Thursday, September 28, 2023


RV Review: 2021 Keystone Cougar 26RBS

By Tony Barthel
Watching Josh the RV Nerd’s videos on YouTube (below) is an expensive hobby for me. It was one of his videos that got me to buy the trailer I have now, and when I saw him get excited about a floor plan that rolled into his dealership, I was a bit wary about watching it. 

I’m safe. While I really liked the Keystone Cougar 26RBS, it was larger than I’m currently hoping to get so I was saved. But, still, this RV does have a lot of features that make it a solid choice as a couple’s camper. 

Slides in use

Josh and I share the priority that a camper is better if you can use most, if not all, the features while in transit. No, no, not while you’re actually driving but being able to grab a snack or a beverage, or use the bathroom while on the road with the slide in is a huge bonus. This has that bonus.  

Of course, once you’ve put the slide out it’s so much better. In the slide room, you get a number of choices including a tri-fold sofa and booth dinette or theater seating and a free-standing table, which would be the boxes I would personally check. 

That theater seating is opposite a huge TV and electric fireplace, and there’s a cubby in the seats themselves to keep your remotes. Next to the TV is a large pantry and there’s another pantry/closet to the left of the rear entrance door. Behind the TV is more hidden storage and, of course, there are cabinets and drawers in the kitchen. As far as travel trailers go, this one’s got a handle on the storage for sure. 

There isn’t a huge amount of counter space but there is floor space and a free-standing table that would work as counter space alternative. 

I also like the size of the windows inside the slide with both road-side and slide sidewall windows being pretty big with MCD blackout shades to keep the sun out when you want. 

Past the main living area, the bedroom has a king-sized bed but still leaves room for you to walk around. There’s also a door in the bedroom to the outside world and both this door and the one in the main living area have windows with shades. 

On each side of the bed are little nightstands with cubbies underneath and both a 120vac and USB plugs. 

Keystone’s cornerstone features

There are a number of plugs in here that are inverter-ready if that’s something you choose to install. So you could run something like a CPAP at night with the proper batteries and such along with that optional inverter. 

On the subject of wiring, it’s important to talk about a few of Keystone’s advantages. Wiring is one of those. A few years ago Keystone committed to wiring all their RVs consistently – so a yellow wire on this trailer does the same thing as a yellow wire on another Cougar model. You might think this is normal, but it’s really not. 

That wiring includes a solar panel plug on the side of the trailer along with a solar connector on the roof, if you choose to add solar. 

Keystone also has a flooring product called HyperDeck, which is a man-made laminate that they use in place of wood flooring. No more worrying about the flooring in the RV rotting. 

The company also tests and certifies their RVs to work down to 0° F and up to 110° F. While some RVs claim to be “winter-ready,” at least here you know what it has been tested to withstand. 

Part of that climate package is a ducted air conditioning system with plastic duct joiners/supports that keep the ducts from collapsing over time. That way those unusual vents keep working the way they’re designed to. 

Another plus is that this unit is wired for both rear and side cameras. These cameras can be a huge benefit – and having everything in place to install them is a big plus. It’s also wired for 50-amp service, which is exceptional for a travel trailer as it means you could install a second air conditioner. 

If you do that while you’re up on the roof, you might as well dump that chintzy bathroom fan and replace it with one that’ll move some serious air. Since the vent over the bedroom is pre-wired for an AC, you could also put a high-performance fan up there while taking advantage of the wiring. 

As a higher-quality trailer in Keystone’s line, you also get auto level on this model as standard equipment. Furthermore, there is the inCommand system which uses a control panel to allow you to run the AC, auto level, lights and other systems. You can also tie it to your smartphone and use that to control much of this RV – which has merits including being able to extend slide rooms and the awning from outside while you’re looking at them go out. 

In fact, if your RV has found Wi-Fi and you happen to be at a restaurant you can whip out your smartphone and check the tank levels. You never know how you’ll react to that shrimp dish, you know, and you’ll want to be prepared. 

Buttons again

What I don’t like is that there isn’t just a simple button as you go in the door to flip on the lights, but there are redundant buttons in the kitchen and the bedroom if that’s a consolation. Plus, you can annoy your spouse by using your phone to turn lights on and off. On and off. On and… Now you’re sleeping outside. 

At least while you’re out there you get to use the outdoor kitchen, which is comprised of a Capital grill which is a sort of barbecue grill made of stainless steel. Next to that is a 120vac bar-sized refrigerator. This whole sleeping outside thing isn’t that bad after all. 

Perhaps you’ll have also used the 2” receiver hitch to hook up a rack for your electric bicycles or something of that sort. That almost justifies playing with the lights again. 

There is a lot to like about this trailer, including the layout and all the plus features that you get both as part of the Cougar brand in general and of this model in particular. One thing that annoys me is having to throw away stuff right when I get an RV – so I wish Keystone wouldn’t use those cheap bathroom fans, but at least it’s an easy fix. 

They also used the 22” oven and did a lot of other things very well on this trailer, so it’s definitely one to consider for couples. 

One thing: It’s advertised as half-ton towable and maybe it is if you have a really, really well-equipped half-ton pickup. But I think you’d realistically be much better off with a three-quarter-ton pickup with a trailer of this size and weight. I’m sure there’s someone out there who tows theirs with a Prius or something ready to write a response, and that’s fine. 

The bottom line: This is definitely a nice choice in this field.

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 – thank you!

Tony Barthel has been a life-long RV enthusiast and travels part-time with his wife where they also produce a podcast, write about RVs and love the RV lifestyle.


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2 years ago

DITTO Sink Jaxon. I to owned a Keystone Carbon 5th wheel toy hauler. I will NEVER recommend a Keystone to ANYONE they are JUNK for an outrageous amount of MONEY. Roof leaked, metal entry steps came out while traveling down Interstate roads, paneling and decorative pieces fell off, etc., etc., ETC. None of this was covered under warranty. Disgusting and dangerous. Keystone products are trash.

Sink Jaxon
2 years ago

Sorry…but to this day…I tell EVERYONE I know, that Keystone is JUNK! From my own personal experience, I owned a Cougar. The slide got stuck in the out position. The kitchen faucet leaked and swelled up the countertop. Shelving broke. The roof bubbled up and the air caught it and it tore, had to replace. Window cranks stripped. The hood vent ext. flap broke and fell off…it went on and on. Sold it after a year and a half taking a huge loss. >>>DO NOT BUY KEYSTONE PRODUCTS<<< This comment is no reflection on the author.

2 years ago

We have this exact model and love it. The only thing I would do differently is have the love seat that makes into the fold out bed, as the dinette sleeping is kid friendly only. All other options on this unit are top knotch.
2 years ago

I like the king bed in a travel trailer. The window in front cannot be enjoyed while in the bed and it only leaves the opportunity for an additional leak point.

2 years ago

Yeah I have covered all the windows and the roof vent in our bedroom with reflectix. I like to sleep past 6 am. Another big window over the bed is a waste.

Tommy Molnar
2 years ago

I too, wonder about the 1/2 ton ‘towability’ of this trailer. I also wonder why they’ve installed two different kinds of entry stairs.

I was interested in Keystone’s new Arcadia 5’er that was reviewed the other day. I used Keystone’s “contact us” option on their site and left a message asking a couple of questions. I got a ‘boilerplate’ email back saying they’d get back to me as soon as possible. That was Sunday. Today is Wednesday. Makes me wonder how quickly I’d get support if I was an owner.

Bob M
2 years ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

I have a 2018 Chevy Silverado 1500 with the small V8 and 3.42 rear. It’s towing capacity is 9100 lb and will tow this no problem. I tow a Jayflight 29RKS without any problem around NE Pa

Roger Spalding
2 years ago
Reply to  Bob M

Hi Bob, I’m always doing comparisons between the 3 main half ton p’ups. Ram 1500, Chevy/GMC 1500, Ford F-150. Problem is that all of them have cylinder deactivation which turns a V8 into a puny V4. They’re strangled and the 8 to 4 switchover stinks to me, still neither fast nor smooth. The F-150 Powerboost twin turbo V6 has the most torque of any of them, beats the turbodiesels as well and costs less than the diesels (with Ford near $10 K, I think). With certain options, it can tow nearly 14,500 lbs. Think I’m gonna go with Ford (doesn’t matter to me). Expensive but seems to be worth it. You buy horsepower but you drive torque. From a fellow Keystone Stater. You have experience, what do you think?

Mark Roberts
2 years ago
Reply to  Roger Spalding

We just purchased this model with the thought of towing it with the 2020 F150 Ecoboost we purchased last May. The EcoBoost in my case had a max towing of 12500lbs so this trailer was well within that. The problem came with the payload which in my case was 1484lbs prior to putting on a cap, 1280lbs afterwards. This trailer is listed at 880lbs tongue weight, we measured at 840lbs tongue weight empty. So empty we were already exceeding our load capacity with two passengers and a heavy WD hitch. The Ecoboost pulled it fine, no problems, but we were at the limit. We took a hit trading in the F150 for a F250 diesel but I felt instant relief knowing I have a cushion in payload and a vehicle heavy enough to control the trailer in adverse conditions and down hill.

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