Bowlus launches an off-grid glamping trailer for the not-as-wealthy
Bowlus offers some of the most stylish, luxury-loaded travel trailers on the market, but they have never come cheap – at all. Bringing those prices a little closer to earth, the California company this week introduced an all-new entry-level model called the Heritage Edition. This one still costs as much as a nice Ford Transit camper van, but it's over US$100K less than the next trailer up in Bowlus' lineup. It still packs in a week's worth of off-grid lithium power, a well-appointed interior for four, and glamping comforts like air conditioning and hydronic heating.
Every time we see a new Bowlus, we're reminded of a lingering question: How many buyers with the means to spend $200,000 or $300,000 on a trailer actually want to travel and camp in a trailer, as opposed to a larger, comfier motorhome ... or even a vacation condo. But to Bowlus' credit, it's spent the last decade introducing high-specced, high-priced trailers, each more lavish and expensive than the last. It must be doing something right.
It would seem that Bowlus has finally warmed to the idea of momentarily switching to a downmarket gear. And while a $159,000 base price is still more than enough to keep us wondering about the whos and whys, it's the lowest price tag we've seen on a Bowlus since we looked at the original Road Chief redux exactly 10 years ago this month.
Bowlus has built an identity on its distinctive riveted aluminum trailer shell, and it doesn't dilute that identity in crafting a base model. It does tweak the look of the Heritage Edition's aluminum monocoque a little, though, offering it in "mill finish," a matte satin silver that's more subtle than the bright, shiny aluminum on its other trailers. We think the new finish works even better with the trailer's vintage Streamline Moderna styling, but those who don't dig it can also select either a matte black or satin grey custom wrap, a new option from Bowlus.
The 27-foot (8.2-m) Heritage Edition has the same floor plan as other Bowlus trailers, carrying a pointed-nose king bedroom at the rear, a dry bath with separate toilet and shower rooms just fore of the bedroom, a dining and sofa lounge amidships, and a gourmet kitchen up front. The central lounge converts over to two single beds so that the trailer can accommodate up to four adults in all.
Lithium battery power has long been a cornerstone of Bowlus' builds, and that continues with the Heritage Edition. The standard package includes a 2-kWh lithium battery pack and 1,000-W inverter that Bowlus says will support off-grid getaways for roughly a week. Those looking for more electrical capability can add 2 or 4 kWh of additional battery capacity, a 2,000- or 3,000-W inverter, solar charging, a touchscreen control panel, Bluetooth and remote monitoring, and four to eight hours of off-grid air conditioner runtime.
Along with A/C, the Heritage Edition comes standard with cabin and water heating, a dual-burner Italian cooktop, 88-L refrigerator and microwave in its galley, and 72 L of fresh water capacity. The optional technology package tacks on Starlink internet prep, a 5G router, a cellular booster, a backup camera, and interior tablet mounts.
Fewer standard features means less weight, and the Heritage Edition is the lightest Bowlus in the fleet at 2,900 lb (1,315 kg). Its 3,500-lb (1,588-kg) gross vehicle weight rating leaves 600 lb (270 kg) of payload for adding on options and carrying luggage and gear.
For those who don't want to take down the $159,000 with one big swing, Bowlus also offers a financing option that breaks down to $1,027/month. Still ouch.