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What’s an R-Pod Camper?

What’s an R-Pod Camper?

There are lots of small to intermediate-sized, lightweight campers on the market these days. Many of these campers are light enough to allow RVers to pull a little home-on-wheels behind smaller tow vehicles, like an SUV. They stack up tall with lots of amenities and are priced to allow many more people the opportunity to get out and experience the joys of RVing and camping. Among these fun little campers is a fairly popular rig known as the R-Pod camper.

In today’s post, we’ll be featuring this cozy little camper as we investigate what makes the R-Pod so popular, and for whom a rig like the R-Pod might work best.

What Is an R-Pod Camper?

An R-Pod camper is a travel trailer that’s been around for about a decade now and is one of Forest River’s lines of travel trailers.

With its distinct rounded edges, the R-Pod is recognizable as a solid, aerodynamic little travel trailer ripe with amenities that pack the comforts of home into a small, relatively lightweight package.

Who Makes the R-Pod Camper?

The R-Pod camper is made by Forest River RV, a very familiar name in the RV industry.

Forest River RV is one of the largest RV manufacturers in North America. Founded in 1996, Forest River RV is part of a larger company (Forest River, Inc.) that, in addition to RVs, makes cargo trailers, buses, commercial trucks, and pontoons. Forest River, Inc. has been owned by Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. since 2005.

Forest River RV is based in Elkhart, Indiana, the hub of RV manufacturing in North America. They have production facilities in several locations in the midwest and on the west coast.

How is an R-Pod Constructed?

A photo of a small R-Pod camper with classic curved end

With Azdel composite walls and a one-piece curved roof, the R-Pod camper is a lightweight but rugged little camper. (Photo credit: Forest River RV)

The R-Pod uses Azdel fiberglass walls and has a one-piece seamless fiberglass roof.

Because Azdel fiberglass insulates twice as well as wood does, it constructs quite an efficient little travel trailer in terms of both sound and temperature. For more information on Forest River’s towables made with Azdel fiberglass, consult this flier, courtesy of Forest River RV.

An R-Pod’s walls are composite with a fiberglass exterior followed by Azdel, insulation, and then the interior wall panel. The purpose of this design was to produce a water-resistant (and thus mold and rot-resistant) RV.

The frame of an R-Pod is aluminum which not only contributes to the lightweight nature of these little travel trailers but also offers a structurally sound unit.

R-Pod windows are marketed as “zero maintenance” based on the fact that they use automotive window seals said to be both “weather-proof” and watertight.

In terms of what carries the R-Pod, its torsion axle is mounted to the frame of the trailer, and the axle tubing contains heavy-duty rubber cords that serve to decrease or prevent torsion while creating a solid suspension.

What is the Lightest R-Pod Camper?

At 19’ in length and 2,714 lbs dry weight, the RP-171 is the lightest R-Pod model currently offered. While it doesn’t offer a slide, the floorplan is fairly substantial with a queen-sized bed, a wet bath, a full kitchenette, and a little dinette.

The floor plan of the model RP-171

The lightest R-Pod model is the RP-171 which is capable of being towed by vehicles like the Toyota Sienna minivan or the Subaru Outback. (Photo/Floorplan credit: Forest River RV)

To give you some perspective, this little travel trailer could be towed by a minivan like the Toyota Sienna, several SUVs, and even by a Subaru Outback.

As with any lightweight travel trailer being towed by a smaller vehicle, the real trick is not to overload the trailer (or the tow vehicle for that matter).

What is the Heaviest R-Pod Camper?

At 25’ in length with a dry weight of 4,574 pounds, the RP-202 is the heaviest (and the longest) R-Pod currently offered.

The RP-202 offers a single slide-out containing your choice of either a sofa or a dinette. This model positions the bedroom at the front of the trailer and the kitchen at the rear.

The floorplan of the model RP-202

The R-Pod model RP-202 is the heaviest and longest R-Pod. (Photo/Floorplan credit: Forest River RV)

While it may be tempting to consider that you can tow the RP-202 with just about any truck, you need to be sure to employ real-world data to your setup. For example, you’ll need to consider the loaded weight of the trailer, including things like tongue weight (with propane and batteries), etc.

While R-Pods are comparatively lightweight rigs, the weight adds up fast when you load up a travel trailer with the stuff of life and adventuring, so pay very careful attention to weight, and be sure to consult an honest, reliable dealer – or the manufacturer directly – if you have any questions related to using a particular tow vehicle to pull an R-Pod, particularly the RP-202.

Do All R-Pods Have Bathrooms?

Yes! All R-Pods have bathrooms.

With that said, however, until the 2021 floor plans were released, all R-Pods had wet baths. This means the area where you shower is integrated with the area where you do everything else from brushing your teeth to using the toilet. Translated, this means the entire bathroom gets wet when you take a shower.

For full details on how a wet bath works, please feel free to have a look at our post, “Do Wet Baths Suck?

But, before you get discouraged about the idea of having a wet bath, be sure to consider our post about RV outdoor showers.

Forest River has apparently become wise to the market’s demand for dry baths because all but one of their 2021 R-Pod models offer dry baths, and we expect that their 2022 models will offer them as well. R-Pod dry baths offer a separate shower with a shower curtain, a Thetford toilet, vanity, and storage cabinet.

Photo of a dry bath in a 2021 model R-Pod

In 2021, Forest River began to incorporate dry baths into most of their new R-Pods. This is in contrast to models from previous years that have wet baths. (Photo credit: Forest River RV)

For more information on dry baths, visit our post, “What Is a Dry Bath In a Camper?

How Big Are the Holding Tanks on an R-Pod Camper?

The holding tanks on the R-Pod camper are actually fairly impressive for a small travel trailer. All models of R-Pods offer at least 30-gallon fresh, gray, and black water capacity. Forest River also offers a few special order R-Pods (176T, 177, 182G) that have 36-gallon fresh water tanks for longer boondocking.

These are good-sized holding tanks, and as avid boondockers we surely appreciate larger tank capacities on small travel trailers. Bear in mind, however, that if you’ve got a full fresh water tank on your way to your camping destination, then you’ve got an extra 250 pounds onboard. These are things to take into account when considering your tow vehicle and any model of R-Pod. The same is true if, as you leave your camping excursion, you’re carrying a full gray water tank and some weight in your black tank.

Speaking of holding tanks, we’ve noticed that several models of the R-Pod have interesting placement of the gray and black tank drains, with one on each side of the rear trailer wheel. The models we saw via video, the 2021 and 2022 R-Pod 190, position the gray tank drain ahead of the rear trailer wheel, and the black tank drain behind the rear wheel. This presents some inconvenience in terms of draining the gray and black tanks, as they need to be drained separately. Moreover, the black tank flush on the models we saw was positioned on the opposite side of the trailer itself, an awkward arrangement.

Do R-Pods Have Slides?

R-Pods do have slides! In fact, all but three models of the R-Pod offer a Schwintek slide-out.

An R-Pod dinette built into a slide

This R-Pod dinette is built into a slide that opens up the floor space of the camper considerably. (Photo credit: Forest River RV)

As is generally the case with slides, this opens up the floor space in the area of the slide-out and in some models allows for additional sleeping space.

The use of a slide-out, particularly in an otherwise relatively small camper, is a commendable addition to the design of the R-Pods.

What Is the Hitch Weight of an R-Pod Camper?

Of course, the hitch weight (or tongue weight) of an R-Pod depends on the model. The smallest, lightest models offer a hitch weight of 245 pounds, while the hitch weight of the heavier models moves up to 460 pounds.

It’s very important that you make absolutely sure, with the assistance of the dealer (if applicable) that you have the correct hitch setup for your situation, toward optimally safe towing.

For more information on why we feel the need to mention how critical this is, please see our post on trailer sway control. This is NOT an event you’ll want to experience, and you can avoid it with proper attention to weight issues.

Can I Tow an R-Pod Camper With an SUV?

Depending on the R-Pod model AND the SUV, you may be able to tow an R-Pod with one. There are some SUVs (certain models of the Toyota RAV4 come to mind) that are only capable of towing 1,500 pounds. Obviously, this would not be an SUV capable of towing any model of R-Pod, including the smallest.

In general, a vehicle that can safely tow 5,000 pounds can tow just about any R-Pod. HOWEVER – remember that the RP-202 weighs in DRY at 4,574 pounds, which would be cutting it pretty darned close when you start adding weight to the trailer. Indeed, we’re confident that any RV-202 would be over 5,000 pounds once the rig is loaded up for camping.

Is An R-Pod Big Enough for a Family?

The answer to this question, of course, depends on the family, but generally speaking, most of the R-Pod models sleep between two and four people, but two people may need to sleep in the same bed, as the main bed will sleep two, and the dinette conversion will sleep another two, for example.

The best model for a family, however, might be the bunk bed models, including the RP-176T which has a set of bunk beds, a dinette that converts to a bed, and a queen bed.

Likewise, the 2021 RP-193 offers a set of bunk beds, a queen Murphy bed, and a slide-out sofa (for one).

The floorplan for the R-Pod model RP193

The R-Pod model RP193 is suitable for families with its Murphy bed, twin bunk beds, sofa seating for 5, and the largest bathroom layout of any R-Pod model. (Photo/Floorplan credit: Forest River RV)

So, the best R-Pods for a family, (unless you have a small family with two Littles who can still sleep together on the dinette bed), are likely any of the models that offer bunk beds.

How Much Does an R-Pod Camper Cost?

The purchase price of R-Pod campers varies considerably depending on the model, floorplan, options, dealer, and even the location. But, for reference, the smallest R-Pods start at around $17,000 (new), and the larger models can run as high as $35,000.

In the mid-range, a new R-Pod will cost in the neighborhood of $25,000 or so.

What Is the Warranty on an R-Pod Camper?

The manufacturer’s warranty offered on an R-Pod camper (and all Forest River towables) is a 1-year limited warranty.

You can find the detailed warranty on towables purchased on or before June 30, 2021, here.

You can find the detailed warranty on towables purchased on or after July 1, 2021, here.

This is a very good reason to get to know your R-Pod intimately upon purchase and learn to conduct your own repairs and maintenance as much as possible. RV repair shops can be expensive, first of all, and there are a number of other reasons to avoid them as noted in our post “7 Reasons to Avoid RV Repair Shops.”

Are R-Pods Good Campers?

As with anything else, there are pros and cons to R-Pod campers.

On the “pro” side, the R-Pod allows for a variety of budgets and for a variety of tow vehicles, all of which open up the wonders of RVing to many more people. They’ve got good-sized holding tanks for small trailers, and their construction is solid and hopefully durable.

The R-Pod makes a great little base camp that doesn’t break the bank, and Forest River has done a good job of including all of the amenities for comfortable RV living.

A Forest River technician working on the construction of an R-Pod

Forest River RV prides itself on the fact that their R-Pods are “human-built”, every step of the way. (Photo credit: Forest River RV)

There are a few “cons”, of course, though they’re few and may not be deal-breakers for many. We don’t like the separate positioning of the gray water and black water drains, particularly with the black water flush placed all the way on the other side of the trailer.

And in terms of interior quality, as you might expect from a less expensive travel trailer, the interior materials aren’t especially luxurious. That said, a base camp is a place to relax and sleep when you’re tired from enjoying your fantastic camping adventures. And luxury isn’t necessarily something most RVers are really after in a travel trailer, particularly at this level.

Many would consider the R-Pod a nice entry-level trailer for newcomers to RVing or to weekend campers rather than long-term travelers or full-timers.

What Do You Think of the R-Pod Camper?

Have you seen or experienced R-Pod campers yourself? If so, we’d love for you to leave a comment to let us know your impression of these neat little travel trailers.

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Adam

Thursday 24th of February 2022

I have a 2021 179, its nice but my biggest issue is there's 1 small wardrobe closet and 3 very small drawers , not even close to being able to fit all my wife's stuff let alone my clothes. And there's no where else to put anything. And the 2 cushions for the dinette mattress, there's no where to put them , they just hang out on the bed all day.

Laura Haig

Monday 14th of February 2022

I have an 2019 Rpod 189. I love it. It also has a dry bath. I tow with a Nissan Frontier by myself without problems. Not fond of the waste management situation but it has everything I need for a price I could afford.

TheRVgeeks

Monday 14th of February 2022

Thanks for sharing, Laura!

Kelley Miller

Monday 14th of February 2022

I have a 2020 R-Pod 196, and it has a dry bath, so at least some of the models prior to 2021 do have dry baths. But, you are correct about the separation of the black and gray tanks. This is definitely one feature that I do not like, nor do I like having the black tank flush on the other side. I have enjoyed two seasons in my R-Pod so far and have really enjoyed it. The R-Pod community on Facebook has been extremely helpful in learning how to do things and finding great ideas for how to make the small space work.

TheRVgeeks

Monday 14th of February 2022

Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Kelley!

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