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.
By Tony Barthel
Remember those old Transformer toys where it would start out as a Volkswagen and end up as a skyscraper or something like that? Well, I found the RV equivalent in the 2020 Black Series Classic12.
Who is Black Series? They’re a company that started in Australia building travel trailers (caravans as they’re called there, mate) for the Outback and have since started offering their trailers in the U.S. market too. The trailers are now built in China with final assembly in Southern California, and most of the parts that would need maintenance such as heaters, air conditioners, appliances and such are sourced from U.S. companies like Dometic and Suburban, just like virtually every other RV we Yanks, er, Americans can buy.
The company makes a full range of trailers from small pop-ups to larger two-axle trailers including ones that feature a unique washing machine. But the Classic12 is something that intrigued me because it’s deceptive on what comes in this package.
I want to start with something I’ve complained about – RVs that have slides where you can’t get to the things you want when you’re rolling down the road when the slides are in. This trailer actually has a pop-up and pop-out, so you’d think there would be no using the bed or getting to the fridge or even the toilet as you’re rolling down the road, but that’s not the case at all.
In the back of the trailer is a folding pop-out that transforms the sleeping space into a king-sized bed (which is already impressive in a trailer this size), but when that pop-out is not popped out, you can still take advantage of a twin-sized sleeping surface in the trailer. So while you’re not able to use the whole thing, at least there’s a usable surface.
There is a second bed/bunk that is revealed when you pop the top on this camper in the form of a folding bunk arrangement. Black Series claims that this is a camper for a family of three but I’m not so sure I would want to camp with two other people in this space. However, their whole attitude is that we should be outside – so maybe three campers is reasonable, especially if one of them is a youngster.
While the trailer is just over 8’ in height when folded down, with the top up you get a full 6’ 5” of interior ceiling height. Inside that trailer, there is the seating area and a bed along with a wet bath and sink. This trailer not only is designed to go to places where you’re a part of nature, the attitude of the trailer is to be out in that nature.
The kitchen for the trailer actually is outside (though there is also a sink inside). That kitchen consists of a two-burner propane stove along with a sink on a sliding drawer-type arrangement. There is also a utensil drawer and, of course, a beverage opener on this same stainless steel drawer. The lid of that drawer flips over and becomes a fairly sizable prep table – certainly more prep space than in some other trailers. Folding convertible spaces and surfaces make me happy.
Refrigeration comes from a cooler-style fridge powered by the 12-volt system, which is in a front cabinet. There are 12-volt outlets on either side of the front pass-through storage so the cooler or any other 12-volt-powered device can reside on either side, leaving the rest of the space for your stuff.
There is an indoor shower as part of the wet bath that includes the toilet, and a second shower outside, as well. You might not think this is unusual as lots and lots of RVs nowadays have outdoor showers, but this one comes with a surrounding enclosure so you can actually use the outdoor shower without offending the odd bear or coyote that happens by.
What’s really standout about these is the suspension – a huge swing arm along with coil springs and dual shocks. This is the kind of thing you’d expect in a trailer that was meant for off-road use way out in the backcountry. There’s also a poly block hitch that affords full 360° rotation and incredible articulation so you can again hit some very demanding trails.
Lastly, there are recovery hooks in this trailer that allow you to retrieve it if you really did something you wish you hadn’t or that mud puddle was deeper than you had anticipated.
Other nods to the great outdoors include a 20-amp solar battery charger system with 150 watts of solar on the roof and a 1,000-watt inverter powering the 110vac plugs inside the trailer. At the heart of that system are two AGM batteries, each rated at 100-amp-hours.
I also like that they put a hand brake on the tongue of the trailer as I’ve seen in European caravans but not here in the U.S. The windows, too, are of European design with shades and screens that can be pulled up/down, or left open.
Overlanding and back-trails camping are popular in the U.S., and I can see that there would definitely be a market for this in the U.S. just as there is in Australia. The amount of usable interior space considering the diminutive exterior size is impressive. The whole line of Black Series trailers really is different than what most might expect in terms of feel and look – but this rugged, hearty appearance might do well hanging off the back of a new Hummer H1 or some other adventure-based tow vehicle.
One point to note – while the pictures shown are of the Australian model, U.S. models have the doors and kitchen on what we Yanks refer to as the “camp side,” so the trailer has been adapted to the U.S.
I have been saying for some time that the RV industry reminds me of the auto industry of the late 1970s in that it’s a big boom time with plenty of room for competition to come in. Let’s just hope that our RV companies are better prepared for this than was our auto industry was, as trailers like the Black Series Classic12 are on the fringes of the market today, but that may not be the case for the long term.
You can also watch a video on the Classic12 from Black Series.