Ohio RV Supershow: Notes & Noteworthy

At the recent Ohio RV Supershow, my father, uncle and I tried our best to step inside all 600-plus RVs that were on display.

Well, that was the plan anyway.

Then we stepped foot inside Cleveland's ridiculously large I-X Center (one million square feet, and the show didn't even use up all of it; plus there's a Ferris wheel inside the darn thing!).

So ... we quickly amended our plans to only take an interior tour of what most interested any of us. For Uncle Bob, who owns a fifth wheel, that meant any fifth wheel capable of being pulled by his half ton. For my dad, that meant any travel trailer with a floor plan designed for two people, and within the 5,000-pound range (he just bought a new-to-him 2009 Envoy Denali). For me, it meant just about anything, but since I own a hybrid those usually tempt me inside.

So, all told, we probably looked at about 150 or so. Maybe. I don't know. By the time we were halfway through, we had spent almost five hours at the show. By then we were done. The RVs started looking alike, so we high-tailed it through the last half in an hour, and we even skipped the last several aisles.

My impressions of the 2012 RVs are that we are continuing to see little tweaks here and there on fit and finish, manufacturers are getting even more aggressive with making lightweight RVs, but motor homes and fifth wheels are pushing the envelopes when it comes to equipping them with tons of features, options and residential-style amenities.

Here's a few noteworthy items that caught my eye:

  • One of the new additions I saw on trailers and fifth-wheels at the Ohio RV Supershow was cargo carriers off the back bumper. A couple of years ago we bought a Hitch Haul brand cargo carrier for our hybrid trailer. At the time, we were looking for a bike carrier. I stumbled across the Hitch Haul, saw that it could be outfitted with an optional bike carrier, and thought it would be better than something that was a bike carrier only. We have since used the Hitch Haul on our Trailblazer EXT on a trip east to haul luggage (much better than on the roof rack). Apparently, I should have been an RV designer, because several units at the show had a pretty slick cargo carrier off the back end. Some were simply U-bolted to the back bumper; others were U-bolted to the frame, though. Most were able to "fold up" when not hauling anything (kept in position by pin-and-clip).

  • More manufacturers are increasing the gap between the tandem axles on their travel trailers. I first saw these last year on a few models of one manufacturer, but at the Ohio RV Supershow I noticed several other manufacturers had incorporated the innovation into their designs. A salesman told me the increased distance between the axles, which was usually only about an extra foot or two, increased the trailer's center of gravity. This meant more substantial equipment, such residential-sized refrigerators and bigger slides, could be added to the trailer. Although I wonder how this affects driving, turning and backing up, I wouldn't be surprised if this development becomes as big for the RV industry as slideouts have become.

  • A fifth wheel from Sunset Trail by Crossroads RV had a slideout in a place I had not yet seen - off the front. It was a hard slide and it extended the bed on the trailer's front bedroom another 2-3 feet, providing ample space to walk around in the bedroom. Nothing extraordinary, but pretty cool nonetheless.