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The Black Series HQ19: A Rugged Off-Road RV Full of Comfort

The Black Series HQ19: A Rugged Off-Road RV Full of Comfort

The Black Series HQ19 is a comfortable, rugged, off-road RV deserving of the attention it’s getting. But we’ve got a unique perspective to share because we had the privilege of putting an HQ19 to the test for over a month. How did we like it and what did we find to be the most important pros and cons? You’ll find all that plus lots of essential info in this post.

What Is a Black Series HQ19?

Black Series is famous for merging rugged durability with comfort (some might even say luxury – that’s how nice the fit & finish are), and the HQ19 is no exception. Known for serious off-road capabilities (which we experienced ourselves), the HQ19 offers features and craftsmanship that make it a great choice for travelers seeking both adventure and comfort.

Characterized by its rugged exterior, red graphics & skid guards, diamond-plated siding, and unique suspension system, the HQ19 is capable of going almost anywhere.

A Black Series HQ19 camping setup

We traveled and camped in this Black Series HQ19 for over a month, taking it to the most rugged and remote places we’ve ever been able to access.

Black Series Campers originated in Australia and were designed with the Outback in mind. With primary assembly in China, they’re manufactured so that they fit inside shipping containers. They arrive at Black Series’ Los Angeles area facility for final assembly, where the air conditioner, awning, exterior lights, axles, wheels & tires, and more are installed.

Since we recently announced that we’ve ordered a towable to replace our motorhome (and we know some of you may ask), this is not the rig we’re buying. Our experience with an HQ19 was the result of a special arrangement made with Black Series for shooting a segment for our 5th season hosting TheRVers TV show.

Let’s look at some things RVers can expect from the HQ19 and similar models of Black Series campers. Later in the post, we’ll add our two cents in terms of pros and cons based on our own experience. Keep in mind that specs and equipment change from year to year (and sometimes within model years), so some features of the specific unit we had may differ from others you may see available.

Off-Road Capability

At the heart of the Black Series HQ19 travel trailer lies its robust off-road capability, thanks to a super-durable hot-dipped galvanized chassis and a fully independent suspension system.

The suspension system of a Black Series HQ19 is shown.

The impressive suspension system of a Black Series HQ19. If it looks like it’s capable of handling almost anything, in our experience, it was! We took it boondocking in rugged, remote places we had only dreamed of before.

Black Series uses a super-rugged trailing-arm independent suspension system, and each control arm has dual shocks. This setup allows travel over some really challenging terrain, and we tried our best to put it to the test. Suffice it to say that we were duly impressed.

The HQ19 is capable of traveling over rocky, uneven trails, sandy dunes, and even shallow streams with ease. This gives adventurous travelers the ability to freely explore destinations that are well off the grid.

Another feature that allows for rugged off-road travel is the special Poly Block hitch. It’s a clever way of connecting the trailer that allows amazing freedom of movement between the vehicles. That means the twisting motion between the tow vehicle and trailer while driving over extreme angles isn’t an issue, the way a typical ball hitch can be.

Black Series HQ19 Off-Road Camper trailer

The Black Series Poly Block Hitch does a fantastic job of isolating twisting and climbing/descending motions between the tow vehicle and trailer on extremely uneven surfaces. Situations that would bend or break a typical ball hitch are no problem at all. An added safety bonus is that a trailer rollover won’t flip the tow vehicle over with it since it allows a full 360° of rotation, something that would be impossible with an ordinary ball hitch.

Comfort that Borders on Luxury

The interior of the Black Series HQ19 camper provided us with a surprisingly spacious and comfortable living area that’s been meticulously designed with premium materials and finishes. We wish other RV manufacturers would take note of the sleek Euro-style design and cabinetry.

In addition to a (very comfortable) queen-sized bed with reading lights on both sides of the bed, plush leather seating on a decent-size (for two) dinette, and plenty of storage space, the HQ19 is full of modern amenities. The interior kitchen (yes, there’s a really nice outside kitchen, too) has a decent-sized Dometic fridge/freezer, a stainless steel sink, and a propane-fueled oven and stovetop.

The interior of a 2022 Black Series HQ19

An interior shot of our Black Series HQ19 looking toward the front of the rig.

The three-stage water filter fed from a dedicated 25-gallon stainless steel drinking water tank was a nice touch. Isolating the drinking water supply from the 60-gallon general water tank is a cool design, allowing RVers to maintain a separate dedicated on-board drinking water supply.

Back to the outside kitchen for a moment… we thought it was well-designed and gorgeous. It slides out from an opening on the curb/patio side front section of the trailer. In some other Black Series models, that area is used as a pass-through storage compartment.

John is shown standing at the outdoor kitchen

The grin on John’s face gives you an idea of what we thought of the cooking setup on our patio. The stainless steel outdoor kitchen not only has a cooktop but also a sink and a generous amount of counter space. Like most other components, it was well-built and beautifully executed.

The appliances in the Black Series HQ19 can run off propane, diesel, a generator (if equipped), or the 120-volt electrical system that uses a 2,000-watt Black Series pure sine wave inverter. We appreciate that for the protection it provides for our electronics as we continue to work when we’re on the road, including when we’re boondocking way off the beaten path. The four AGM 100Ah gel batteries on our HQ19 were kept charged by four 150-watt solar panels on the roof.

A photo of the HQ19's four 100Ah AGM batteries, wired.

The HQ19’s four 100Ah AGM batteries offer a decent amount of boondocking power in combination with the rig’s rooftop solar panels.

Our HQ19 had a Dometic Penguin II air conditioning unit and was kept warm by an efficient little diesel heater (more on this in the “pros and cons” section below). The entry security door includes a screen door, and the five huge Eurovision windows also have screens and privacy shades.

The full private rear bathroom is really nice and so much larger than we’d expect in a rig this size. The design of the bathroom is sleek and features a fiberglass shower with a bifold sliding door, a porcelain Dometic gravity flush toilet, and a vanity with a raised ceramic sink. There’s also a huge mirror, plenty of counter & drawer space, and a sliding door separates the large bathroom from the rest of the interior.

The entire camper’s layout has been thoughtfully designed to maximize space and efficiency, but Black Series hasn’t compromised on comfort. We felt like we couldn’t reasonably ask for a higher-end interior in a little travel trailer.

Efficient Design and Construction

The HQ19 is designed and constructed with an aerodynamic exterior that not only looks great but also contributes to fuel efficiency and comfort while towing. The use of high-grade composite paneling ensures durability while also reducing weight, making it easier and more efficient to tow.

The HQ19 being towed along Moapa Valley Plateau in Nevada.

Here we are towing our HQ19 along the Moapa Valley Plateau in Nevada. We found it comfortable and easy to tow into many extremely remote and rugged places.

One of our favorite things about the interior is the clean, sleek design. It reminds of all the times (5 of them!) that we’ve rented RVs abroad. And, the integrated LED lighting saves power when boondocking and creates a nice warm ambiance.

What Are the Pros and Cons of a Black Series HQ19 Camper?

We’ve given you a general overview of the HQ19 and mentioned a lot of what we liked about it. But we also want to mention some things that we think Black Series could improve on. So, first, we want to summarize the pros:

What We Loved About the HQ19

We’ve already talked about a lot of our favorite things on the Black Series HQ19. But we’ll review some things we were especially impressed with.

Solid, Quality Build Overall

We were pleasantly surprised at how solidly built our HQ19 was. The fit & finish and materials seemed to be both robust and high-end, exceeding most of the travel trailers we’ve seen that are made in North America. That goes double for the suspension, chassis, and frame in general. It was all incredibly robust. Whatever preconceived idea of Chinese-made products you may have, this thing is solid as a rock.

Off-Road Ability and Ease of Towing

The rugged suspension and overall rigidity of the trailer made towing it to remote locations a breeze. We weren’t exactly bouldering, but we certainly put it through its paces off-road and were really impressed with the trailer’s ability to go wherever it was towed. It obviously could have handled far more than we dished out.

What was surprising to us was that the independent suspension also contributed to smooth on-road towing. We were pulling the 19-foot travel trailer with a Ram 2500, and we barely even knew it was back there. We experienced no bucking, sway, or anything disconcerting at all. Ever.

Peter & John with the HQ19 perched on the edge of a cliff

While we didn’t do any extreme overlanding during our time in the HQ19, we certainly put it through some off-road paces and it performed impressively. It was obvious that it could handle far more challenges than we dished out.

We really can’t say enough about the HQ19’s solid, stable tow. Yes, we understand that the truck has a lot to do with this, and we did have that Ram 2500. But anyone planning to go as far off the beaten path as this trailer is capable of going will surely want to be using a properly capable truck anyway. If you’re interested in going way off the grid, this thing is a beast.

Surprisingly Large Bathroom

The bathroom and shower were comfortable and surprisingly large, again because the ensuite bathroom spans the entire rear of the trailer. It’s unusual to find such a spacious and comfortable bathroom facility in a travel trailer of this size, so this was a welcome surprise. And a dry bath even! Bonus!

The surprisingly large shower and rear bathroom on the HQ19 from Black Series

The rear, full-width bathroom on the Black Series HQ19 was surprisingly comfortable and large… one of the reasons this RV felt so luxurious, no matter how far in the backcountry we were!

What We Didn’t Love About the Black Series HQ19

As much as we loved so much about the HQ19, we also had a few gripes as we traveled and camped in it for over a month. Luckily, our issues were mostly with third-party products/appliances, and not Black Series-controllable items. And many are likely things that Black Series can easily remedy (if they haven’t already by this new model year).

The Heater

We understand that during the height of the pandemic, supply chain limitations made it difficult for Black Series to source their standard propane furnace. They rapidly pivoted to keep their product deliveries going and installed a diesel-powered heater with a small diesel tank in the front (vented) compartment.

The diesel fuel tank for the Black Series HQ19 furnace

Though it looked small at first, this little diesel fuel tank on the HQ19 provided plenty of heat from the onboard furnace.

On the positive side, the diesel heater warms up the small space quickly and effectively, which is great on cold nights. And the translucent diesel fuel tank in the front compartment was easy to fill, and super-easy to check the fuel level (plus, the furnace barely sipped the diesel, so you didn’t have to fret/worry about running out too often).

Unfortunately, on cool-but-not-cold nights, we found it produced way too much heat. The problem stemmed from the fact that the heater wasn’t thermostatically controlled, so we couldn’t set a temperature and just have it cycle the furnace on and off to maintain that temperature. Instead, the thermostat controlled the rate of fuel delivery on a scale of 1 to 10, and that would (sort of) control the amount of heat it put out.

The thermostat for the furnace in the Black Series HQ19

This is the controller for the furnace in the HQ19 (still with the protective film, and dust, on the screen). Can you figure out how this works?

The problem with this setup is that the furnace would never shut off, and the lowest setting produced so much heat that we had to manually turn the furnace on and off to control interior temperature (including overnight). The system does have a remote control, which makes that easier. But it was still a pain, and the controls were almost impossible to figure out. Also, both the heater and hot water control panels are inconveniently located near the floor on one side of the bed platform.

These are easy fixes. And again, Black Series may already have gone back to propane heat now that supply chains have loosened up.

The Water Heater

On-demand water heaters can be awesome. We absolutely loved our Truma AquaGo on-demand water heater in our Mountain Aire. But not all brands and installations are created equal.

To start with, the Fogatti tankless water heater in our HQ19 was located too far forward, up under the bed (remember, the bathroom is all the way in the rear). So it takes quite a while to run hot water all the way back to the bathroom for showering. This wastes a lot of water because it requires a significant flow of water to kick on, which is especially bad for us boondockers since wasting water is something we try so hard to avoid.

Outside cover for the Fogatti water heater on our Black Series HQ19

Fogatti? Based on our first (and only) experience with one, we didn’t like it because it takes too high a flow rate to trigger it to come on, which is bad for boondocking.

We also found that the water temperature fluctuated dramatically due to the distance and high water flow requirements. Our Truma triggered hot water to flow at only the tiny rate of 1/3 gallon per minute. We’re not 100% sure what the Fogatti’s minimum required water flow rate is, but it was far too high (and was far too large a flow to be too great for boondocking purposes).

The worst part was that if we reduced the shower’s water flow juuuuust a little too much, the water heater would shut off complete. And you wouldn’t be aware it had happened until a full RV’s length worth of hot water line was used in the shower… so you’d scramble to turn the water hotter or turn the flow rate down. And then you’d have to run up even more water as we waited for warm water to reach the shower… again.

That said, when you’re hooked up to a campground’s water supply and sewer connection you can just let the water flow (unrestricted) and the water temperature was comfortable and stable. However, when boondocking (which is what this trailer is designed for, and mostly what we used it for), it was both inefficient and uncomfortable… which made us really miss our Truma.

Again, this is an easy fix (and maybe one that’s already been made for the new model year) by a simple swap to a different brand of water heater, and relocating it closer to the shower (which would then make this an awesome boondocking setup).

Our camping setup at Marble Canyon

We enjoyed our time traveling and camping in a Black Series HQ19, though we did have a few gripes. That includes the front-of-rig placement of the non-boondocking-friendly Fogatti on-demand water heater. This made it hard to avoid wasting our precious resources getting consistent hot water all the way to the shower in the rear of the RV.

The Holding Tanks

The gray and black water holding tanks in the HQ19 aren’t very large for a serious boondocking rig, so they didn’t allow us more than about 4-5 days in one spot off the grid without having to move. Of course, a blue boy can help make up for that (and someone who was buying, or already had, a truck would likely buy and use). But again, a serious boondocking rig would be better served with larger on-board holding tanks.

Also, the holding tanks aren’t insulated, making this officially a 3-season (not a 4-season) RV. Camping in freezing temperatures means you’d have to winterize the camper and not use the water at all… which seems counterintuitive to the go-anywhere, rugged capabilities of Black Series campers.

Even though we weren’t RVing in brutally cold temperatures, it did get below freezing overnight several times. There was one morning when we woke up to a blocked fresh water tank because a (non-insulated) line had partially frozen.

Fortunately, since we were camping in a desert environment, the morning sun warmed things up quickly and water began flowing again. But we’ll admit that we found it a bit unnerving… especially since we weren’t even winter camping in really cold conditions.

Final Notes… and a Tease About Our New Rig

Those are our “full disclosure” notes based on our stint traveling and living in a Black Series HQ19. They are great rigs and we enjoyed and appreciated the opportunity to experience these rugged and unique travel trailers.

The fact that we’re not buying a Black Series as our new rig has nothing to do with any of the issues we mentioned here. It’s partly because our experience with the Black Series made us realize that we don’t WANT to go as far back country as it is capable of accessing. But, it’s mostly due to the #1 consideration: floorplan, floorplan, floorplan! Stay tuned for our upcoming announcement to see what we are buying. 😉

For much more on Black Series Campers, see our post where we discuss our tour of the Black Series Camper facility.

For a list of things to consider when searching for the right off-road camper for your own travels, see our post on off-road RV trailers. And here’s a little teaser for those of you who are eager to know what our next rig will be — it’s one of the brands listed in that post. 😁

Finally, please check out the very short (2-minute) unpublished YouTube video below. It’s a promo we shot for the Season 5  Discovery Channel premiere of The RVers, showing some of the amazing places and footage we were able to get in our Black Series camper:

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Gay Travel Enthusiast (Jason)

Tuesday 5th of March 2024

Awesome looking trailer. I've heard of the Black Series. I've never seen one in person. Hopefully the build quality is better than I've heard it to be.

Armor Todd

Tuesday 5th of March 2024

Interesting timing on this release, as Black Series trailers in general have been hammered recently for major failures in build quality and customer service. To the point where dealers have dropped the line entirely. You Tube is full of ‘Why we ditched our Black Series trailer’ videos. On another note I just ordered a Carefree of Colorado window awning that I will be installing on my Micro Minnie using your excellent diy video. Thanks

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