By Tony Barthel
When I was selling RVs and we started carrying the Cherokee line of trailers, suddenly all the other brands seemed to get less attention. Somehow Cherokee was really good at bringing out new features at a price point that really caught people’s attention – and they seem to be continuing on that trend.
In addition to the Cherokee line of travel trailers, the company, a division of Forest River, also makes the Arctic Wolf line of fifth wheels. The customer-thrilling features at a value price have continued here. In fact, the brand is doing things some don’t do even at a higher price point.
With all that in mind, today we look at the Arctic Wolf 291RL fifth wheel.
I think it’s important to start out clarifying that the Arctic Wolf line of trailers has absolutely nothing to do with the Arctic Fox line of trailers. The Wolf ones come from a division of Forest River that sells a ton of trailers nationwide. The Fox ones are made by Northwood Manufacturing, a small, independent RV manufacturer in the Pacific Northwest.
The Arctic Wolf series of fifth wheels has a number of unique features that are pretty unique in this price class. For example, the whole series includes a tempered glass door that incorporates a window and shades. But the entire exterior of the door is tempered glass, which makes a statement as you walk through the door. Well, it’s probably wise to open it first, of course.
There are these zebra shades in the units that let you adjust the heavier and lighter panels such that you can alter how much light is getting into the trailer. It works well – but it also is an eye catcher, like that door.
I also like that the Arctic Wolf line and their Cherokee travel trailers use the Lippert OneControl®. This allows you to use the switches on the wall as we’ve always done. Or you can use your smartphone to make things happen. Those can include opening awnings, turning on certain lights and even activating the four-point auto level on this model. In addition, there’s a touch screen. I’m not opposed to these, but I think having only a touch screen is not a good thing. This solution is ideal, in my opinion.
Lots of nice little touches in the Arctic Wolf
Little touches like motion sensor lighting in the bathroom and on the stairwell are additional pluses. There’s a cargo shelf that drops down in the back for things like generators and such.
Another thing I really liked was the company’s tire pressure monitoring system. This was simply valve stem covers that were green when the tire pressure was within range and turned red when it wasn’t. Sure, a fancier system is better. But this is a good and inexpensive way to do something that works.
Also, the company now is including an observation camera on the back of the Arctic Wolf as standard equipment. That’s kind of a big deal when everybody else says they have a camera mount and Cherokee just says, naw, we’ll include it.
And that’s part of what made it so easy to sell these. It wasn’t so much some of the build methodology or features, but the things that caught a prospect’s attention and their emotions. I very distinctly remember someone coming to the store wanting the highest quality trailer they could afford but, as soon as they saw the fireplace in the Cherokee, that was it. Sold.
But I don’t want to make it sound like these aren’t decently built units with solid features, either. For example, exterior walls are a full 2” thick and constructed with welded aluminum framing and vacuum bonded. These units also feature heating ducted into the underbelly so tanks don’t freeze if the occupants are comfortable. However, this isn’t overly unusual in a fifth wheel.
What’s inside the Arctic Wolf
Walking through that glass front door … well, opening it and walking through it … the first thing you might notice is that you have a shoe garage in the lower step. So no dragging muddy feet inside. However, even if you do, there is absolutely no carpet in this rig whatsoever.
Going further inside, there’s a large pantry on the forward wall of the lower deck. There’s a “coffee bar” with plugs just beyond that. Above that and above the main counter in the galley are cabinets with glass inserts in the doors. They look nice, but I always wonder if a stray can of beans or something would break one of these panes. Maybe I’m overthinking things.
The kitchen features an island which has black cabinetry on three of the four walls. But the kitchen-facing surface is wood with drawers and cabinets. There’s a black stainless steel sink and a black faucet.
Across from the island in the road-side slide room is a 12-volt DC refrigerator. There’s a three-burner stove with 17” oven and a microwave. Beyond that is a surprisingly long countertop. All countertops in this trailer are pressed-membrane type. This is lighter than some other types but still impervious to water damage.
I like that the company is now including a butcher block with their trailers. It can cover the stove or serve as a backsplash with magnetic holders to keep it up behind the sink. It’s a little thing, but it’s going to serve owners well.
The rest of the slide room is taken up by a space-heating electric fireplace and a spot to hang a TV. Behind that is a large cabinet. There’s additional cabinet space above the TV area.
TV or not is up to you
Notice that I didn’t say what size the TV is. For my way of doing things, I like that they don’t include a TV at all, but have a provision to put what you want. Some folks, myself included, don’t watch TV when camping. Others do. This gives you a choice – and choice is good.
The back of this trailer follows fifth wheel norms with a couch that folds out into a bed. Then there are heating and massaging theater seats opposite the fireplace.
For 2021 there’s a new table, also painted black. But with a big “X” holding up the front of the table, it’s a great place to knock your knees. This would be much better if it were a “dream dinette” with no exterior support instead.
Upstairs, the bathroom features a high-performance vent fan, which is nice, and a rather deep linen closet. The shower stall features a Nautilus shade – which some folks love and others don’t.
The bedroom has a hanging closet at the back toward the bathroom, along with a larger shoe garage. Of course, there’s also storage under the 60” X 80” queen-sized bed. On either side of that bed are cubbies but not hanging closets, since there’s already one in the bedroom as it is. This means, really, you get more and more usable space.
Sounds like I really like this fifth wheel – and I do think it has a lot to offer, especially for this price point. But there are a few things that also cause me to take pause.
Cherokee has been using more and more black finishes in their interiors. I think this makes the interiors seem smaller and darker. I guess it’s very much different than every other RV out there – so there’s that.
Also, the company seems to love blue lights. There are blue lights on the backside of the island, in the entertainment cabinet, and in a number of other places. I see this much blue lighting, I think I’m getting arrested by the grammar police or something.
Only one awning on the Arctic Wolf
I wish there were a second awning on the slide room toward the back of the trailer. As it stands, there’s just one over the front of the trailer. However, for the price of this unit, you may have plenty of extra moolah to have a second awning installed if that’s something you’re interested in. On the plus side, you can dim the lights on the awning that is included. Bonus. Lastly, in the bedroom is a big metal sign above the bed that reads, “Relax.” I hope I don’t need to go camping and read a sign to pull that one off.
Overall, though, these trailers deliver a tremendous amount of value along with a sense of style –and that made these a real hit with customers.
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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