By Tony Barthel
After a while of being in the RV business, some folks get jaded or just less excited when new models show up at the dealership. This wasn’t me – I was always eagerly anticipating what was on the back of the delivery truck. My friend Josh Winters from Haylett RV in Coldwater, Michigan, had that same passion. The reason I bring this up is that Josh gave me a heads-up on this Jayco Pinnacle 36SSWS and said that I had to take a look at it.
Like most RV companies, Jayco has a confusing array of fifth wheel offerings that range from the Eagle HT to the Pinnacle. The good thing is, Jayco’s website presents the information in a way that the consumer can make sense of it all. In fact, before we even get to the product I want to give kudos to Jayco on a website that actually has real information.
OK, but who cares about that? The product is the king and this is the king of Jayco’s brand of fifth wheels – as you might expect from something called “Pinnacle.”
Among the things that put it at the top of the heap in Jayco’s pile is the warranty. This line is specifically warranted for full-time living. The company has actually tested this, and certifies that the trailer is good down to 0° F (here’s their article). There is no carpeting at all, including in the slides. Also, all the wood in the cabinets is the real McCoy – no pictures of wood on lesser materials.
What’s with the small faucet next to the main kitchen sink faucet?
One of the things I found interesting is that, at the kitchen sink in the Jayco Pinnacle 36SSWS, there’s a small faucet next to the main pull-out faucet. That secondary faucet is separately plumbed from the main system. That is to say, it has its own water pump and is designed to pull from a smaller portable water tank (think 5-gallon water bottle) for specifically drinking water. That water bottle is stowed down in the basement storage.
Imagine if you just put a huge bottle of wine down there and then you could have a wine faucet? Or what if you really liked Kool-Aid? You could have five gallons of the stuff on tap at any time, day or night. Or a vodka faucet. As RVers we should always be drinking, er, thinking outside the box, right?
The grand tour of the Jayco Pinnacle 36SSWS
The first thing you’ll notice when entering this unit is that there is an entire wall of storage to the right. Typically, you’ll find the steps to the upper level in a fifth wheel here, but those are on the road side in this unit. Makes sense to put a place to hang clothes such as jackets right by the entrance.
Under those steps on the road side up to the second floor is a shoe garage. This is winter-ready on multiple levels.
The Jayco Pinnacle 36SSWS has a great kitchen
If you love to cook as much as I do, this is a great kitchen. It starts with an 18-cubic-foot two-way (gas-electric) RV refrigerator. Thank you, Jayco. I’m still not sold on residential fridges if you ever plan to move your fifth wheel. However, one is available if you prefer that.
The stovetop is huge with four burners just like in a house. The oven, too, is home-sized. Up top is a microwave with convection so you could cook up a storm here.
While the counter space next to the stove is a bit tight, there’s a huge island in the center. It has solid surface covers for the huge farmhouse sink that match the rest of the counter. I also like that there’s a pull-out extension on the island. Also, Jayco includes a big butcher block surface to put on this pull-out. That can also double as a cover for the stovetop.
You could feed an army and store all the supplies for that in the various drawers and cabinets as well as the large pantry here. In particular, one of the drawers has a sliding insert for the utensils as well as a container in the back of the slide insert for stuff.
I like that there’s a drawer that can hold the included wastebasket. The drawer is even large enough to put a second wastebasket or recycling basket or whatever.
The living area
Past the pantry is a space where there’s a large electric fireplace and a televator. If you do prefer that window during the day it’s there and, push a button, TV time.
There’s a huge couch at the back of the rig that can fold out to make a bed big enough to legitimately sleep two. On either side of that couch there is storage in the tables. That would make sense to hold the bedding or things like that. On the subject of the furnishings, I immediately noticed how much higher in quality the upholstery looked than what I typically see. Josh confirmed that, yep, these are absolutely a cut above in upholstery quality.
Moving on, there are power recliners that feature heat and massage. They’re directly across from that televator and fireplace.
Interestingly, the table and chairs start life sort of as a bar/buffet. A table extends from beyond that, which can be extended further for seating for four. The reason for the bar is that, outside the coach, there’s a TV and the buffet/bar area accommodates that.
Upstairs in the Jayco Pinnacle 36SSWS
Going upstairs, the first thing you’ll notice on the road side is that the entire upper wall is actually a super slide. In fact, there are three of those in this coach. There is one on either side of the lower deck and this third one on the road side of the upper deck.
The first thing you’ll come to in that super slide are cabinets that are set up to accommodate a washer and dryer – one in each cabinet. Of course, if you don’t have a washer and dryer that just means more hanging space.
Behind you on the camp side is a beautiful bathroom with a huge shower – larger than the one in my house. It is outfitted with a teak seat that Jayco claims is strong enough for 300 pounds. There are dual sinks on the opposite side and a porcelain foot-flush toilet. Jayco does offer the option of a macerator system if you would like.
The backlit sinks impressed me. There’s a light below the counter as well. That way you could turn this on at night and not have the overhead lights. My wife would love this.
The bedroom is spacious
The bedroom in the Jayco Pinnacle 36SSWS is almost laughably spacious. That’s due to there being a slide in a slide. Yes, the giant super slide has a slide in that, in which Jayco has the bed – your choice of queen or king. If both slide rooms are extended this leaves a tremendous amount of floor space up in the bedroom.
When I was selling RVs we had a competing brand that also offered a slide in a slide similar to this. A buyer reported to me that they weren’t able to fully extend the second slide in some campgrounds. But you can still use the upper bedroom without extending the second slide – you just don’t get all that floor space.
The unit that Josh showed me in the video I’ve included below features an optional upstairs cedar closet, which takes advantage of the entire nose of the trailer for closet space. There’s also a wall of storage on the camp side of this rig.
When I checked Jayco’s website, this second closet upgrade was a pittance to add – $30. But what a huge difference it makes in storage, plus it’s a genuine cedar-lined closet. If you choose not to add it, the other option is a nice couch along the front of the rig with a window. Deciding between the two options might even be a tough choice to make.
While on the subject of choices, there are more you’re going to be faced with if you choose a Jayco Pinnacle 36SSWS. Among the options to be had are whether the frameless windows are single or dual-pane. You also have to decide if you would like a macerator for the black tank system. Also, there is an extreme weather package if the regular system doesn’t cut it for where you’ll be camping.
The standard outfitting includes two 15,000 BTU air conditioners. But you can choose to add a third unit if you want. Of course, you can also choose generator prep or even to have Jayco outfit the rig with a 5,500-watt Onan generator.
A smart upgrade to make in the Jayco Pinnacle 36SSWS
One of the smarter upgrades to make, if you’re going to be doing any amount of towing, is a disk brake system. I don’t see this often offered and any time you can get better braking I’d recommend doing so. Jayco uses all Goodyear Endurance tires.
If you choose slide room awnings, even the slide in a slide gets an awning in an awning. Well, sort of. Both sections get covered.
The Jayco Pinnacle 36SSWS is well done with materials and features befitting something named “Pinnacle.” I like the way there are redundant light switches throughout the coach but also a system whereby you can use a smartphone or the control panel to accomplish things.
But one of the things I really think is a very intelligent feature is the JaySMART (Safety, Markers and Reverse Travel) lighting system which flashes the upper marker lights as well as the side marker lights with the blinkers. Personally I think this should be something that is required of all towables. The system also flashes the brake lights three times when the brakes are applied to grab the attention of those following you.
When I first saw a slide-in-a-slide system, I was skeptical since very few RVs have them. As mentioned, some campgrounds just can’t accommodate them, but the rigs that do have them are still functional without extending the nested slide.
Considering what-all they offer for the money, this is a nice consideration if you’re thinking about full-time RV living. Or, if you just want to explore the RV lifestyle in comfort.
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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