Monday, January 30, 2023


RV Review: 2021 Outdoors RV Back Country 20BD: The best boondocking travel trailer?

By Tony Barthel
As campgrounds fill up, boondocking is becoming a bigger focus for a lot of RV manufacturers. But I think I’ve found the boondocking champion in the small travel trailer space. The Outdoors RV Back Country 20BD is one of the best-suited smaller RVs I’ve seen for boondocking, period. Why? 

Insulation in an Outdoors RV

Outdoors RV is a company that takes its climate readiness very, very seriously. The walls of the trailer are a full 2” thick, the underbelly is fully enclosed with heat ducts directed to it and even the knife valves are inside the heated space. 

Frankly, this isn’t horribly unusual. But the fact that even the outside shower is behind a 1” thick door represents how well this rig is insulated. There are also thermal pane windows throughout. 

The Outdoors RV Back Country 20BD is a boondockers delight

Insulation and weather readiness aren’t the only things that really set this trailer apart. What made my chins drop is the 100-gallon fresh water tank aboard a trailer this size. I’ve been excited about 52-gallon tanks in the past. So I’m doubly thrilled with this much fresh water storage available. 

My wife and I can camp for three to four days with our trailer that has 37 gallons of fresh water. So we could easily be out a week in this trailer, especially since the gray and black tanks are 40 gallons apiece. My wife would also love the 10-gallon water heater in this, as opposed to the typical six-gallon models in many RVs. 

There’s also 170 watts of solar on the roof. But, if you’re camped in the winter, there’s an Onan 3.6 propane generator aboard. Worried about running out of propane? You shouldn’t be, as there are 80 pounds of propane capacity as well. This trailer is absolutely a boondocking monster. It is easily as capable as a lot of toy hauler fifth wheels in this regard, but isn’t nearly as gigantic or unwieldy as those. 

The Back Country 20BD has a gun safe

Oh, and get this. There’s a gun safe in the trailer as well as a mounting bracket where you can mount your ax up in the front storage compartment. You can tell that Outdoors RV is truly in lumberjack country. Okay, they don’t call it a gun safe but it’s a safe about the size of a handgun with a combination lock right above the nightstand on the road side in the bedroom – so draw your own conclusions. Actually, the brochure calls it an “easy access home defense bed safe.”

Lastly, the battery storage on the tongue has a provision for up to four batteries, again, assuming you’ll want to just go off-grid and stay there. 

What’s inside the Outdoors RV Back Country 20BD

The bottom of this trailer is higher than many, so you’ll go up three steps to get in, owing to the trailer’s design for going into the backcountry. 

Inside, the first thing that made me happy is the U-shaped dinette in the back which is surrounded by absolutely huge thermal pane windows. If you’re going camping where it’s beautiful, which is sort of the whole idea, this camper lets you experience that beauty from inside. There’s even a skylight above the dinette on the road side. 

The TV is viewable from the dinette and Outdoors RV has fitted this with a 12-volt TV so no need to run an inverter to catch your favorite cartoons. 

The galley is on the camp side with a large stainless steel sink in which there’s a drying rack. This is next to the three-burner stove with a 17” oven and, above that, the microwave. 

Opposite the galley is the bathroom. This also has a sink and a shower. Taller travelers will love the fact that the interior height of the ceiling in here is 6’11”. Yep, lumberjacks can take a shower in this trailer. 

Lastly, the bedroom features a true queen-sized bed with a hanging closet on each side along with a nightstand. There’s storage under the bed, as is typical. 

A brick what? 

To accommodate that weight and beefiness there is a heavy-duty suspension that incorporates shock absorbers and Goodyear E-rated tires on 5,200-pound axles. Many trailer suspensions aren’t quite able to carry the entire weight of the trailer when you look at the specifications with the assumption that 15% of the weight falls on the shoulders of the tow vehicles. 

In fact, I had someone file a warranty claim wanting a suspension and tires that would fully support his trailer, which was denied by the manufacturer. Here you’ll find there’s more than enough suspension and tires to accommodate the 9,995 GVW of this trailer. That means you have 3,840 pounds of cargo-carrying capacity. That should accommodate 800 pounds of water just fine. 

Outdoors RV builds their own frames in-house, which is part of why they can offer something like this with this much water capacity. 

The downside?

A trailer that is built like a tank and insulated like a fortress is also not going to fit into anyone’s “light” category, as you might expect. So this rig starts around 6,155 pounds with a dry hitch weight of 755 pounds. So you’re likely not going to tug it around with your half-ton truck or SUV. 

I also wish they hadn’t put the solar charge controller right over the bed as it does have a lighted indicator panel. I just want to sleep in complete darkness. Also, the gun safe takes up some of the space on the camp side nightstand. But, more than that, it’s a sharp-edged metal box. So I’m sure there will be more than a few times someone shoots their mouth off after unexpected contact with it in the middle of the night. 

In summary

This trailer intrigues me so much I am putting it on my very, very short list of trailers to look at for my own camping adventures. The build quality and beefiness of this design just really intrigue me. But I love boondocking, so the credentials of this model in that space are almost beyond reproach. 

Add the optional second solar panel and fill the battery tray with all four batteries and you can spend a lot of time off the grid not worrying about when you have to go back into the civilized world. Except with this nice interior and first-rate insulation you’re essentially bringing the best parts of the civilized world with you – right into the forest. 

In fact, I even like the stickers on the outside. And I hope you were sitting down for that. 

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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Andrea Wilhelm
1 year ago

I have 2020 28BHS back country. It has a single solar panel with an onboard generator and large propane tanks. Power has never been an issue for our family of 4.

My husband sleeps on the side with the gun case and it is not a problem. The solar panel reader is also not a problem at night. The problem is the blues lights from the power outlets next to each side of the bed supper ANNOYING, along with the red light from the water heater switches, and the green light on the carbon monoxide detector. All these we cover up.

I am also 5’4 and find it difficult to make the queen size bed, and get into the bed. The wardrobes come out a little too far for me. I also wish they weren’t the same hight as the bed because we roll onto them frequently.

Other issue is the weight going into the high country in Colorado. Our truck is old so we have to take it slow and easy up mountain passes but the trailer preforms beautifully on forestry roads!!! I don’t regret the purchase.

1 year ago

I have a 2021 20bd. It’s amazing, my wife used it for covid clinic for 3 months. 100% off-grid, no shore power.

We have 4x6v batteries on it as can go quite a while on the charge!

The gun safe is a waste of space, and the toilet is a bit cramped. The U Shaped dinette is nice for storage, but it’s super uncomfortable..the table loses a good amount of space too.

Other than that, yes it’s the perfect boondocking trailer!

Roger Spalding
1 year ago

ORV was my first interest in RVing. Largest obstacle to buying one is that it is located in Oregon and has no distribution system east of the Mississippi. Thompson RV, the closest ORV dealer, just a short distance down the road from the manufacturer, says it ships models to the East Coast regularly. But that’s a 3,000 mile tow and, I don’t need to tell you how expensive it is. ORV closed its one time plant in Virginia, so the closest dealer for me in the North East is in Arkansas. Thompson RV told me that some customers do a fly and buy, but you still need a tow vehicle. The Back Country and Titanium series are great but all ORVs are expensive. While solidly built, last I looked ORV was still using obsolete function buttons rather than a multiplex. A deal killer for me. Unfortunately, ORV makes sense only if you live in the western US. Luckily, it’s located in eastern Oregon which wants to secede and join Idaho.

Tommy Molnar
1 year ago

Not having a slide greatly adds to the somewhat lighter weight. I think a slide would easily weigh as much as the added water capacity. So if you can live without a slide (and now that I have one I’m not sure I could), this will work for you.

But (and there is always a “but”), to head off boondocking for extended periods of time you need storage space for food and the accompanying ‘stuff’. I don’t see a lot of storage space in this rig.

The queen bed is a huge plus (I have no use for a king bed) and allows you to walk around the bed for getting in and out – and the dreadful job of “making” the bed . . . That said, I like this trailer.

I’m betting Outdoors RV and Northwood share the frame building facility since they are only a few miles apart (and last I heard, owned by the same corporation). They are building quality stuff.

Lisa Adcox
1 year ago

How do people deal with RVs that only has dinette area to sit inside? We had a friend that had that set up and after a bit he traded for some that gave him a small sitting area. Just curious. Even if you spend a lot of time outside,there is times you are inside and the dinette areas are not that comfortable for hanging out.

Tommy Molnar
1 year ago
Reply to  Lisa Adcox

We have friends who used to have a half-million-dollar diesel pusher that was plush X 2. But it had a dinette that seated two. When it came time to have guests over for dinner (like us) they had to break out TV tables and folding chairs in order to serve four people. I thought that was a bit odd, though, like us, they aren’t hauling grandchildren around so there’s not a lot of need for more seating.

Richard Hughes
1 year ago

We are currently in La Grande, Oregon, where they manufacturer the RV. My wife absolutely fell in love with their trailers. They are the best made units we have seen anywhere. We are thinking real hard about selling our Class C and buying a truck and one of the Outdoor RV units.

James Shoe
1 year ago

FYI. Zamp Solar Charge Controllers go to sleep at night so no worry about the glow from the control panel.

Last edited 1 year ago by James Shoe

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