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