2010 Forest River r.pod - RP-151 Review

Budget-minded travel trailer a perfect fit for two

By Howard J Elmer, Nov. 30, 2009
At a recent Ford new model introduction I fell into conversation with an executive whose job it is to track and anticipate the direction new social buying trends will take. Her opinion of the current economic upheaval was that once we are past the immediate monetary impact of this recession consumers will emerge with a new set of priorities in their lives – and the key change she forecasts is the death of excess. I suppose she knows what she is talking about because Ford bases future product decisions on her predictions of what will sell in the next several years; she says that even folks who can afford more will buy less.

With her thoughts in mind I took a new Ford Edge out with a Forest River r.pod, a travel trailer that can only be described as utility-minded model towed by a very economical, frugal vehicle. Interestingly the Edge and r.pod both use a teardrop shape, which space-wise, is the most useful. This shape, made popular by the VW Beatle, offers plenty of storage and an aerodynamic silhouette.

Inside the r.pod is efficient and complete, offering everything two people need for a weekend or even a week. The galley area takes up the front end of the pod, with a counter the full width of the trailer. In the centre is a sink with a gooseneck faucet that can swivel out of the way for washing dishes; beside it is two-burner propane stove. A Dometic three-way refrigerator is to the left. This is raised off the floor (the water heater is below it) which makes access to the 4.2 cubic foot space easy; there is also a freezer here. A neat item used in the r.pod is nets. Rather than all cupboard doors, a number of spaces use nets to hold items – these would especially be useful while in transit.

This idea also extends to the wet bath where several net pockets are arranged on the wall to hold toiletries, mind you this is not a true wet bath because an inside shower curtain that runs on a J-shaped track would keep much of what was in those storage pockets dry. Because the bath is located in the centre of the unit there is plenty of head space; even in the shower (which has a bottom pan that is elevated) I estimated that someone 6’1” wouldn’t have to duck.  In fact just outside the bathroom door the roof sits at a comfortable height of 6’6”; moving to the galley counter I found that I could work (or the horror – do dishes) and my head just brushed the ceiling (I’m six-foot).

At the other end of the r.pod is the U-shaped dinette that doubles as the sleeping space.  The table that measures 58x74 inches is freestanding, meaning it could be easily moved outside for use. With the two legs folded up it fits into the centre space of the “U” and cushions from each side fit to make up the bed. It looks to be comfortable for two, being six-feet wide and quite deep. The only drawback is that the inside resident may have to climb over someone to get out. 

Ventilation in a small unit is important and the r-pod deals with this by providing two roof vents (one is a powered vent in the bath) and three windows with sliding half glass and screens. Also the main door folds out and locks to reveal a full length screen door that also closes with a latch.  Two of these windows offer nice ventilation across the bed, while the large rear window (that does not open) has a full sliding curtain on it to block sunshine and nosy neighbors. The rest of the windows sport metal mini-blinds.

The only other feature in the r-pod is a combination cupboard/shelf unit just across from the bath. This unit houses the connections for the cable or satellite hook-ups as well as a GFI electrical outlet. There is also a shallow cupboard with a mirror, almost like a medicine cabinet – no doubt to offer another space for dressing if the bath is occupied.  While the 9-inch LCD TV and entertainment system is optional this is where it would go (on the shelf) and I noted there is no factory offering for securing it. Perhaps it would be if outfitted with it – either way there should be some method of securing a TV for transit.

Outside it is almost surprising to find that the r-pod has a pass-thru storage at the rear of the unit that extends right across the trailer accessed by two doors. Furthermore there is a sizable space at the front of the trailer – also accessed from an outside door.  These spaces are maximized by storing propane and batteries on the hitch A-frame and by mounting the spare tire on a hitch-type receiver at the rear of the unit rather than inside.

All plug-ins, dump valves and water hook-ups are simple and easily reached in one area of the trailer and the r.pod even comes with a set of rear stabilizer jacks. These are the screw-type. A tip here, a cordless drill with a nut driving bit makes this chore much easier.

From a simplicity point-of-view the r.pod fulfills its mandate. It has everything you need, but nothing extra. But a few popular options do exist; like: a convection microwave oven, outside awning with built-in screen room and an 11,000 BTU low profile A/C unit.

An interesting note from a towing point of view is that the trailer is only 6.5 feet wide, meaning no special mirrors are needed and vehicles with even Class II hitches can handle it.

Forest River r.pod – RP-151 Specs
Dry Weight 1,937 lb
GVWR 3,244 lb
Length 16’2”
Width 6’2”
Height 8’8”
LP Gas 20 lb
Fresh Water 36 gal
Gray Water 35 gal
Black Water 35 gal