Bowlus elongates beauty with $185,000 aluminum-skinned off-grid camping trailer
Bowlus expands its lineup of gorgeous, aluminum-skinned Road Chief travel trailers with its longest model. The new Road Chief 26 gives four campers extra room to stretch out and a small front porch for enjoying the sunrise and sunset. It also loads the luxury high, packing in heated floors, 4 kWh of lithium battery power, a mobile router with 3G/4G modem, and an interior inspired by the canyon country of the American Southwest. Forget "roughing it" – hitch this trailer to your performance or ultra-luxury SUV and tour, live and work in full comfort and style.
Introduced last week, the Road Chief On Road Edition 26' has an extra 2 feet (61 in) of length as compared to the original 24-foot (7.3-m) Road Chief. An extra few inches of height help even out the profile and provide the high-performance aerodynamics Bowlus prides itself on. Interior headroom is still a comfortable-for-most 6-ft 4-in (1.9 m).
Out on the road, that extra size should only make the reflective aluminum shell that much more impressive to onlookers. It'll also give the engine a little more work, but with a base weight of 3,300 lb (1,500 kg) and gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 4,000 lb (1,814 kg), you don't need a semi cab to pull it and will be able to use a variety of mid- and full-size trucks and SUVs.
The Road Chief 26's interior layout is largely the same as the Road Chief 24, with the exception of the bathroom. Located just ahead of the rear bedroom, the new bathroom includes individual toilet and shower rooms separated by the central hallway, rather than the single wet bath on the 24-footer. The shower appears roomier and includes teak flooring and seating and a shower head that can be pulled through the window and used as an outdoor shower/sprayer. The toilet room has a cassette toilet and stainless steel sink. Two closets adjacent to the bathroom space provide yours/mine storage for linens, toiletries, robes and other items.
The private master bedroom is wedged into the tapered rear-end, housing two twin beds that convert into a single king. The bedroom also comes with sheets, duvets and pillows for both bed configurations, a night table, drapes and wood window inserts, LED reading lights, a dedicated heating fan tapped into the hydronic heating system, and a cooling fan.
Moving forward from the bedroom and bathroom areas, the living room is split into two convertible lounges. The right-side lounge includes a sofa with removable tabletop, while the left-side lounge has armchairs and a table. At night, each side converts into a bed, completing the four-berth sleeping layout.
In addition to dining and sleeping, the living area is optimized for laptop work, with a device charging station on the underside of the left-side table and a mobile router with embedded 3G/4G modem and GPS. Soft-close storage drawers are located under the chairs and sofa.
The kitchen fills out the front of the trailer, with a gas dual-burner cooktop and 88-liter fridge/freezer on one side, a sink and microwave on the other. The appliances are surrounded by cupboards, drawers, shelves and stainless steel countertops.
A front door on the kitchen opens up to a small diamond-plate deck located on the drawbar, good for stepping outside with a morning coffee or evening wine. The deck isn't sized for entertaining, but Bowlus does include a stowable, folding outdoor cafe table for more formal outdoor dining.
The Road Chief 26 isn't quite as tech-forward as the Lithium+ we looked at two years ago, but it benefits from the same-size 4-kWh lithium-iron-phosphate battery that provides for up to a week of off-grid electricity. That's double the capacity of the Road Chief 24, allowing campers to run power-heavy appliances like the microwave and remote-controlled 10,000-BTU air conditioner directly off the battery. Bowlus says that A/C will run for about four hours on battery power alone, so a better option for off-grid pre-cooling than extended off-grid running. A 120-watt solar panel is available optionally.
Other key standard features include a gas hydronic heating system, heated floors, real wood and anodized interior walls, a cellular booster, bronze window, vent and door screens, a continuous hot water heater, a 72-L fresh water tank, an 80-L grey water tank and LED lighting. The interior comes in a "Heart of the Canyons" motif inspired by the colorful sand, dirt and rock of the superlative national lands of Utah, Arizona and neighboring states. The exterior includes LED lighting and an awning that can be attached to either side.
The On The Road 26 Edition starts at a cool US$185,000, which actually puts it in the middle of Bowlus' lineup, between the $137,000 On The Road 24 Edition and the $219,000 Endless Highways. Those looking for "entry level" will be looking at the $120,000 three-person Heritage Edition. But hey, charge a dollar or two to answer every time someone stops to ask, "What is that gorgeous thing and where can I get one?" and you should pay it off in no time.
Note: Bowlus plans to send us bathroom photos after a scheduled shoot in about a week. We'll add them to the gallery once we have them.