Wood-free pop-up camping trailer packs a rooftop party deck
With a pop-up that looks like a chimney and a bimini-topped party deck, the roof of the short, stout Purpose Trailer from California's RKS Off-Road is unlike any other you're likely to see at the campground. In fact, it holds up to 1,000 lb (454 kg) so that a campsite of friends can chill out during the day for better views, with a pair sticking around at night to camp in the deployable tent. The hybrid caravan/teardrop-style interior has standing height where you need it, lying height where you don't.
The 17-foot (5.2 m) RKS Purpose trailer proves yet again that no matter how many different camping trailer configurations we see, there's always something completely different on the horizon. It's a four-person trailer that organizes things in a way we would have never thought of.
On the drive, the Purpose is something of a compact box that stands just under 7 feet (2.1 m) tall. When looking at it, it doesn't appear quite high enough to stand in so could be either a pop-top all-terrain caravan, as are common in Australia, or a boxy trailer with a teardrop-style lying room-only interior, something like the Bruder EXP-4.
In fact, the the Purpose is both. The hard roof over top the bed is fixed at 4.3 feet (1.3 m), offering comfortable height while lying or sitting on the 80 x 60-in (203 x 152 cm) residential-queen size memory foam mattress. Meanwhile, the pop-up roof at the front of the trailer opens a standing height of over 7 feet (2.1 m) inside the entryway and bathroom. This way, campers can stand up to shower and wash up before lying down in bed – standing height where you need it, not where you don't.
The wet bathroom includes a ceramic macerator toilet, indoor/outdoor shower sprayer and a sink. A 70-gal fresh water tank and 85-gal fresh/waste water tanks are located at the ends of the plumbing system, while a gray water filtration feature recycles gray water for use in the toilet.
The roof over the Purpose bedroom maintains a fixed height and is designed as a deck, complete with an available folding canopy. The canopy frame also works in helping hold up the canvas tent, adding sheltered sleeping space large enough for two adults. A power outlet provides charging inside the tent, and the deck/tent can be accessed from inside or outside the trailer.
In terms of cooking, RKS has its own take on the tailgate galley. The Purpose tailgate flips up, and a door swings to the side carrying a fold-down shelf with dual-burner portable stove and a second shelf to serve as a worktop. This leaves the interior free to hold the large slide-out fridge/freezer and stainless steel sink. The layout strays from the average tailgate galley that places the sink, stove, worktop and fridge all in line between the trailer walls. We like the more spaced-out L-shaped approach, but the interior feels a little underdone and could use some cabinets or drawers for storing cookware, utensils, dry food and dishes.
RKS relies on a 105-Ah lithium battery for power, and offers a 210-Ah battery setup as an option. The 2,000-W inverter/charger and 120-V shore power hookup with come standard, while a roof-mounted 210-W solar panel is available as an option.
Structurally, RKS eliminates the wood you find in other trailer builds, hanging fiberglass honeycomb panels on a frame built from aircraft-grade aluminum tubes and I-beams. A multi-point rail system around the outside walls and roof offers versatile rack and accessory mounting, and RKS puts it to use with its own available side-mounted surfboard carrier and firewood cage. An impressive lifetime warranty backs up the structural elements.
The Purpose's heavy-duty 5,200-lb (2,358-kg) Timbren Axle-less suspension cushions the 285/65R-18 tires. RKS lets buyers choose from ground clearance options ranging between 13 and 19 inches (33 and 48 cm). The trailer weighs 2,250 lb (1,021 kg) dry, leaving 2,950 lb (1,338 kg) of payload.
The Purpose seems to slide into the market comfortably between hard-sided travel trailers and fifth-wheels that are comfortable at camp but cumbersome when driving off-road and small off-road square-drop trailers that are fully off-road-ready but a little minimalist as base camps. At $39,900 to start, it's competing with alternatives like the Airstream Basecamp X (or family-size Basecamp 20X), SylvanSport Vast, Taxa Mantis and Australian-style Opus 15 off-road pop-top caravan. Purpose trailer options include the roof canopy/tent system that makes it a four-sleeper, an indoor/outdoor sound system, smart TV, air conditioning and heating.
Source: RKS Off-Road