Sunday, October 2, 2022

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RV Preview: Aliner set to announce new eco-friendly model, Evolution

Today’s RV review is actually sort of a sneak preview of the Aliner Evolution trailer. This is actually information I’ve gleaned from a few sources and it may change if you go to buy one. Essentially, this appears to be an adaptation of an existing Aliner but with some significant changes, depending on your perspective. 

But first, what is an Aliner? 

More than you might think

When I suggest to people that they get something like an Aliner, a lot of folks assume that they’re difficult to set up or just don’t have the accommodations of a traditional travel trailer. There is some merit to this—but not much. 

For example, setting these up is pretty easy. If you get the Aliner “Family” model, for example, there are dormers on both sides which really open up the space. 

So the setup involves opening those dormers and flipping them up from inside. Two choices exist for the dormers: canvas-sided or hard-sided. It’s good to know that if you’re headed to places where there may be bear, some campgrounds won’t let you stay there if you have canvas walls in your RV. 

Further, I think it’s a bit easier to set up the dormers where they’re solid walls as you just unclip them and then push them up from the inside. The walls push and latch into place and it’s a really, really easy process. 

The roof itself also is really easy to push up as it’s counterbalanced with gas struts. Aliner even has a pole integrated into the roof so that those who might be more vertically challenged can still easily raise and lower the roof. Once the A-frame is in place, the walls simply push up from inside and you’re set. 

It honestly took me about as long to write this description as it would take to set up the trailer. It truly is an easy process. 

More features in the Aliner Evolution

Since all the seams in this trailer are usually covered by overlapping metal edges, they’re protected well from the elements. So while it might seem that this could be a leaky affair, it really isn’t. 

Since the roof is A-shaped, the ceiling height at the center is pretty great. 

The “Family” model also has seating for seven people, although that would be pretty tight. There is sleeping for four, but the bed along the front is a 32” X 80”, so it’s pretty small. There’s another bed along the road-side wall which is 44” X 72”, so you get more width but less height. Finally, the back of the trailer has a sofa which is your dining space during the day but becomes a 60” X 80” bed at night. 

While Aliner makes a number of models, one of the things I liked about this “Family” model was the kitchen, most of which is outside. We’ve looked at a few trailers that have similar kitchens in a drawer, including the new Opus OP15, the Opus OP2 and even the fancy inTech Terra Oasis. 

Odd setup for kitchen on the Aliner Evolution

In the case of this trailer, however, the sink is still inside the trailer itself and the refrigerator and stove top are outside. I know there are going to be some of you who really dislike this configuration and I can’t fault you for that—it is a bit odd. Yes, it maximizes the interior space—which is good in this model. But you also have to be fully dressed if you’re going to make coffee in the morning and, frankly, that’s not how I usually camp. 

Talk about scaring the bear away!

This model features a swivel cassette toilet in a cabinet. That cabinet, when you hang the shower curtains, also happens to be the shower for the rig. There’s a water heater aboard, but you only have 11 gallons to draw from if you’re off the grid. 

Aliner Evolution

In an article online, President and CEO Brett Randall was quoted as saying, “The Evolution is Aliner’s most ambitious and adventurous camper yet. Everything from the specificity in the engineering, to the thoughtfulness in the design, to the sustainability of the materials used is the next step not only for our brand, but for the entire industry. We have listened to the market and are excited to introduce the features and capabilities included in the Evolution’s design.”

Features new to the Aliner Evolution include:

  • Stow-away 32×32-inch shower. The shower lifts from the floor, delivering a full-size, stand-up shower area while providing obstruction-free access to the Evolution’s floor plan when stowed.
  • Rear sofa folds out to queen-size bed; front dinette benches convert to second queen mattress or dual 22×60-inch bunks.
  • One 13×16-inch and two large 13×36-inch bag doors for storage.
  • A high-strength, durable aluminum tube framework throughout the interior.
  • Riveted SIMONA® BOATBOARD® High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) cabinetry and furniture panels. Used in marine applications, BOATBOARD provides durability, performance and protection compared with traditional residential-style wood cabinetry.
  • Commercial grade, raised coin 100% polyvinyl flooring covering the cabin footprint, providing waterproof protection, traction and slip resistance.

Company history

The existing Aliner Family model.

Aliner is still an independent company that started when founder Ralph Tait started building folding trailers in his garage in Oregon. Essentially, others saw these and wanted one so he continued building until the family moved the operation to Pennsylvania. From there, two of the sons of the founder would build a trailer and the third would take the family wagon and go sell it—with the process repeating itself. 

Today one of the telling things about the company and the products, in my eyes, is that there is an avid fan base with plenty of those enthusiasts sharing photos and stories about their trailers. Some of those travelers even have been up to the frozen land of Alaska. A YouTuber, Slim Potatohead, actually lived in one of these for several years and documented his journeys. 

In summary

There are a number of things I really like about these. I believe the assumption that they’re difficult to set up means a lot of people for whom this would be a good choice actually don’t look at them. That’s unfortunate. 

While fuel prices have come down a bit, fuel is still a pricey reminder that it’s a finite resource influenced by world politics. The fact that one of these can fold down and be behind the envelope of whatever is towing them means it won’t have as large an impact on mileage as a traditional RV. 

Plus, you can easily store it in a garage.

Further, these are light enough and there are handles on the outside so you can actually push this into the garage or wherever you might need to park it. Jockeying this around is pretty easy. 

You’ll find a few things that might be a surprise, including a window-style air conditioner under the rear couch to keep things cool here. 

The beauty of the RV industry is that there’s almost something for everybody, and I think a lot more everybodies should at least consider something like this. 

*****

More from Tony

I would love to read your comments and suggestions over on our new forums, where you can weigh in and start or join a discussion about all things RV. Here’s a link to my RV Reviews Forum.

If you’re RV shopping here are some tips on RV shopping from a former RV salesperson—me!

Tony comes to RVtravel.com having worked at an RV dealership and been a lifelong RV enthusiast. He also has written the syndicated Curbside column about cars. He also works closely with a number of RV manufacturers to get an inside look at how things are done and is a brand ambassador for Rockwood Mini Lite with his wife, Peggy.

You can also check out his RV podcast with Peggy. 

These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. They are based on information from a single unit and may not reflect your actual experience. Shop your RV and dealership carefully before making a buying decision. 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.

Got an RV we need to look at? Contact us today and let us know in the form below – thank you!

##RVDT1945

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Steve H
23 days ago

Aliners with dormers are much more practical in hot-humid or cool-rainy locations than any pop-up tent trailer. Those fiberglass walls and ceiling may not provide much insulation, but it’s a whole lot more than a couple of layers of canvas or nylon provide. Plus they are much easier to squeegee dry than using towels to attempt to dry off a tent before folding it up. And, finally, the hard-side units don’t “sweat” inside like a tent trailer will, no matter how well constructed. As a first small, garage-size RV and with a 3500# GVWR that many mid-size pickups and SUVs can tow, the Aliner could be a perfect camper for a family of 3.

Bob M
23 days ago

Price of fuel is only down till after the elections. Wonder how hard this is to put up during rain storms. Like we had early this week.

Timmy V
23 days ago

We’re on our second Aliner after trading up from a Ranger 12 to an Expedition 15. Anyone who’s never been in one is always surprised at how open and airy they are inside despite how small they are (especially with the dormers). And that’s the rub – they’re small. We outgrew the Ranger pretty quickly. The Expedition on the other hand, I call it our “cathedral of camping”. I can’t come close to touching the peak of the roof from the inside …in fact I have to be on a step stool to reach the fan and I’m almost 6 feet tall. Ours has two twin beds in the back (an ultra rare floor plan they only made for a couple of years) that make into a legitimate N/S king. All that and it tucks right in behind our truck, I can barely feel it back there.
Nice to see them doing a little modest innovating. I think this new model also comes with an integrated solar panel (not sure if an inverter is included). There’s plenty of room for a larger water tank too, not sure why they have never offered one.

Vickie L McClellan Benson
23 days ago
Reply to  Timmy V

Timmy V: The lack of sufficient water has always been what has held me back from considering one of these. I’ve been in several and they are nice units. I know water is heavy, but you would think they could mount a decent sized fresh water tank over an axle or some other place that wouldn’t make it tongue or rear heavy. Personally, of all the camp trailers and toy haulers I’ve owned, I prefer my 7X14 cargo trailer/camper.

Timmy V
22 days ago

Exactly – and we mostly dry camp so the 11 gallons goes quickly. It’s really enough to wash our hands and face over a weekend. Forget using the cassette toilet, it’s hooked into the water system in these, not a stand-alone. And the pump will run down the battery in no time. We take a couple of five gallon totes for drinking, cooking etc. The previous owners installed solar on our expedition so that’s nice, but still just has the 11 gallon tank.

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