Oliver Travel Trailers Review

Cait and I really enjoy factory tours, especially those pertaining to one of our great joys in life, RVs. I have never thought about writing up a tour or product other than a brief mention in one of our normal posts; that is, until we toured Oliver Travel Trailers in Hohenwald, TN. If you do not feel like reading on, I will summarize the below admiration as follows: if you are in the market for a new (or new to you) rig, Oliver should be on your list of contenders.

I cannot count the number of times that Cait and I have popped into an RV dealer or show to check out the camper lineup. I also cannot keep track of how often I have cursed 95% of what is out there for being built like $#!%.

Our first rig was a Four Wheel Camper slide-in aluminum pop-up truck camper. You can read about it in other posts on our website. We loved this rig. I also had the opportunity to tour the factory in Woodland, CA a while back and was very impressed with the quality of what they were producing. Unfortunately, the small truck camper did not serve our needs for full timing on the road and we had to move on to something bigger. However, if we had room in the stable and budget, we would have kept it. It was a fantastic boondocking machine for weekend trips, and even long term vacations when not trying to get work done at the same time.

 

After sitting in 100s of RVs at trade shows and dealers, the only camper I could wrap my head around purchasing and being satisfied with the quality was something from the Airstream lineup. However, I had two major problems with them. First, and foremost, the price. They are costly rigs, and I didn’t see it being worth as much as they demand on the market. Second, they are what we like to call, “pavement princesses.” They are built to primarily stay on the asphalt. That being said, I do believe Airstream puts out a well-designed (and attractive) product if you can stomach the price tag.

We toured the Airstream factory in March while we were in Ohio and seeing the build process of these iconic trailers was an awesome experience.

We found ourselves gravitating towards fiberglass egg-style campers when in the market for a 2nd rig. The two biggest names out there are Scamp and Casita. We were in a bit of hurry to secure our next rig, and had also come across Escape as an option. We found their build quality and reputation to be up another notch on the scale, and after finding a fifth wheel available on the used market, we jumped on it. We have been very satisfied with their product, and would not hesitate to recommend them to others interested in this style of camper.

Oliver was not on our radar at the time we purchased the Escape 5.0. As luck had it, we were in the area of their factory and Cait set up a tour for us to take a look. We were absolutely blown away with what they are producing in Tennessee. They were gracious enough to take us on a nearly 2-hour private tour of their factory. While we won’t be able to buy one at this time, they have definitely earned themselves future customers when/if we decide to move to another camper.

Showing the inner and outer molds of the top-half of the trailer.
Showing the inner mold of the bottom-half of the trailer.

Oliver is a manufacturer with years of experience in other fiberglass products. Their owners have a love of the outdoors and travel, and were equally unimpressed with the quality of RVs on the market. They, as we have found, had the most luck with fiberglass egg style campers. With their years of working with fiberglass products, they decided to start producing their own campers and started selling to the public in 2007. They strike me as a company that is constantly trying to improve their product, both in what is seen and not seen by the average buyer. I applaud them for not sticking with the status quo of RV construction. They are, in my humble opinion, producing the best quality trailers I have seen to date.

Their build from the ground up is impressive. Everything is over-engineered, in an effective way, to make sure the rig will survive the test of time and full-time use. The steel and aluminum frame has impressive welding and reinforcements. They use truck tires, not trailer tires, matched with outstanding shock absorption. All the tanks (grey, black, and fresh) are built into the shell rather than protruding from underneath, protecting them from the elements. This allows the tanks to stay heated without having to add unreliable heating pads and will keep everything running fine in cold weather. The electrical wiring harnesses are made in house using thicker gauge wiring than typically used. Furthermore, they use an agricultural style ball hitch that provides more points of contact and stability for a safer tow, especially off road. The trailers have outstanding ground clearance.

The bottom outer shell with tanks, wiring, and plumbing during install.

No photo can really capture the quality and thoughtfulness of their design. Every component also has a method of getting to it in case of repair or upgrade, without having to rip the structure apart. There are small drain holes throughout, which in the event of a water leak, would allow water to drain out of the camper rather than pool and cause damage. If it were not for these drain holes, this rig could truly float (insert day dream of an amphibious RV). On the note of water damage, they also use relatively little wood in the construction of the RV, which I love. I grow a bit tired of the boat cabin-esque feel that you get out of a lot of RVs. Their design is contemporary and stylish.

An inside shot. I wish I had taken more of the interior, but some screenshots of a quick video walkthrough I did for myself will have to do. They really don’t do the trailer justice. However, there are plenty of photos on Oliver’s website!
Don’t mind me creeping in this photo.

Overall, the interiors feel modern, bright, and open. Not a feeling you typically get in a smaller travel trailer.

Another item which struck me about them is their willingness and desire to listen to customer feedback and implement changes to their trailer designs year by year. They have attracted a number of engineers and enthusiasts of build quality to their customer base, and have often implemented great changes with customer feedback. One tidbit that I dropped on our tour guide, which I hope they listen to, is to offer a low amp draw compressor type (National Luna, Indel B, Engel, etc.) refrigerator/freezer option over the industry standard 3-way propane fridge (which I have grown to hate).

I also like that they are installing tech related items at the factory which have proven invaluable to us during our full timing experience: wifi boosters, 4g cell boosters, and appropriately sized battery banks (AGM if desired) and solar arrays. They also have unique futures like plumbed ac drains which always direct the exhaust water in the same location, rather than running off a new side of the rig with each use. Furthermore, their grey/black tank empty port is located at the rear below the spare tire in an aluminum case. You can leave the hose attached inside this box. The black tank is pressurized to allow more efficient emptying of the black tank. Emptying waste out of a camper is not on the list of favorite things to do. This feature is a nice touch. Finally, they offer an on-demand tankless water heating system that we’ve never seen offered in any other RV before.

They currently offer two rigs: an 18.5 and a 23.5 ft bumper pull travel trailers. It seems they are looking to expand to an even larger version. If they ever get around to producing an Oliver fifth wheel, we would be their first customers. They are a little bit pricier than competing egg style campers (starting at around 45-50k), but the build quality is DEFINITELY worth the price. As they stand, they are still less expensive than an Airstream. We are excited to see what is coming out over the next few years at Oliver and look forward to being a customer in the future when we can justify getting into a new rig.

Beautiful campers on their way to lucky new owners.

If you find yourself near Hohenwald, TN, stop in for a tour at Oliver Travel Trailers and prepare to be impressed.

UPDATE JUNE 2017: This review has gotten a lot of feedback! A recurrent comment we’ve been hearing is regarding Oliver’s price tag, along the lines of ‘if I’m going to spend that amount of money on a trailer, I might as well get an Airstream.’ While we love Airstreams and recognize that they’re a very high-quality trailer, we think the Oliver is a better (and more affordable) bang for your buck. Check out our thorough comparison of Oliver vs. Airstream and see the numbers side by side here.

20 thoughts on “Oliver Travel Trailers Review

    1. Hi Rick,

      It is not safe or legal for a truck to pull two trailers in tandem, so unfortunately, pulling a horse trailer behind the Oliver is not doable. The Oliver’s hitch is designed for carrying light-weight items like bicycle and cargo racks.

      They do make some great camper/horse trailer combos out there though, I’ve walked through quite a few at equine expos! Best of luck on your search.

      1. It’s perfectly legal in Texas to pull double trailers. I have done it many times with trailers that were strong enough to tow. 🙂

        1. I stand corrected, my apologies! It appears that every state has different rules about it; this site here appears to be relatively comprehensive on where to find out what your state does and doesn’t allow.

  1. Yes, the Oliver Legacy 2 is a simply elegant product. My wife and I plan to take a tour of their facility in a year or three. Frankly, paying three times more for a travel trailer is daunting. At this time I can’t rationalize it. If I was flush with cash, I would order one of these small beauties today.

    1. Yes the price is up there compared to a stick and staple camper but in the fiberglass trailer industry they are priced right. You must also look at your costs over the time you own it. I had a Hi-Lo travel trailer I purchased in 2000 for $10k and sold it in 2017 for 6k. Oliver has totally produced just over 400 units and some early ones have resold for more than their original price. Besides they pull as beautiful as they look.

      1. Good points. The Oliver 23.5 remains on our short list as a retirement trailer in 2 to 4 years. It is an exceptional trailer that is both capable and luxurious, but the price is daunting.

  2. Great write up on the Oliver. We attended their Fall, 2016 Rally and toured the plant. Amazing trailers. Currently, happy with our Casita; however, 8 years until retirement. Let’s hope that supplemental retirement account (Oliver fund) does well!

    Thx!

    Dean

    1. Thank you, Dean! Glad you are enjoying your Casita, we’ve had a chance to see many of them lately and meet their owners, all very happy with their camper choice. Best of luck with your adventures and path towards retirement, and perhaps an Oliver.

    1. I think that would be an apples to oranges comparison, but may be able to cover the idea in a different fashion. More fiberglass reviews to come.

  3. We recently ordered a Legacy II for delivery summer 2018. The highly modified Airstream Basecamp is up for sale and may be gone this week. We had the chance to view an Oliver trailer near Seattle and just loved it. Our first thought in getting a bigger rig, now that we were retired, was focused entirely on Airstreams until I found the Oliver website and got curious about them. Two years of researching Airstream both new and used had my system wish list and desired features well defined. Two hours with an Oliver owner and fellow boondocker and applied scientist had me sold on Oliver. The intelligent engineering is so far beyond any trailer I have seen. The interior fit and finish is just the best. It does not look like a living room that you are dragging behind your truck but purpose built for real world boon docking. The Oliver is anything but a pavement princess. As for the price I find most of the comments suggesting that Oliver a bit pricy are from people that have not seen one or investigated all the features that are standard and in most cases not even available in other trailers. This may be blasphemy to the Airstream crowd but I believe Oliver has passed Airstream and I consider ithem the best trailer made.

    1. Laura and I have attended 2 of the 3 Oliver Rallies and have toured the plant. I hear from time to time that there could be a larger trailer in the making. I really have no clue, but would guess that a larger trailer would be at least a few years away.

  4. It has been difficult to find smaller travel trailers that offer twin bed options. If you know of any others please chime in. This and Airstream seem to be the only ones I can find.

    1. Hi Cubo,

      I would suggest that you check out the Casita 17’ Indepedence Deluxe. It has two twin beds that can be converted into one large king bed. Casita also has a 17’ Liberty Deluxe that has a flexible floor plan that includes two twins, but they are more narrow than the twins in the Independence.

      Take care!

Leave a Reply