By Tony Barthel
Ask just about anyone who tows a traditional travel trailer what kind of fuel mileage they get and the answer is almost invariably the same: 11-14 miles per gallon. This could be a big trailer or something smaller. The problem isn’t as much the weight as the aerodynamics.
When you look at race cars or electric cars or even your garden-variety sedan, they all have one thing in common – there was a lot of time spent in a wind tunnel to optimize their shape to cheat the wind as much as possible.
Surprisingly, if you have a large pickup truck, it, too, was tested and retested for its ability to cheat the wind and use as few resources as possible to shuttle down the road. And then you go and hook a barn to the back and that’s the end of the efficiency story.
Aerodynamics of the Safari Condo Alto A2124
There are very few travel trailer companies that I come across who actually do anything more than pay lip service to the sciences of aerodynamics, or the study of how an object moves through the air. Oh, you can bet that most brochures for RVs talk about their efficiency, but the gap between truth and claim is as wide as the Grand Canyon.
That’s a very different story here with Safari having tested its Alto A2124 Series for aerodynamic efficiency. They didn’t do it in an actual wind tunnel, but they did do it with software, which is how most wind tunnel testing is done nowadays.
The roof and walls of the Safari Condo Alto A2124 are made of a sandwich-type material with a plastic honeycomb core laminated with an aluminum skin on one side and AluFiber or aluminum on the other. AluFiber combines the light weight of aluminum with the durability of fiberglass. The only materials used in building the Alto are those on which water has little effect – such as aluminum, AluFiber, plastic, Formica and glass. Inside, the furniture consists largely of aluminum and composite materials. Rigid and ultralight sandwich panels are integrated into the bed cushions. The entire bed structure is made of aluminum extrusions.
The frame, too, is aluminum with an independent Torflex torsion axle suspension at the heart of it. Since the trailers are ordered from the company directly, you can have them set the suspension height either to optimize aerodynamics (lower) or optimize the ability to travel on rougher roads.
Water is heated by a Truma Combi system that also serves to heat the cabin of the trailer by circulating glycol in tubes. This provides a wonderfully even radiant heat but doesn’t heat up the interior as quickly as a fan-forced furnace might.
The grand tour of the Safari Condo Alto A2124
Despite the odd exterior shape, which I actually dig and is completely stand-out, the interior is much more like what we humans are used to.
At the front of the Safari Condo Alto A2124, you start with a wedge-shaped dinette which can be converted into a 52” X 74” double bed. While I’m not sure I’d want to sleep in this wedge, it is a nice place to sit surrounded by windows. The table is a Lagun model which would facility ingress and egress, especially for folks like me who displace a lot of water in the pool.
On the road side of the trailer is a wet bath. There’s another big window in here. I saw several owner videos, some with a sink in the bathroom, some without. In a small bathroom where there is a sink right across the hallway in the galley, I can see the logic of not having a sink. It’s cool that you’re given the choice. I would imagine that it definitely affords you more room for showering.
All the windows on these are the European jalousie type that swing upwards up to 90°. They feature day/night shades as well as screens built right in. These are premium windows and follow other high-end components being used in this trailer.
Out back are two benches that can be used as a large dinette or a seating area. You can also lower the table and use the area as a large sleeping surface measuring 75” X 81”. It’s not a totally square surface – so that’s something to get used to.
A few owners I came across on the Internet had the same complaint with this type of bed as almost every other RV owner. That’s that the cushions don’t make for the most comfortable bed. A few had added a memory foam topper – but they had to cut theirs to fit the somewhat wedge-like shape. This would be a place where an RVSuperbag would be a must.
Several of those owners choose to leave the bed down in bed mode during the day and just use the seating at the front. Others switch between bed and seat, depending on demand.
Lastly, the galley consists of a two-burner propane stovetop and a round sink along with a microwave. However, you can omit the microwave if you choose to. The two-burner stove features an electronic ignition. It seems to be much higher in quality than what you’d normally expect of this design. The sink is one I’ve seen in a lot of Class B RVs. The top features a round glass cover that swings up and a faucet that sort of tilts upward with a stainless steel bowl.
Galley and overall storage
For this small of a trailer, there is a tremendous amount of storage, relatively speaking. There’s storage up front under the wedge-shaped dinette, and storage out back under the twin-sized seat benches. That storage is accessible from both inside and outside the trailer.
There is a halo of cabinets all around the trailer. There’s even a hanging closet behind the bathroom on the road side. The use of space in this is as impressive as the aerodynamics.
Also different in the Safari Condo Alto A2124
I like that the two standard propane tanks are up front inside a compartment. There’s a sliding screen door for the main entrance as opposed to the typical screen door. But if you have pets you might want to protect the lower section of this. There’s also a three-speed fan near the door to move air in the trailer.
I love, love that they’re using SeeLevel tank monitors. The SeeLevel monitors are external to the tank and give readings in 1 percent increments. Typically, you’ll see tank levels displayed as a small number of LEDs. But is the lowest level 10 gallons or just one? The SeeLevel gives you much more reliable readings.
I also like that the fridge is three-way so you can run on propane, 120vac or 12vdc. It’s perfectly safe to use it on 12 volts when rolling down the road.
Air conditioning on these is an option, too. If you choose to have one, it sits below the front dinette rather than sticking up above the roof of the trailer.
I’ve been very intrigued with Safari’s line of trailers (here’s the Safari Condo Alto F2414 and the Safari Condo Alto R1713) – as you may have guessed reading my reviews of them. I like the materials used in construction and the way they see things. Rather than building rolling houses, they’re building vehicles. So they feel a bit different but will likely serve their owners better over the long haul.
For folks with mid-sized trucks, some SUVs or even an electric tow vehicle like a Tesla, this trailer makes a huge amount of sense. By significantly reducing the aerodynamic hit of a traditional trailer you offer much better tow ability without such a dramatic drop in energy consumption, whether you’re using liquid fuel to move your tow vehicle or electricity.
In terms of usability, the Alta A2124 offers just about everything you could want in a travel trailer. While some compromises between interior space and usable space have to exist because of physics, Safari has done a great job of putting together a design that really works and may be more a sign of things to come.
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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