a 110W solar panel, digital controller, and 1000 Watt inverter.
The water tanks on every R-Pod model are the same and offer the following break down: freshwater, 36 gallons; grey water, 30 gallons; black water, 30 gallons.
If you’re like me and prefer traveling with four-legged companions, it’s good to note that the R-Pod is considered pet-friendly and includes pet bowls, pet leash connections, and outside showers in every model.
Another bonus to buying an R-Pod new is that Forest River offers one full year of 24/7 emergency roadside assistance. The roadside assistance benefit includes towing, jump-starts, tire changes, fluid delivery, lockout service, winch-out, mobile mechanic, technical support, and dealer locator services.
If you are concerned about storing your R-Pod, you’ll also want to note that Forest River has two covers available, depending on your model, the PermaPro or the PolyPro 3 which offer a limited lifetime warranty.
These travel trailer covers give all-season protection because they allow for airflow while still offering comprehensive UV protection with a quality ripstop fabric.
These covers are also adjustable for a custom fit and feature click-close straps, zippered access, and a storage bag for the cover when not in use.
The R-Pod is available in a total of 11-floor plans, one of which is an expandable model (RP-176T) that includes a 60 x 74 queen bed in the expanding tent.
The R-Pod models are available in weights ranging from 2,342 lbs (RP-171) to 2,839 lbs (RP-176T). The exterior length, without the spare tire, stretches between 18’4″ (RP-171 and RP-172) and 20’4″ (RP-189, RP-190, and RP-191).
For all models, the exterior width is a solid 8′ and the exterior height with the A/C unit is either 9’6″ or 9’7″.
No matter what you look for in a travel trailer, chances are, R-Pod has a model just for you. If you prefer a model without slides, check out the RP-171 and RP-172. If you’d like bunks or twin beds, look at the RP-176 and RP-191.
Is a rear kitchen your thing? Then RP-179 and RP-195 are right up your alley. For a rear bathroom, look at RP-180.
RP-178 and RP-171 have a rear bedroom, and RP-189 nixes a dinette in favor of a sofa and removable table.
R-Pod has a ton of great options and the interior variety is simply outstanding for such a small travel trailer.
It can be easy for a travel trailer to look fantastic on a website or even on a dealer’s lot. To really understand what it’s like to camp in an R-Pod, the best source is word of mouth.
Pros and Cons
Check out what real R-Pod customers are saying about the travel trailer and what it’s like to really spend time in one.
Warranty and Repair Work
A big concern any time you’re looking at a big purchase is the warranty. I personally found it difficult to locate warranty information on the Forest River RV website, but it is available.
The warranty for Forest River’s towable RVs is a one-year limited warranty. Like with most companies, this warranty requires the purchase be made from an authorized Forest River dealer and includes exclusions for normal wear and tear.
A recurring concern for many R-Pod owners was getting warranty work covered and completed in a timely manner. The good news is that R-Pods can be repaired by any Forest River RV dealer, not only one specializing in R-Pods.
For some customers, however, it seemed to be a hassle finding a Forest River dealership willing to complete repair work on the R-Pod.
This seems to be a sticking point with a lot of customers, so it’s important to remember when purchasing a travel trailer that you’ll deal with the dealership much more than the corporate headquarters.
Be sure to purchase from a reputable dealer and factor in the cost of travel to and from the dealership where your repair work will be done. Sometimes it just doesn’t feel worth it to drive 200 miles round-trip to have a $50 part replaced.
Many customers say that warranty work was taken care of quickly and efficiently and some even said that Forest River covered work for a second owner within the vehicle’s first year of use, though that does not seem to be standard practice.
Floorplans and layouts are a huge aspect of any travel trailer. This is the living space and the way it is laid out makes an impact. The general consensus is that the R-Pod is designed to sleep two people comfortably.
This travel trailer works best for singles or duos and possibly couples with one or two small children. Most customers mention that the layouts are varied enough to find something suitable, and the RP-195 and RP-179 models with the rear kitchen seem to be favorites.
Customers also mention that the dinettes aren’t the comfiest and that it is helpful to add foam toppers to the seating and sleeping areas. One RVer said he much preferred the sofa to the dinette and that switching them out made a huge difference in the livability of the space.
Another gripe involves the storage, or lack of storage, in the R-Pod. Complaints about limited storage include that there is little or no overhead storage in the sleeping area and that although the dinette includes storage under the seating, it is hard to access.
Despite the complaints about interior storage, customers seem to find the exterior storage a great selling point. Nearly every R-Pod has a pass-through storage area, often in the rear.
Most R-Pods have access to at least two separate storage areas, and these exterior storage compartments are generally roomy and easy to access.
Customers also find the R-Pod very easy to tow as it is lightweight and can be pulled easily by even small crossovers and SUVs even in tight spots or twisting roads.
As easy as an R-Pod is to tow, it’s just as easy to set up, and that’s another aspect that makes this camper ideal for solo or duo travelers.
R-Pod enthusiasts also rave about the outdoor shower (which offers hot water) and the generous tank capacity for a trailer of this size. These features add to the overall liveability of the travel trailer.
While perhaps less important, another key feature of the R-Pod is the exterior aesthetics. While some customers felt the liberal use of decorative stickers to be too much, most RVers love the look of this tiny, aerodynamically-built travel trailer.
A repeated area of concern for R-Pod owners is the overall quality of construction, particularly on brand new, off-the-lot trailers. Some customers reported issues with sawdust, loose screws, and markings on interior features from the factory.
Other concerns are more directed toward specific construction issues like sidewall separation and leaking, possibly due to problems with caulking and seals.
Leaking is a serious issue when it comes to RVs as what begins as a small problem can quickly spread. It is important to check RVs regularly for leaks to ensure that problems are found and corrected quickly before the damage gets out of hand.
Others mentioned that the factory hoses for the water tanks are too short for many hookup areas and recommended replacing these hoses immediately with longer hoses.
On the plus side, lots of customers found the R-Pod to be well built and say it heats and cools well, making for a comfortable trailer even in inclement weather.
Overall, Forest River’s R-Pod seems to be a decent travel trailer, particularly for first-timers and those looking for a base camp for outdoor adventures.
The R-Pod is an inexpensive entry-level travel trailer, so you won’t find it to be made with the highest quality materials and the most appealing designer touches.
While the R-Pod’s construction and features don’t fit the company’s claims of “luxury,” the R-Pod remains an affordable choice with good options and a top-notch variety of floorplans.
There are a lot of aspects to the R-Pod that make it unique, but that uniqueness just isn’t for every camper. If you want a tiny travel trailer with curb appeal, the R-Pod is worth a look.
But if you’re a traveler with a large family, one who needs lots of storage, one who wants to entertain, or a camper who wants a residential-style home away from home, you may want to keep looking.