Travel trailers are beginning to come with more desired aftermarket features directly from the factory. Most of these features are the ones you will want to install to your trailer someday down the road, but if you can get them factory installed, that not only saves you time to research the products and install, but you may be able to save money on the items as well as have them included on your travel trailer warranty.
Depending on where you camp, or how long you are traveling depends on what features you would look for in your specific trailer, but these features are the top ones most travel trailer users desire.
We picked these items with the basis of them improving your camping experience, making it quicker to get up and running, as well as for the function of your trailer. If you are searching for a new travel trailer, read more on our Travel Trailer Buyers Guide.
WIFI Range Extender
Having an included WIFI range extender will help you get a good signal from your campgrounds WIFI in your trailer. Gone are the days of only getting your campgrounds WIFI in specific common areas. A WIFI range extender basically acts as a repeater by catching the signal from the campground, then repeating it in your trailer for you and your family to use. This not only will result in more range, but a quicker signal than you could normally get when on the outskirts of having range or not. This keeps you in communication with the outside world if you are in an area with no cell phone service.
Having this gadget preinstalled can save you the hassle of wiring it into your 12 volt system as well as the hassle of having to make roof penetrations for the wiring and bolting down. In my opinion, a roof penetration is one of the most difficult things to do on a travel trailer as it can cause leaks if done incorrectly. Forest River travel trailers are starting to include WIFI range extenders on many of their units.
If your RV did not come standard with a WIFI range extender, we really like this one.
MaxxAir Vent Fan
Most trailers today come with a small loud fan that doesn’t do too much except waste power. Some brands of travel trailers are starting to include upgraded fans on their units. Forrest River once again is including these on some of their Rockwoods, Rpods, E-Pro’s and some others. This saves the end user from having to do some roof patching when adding a fan as well as the 12v electrical work.
The stock fans on travel trailers are known for how junky they are. The fan is only covers about 20% of the total vent and is not very efficient at moving air. These motors also tend to draw a lot of power with how inefficient they are.
One major must have lots of travel trailer owners recommend is a vent van upgrade. These MaxxAir fans can be had in many different models. Our favorite model is the MaxxFan Plus Vent. The MaxxFan Plus includes the fan, a new vent cover, as well as a remote. Not only does the remote act as a control for the fan, but it also acts as a remote thermostat which can start and stop the fan depending on what temperature you have it set to. This can keep your trailer cool while you are gone for the day and not have to run the a/c.
The MaxxFan Plus also has a motorized vent cover with rain sensor so the vent can be remotely opened and closed and if it is left open and you are out and about, the vent will automatically close if it senses any moisture. This fan covers about 80% of the vent opening with a 10 blade fan and can be operated in forward or reverse. If you have two fans, you can set one to forward and the other to reverse to quickly air out your trailer. These fans are equipped with a ball bearing motor which is more efficient than the stock motor. These fans can be used to exhaust air, or act as a ceiling fan and blow air around in your trailer. These upgraded fans move about 900 cfm of air per minute. A 20’ trailer that is 8’ wide with 7’ high ceilings has about 1,120 cubic foot of air without any furniture. With furniture and fixtures it probably has more like 850 cubic foot. With this fan you can replace your air in your trailer every minute.
Rooftop Solar Panel
As I am sure you have found out if you are out in the trailer market, that there is a difference between solar ready and solar installed. Solar ready basically means you have a terminal on the exterior of your travel trailer for installing a portable system at a later date. We are finding that many manufacturers are including solar preinstalled. Nash includes a 20 watt panel, the Flagstaff E-Pro includes a 100 watt unit. This amount of power will not keep you up and running off grid, but will keep your batteries topped off when in storage and provide a bit of charge if out off grid. Outdoors RV has some models with a preinstalled panel with connectors already installed on the roof to install up to 500 watts with the included controller. This means that you don’t have to do much roof work when installing solar, just fitting the panels on the roof and no cable routing through the unit.
Preinstalled solar and a controller eliminates the running of wires through the roof, to the controller, and down to the battery. This can be hectic finding wire chases to run wires and drilling through your roof or other items.
500 watts of solar should be enough to use most of your basic items while off grid and keep your batteries charged.
Backup Camera Ready
We have seen trailers that come back up camera ready for a select model or style of cameras. Typically we see Furrion branded ready. A backup ready RV doesn’t mean a whole lot, just pre wired for power as well as a mounting plate. Even though this does not sound like a lit, these two items can save hours of finding and running power as well as drilling into the unknown of your RV. A backup camera is a top feature that will help you with your towing game, for information on additional items that will help you with your towing game, read our guide to the Top Towing Accessories.
Solar ready travel trailers are on the rise and are a good feature to have. If you get a suitcase solar system with controller, you can simply plug the panel into your RV and get some charge. This is very simple for the person who does not need a whole 500 watt array of solar, but just some juice to keep your batteries charged when running lights at night or the occasional water pump.
Dual Wide Axle
Having a wide axle preinstalled on your travel trailer helps with vehicle sway while driving down the road as well as stability. Winnebago, Keystone, Jayco, and others have all jumped on the bandwagon on the wider axle placement for more stability.
How you load your RV also plays a large part on how it acts while going down the road. Some trailers now such as the Outdoors RV are also including shock absorbers. This provides stability from bouncing around when the trailer hits a bump and is important if off roading to get to your back country off grid spot.
Power Tongue Jack
Lots of brands are including a power tongue jack on their new units, and let me tell you, this is a must. Saving your arms from cranking and cranking up then down then up again is much appreciated when hitching up and unhitching. Power tongue jacks can also be installed aftermarket on many trailers. The good news is they are located next to the battery box, so wiring them in is a breeze. We have this jack installed on our travel trailer as it is quick, reliable, and quiet. Also included is a manual crank in case your battery is too low to use the electric jack. You don’t want to get caught without the ability to raise or lower your travel trailer.
Tip: Power tongue jacks do use some power, so when unhooking your RV at a campsite, make sure you are still connected to vehicle power to save that little bit of extra juice.
Power Stabilizing Jacks
Many new trailers are coming with power stabilizing jacks. We have seen these on some Dutchman models as well as Keystone. A power stabilizer jack once again saves your arms from cranking them down.
Some trailers have a single button to deploy all jacks at the same time automatically, and some have a switch at each corner to manually release each jack. This saves you time from not having to get your hand crank out and crank them each down.
Tip: If you are not interested in power stabilizing jacks, buy this drill attachment and get them down quickly.
Built in Window in Front Cap
There is never enough windows installed in travel trailers, by having a window installed on your front cap gives you the ability to see what is going on to the front of your trailer, but gives you the natural light that you could have been missing.
Some of these trailers come with a shield to install when driving, and some are made of automotive windshield glass. We have seen Rockwood, Airstream, Lance, and other manufactures use this technique to make their units feel more open and livable.
A built in outdoor kitchen can bring the party to the outdoors, which is the reason you have gone camping in the first place and can be found on most all manufactures trailers. Some units include a sink, fridge, as well as stove.
We loved the idea of getting an outdoor kitchen, but could not find one in the size of RV we were looking for. These kitchens not only keep people outside in nature, but keep them out of walking in and out of the RV trying to cook and prepare meals keeping your trailer cleaner as well as the AC or heat inside depending on the season.
One downside of the refrigerators installed in outdoor kitchens, is they are typically 120v units meaning they will not work on battery. If you plan on being off grid, you may not find this refrigerator as important and remove it for extra storage on these off grid trips.
At the last RV show we attended we found out some manufacturers are still installing manual awnings. In this day and age this is a no no. A large power awning is a must in our book. Our awning is about 13’ which is a good size to have a table and room for chairs under.
We love the power feature as we can quickly bring it in at night if it is windy, or bring it in if we are gone for the day. Some awnings in new units include a wind sensor. This automatically brings the awning in if it senses it will have wind damage. A 13’x10’ awning is like a huge sail, so you want to make sure it does not get caught in a huge wind storm. If you do, you could find yourself without an awning or one with significant damage.
Heated and Enclosed Undercarriage
A heated and enclosed undercarriage is very important in winter months when you don’t want pipes or your holding tanks to freeze. It is also important to have an enclosed undercarriage to keep debris out when you are driving. Your undercarriage will only be heated when your heat is on, so do not think that this will keep you safe when on a winter trip.
Lots of RV’s include this feature, but you want to make sure that the valves for your dump tanks are also enclosed so they get heated. Going to the dump site and not being able to dump can cause problems. This is also why you do not want to leave your dump valves open at all times so your sewer pipe does not get frozen closed.
If you are considering getting an RV for its heated capabilities, read our tips on how to keep warm in the winter.
Heated Holding Tanks
Holding tank heaters go along with a heated and insulated undercarriage. Many people mistake the fact that they have a heated undercarriage that they will be OK in the winter. The fact is, that if your heater is off in your RV because it is up to temp, then you do not have heat going to your tanks.
Installing 12v heat pads on your tanks can keep them freeze free. Some RV manufacturers are including heaters on their unit. One we have found once again is the Rockwood units. Many more may have this option or have it included as well. These are also easy to install aftermarket, but running the wiring can be a bit difficult if you don’t know what you are doing.
Heated Mattress Pad
We are seeing a pattern here, Rockwood once again is including heated mattress pads on their units. This is great for the cold or winter months. By using this heat, you can save propane if on a longer trip or away from filling stations. We have seen some E-Pros include this as well.
A heated mattress pad is an easy install on a used unit, or you can go for a heated blanket which would be just as good.
Dual Pane Windows
Dual pane windows not only keep your RV cooler in the summer, hotter in the winter, but quieter from outside noise as well as reduce condensation on your windows. Dual pane windows are nice to have if they are included on the trailer you are looking at, but if you are just using it to camp here and there, they may not be as important.
I do not believe you can install dual pane windows after the fact as they will have different mounting options from your stock windows. If you are full timing in your rig in northern climates, these would be a must have on my list in either a cold or warm climate.
On Board Generator
Some brands such as Nash, Outdoors RV, as well as others have a space to either buy direct from the manufacturer, or install aftermarket. Typically these generators are propane so there is no need to lug around a big generator, gas, and extra tanks. Even if you have a generator space, you don’t necessarily need to get a preinstalled unit, you can use the space to fit a small Honda or Yamaha in the space for travel and take out for usage. Pre installed units typically start at the push of a button getting you up and running with power without leaving your bathrobe.
All in all, there are many features to look for when purchasing either a new or used travel trailer. These are some of our favorite features to look for as most typically are installed down the road by many travel trailer users, so you can save yourself some trouble by finding them preinstalled.
Our current trailer has a electric jack, heated and insulated undercarriage, power awning, dual wide axle, and is solar ready. We plan on adding a WIFI extender, holding tank heaters, 200 watts of rooftop solar, a backup camera, as well as a MaxxAir fan. Looking back at it now, I do wish we spent more time finding a trailer which included all of these features as it may not have cost as much, and taken our time to install.
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