By Tony Barthel
I’ve written about a few promised products in the RV industry and known about others. I like seeing when something that’s supposed to be becomes a reality and that’s the case with the Jayco Jay Feather Micro 199MBS travel trailer.
Jayco’s Jay Feather series is one of a growing number of smaller travel trailers that are “high content” models. It used to be that the little trailers were just stepping stones to the larger models with the ultimate goal of getting a giant RV of some sort for touring the country in retirement.
Now an ever-increasing number of buyers are going down in size to more maneuverable, easier-towing trailers and looking at things that don’t require a heavy-duty pickup as the tow vehicle. As such, trailers like the Winnebago Hike 210RB, Jayco Jay Feather Micro 166FBS and Rockwood Geo Pro 16BH are huge hits.
Big on small
A few things really set this style of trailer apart. One of those is the higher-end features and finish inside. But the other is the adventure-focused styling and packaging.
For example, today’s Jayco Jay Feather Micro 199MBS has things like a raised suspension system that incorporates a Goodyear Wrangler truck tire on a single axle. So you get both greater ground clearance and also a more capable tire.
I feel compelled to clarify that I don’t usually advocate putting truck tires on a travel trailer. One of the principal reasons for this is that travel trailer tires are subject to “scrubbing.” This is what happens when you turn a tight corner and the tires literally get dragged sideways. Truck tires aren’t designed to accommodate this, but since this is a single-axle trailer that’s not an issue. Trailer tires also have very different tread patterns that are more optimized for towing.
It’s okay here with a smaller, single-axle trailer – but I wouldn’t do this on a larger trailer with two axles.
Other things that make this not just a low-end trailer include the build methodology which incorporates Jayco’s Magnum Truss roof build. Walls are constructed using welded aluminum framing and then vacuum bonded with Azdel substrate inside and out. That’s a man-made waterproof material that I prefer over the Luan used in many RVs.
There’s also a brush guard all around the base of this trailer owing to the assumption that you’ll be taking it off-road, or at least to places where brush can damage the finish.
There’s also a single key that locks all the doors and baggage compartments and a nifty outdoor kitchen. That kitchen incorporates a flat-top griddle along with a bar-sized fridge in an all-metal compartment. The mounting system for the griddle is particularly unique being almost like a receiver hitch – and it’s quite substantial.
But one of the best things that I’ve seen in this and other Jayco trailers is Jayco’s Jay S.M.A.R.T. lighting, which flashes an upper marker light and the side lights with the blinkers. This system also incorporates backup lights. There is also a provision for a backup camera as well as side-view cameras. I think these little things make a giant difference in driving safety, personally.
The interior of this trailer incorporates a couch at the front with side tables that have cup holders in them. This isn’t unusual until you look around and realize Jayco has included a second lap table that fits into the cup holders that you can use as a desk or whatever. That table, fitting into the cup holders, sort of has a cup holder extension so you don’t lose your cup holders and it’s a larger mounting point than the rod on some other tables I’ve seen. Smart.
On the camp side ahead of the entry door is a Furrion 12-volt TV with a built-in sound bar. You can run this TV off the battery of the trailer – meaning it’ll work without being plugged into the park or having to run an inverter. Smart.
However, I’m not sold on the position of this TV as I can see bonking my head on it when I get out of bed, especially if it’s left extended by someone else camping with me.
Which brings us to the Murphy bed, which is a split mattress model. Essentially the bed platform is simply that, a platform, that is hinged and folds down over the couch. That means your mattress has to be split in the middle, which isn’t my favorite thing.
But you can fold the Murphy bed down when the slide room is in, so you can use this for a mid-journey nap. That is really unusual in a smaller trailer.
Also, under the couch are two drawers and there’s also a slotted storage spot for a portable table. Nice.
The galley, on the camp side of the trailer, features a three-burner stove top but no oven. There’s a microwave above this and you can upgrade this to a convection model – which might be a good idea considering the lack of an oven.
As for refrigeration, there is a typical RV gas-electric fridge standard, but you can also get a 12-volt compressor-based fridge as well.
Opposite the galley is a U-shaped dinette in the slide room. Under one side is a bit of storage and part of this is also accessible from an outside compartment door.
Finally, at the back of this model are bunks which are each rated for 300 pounds. The bottom bunk flips up, revealing storage underneath. You could store longer items in this trailer even with the slide in. However, without an outside compartment door giving access to this, I don’t see how you’d get a kayak or other longer item in the trailer itself.
Interestingly, some of the smaller lines of trailers are growing, as evidenced by the two-axle r-pod RP 202 and another model you’ll see in tomorrow’s review.
I’ve also talked to quite a few folks who have downsized from much later RVs of all configurations into trailers like this. These tend to be more maneuverable and can be outfitted with decent solar packages that make them well-suited for off-grid camping.
Speaking of that, I was really surprised to see that this trailer has a 55-gallon fresh water system. Again, this points to a great trailer for boondocking and, with campgrounds filling up quickly, boondocking is a better and better choice.
With modern battery and solar systems, really, your holding tanks are now the biggest reason to have to come back to the civilized world as power is no longer as much of an issue.
My thanks to Josh Winters from Haylett RV in Coldwater, MI, for supplying me the photos and for the heads-up on this new unit.
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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