By Tony Barthel
I’ve mentioned before how there are times when I’m surprised by things I see in the RV industry. Sometimes those are bad things – but, usually, they’re pleasant surprises. An example of this is the 16-gallon DSI gas/electric water heater in the 2021 Northwood Arctic Fox 27-5L fifth wheel.
In our own travel trailer, we have the typical six-gallon unit. My wife, who has pretty long hair, has no problem with running out of hot water, although she grew up dry camping in the desert – so maybe it’s just that she’s got skills when it comes to saving water. But I can imagine having 16 gallons of hot water.
The Arctic Fox brand is one of a handful of brands built by Northwood Manufacturing in the Pacific Northwest. It is known for being tough and very weather resilient. Perhaps if you’re a lumberjack, or a lumber Jill, you’ll want to take long, hot showers after spending your days in the forest.
If that’s the case you won’t be disappointed. Not only does this fifth wheel feature the aforementioned giant water heater, but there’s also an 88-gallon fresh water tank to draw from. Combined that with a 67-gallon gray tank and a 65-gallon black tank, and you have the ability to stay out longer without having to hook up.
Speaking of lumberjacks, they spend some of their time driving down logging roads. While I don’t know where Northwood tests their trailers, they do certify them for off-road use. A part of this ability comes from building their own frames in-house. I know a few people who have Northwood products and all have chosen them specifically because of their tough build.
Inside the Northwood Arctic Fox 27-5L
Stepping inside, the first thing you’ll notice as you walk up those MORryde solid steps is that huge grab handle. They’ve done a good job with this.
Inside, you notice either theater seating or a folding couch next to which is either a dinette or a table and chairs. Your seating choices are up to you when ordering one of these. If you do go with the dinette, there are drawers underneath. There are also lockable doors on the outside of the coach where you can gain access to that space under the dinette seats.
I love watching the guy who does the Northwood walk-through videos as he counts out the drawers and cabinets in their models. So, by his count, there are one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine overhead cabinets – along with one, two, three, four, five, six storage drawers under the solid surface kitchen countertop with lighted toe kick. The huge pantry next to the kitchen counter is also very nice. I’m a fan of Northwood’s “solitaire Azul” interior colors, one of three different choices in these coaches.
You have to feed those lumberjacks, of course, so Northwood uses a three-burner cooktop and a large convection microwave. In addition, there is a sizable separate oven and, lastly, a gas-electric refrigerator.
What’s upstairs in the Arctic Fox 27-5L
Upstairs is the shower, where you’ll be enjoying those 16-gallons of hot water. The shower features a seat/step inside along with a height-adjustable shower head. The bathroom also contains a porcelain toilet and stainless steel sink. One of the things that caught my eye was a lighted magnified vanity mirror on a swing arm. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen one of these included in an RV. It’s a cool thing.
My wife and I have battery-operated nightlights in our bathroom. Northwood has us covered by building those right into the cabinet in the bathroom on this rig. Makes perfect sense!
On either side of the upstairs bed are small cabinets. Each side has both 120vac outlets and 12-volt USB charging ports. There’s a shelf the entire width over the bed and nightlights that also can be used as reading lights. The mattress is a Northwood Tru-Rest Comfort mattress and, truthfully, I have no idea if this is your typical RV mattress or not.
Under that mattress is more storage and also a locking metal storage box – think of important papers or things like that. This is one of several unique touches in this coach.
Another of those, back downstairs, is a magnetic dry erase board which makes so much sense. I always encourage folks to write down the address and county of the park they’re in as well as the space and phone numbers. That way, if there is an emergency, they won’t leave the 911 operator waiting for that information. Yes, I do know someone whose life was saved by having this information readily available.
There are quite a few options on this model including the way the seating is configured, as previously stated. There are also two propane generator options: either an Onan 3.6 or 5.5 model. In addition, there are also solar panels: either 100 or 170 watts of solar. There are a number of options for your air conditioning configuration as well as holding tank heating pads, slide toppers and more.
Another cool option is something I think some folks may have otherwise added on their own: a free-standing swivel rocker recliner.
Northwood makes solid coaches and is the only company that I know of that is actually certifying their trailers for off-road use. I actually can’t imagine taking a four-ton fifth wheel down some logging road. But I also know folks who, after hauling heavy equipment up and down these trails all day, would think nothing of it.
Where can you find Northwood products?
The one challenge in these is that they are a smaller manufacturer and finding a Northwood dealer is tough. The company’s own website lists only ten dealers nationwide. But that may not even matter much, as the people I know who have products from this company are really pleased with them. Considering how well-insulated they are and the build quality, they may make a great choice. This is especially true if you’re a lumberjack – whether that be the real kind or just the Monty Python variety.
I would like to thank Richard Roman for suggesting this model for review. There’s a form below if you have a new RV you think we should look at.
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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