Monday, September 20, 2021
Monday, September 20, 2021

RV Review: 2021 KZ RV Sportsmen 231RK half-ton-towable fifth wheel

By Tony Barthel
What is a half-ton-towable fifth wheel? There are so many configurations of pickups and lots of fifth wheel manufacturers who claim that they make half-ton-towable fifth wheels. But I wanted to see just how light I could get and find a fifth wheel that could be towed by a number of the half-tons out there. My search led me to the KZ RV Sportsmen 231RK. 

Weighing in at just 6,150 pounds with a pin weight of just 790 pounds, the KZ RV Sportsmen 231RK fifth wheel is actually lighter than some travel trailers. It is certainly within the parameters of many half-ton trucks’ towing capacities. Even with a full load of cargo, this trailer still weighs in at 7,500 pounds – meaning it’s in the zone, so to speak. 

What’s inside the KZ RV Sportsmen 231RK

If you looked at just the specifications for this unit you might almost think you’re looking at a travel trailer. This is a really lightweight rig. Being a fifth wheel, that 24’ 5” of overall length means it’s going to feel shorter behind the truck since about three feet of length is over the truck. So this would also be a very maneuverable rig. 

For 2021 KZ Recreational Vehicles has updated things a bit, so let’s look around. Starting at the door, the refrigerator is right there. This means you could just reach in and grab something cold from the outside, almost without going into the rig itself. 

The galley encompasses the remaining width with the countertop making a right turn to form an “L” shape. The sink is on the road side wall. Of course, cabinets are overhead and drawers are down below. 

The only slide room in the Sportsmen 231RK is the one on the road side, which has a tri-fold sofa or optional theater seating. That seating is across from the 42-inch TV, which rides above the dinette on the camp side. 

The steps into the upper deck are right in the middle of the forward wall, so you can access them with the slide room in. That’s certainly a plus, as the bathroom is on the upper deck, which is customary for a fifth wheel. But what’s not customary is the configuration of the bath. 

A sliding door separates the lower from the upper deck on the Sportsmen 231RK

On your left is a closet with just the toilet in it and a smallish vent fan. On the right but not enclosed in a room so much is a radius corner shower and the sink. There is a curtain you can draw across the room so you segregate the shower that way. There’s a linen closet on the road side, so the curtain includes that linen closet. 

This makes sense, as someone could be brushing their teeth while someone else is sitting on the throne solving all the world’s problems. 

Sleeping will be on a queen bed. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find out if this is a full queen or an RV queen. In fact there’s very little information available on this unit – including no photos and no videos from the company themselves. 

Each side of the bed has a taller closet. There’s a little shelf for each person as well with a power outlet near it. 

Outside matters

A few things caught my eye looking at the exterior of the KZ Sportsmen 231RK. Some I liked and some I didn’t. 

I did like that this unit features the “keyed alike” functionality – where one key operates all the locks. Bonus. I also like the magnetic hold backs on the baggage doors. 

What I didn’t like was the wooden decking for the upper deck of the fifth wheel as opposed to aluminum. I guess I’m spoiled. This trailer is more affordable than a lot of fifth wheels and even less expensive than some travel trailers. However, I also didn’t like the collection of wires you can see when you open the under-deck storage. 

In summary

In many ways the KZ RV Sportsmen 231RK avoids some of the things that are a factor in most fifth wheels, including being very large and very heavy. Indeed, many half-ton trucks will be able to tow this with no problem. 

However, it also misses the mark on some of the great reasons to get a fifth wheel. These include huge baggage compartments and plentiful water storage. I’m not sure that this would be a better buying decision than a travel trailer, to be honest. Also, many in this size and price category have more water storage. 

Also, fifth wheels have a natural stress point where the frame jogs up to meet the truck bed. A trailer this light would make me curious about the long-term experience of previous owners with stress fractures. I am not at all saying that that’s a case with the KZ RV Sportsmen 231RK, but it’s worth diving deeper into if this is a unit that intrigues you. 

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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Tommy Molnar
4 months ago

It looks like they got the grey and fresh water tanks mixed up.

Donald N Wright
4 months ago

Tony, how do you measure the wind resistance of a fifth wheel trailer ? Is there any way to lower the body and frame to lower the roof top? What about using Cool Cat Heat pumps instead of roof top A/C ?

Rick F
5 months ago

Tagging on to Steve’s and Tony’s comments regarding weight limits, another key weight is GAWR, especially when considering dropping 1,100-1,500 pounds of pin weight in the back of a half-ton truck. Sure, many half-ton trucks will “technically” pull it, but in my opinion, not safely.

Judy S
5 months ago

Call me crazy, but that ccc is a deal breaker for me because I like to boondock. I’d want to add solar, and there’d be times when it’s necessary to drive with fairly full tanks. Not much remaining ccc to add all the other usual stuff.
Love your reviews, Tony, thanks.

Steve
5 months ago

If it has a GVRW of 7500#, you can expect a fully loaded pin weight of 1125-1500# (15-20%). That leaves little capacity for passengers and assorted equipment (tool boxes, generators, etc.) in most half-ton trucks without the factory-installed heavy-duty payload/max-tow packages. And from our truck shopping experience, half-ton trucks with both those packages are few and far between, even in new car dealer’s lots. They generally have to be special-ordered. The majority of half-ton truck owners couldn’t safely tow any fifth wheel, including this one. And many RV salesmen are not knowledgeable enough (or don’t want) to tell them that!

Dan
5 months ago

That’s a nice 5th wheel, but I dont think I’d ask my half-ton to pull it very far. The numbers are too close to the limits of what a half-ton should be asked to do. It makes it sound like sales speak.

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