Camper Report – Riverside RV Retro 177 “White Water”

Introduction

Ever since we met, Peggy and I knew that we shared a love of camping—camping comfortably. All that means is that we enjoy getting out to our local, state, national, and many commercial camping areas, setting up camp and enjoying the experience. We are not hard-core sleep-on-the-ground or carry-our-camping-gear-on-our-backs campers. Our first camper was a “pop-up” or tent camper, followed by a 30-ft efficiency apartment on wheels. Even with my Ford F-250 diesel, I did not feel comfortable pulling it around the country.

Peggy has a 1957 Kamp Mate restored vintage camper. It is best described as a one-person camper. It has a comfortable bed, sink and stove, comfortable seating and adequate storage in its 14-ft canned-ham living area. It has no bath and is a bit crowded for two people. Peggy is a member of Sisters on the Fly (SOTF) and uses this camper frequently throughout the year.

The Quest

We had been looking for something on the order of 18-to-20 feet that would be comfortable on long treks, easily pulled by my Ford F-150 (sadly, I no longer have the 250), and I insisted it have a queen bed, shower, and flush toilet. I assumed that we would have to find a pre-owned camper to affordably meet my requirements.

The Find

The Riverside RV Retro 177 is 18.5 feet long overall (Riverside RV photo).

The Riverside RV Retro 177 is 18.5 feet long overall (Riverside RV photo).

One of Peggy’s SOTF members introduced us to the Riverside RV line retro-style of campers, i.e., it is shaped and decorated much like smaller 1950s and 1960s campers. We also learned that our local camping trailer dealer, Scenic Roads RV Center in Manchester, Tenn., had Riverside RVs in stock. We took a long lunch hour from the shop to check them out.

It took no more than an hour make up our minds that the Riverside RV Retro 177 (Model “White Water”) was what we were looking for (specifications below).

The single-axle trailer has an empty weight of just over 2500 pounds and a hitch weight of around 380 pounds. With a carrying capacity of just under 1000 lb., the gross trailer weight should not exceed 3500 lb. This is ideal for my Ford 150, and the dealer told us that many full-sized sedans and SUVs can also pull it comfortably.

The overall length of the Retro 177 of 18.5 feet, with standard electric brakes, makes it a comfortable tow. Its 8-ft width makes it roomy. Ours has a queen island bed with storage above and on either side against the back wall. There is a “wet bath”—the toilet and the shower are in the same enclosure. It includes a two-burner stove, microwave, sink, gas-electric refrigerator and plenty of kitchen storage for longer camping trips. Heat and air conditioning make year-‘round make camping realistic. The unit also includes an awning and two 20-lb propane tanks.

The unit lists for approximately $17,000. If you are lucky, you might find a deal for several thousand dollars less—and I have seen them listed for much more. We signed the paperwork and towed the “Retro” home the next day.

First Trip

To read about our camping experience see “Fall Creek Falls, Tennessee — Top to Bottom!“).

Our Riverside RV Retro 177 "White Water" set up and ready for living on our first camping trip.

Our Riverside RV Retro 177 “White Water” set up and ready for living on our first camping trip.

In the campground we had a level site with full hook-ups. Once the camper was positioned, it took less than 30 minutes to level and stabilize the unit, hook up all of the connections, extend the awning, set up a couple of comfortable outside chairs and start a campfire.

We made a point of trying out all of the camper’s features. The hot water heater took about 15 minutes to deliver shower-warm water.

When hook-ups are not available, there is adequate fresh water, grey water, and black water holding capabilities for several days.

It was cool in the camper the first night, and we turned on the gas heater. It warmed the unit up nicely in about five to ten minutes. The only problem we encountered was that the new heater generated enough new-heater smell to set off the smoke alarm—so we know that works too. The alarm was also sensitive to my cooking! I quickly learned to use the exhaust fan over the stove.

The floor plan for the Retro 177--efficient use of space captures the utility of longer campers in a shorter, lighter unit. (Riverside RV diagram)

The floor plan for the Retro 177–efficient use of space captures the utility of longer campers in a shorter, lighter unit. (Riverside RV diagram)

The island queen bed is the perfect size for the camper—except the access space between the mattress and the kitchen counter is tight, so I got the side next to the kitchen. The mattress was a bit stiffer than we liked, but Peggy found a “memory foam” mattress pad—problem solved and we slept comfortably. The second night we had a brief, but loud thunderstorm with heavy rain. We now know there are no leaks in the camper! (Note: There is a convenient shelf across and above the head of the bed—perfect for storing bedtime reading books, etc. But it is just low enough that when the lightning woke me and I sat up, I bumped my head. Lesson learned!)

The dinette is comfortable for two, probably tight for three or four full-size people. The dinette table is supported by folding legs away from the wall, and a track on the front wall, in which it can easily slide, providing easy access for each of us. The dinette converts to a bunk for an occasional third person.

The unit includes a television antenna for local stations and wiring for cable television when available. We were nowhere near either, but our personal portable radio worked fine.

We had planned to stay late the last day, but because of threats of severe weather and cautions from the park ranger, we decided to pack up promptly that morning and head home. While it was not an emergency, disconnecting services, draining the holding tanks, and preparing the camper for the trip home took little more time than it did to set up.

Any camper is a set of compromises: length and weight versus roominess and amenities. The Riverside RV Retro 177 offers everything we need in an adequately roomy and equipped camper that we can use for extended travel. Look for future postings as we take advantage of our new time and distance machine.

Specifications and Information:
The Retro 177 Island Bed Model
Construction: Aluminum Cage
.Overall Length: 18 ft., 6 in.
Exterior Width: 8 ft.
Height: 8 ft., 6 in
Hitch Weight: 380 lb.
Dry Weight: 2530 ‘b
Carrying Capacity: 970 lb.
Fresh Water: 20 gal.
Grey Water: 32 gal.
Black Water: 10 gal.
Tire Size: 14 in.
List Price: $16,995.00

Manufacturer: Riverside RV
1775 East US 20
LaGrange, IN 46761

For more information:
Web site: http://www.riversidervs.net/
General Information: Info@ riversidervs.net
Sales: Sales@ riversidervs.net
Warranty: warranty@riversidervs.net
Parts: parts@riversidervs.net

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24 Responses to Camper Report – Riverside RV Retro 177 “White Water”

  1. Pingback: Renaissance Musings Table of Contents | Renaissance Musings

  2. RG Hughes says:

    Have you had any issues since. I bought the 2014 177 and am having issues
    The low profile and no suspension caused my grey pipe to get crushed the inside panel have come loose and my air is leaking water inside.
    I also see only 1 bolt holding axle in place but looks as if there should be 2.
    My city water also has and oder but I am using rv water hose as of now I am using the same hose to fill a water jug with no smell. I have had this unit 2 months and am not happy

    • merlinjr01 says:

      RG, we have not had any issues other than a couple the very first week. We had a water leak under the shower. Took it back to the dealer and got that fixed. Now, to your issues.

      I agree, the unit is very low to the ground, bot the front jack (fully raised) and the rear supports tend to drag anytime I am on uneven ground. It is like it was designed for flat and/or pave surfaces only. Not always the way it is in the camping world. I noticed that my holding tanks are just about down at the level of the axel–I guess that is why the rear support are there, otherwise, backing up to a curb could crush the holding tank. Yeah, not the brightest idea, but a compromise to keep it low to the ground. I have not looked at the axel/undercarriage since I bought and do not recall the number of bolts. Am hooking it up later this afternoon and will try to remember to look.

      Have no idea about the water odor. The only though I have is to treat the holding tanks, let stand for a couple of days and flush them thoroughly.

      Overall, we are still quite pleased with the unit. It does require that we pay particular attention to the surfaces over which we pull the camper. Otherwise, we have used all of the features in the camper and are pleased: toilet, shower, holding tanks and draining, all appliances, etc. I have no interest in Riverside RV. We were attracted to the Retro style (my wife ahs a 1957 camper, but not big enough for the both of us to travel in). A friend got the 177 a month or two before us and had the same problem with the leak under the shower. Apparently a manufacturing lapse.

      If I were you, I would go back to the dealer and express your concerns there.

      I am about to update my review and will probably mention some of these issues. I have had close to 400 hits on my initial review–I guess Riverside is passing it around as much as they can–never said “boo” to me.

      Jeff (Merlinjr01)

      • Mike says:

        Hi Jeff….great review of the 177, plus I just read your visit to the factory. I loved seeing some details of the manufacturing process…..gives me a better picture of the structure in case I make any changes. I’ve already made a few of my own.

        Question: what was the leak problem with the shower? Just curious….haven’t used ours yet, and my original dealer is out of state, so I tend to fix things myself, even under warranty.

        I’d also like to see a pic of your axle lift. I wouldn’t mind a few extra inches of space 🙂

  3. Pingback: “Camper Report – Riverside RV Retro 177 “White Water” Update | Renaissance Musings

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  5. Hello. I had made an offer and locked in an agreement on the Retro 155XL unit and then became skiddish when I could not find any product reviews from owners. I finally came across this today. It left me concerned about quality and overall design. Are there any new issues to report or anything you know about the 155 units that would be helpful? Thank you for your review. Very helpful!

    • merlinjr01 says:

      I am not really familiar with the 155 although I have looked at them. I recall remarking that it would be a good unit for me alone, crowded for the two of us. I can’t comment on quality except that we do like our 177. I have had no real issues with overall quality–there were some issues with the finish such as a water connection not tightened properly, and for the 177, the low axel height. That however was because I live in the country and the road and parking areas are not nice and flat. The local dealer and Riverside have been very positive in resolving minor issues.

  6. Derrell Witt says:

    Can a small sink be retro fitted into the whitewater retro 17′ trailer??

    • merlinjr01 says:

      If, by “17′” trailer you mean the Model 177, it comes with a kitchen sink. Not sure where else I would/could put a sink. Suggest you either talk to a local dealer, or Google “Riverside RV” and send a question to the manufacturer. There is also a Facebook page for “Whitewater Retro” where you can ask a whole bunch of people why probably know a lot more than I do about different models.

  7. Omar says:

    Hi, I’m looking to buy a used 2014 Retro 177. Have you had any other major issues other that the water leak. I will mostly be camping in campgrounds in Texas so the height is not that big of an issue. This will be my first trailer and I want something small but good quality. Any advice will help. Thanks

    • merlinjr01 says:

      We have had no other problems with our Retro 177. It is used regularly–we have been out in it at least seven times a year since we got it, with several trips of 500 or more miles, including the mountains of West Virginia. As for the height–as long as you are operating on paved or level graded surfaces, the height should not be an issue.

  8. I see there are a lot of comments on this blog. I created forums for the White Water Retro community. Its still basic but I will be building it out. http://whitewaterretro.com/

    • brian says:

      Kristopher There all ready is a forum for Whitewater retro trailers. It is riversidervownersforum check it out. Brian

  9. Dave Daniels says:

    Hi All – great forum! I just purchased a 2015 Retro 155xl and would additional ground clearance. I already hit a rock in a dirt road and bent my drop down step to the point where it’s unusable. Has anyone had success raising a Retro trailer? Is it possible to flip/reverse the axle? Is that even an option on the Retro l55 line?

    Thanks in advance.

    Dave

    • merlinjr01 says:

      Dave, the manufacturer has a “lift kit” that your dealer can install. I am not sure how much it costs. But no, the axle does not flip or reverse. You should be able to arrange the lift kit with your dealer. If the dealer is not familiar with it, have them contact Riverside. Note, after installation, make sure there is clearance between the tires and the inside of the wheel well. It is possible to put the axle back on a tad out of center.

    • Carl Jeerings says:

      Dave
      I have just purchased a used 2014 White Water Retro 177. I was also concerned about the ground clearance. For your information Riverside has a kit that will raise the trailer height by about 3″. I took the trailer to a Riverside dealer. They ordered the kit and installed it for around $300. Made a heck of a lot of difference. Cheaper that replacing the gray and black water piping.

      Carl

  10. G VanZ says:

    We are in the market for what the Retro 177 offers and have found the one that may be “right” for us… But concerned about the need for the lift kit mentioned by owners of previous models.
    Will a 2015 177 model or 2015 177se model need the lift kit?
    Or was that problem resolved with previous model issues?
    We know for a fact that we will be using camper on uneven grounds in wooded areas with potential for tree roots.
    Any advice? Is there any year model more desirable for ground clearance?

    • merlinjr01 says:

      I think the lift kit is not a standard item on new Whitewater Retros. I do know that a dealer should be able to get the kit and install it. You might also want to check out http://whitewaterreto.com. Someone may have more up-to-date information.

      • The lift kit is standard on the new Retros. I believe they were having issues with with the tires hitting up inside the wheel wells due to low clearance. I believe 2015 and up is when they started using the lift kits. You should be able to tell if it has a lift kit on it or not just by looking at it. I’ve read else where that you can buy the lift kits from the dealer for $125.00. Yes we would love to have you come and join http://whitewaterreto.com, contribute your ideas and questions!

  11. YvonneYvonne says:

    We have a new 2017 177 Retro and have been satisfied.

    There were a couple of things that need warranty work. The hinges came of the storage under the queen bed and some trim popped off.

    I do have a complaints:
    1. The curtains and tie backs were screwed to the wall rendering the Velcro permanently attached and will not open to release the curtains to close them.
    2. The foam in the dinette is not firm enough so one hits the plywood when sitting there. Same problem with the queen bed.

    Quality far above other local manufacturers in Elkhart & Lagrange Counties of Indiana

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