Thursday, June 24, 2021
Thursday, June 24, 2021

RV Review: 2021 Rockwood Mini Lite 2516S

By Tony Barthel
Yesterday we looked at one interpretation of a rear-bedroom travel trailer. Today we take a look at another. While I’ve often said a lot of the floor plans from one company are very, very similar to those of another, the execution and materials can make a substantial difference – good or bad. 

Today I am focusing on the Rockwood Mini Lite 2516S, a rear-bedroom trailer that has much the same layout as yesterday’s KZ Connect SE C221FKKSE. It’s also good to know that the Rockwood 2516s is identical to the Flagstaff 25FKBS. So if your local dealer has one of the other, you’d be getting the same trailer. Why would someone buy one over the other? 

Big differences between the Rockwood Mini Lite and the KZ Connect SE

There are both big and little differences between the two trailers. But, how much do these differences matter? That’s going to depend on the buyer, of course. 

First of all, the Rockwood Mini Lite features two entry doors – one in the bedroom and the second in the main living area. I like this idea only because if there ever is a fire, you can get out more quickly and not have to pass the fridge. Not that you’d stop for a beer on the way out, but RV refrigerators are a more likely fire starter than your mattress. 

And while I’ve heard some folks comment that the two doors were awesome, I’ve heard others say that that feature takes away from interior storage. There is never just one correct answer to any question. 

The Rockwood Mini Lite trailer also features a slide room in the bedroom, so you get more space there. But that also means you’re hauling around the weight of two slide rooms instead of just one. How much of a weight difference? The Rockwood outweighs the KZ trailer by almost 800 pounds. 

I have mentioned in the past that my wife and I have very different sleep schedules. I wake up around 5 a.m. so I can get the latest updates on the RV business and what’s happening, and, well, her personal timeline is vastly different. 

The bathroom in the Rockwood Mini Lite bisects the floor plan

So one of the things that really appeals to me about the Rockwood Mini Lite is that the bathroom completely bisects the floor plan. In the KZ, the bathroom could be bypassed by someone walking to or from the bedroom, which also has merits. But by having two doors to the bathroom totally split the rig in half, I think you’d have better sound isolation between front and back. 

Again, this is going to be such a subjective thing. It’s good for my wife and me. But I can also see the merits of being able to bypass the bathroom on the way to the bedroom. Especially on taco Tuesday. 

Rockwood rules the roost in the suspension department

But one area where Rockwood really rules the roost in comparison is in the suspension department. The KZ trailer uses a leaf spring setup, whereas the Rockwood uses a Dexter Torflex® axle. That means each wheel is essentially independently suspended. I have towed a lot of trailers and this suspension makes a huge positive difference in my personal experience. 

On the subject of towing safety, the Rockwood also comes with Goodyear Endurance tires filled with nitrogen, but also with an automotive-style tire pressure monitoring system. My personal thoughts on this is that you can’t do better. This is the gold standard of trailer tire safety. Period. 

I like that you can get the Rockwood with an optional 12-volt DC refrigerator which includes a 190-watt solar panel on the roof and inverter package. 

I also like the Rockwood roof build methodology better than most travel trailers in the industry. Rockwood uses an aluminum rib and thick solid core foam which is vacuum laminated together. This means the roof is fully walkable, and even my big self has been on the roof of my own trailer. Not often, though – I hate ladders and heights. 

Subtle differences between the Rockwood Mini Lite and KZ Connect

Now, on to the subtle differences that you might not immediately catch between the Rockwood Mini Lite and the KZ Connect. 

One of those is that the Rockwood uses frameless windows which are hinged at the top. While some perceive that these don’t provide as much ventilation as sliding windows, Rockwood also includes a high-performance ceiling vent fan with rain cover. 

Funny thing. I’m sitting in a campground as I write this with that very fan working while I have the windows opened around me and it really is a good system. 

Rockwood also steps up to the plate with a ShowerMiser water saver. With that you can divert water back into the fresh water tank while waiting for the shower water to get hot. I don’t know of any other trailer brand that has this, but it can make a big difference in how long you can stay out while boondocking. 

Both bedroom and main living space entry doors in the Rockwood Mini Lite feature shades in the windows in the doors, which is pretty nifty. 

Similar kitchen layouts

Up front, the kitchen has the same basic layout, but the Rockwood has cabinets across the front top as well as a pantry space along the road side. So there’s definitely more storage here. 

Also, having a slide in the bedroom means there’s more cabinet and drawer space there, as well. And the bed has two drawers underneath and storage accessible from the outside. Oh, while that bed is up you might marvel at the fact that even the bed uses a welded aluminum structure. 

While both trailers feature heated and enclosed underbellies, the Rockwood also has 12-volt tank heaters for if you’re traveling when it’s below freezing and need to keep the tanks warm. 

Speaking of being warm, I like that Rockwood puts their heat vents in the cabinets rather than on the floors. This trailer also comes with a space heating electric fireplace. And instead of only having a space for a TV above that where you can put what you want, this one comes with the TV. 

Also in the heat department, this one has the 22” oven rather than the 17” model. 

Final thoughts

A few weeks ago I was camping with someone who had a trailer similar to my own and who said, “Oh, yeah. It’s just like a Rockwood but I paid less.” 

I make no apologies about being a fan of Rockwood and Flagstaff products. It’s not some blind brand loyalty at all. It’s literally due to looking at what’s included, the build methodology and the customer experience. 

You could also argue that the KZ Connect has an outdoor kitchen. But I was really disappointed that the refrigerator is right over the griddle –which makes no sense. There is a portable grill mount on this trailer and it comes with the grill. So you’re close – missing only the fridge. But if that’s important, might I suggest a portable 12-volt DC refrigerator which works in transit. I understand the idea of a bar-sized 120-volt AC-only refrigerator. But it doesn’t make as much sense as a 12-volt cooler-style fridge. 

Do I think someone who buys the KZ Connect will be disappointed? Probably not. But I also think that if you’re investing tens of thousands of dollars in something that is part of your family vacation for years to come, it also is really worth your while to know the differences and whether or not they will matter to 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.

Got an RV we need to look at? Contact us today and let us know in the form below – thank you!

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Greg Gimlick
1 month ago

Nice review Tony, it’s nice to read reviews by people who actually know the industry and are campers themselves. You see things that others don’t or might not think about. “Reviews” done by ad copy and press releases are not reviews. Hands on with knowledge of systems is what makes a review worthwhile and you do that nicely. I may be partial about product reviews since I just finished 27 years of doing independent product reviews in a different industry. Hey…..I wonder if Newmar would like to send me a 45 diesel pusher to review 🤣

Tommy Molnar
1 month ago

While there are many many good features in this trailer (like the rooftop fan cover) I missed where you are supposed to eat. No table, and no discussion of how you might produce one. I watched the video from beginning to end and saw no mention of a table.

The other issue I have (and I have this with quite a few trailers) is no room to walk around the bed to make it. They mention the walk-around bed but when doing the 360° tour I see no way to actually walk around the bed, so making the bed would be a problem (and we always make the bed as soon as we get up).

Otherwise, lots of storage, good stairs, ladder on the back, big oven, two doors – what’s not to love?

Adam A Douglas
1 month ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

The bathroom roof vent cover comes standard in the Mini Lite/ Micro Lite line.

TV Trays are the most popular option. The 67” theater seat can be optioned with a standing table and chairs or hide-a-bed sofa. The Mini Lite 2506s offers a u-dinette.

The bed is in a slide which extends out the driver side so you can walk around it.

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