It's Hard Being Big and Light, but the r-pod Pulls It Off for a Pocket-Friendly $24K

It's not easy being large and light at the same time, except for maybe a balloon or something like that. But in the RV industry, there's no way to fool that notion. Or is there? It seems that Forest River has some pretty solid solutions to building a spacious travel trailer while keeping weight down to a minimum, and all are expressed in the r-pod.
r-pod Travel Trailer 15 photos
Photo: Forest River / Edited by autoevolution
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Why Forest River uses lowercase letters to write the r-pod's name, we may never know. Maybe it has something to do with expressing this lineup's traits. No matter, today, we'll explore just what it is that makes this family of travel trailers suitable for consideration as your next camper purchase. In the process, we'll also bring to light just how this RV group makes RV magic.

Now, back in the day, campers and travel trailers were mainly built with one timeless and renewable resource, wood. Come to think of it, wood campers are still being built today, but we all know how this building block fares against the elements, especially if not treated properly. Well, over time, we've looked for ways to create impermeable and element-resistant materials and settled on metals like aluminum and galvanized steel, but also composite goods too. These materials are excellent against the elements like sun and rain, and why still see aluminum or fiberglass campers alive after decades? Steel is typically used to build trailer frames.

However, building a camper out of nothing but aluminum and steel can result in a rather heavy unit, and the same is true for fiberglass, so engineers have sought ways to help bring the weight of mobile habitats to a minimum while also ensuring the elements don't blow your house down. The missing piece of the puzzle, and the one most frequently used for years, is Azdel, you know, that composite panel stuff from which most camper trailers are built these days.

r\-pod Travel Trailer \(Interior\)
Photo: Forest River
Now, Azdel is a composite panel that's used to help offer protection, insulation, and sound-proofing, to a camper, much like wood used to do. But because this stuff is built of fiberglass and polypropylene, the elements will have difficulty breaking it down. Once placed around an aluminum frame with insulation inside and fiberglass skin on top, the results are a mobile habitat that weighs a fraction of traditional units.

What does a fraction mean? Well, in the case of the r-pod, the lightest floorplan comes in with a UVW of 2,714 pounds (1,231 kilograms), and that's a 19-foot (5.8-meter) habitat. The biggest bugger available is a 25-footer (7.6-meter) with a UVW of 5,003 pounds (2,270 kilograms), but this is also one of the more equipped units, so it makes sense.

But beyond the construction process, Forest River also takes the time to ensure that the r-pod offers you the things you need to be comfortable. If you have larger families, some units can accommodate up to six or more, depending on who sleeps on the floor, and some units even include slide-outs to help expand the interior. Typically, the dinettes or kitchens are found on this feature. A couple of units even include a Murphy bed, pushing the notion of spacious even further. Take a look at the gallery to get a taste of what's in store.

Well, as flashy as the interior may look, I don't want a camper that will keep me locked up inside of it; I want a habitat that can offer me everything I need to survive, especially off-grid. As I explored the r-pod, it seems that Forest River has thought of this too. There's a 6-gallon (23-liter) electric or gas water heater, 30 gallons (114 liters) of grey water, and the ability to add solar power depending on your needs. Sure, the latter will require you to dish out some extra cash, but the result should be extended weekends away from the hustle and bustle of inner-city life.

r\-pod Travel Trailer \(Interior\)
Photo: Forest River
Now, let's pack all that up into one neat picture and see just what sort of life we can lead with an r-pod, and it all starts with you dishing out around $24,000 (€22,300 at current exchange rates), depending on the floorplan, features, options, and how deep your local dealership's pockets may be. Rates can climb up to $45K (€42K) and beyond, so take the time to see which floorplan and features are fit for you.

Once you decide to blow the kid's college fund, it's time to pack up your gear and hit the road for the next few days. With a bike, kayak, or roof rack, more possible adventures are unlocked, and storage to bring along any other outdoor-destined gear is also in place. Bring that massive umbrella and folding lawn chairs, and lay them out on God's lawn, as I like to call it. With the children unleashed and running around your campsite, you kick back and crack open a cold one. If it's cold outside, tea should do just fine.

Later in the evening, once the children have burned up all their extra energy, light up a little fire, break out the gods to make some s'mores, and because it's a clear sky, why not whip out the telescope and teach the little ones a thing or two about the sun, moon, and stars. Bonding it's called, and we should do more of it. After all, spending time with family members is one of the best ways to get to know and connect with them. Who cares if there's an occasional bicker; without a fight or two, it just isn't family.

With solid and light construction, features designed to accommodate whole families, and a price that won't leave you scrounging for cash at the pump, we may need to consider the r-pod for mobile living for the upcoming glamping season.
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Editor's note: Images in the gallery showcase an array of r-pod models and interiors.

About the author: Cristian Curmei
Cristian Curmei profile photo

A bit of a nomad at heart (being born in Europe and raised in several places in the USA), Cristian is enamored with travel trailers, campers and bikes. He also tests and writes about urban means of transportation like scooters, mopeds and e-bikes (when he's not busy hosting our video stories and guides).
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