Sunday, September 19, 2021
Sunday, September 19, 2021

RV Review: 2021 Jayco Jay Flight SLX 7 Bunkhouse Travel Trailer

By Tony Barthel
I really appreciate the input of the readers of RV Travel, as well as your readership. In yesterday’s review of the Rockwood Geo Pro 16BH, I mentioned the impetus for the review was an email to me asking about smaller, potentially SUV-towable bunkhouse models. We started with one that is at the higher end of the price spectrum. So today we’ll take a look at something much, much less expensive – the Jayco Jay Flight SLX 7. 

Jayco is interesting because, until they were bought by Thor in 2016, they were already a larger company with a pretty extensive line of products. Witness the fact that this Jay Flight is one of their more affordable offerings compared to tomorrow’s upcoming review at the other end of their range. 

How to build a trailer

Looking at yesterday’s offering compared to today’s you see two very, very different build philosophies when it comes to how a trailer should be constructed. I was pretty thorough in how I described Rockwood’s methodology, but in the Jay Flight line they do what manufacturers have been doing for decades. 

The Jay Flight trailer starts with a steel frame and then adds a wooden structure on top of which is affixed aluminum corrugated siding for the exterior walls. The advantage of this method is that it’s far less expensive – no specialized tooling needed. It’s also easy to change and, if you damage the exterior, almost anybody who’s handy with tools can fix the issue. 

The downside is that it’s less aerodynamic when a company uses a corrugated nose (all those undulations in the surface cause wind drag). Also, the uneven surface means that more filler material has to be used around windows and doors. If you’re good with keeping an eye on these seals there is no problem here. Unfortunately, many RV owners are not. So water intrusion happens, which can destroy the wood and underlying materials. 

Incidentally, all RVs should have a routine inspection of all exterior seals. Yes. All RVs. 

Another disadvantage of this build methodology is that it can be heavier if you use more substantial materials. It can be light, but this would sacrifice structural rigidity. 

There is no better or worse way to build RVs, but it’s good to have an understanding before you go shopping and be realistic with yourself about your travel style and how well you maintain things. 

The grand tour of the Jayco Jay Flight SLX 7

In a smaller trailer like the Jay Flight SLX 7 and yesterday’s Rockwood Geo Pro 16BH, you’re more limited by simple physics in what you can fit inside. However, both companies have done a good job of packaging. 

In Jayco’s case, the bed takes up the space in the nose with a 60” X 80” bed that’s permanently in place. This is an “east-west” arrangement so the person closest to the front of the trailer has to crawl over the one on the outside. 

This can either be a burden or a joy depending on who the two people are. But remember, there are only four beds in this trailer so if you’ve already filled the two in the back you’re going to want to think about that nighttime fun. Hmm, I think I just got way, way off track. 

There is a privacy curtain across the front, incidentally. Yes, I’m finally done. 

There is a dinette but it just seats two. In the back, bunk beds line the road-side wall. 

Dry bath but no bathroom sink in the Jay Flight SLX 7

Beyond that is a dry bath with a tub/shower and toilet but no sink. To me, this is no big deal but I remember showing trailers like this to some people where they were horrified by the lack of a bathroom sink. That’s why there are 31 flavors in the ice cream store – something for everybody. 

The galley here reflects the price of the trailer with a two-burner surface-mount stovetop. There’s a microwave up top, a sink, and then the three-way refrigerator occupies the space below the sink. This is a relatively small refrigerator so you’ll want to make the most use of that fairly decent-sized pantry between the galley and the bathroom. 

Storage is adequate but not incredible – with cabinets above both the galley and the dinette along with the aforementioned pantry. There’s also storage beneath the bed. 

Your style of camping

While I suggested being realistic with yourself in how you do maintenance and repairs as a component of your shopping for an RV, I think you should be equally honest with yourself as to the style of camping you enjoy. 

If you’re seriously into boondocking or off-grid camping or venturing into the backcountry or desert camping, you’ll want to pay attention to tank sizes, solar functionality, propane storage and all the things that will make a difference in how long you can stay off the grid. 

I would argue that the Jayco Jay Flight SLX 7 is more a trailer that is better suited to living most of its camping days in an RV park with no included solar or inverter and very small holding tanks. In an RV park, tank size is almost irrelevant, other than making a difference in how frequently you have to dump.

But if you don’t plan to spend a lot of time off the grid, if any at all, it doesn’t make sense to pay for a bunch of functionality that you don’t need. While I’m someone who absolutely appreciates off-grid camping and the benefits of solar and all of that, that’s my style.

So a trailer like the Jay Flight SLX 7 would be great, particularly if you’re going to places like KOA or Yogi Bear where there are a ton of activities for the kiddos along with full hook-ups. At almost $8,000 less than yesterday’s trailer, you’ll have extra money to spend on campgrounds. Figure at $100 per night, that’s 80 nights of camping for the difference. Wow. 

Jayco

As I’ve written before, there are some things I really like about Jayco products including their Magna Truss roofing, a two-year limited and three-year structural warranty and, best of all, the JaySMART lighting system. This trailer also utilizes Goodyear Endurance tires and incorporates other high-quality features. 

In summary, the differences between this trailer and yesterday’s model are substantial and boil down to decisions and being honest about the style of camping one does. Honestly, with proper maintenance, either trailer will last for a very long time and there are positives and negatives about each style of construction. 

The things I saw in the Jay Flight SLX 7 floor plan that did make me pause were the small dinette. If you have sleeping for four there should be one place for each individual to eat. Although, again, there will be picnic tables at most campgrounds. Also, that fridge is pretty tiny. 

So, the bottom line? Know what you’re getting and get what suits you. The only wrong answer is not reading these reviews on a tablet by the campfire instead of at home wishing. 

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.

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

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Edward Wullschleger
6 months ago

Our 2014 Coleman is the identical size to the Jayco and has the same size tanks. We do about half of our camping in National Forest Service campgrounds or other boondocking and the other half in RV parks. There are two of us and we can easily handle 3 days and nights without dumping tanks, 4 if we are careful. Our Coleman has been an ideal size/cost for our needs and easy to tow with our Ford Ranger. The short queen bed we have is oriented to the front and back, which is much nicer than the one in the Jayco. We have no bunk beds which allows us more storage and space for the two extra deep-cycle lead acid batteries that I carry with an inverter to power our tv (with dvd player for movie nights), our laptop computers and recharge our phones and cameras. All this works very well for us. We use our Coleman about 25-30 nights per year. The lower quality construction hasn’t been a problem so far, except for the C load-rated tires which we replaced with D rated tires after a blowout.

Tommy Molnar
6 months ago

At least they offer the “optional” bedspread . . .

I went to the Jayco website and checked out the description of this trailer. There is a “Customer Value Package” that costs $3,300.00. This bag of options contains all the stuff you actually expect on any trailer you consider buying.

Randy
6 months ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

Well, this Jayco looks nearly identical to the used 2017 Coachman Clipper I bought at the end of last summer for $7000. I replaced the tires, put on a 2nd 20lb propane tank, added backup cameras and added some waste tank heaters and we added some interior insulation. All in, we were at just $1500 in DIY upgrades. To date we have boondocked through an ice storm in Oklahoma and cold snow in PA. We were very comfortable and still enjoyed the trip.

So glad I didn’t drop 20K on something identical to what we have now plus I would say it’s very capable 4 season rig.

Bottom line. Know what your needs are. Learn as much as you can before buying. Our rig is not fancy but it has what we were looking for.

Ronald Payne
6 months ago

Hey Tony,
Another good review. your point on maintenance really stuck with me. it cannot be overlooked, and when it is, trips are not as fun and costs are always higher. BTW would that curtain in the Jayco be soundproof? lol

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