As someone who writes a lot of RV reviews, I get a lot of people who share links to the Black Series of campers from Australia with me, asking if I have seen these yet. In fact more than a few have shared the review I wrote with me. Hint: I’ve already read it.
But there’s a new company in town that is making a trailer not too dissimilar from the Black Series. That company is called Ember RV and it comes with some pretty interesting credentials.
Ember RV is the brain child of Ashley Bontrager, who serves as the President and CEO of the company. If that name seems familiar, it may well be, as Bontrager is the granddaughter of Lloyd and Bertha Bontrager, founders of Jayco. After graduating from Butler University, she went to Washington, D.C., to get public relations experience, and then returned to work at the family business in 2011.
In addition to Bontrager, the founding partnership includes Vice President and COO Chris Barth as well as Operations Directors Ernie Miller and Steve Delagrange.
Ember RV’s website shows two main lines of travel trailers: the Overland Series and Overland Micro Series. All Ember models feature a single axle and rather angular construction. But the design absolutely should appeal to people who love adventure, or at least love looking like they’re ready for adventure.
I thought we’d start at the top of the range for the company and then, tomorrow, look at their smaller trailer series. So this story covers the Ember RV Overland 191MDB, the largest trailer they’ve announced thus far.
First of all, at this point the company is still building production capacity and finalizing details of their products. That means there is no MSRP and no specifications of the trailers other than the overall length of this rig, which is 22’6”.
To say this trailer is qualified as an overland-ready machine would be an understatement, from what I’ve learned thus far.
Starting at the bottom, the frame is a heavy-duty steel tube frame. That makes this one of the few that I’ve seen with this type of construction. Keeping it off the ground is a unique Curt independent suspension system featuring heavy-duty coil springs along with dual shock absorbers at each wheel.
All of this rides on a pair of Goodyear 16” Wrangler off-road tires with an “E” load range, including the spare. These are filled with nitrogen and also sport a tire pressure monitoring system.
Interestingly, there’s a locking manual brake that can also keep the trailer from moving.
To manage the trailer, there is a VersaCoupler™ height-adjustable bolt-on hitch in place of the typical ball. This hitch goes into your hitch receiver and allows for greater articulation.
Up front is a steel box enclosing the propane and batteries. Walls are laminated using Azdel substrates. The floor is a product called TransCore™, which is a man-made product that’s already found favor from customers like Airstream.
Boondocking in the Ember RV Overland 191MDB
Let’s cut to the chase. There is some serious water capacity aboard, with 55 gallons of fresh water storage. By my estimation, that means about five days off the grid even with two people taking a shower every day. If you skip a shower, you get another day. This trailer also incorporates the Showermiser that I’ve praised in other reviews.
Power comes from a 190-watt Go Power! solar panel, and there’s a 1,000-watt pure sine wave inverter delivering to the cabin. The fridge is a 12-volt DC compressor model.
There is also the option of a Max Solar Package. It includes a 3,000-watt inverter along with two 100 amp-hour batteries plus two additional 190-watt solar panels along with an MPPT charge controller with Bluetooth functionality. Yes, please.
There are a number of unique features of this RV, as well. Those include a “stargazer” skylight over the residential queen-sized (sitting east-west) mattress. Windows are all Lexan dual-pane design with integrated shades – much like you’d see on a Lance, for example.
Generally speaking, interiors are well designed on this. I’m basing that exclusively on the photos I’ve seen from Josh Winters of Haylett RV in Coldwater, Michigan. Haylett RV is going to be a founding dealer for this product.
The 191MDB is a bunk model, where the rear features double-over-double bunks. The lower bunk also flips up and there’s a door at the rear which provides enough space for a kayak, for example. I can also see my Rad Power Bike fitting in this space when I fold down the handlebars.
As the largest of the Ember trailers, this model features a slide room that is typically equipped with a dinette. It sports a “dream dinette” mount for the table, which means no knee-knocking pole. But the company’s information does indicate that you can substitute a jackknife sofa along with a portable table.
Heat comes from a Truma Combi eco system, which also serves to heat the water aboard this trailer.
So, who’s the customer for this trailer? Well, that’s going to depend quite a bit on the pricing, to be honest.
As it stands now, there are some serious specs on this, including the construction, frame, suspension and hitch components. Those point to the fact that overlanding customers could be a big part of their picture.
But even I am very intrigued by a product that seems to be overbuilt with components designed to last. How intrigued? Again, that depends on the price. The components and specifications in this trailer point to the fact that it may reside somewhere in the upper end of the travel trailer price spectrum with neighbors like Lance. Or Black Series.
One of the things that always intrigues me is how Airstream will brag about how many person-hours it takes to build something like the door or the outer shell. All I can think about is that if they employed modern assembly techniques, these trailers would be far less expensive and considerably better made, as well.
If they automate building processes, maybe they’ll be more affordable
My point being – if they can automate processes and streamline some aspects of the build of these, they might be very affordable while also offering groundbreaking features and design.
Whatever the case, you know we’ll stay on top of things. Oh, and if you see a review of a Black Series, especially one I’ve written, no worries. I’m already aware of them. But thanks.
And many thanks to Josh Winters from Haylett RV in Coldwater, Michigan, for the images.
Tony comes to RVTravel having worked at an RV dealership and been a life long RV enthusiast. He also has written the syndicated Curbside column about cars. You can find his writing here and at StressLessCamping where he also has a podcast about the RV life with his wife.
These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. We receive no money or other financial benefits from these reviews. They are intended only as a brief overview of the vehicle, not a comprehensive critique, which would require a thorough inspection and/or test drive.
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