Thursday, September 21, 2023


RV preview: Whale-shaped travel trailer

What if you like whales but also want to go RVing? Well, you could get yourself a vintage UltraVan, which Corvair enthusiasts called whales. Or you could start from scratch, as Chinese designer Hu Yong did with his whale-inspired travel trailer called the Whale Trailer Cabin. It won the Red Dot Design Award 2021. 

The most obvious thing about this little concept RV is the fact that it is shaped like a whale to some extent. But it’s also like those Transformers in a lot of ways in that it goes from a diminutive sleek trailer to this rather sizable camping rig. 

With this trailer, you show up at the campground, park, and then start the process of converting it to a camper. 

There’s a sort of hatchback at the back which opens up and a bed section slides out. From that slide out, there’s a pop top on it that is like a miniature version of the old Volkswagen camper van pop top. It is hinged at the front and lifts at the rear. 

Go inside the Whale Trailer and continue expanding it

Once the back’s out you can then go inside the trailer and pop the main top up, which is a really large version of what we saw in the Meerkat trailer reviewed here a while back. Next step is to pull the kitchen out of the front of the trailer which extends, oddly enough, onto the road side. This is an outdoor kitchen that’s two stories. It features a 12-volt cooler-style refrigerator and what appears to be a camp oven and stovetop. 

There is a cartridge toilet in the front, but one of the portable models. With the kitchen out of the way, this opens up the bathroom space. That includes a shower made possible by that pop top. 

The road-side window flips open and there is dining inside the trailer. You can access those diners through the window. Talk about roadside service!

The design of the main entry door on the camp side up front is almost like an airplane door from a private jet in that it’s a clamshell arrangement with the lower section featuring steps. 

RVing in China

This design is both appealing and clever. While it’s just a concept at the moment, it’s a pretty attractive one when it’s all closed up. Unlike a lot of concepts, this one’s pretty viable. 

While we’ve been seeing a boom in RV sales here in the U.S., that is also true in other countries, including China. The market for RVs was already starting a steady climb even before the pandemic and now, like here in the U.S., that market has exploded. 

You can bet that for a country that likes to make things and has the resources to do it, whale-shaped travel trailers are just the beginning. We’ve seen some pretty interesting things already, including the Maxus Life Home V90 Villa earlier this year. 

And, to be honest, these companies are finding me and reaching out and wanting my input on the market and several products. So, I don’t think it’s a stretch to think that we’ll see Chinese brands here sooner rather than later. 

In fact we already have some Chinese-built RVs today in the form of the Black Series campers. They are built in China and then sent over in kit form for final assembly here. 

In summary

This is certainly an eye-catching and viable design that would probably sell in decent numbers, depending on the pricing. Right now it’s just the vision of a very clever designer but, considering the international press it’s gotten, it may be in a campsite near you sooner than you think. 

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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Tony Barthel has been a life-long RV enthusiast and travels part-time with his wife where they also produce a podcast, write about RVs and love the RV lifestyle.


  1. No way I would trust that thing in a rain storm. The one angled roof is sloped right into the seal of the slide out. That is a design blunder.

  2. Will it still be there when you get back after a day of hiking. It looks like someone could easily steal it. Also I don’t buy anything made in china.

  3. Very interesting. Just wait till the Motorhome manufactures figure out how to have slide outs in all directions, including down. Maybe a slide out with it’s own slide out.

    • There are slide in a slide RVs already! Several fifth wheel manufacturers have them in their upper bedroom slides. Gives me the willies.

  4. Tony, I avoid buying anything from China. Many of the Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang province who are not murdered by genocide are kidnapped for slave labor in distant cities. Nike and other American companies contract with the Chinese Communist Party to make its athletic shoes and other products. The CCP uses child slave labor to do this while Phil Knight and the NBA turn a blind eye. China broke its non-interference agreement with the UK to stay out of Hong Kong, and uses its massive army to suppress rallies for freedom where the citizens of Hong Kong sing the Star Spangled Banner and wave American flags. Black Series is an Australian company,and I am not familiar with its practices. But, I check to see where things are made so I do not buy Chinese by accident. China routinely steals American high tech and engages in espionage to keep up with American advances. I choose to take my business elsewhere.

    • I don’t disagree with that, Roger, and do my best to keep my spending dollars stateside as well.

      But based on our current conditions you and I are not typical and while this is just a design study, I think our own RV industry needs to do a lot to make improvements just as the auto industry did in the late 1970s.

      I sometimes use this platform to give a voice to all the things happening out there so that someone in our RV industry might look and get an idea and make something happen other than wrapping an unimaginative box around the same mediocre pieces that most RV companies are also wrapping boxes around.

  5. I’m sorry Tony. This is the dumbest thing I’ve EVER seen. A good gust of Nevada wind would topple this thing. And the kitchen sits entirely outside so it’s inviting vermin of all kinds. Totally a fair weather camper. Too many hinges too. Stuff can and will go wrong. And, I’m trying my darnedest to buy NOTHING from China . . . It’s hard, I know, but I’m making a big effort.


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