Yesterday we looked at Forest River’s entry into the small “stick and tin” bunk house model with the Cherokee Wolf Pup 16BHS. Today it’s time to take a look at Thor’s offering in the Keystone Springdale 1800BHS.
It’s interesting, at least to me, how differently manufacturers approach a very similar idea in the market. You would think that models at this size would be almost identical, but there’s clearly a difference in how the manufacturers approach things.
Keystone Springdale 1800BHS
When I was selling RVs we would sell tons of Springdale trailers. The combination of build quality of these and the affordable price were a big hit with people. Until we signed on with Cherokee. Cherokee really puts a lot of surprising features in their trailers at this price point. Our Cherokee sales went way up while our Springdale sales went down.
But there were still plenty of things that kept the Springdale units selling, not the least of which was the company’s three-year structural warranty. I remember when that was adopted by Keystone in general. It was a huge deal at the time.
Some of the things that were under the skin on Keystone trailers were also a big deal. That included the fact that the company wires all their trailers the same way. That is much better than cases where the line workers simply pull wires as needed. This saves a lot of time in the diagnostic end if there is an electrical issue and, in my experience, means that there are just fewer electrical issues altogether.
There are a number of different design philosophies at play here. For example, the metal used on the front of the Springdale is a corrugated material to match the sides of the trailer. The face of the Cherokee is smooth, which I believe is easier to tow. This is especially true if you’re going to be towing with a less capable vehicle such as an SUV or smaller pickup.
The Springdale 1800BHS is a very affordable model
The Springdale isn’t trying to be anything other than a very affordable model. I don’t have final details on 2022 pricing, and prices all over the RV industry are going up. But I can write that the difference in MSRP between today’s trailer and the one we looked at yesterday is substantial – more than $10,000 difference.
That takes into account that yesterday’s model was the more premium Black Label model – which absolutely increases the price. From what I can tell, there is a far smaller difference if you don’t check the Black Label option, with the base Cherokee being closer to $23,000. But you also give up a lot of premium features, which makes sense.
What you don’t give up is that Keystone has stated that all their newer trailers will be coming with the SolarFlex™ system which, even at the very bottom of the price spectrum, still includes 200 watts of rooftop solar via rigid panels.
There is also wiring in place for those who wish to install an inverter to run outlets from the battery of the trailer. Depending on how much you’re boondocking, this could make a tremendous amount of sense. The fact that it’s just wired into the trailer makes it an easy upgrade. Furthermore, you can buy all the parts including additional solar panels right from the dealer. That means they’re all covered under Keystone’s warranty and they all work together seamlessly.
For those of us, including myself, who are “solar geeks,” this may not have as much appeal. But for more “normal” folks, this could be a game changer. Knowing that you can simply plug in items and have them work right off the bat makes solar far more accessible.
Details in the Springdale 1800BHS
The first thing I want to commend Springdale on here is their not including the typical iRV radio with these trailers. Instead, the company includes a rechargeable Bluetooth speaker. I have the iRV radio in my own trailer. It would have been in the recycling bin long ago if I could figure out how to patch the hole.
Actually, there’s a higher likelihood I would have taken it to the range for target practice.
The smaller Springdale trailers come with a “window style” air conditioner instead of a roof-mounted unit. Depending on where and how you camp, this could be a great idea. Not having an AC on the roof does lower the total height of the trailer, and these units can be pretty efficient.
The refrigerator might be an item up for debate. Keystone has mounted a small combination refrigerator-freezer below the counter of this model. This results in more counter space, which is good. But it also means that the refrigerator is smaller and less convenient.
Unlike yesterday’s Cherokee, the Keystone has a proper sink in the bathroom – which is a plus. But that also means that the bathroom is a tighter space.
The bathroom and kitchen counter and all these little details are the kinds of design decisions that probably keep the people who create these up at night. For example, the fridge might be great for some campers, lousy for others. But there is no single correct answer.
I will say that Keystone RVs, in general, came in pretty well-built when I was selling RVs. We had very, very few warranty issues with them. If we did have a warranty claim, the process was so quick and easy that it wasn’t really a big deal.
These kinds of little details are all good to know in the shopping process as they can make a huge difference to some campers, no difference to others. Looking at the way two manufacturers tackle two such similar trailers is interesting, to me.
Unfortunately, there aren’t images yet of Keystone’s 2022 model but, stay tuned here. I will show you a 2022 Springdale in a few days and the interior differences in the forthcoming product are striking. But they will also absolutely engender passionate differences in how one takes to those colors and materials.
Tony comes to RVTravel having worked at an RV dealership and been a life long RV enthusiast. He also has written the syndicated Curbside column about cars. You can find his writing here and at StressLessCamping where he also has a podcast about the RV life with his wife.
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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Jammed in beds like these are almost impossible to ‘make’ in the morning. Looking at the picture of the bed, I wonder how the person sleeping next to the window (and that is MY side of the bed) would get up in the middle of the night to use the loo. Or for that matter, how would that person (me again) get INTO the bed in the first place?
I think “bunkhouse” is the proper term for this trailer.
Btw, I converted a useless RV radio that came in our old trailer into a humidor. I took the radio out, and fitted in a perfectly sized small humidor. It actually turned into a selling point when we sold that trailer, believe it or not.
I don’t like beds where one person is behind another, so I agree. As for making the bed, the best thing I’ve found is the RV Super Bag which we have in our own RV. They’re not cheap but the quality is there and it saves us a bunch of time and effort.
With all the talk about solar. How does the solar equipment hold up over the long term? How long will the 12 volt Refrigerators last or need repair. Both sound good, but if there are issues. We have to find out which are quality products.
From my experience rigid monocrystalline panels tend to last quite a while. I’ve had our own portable GoPower! 80 watt panels since I bought our current trailer in 2016 and they still perform as new.
However, I have been told that flexible panels aren’t as durable and I was led to believe that a reason for this is that most of these are glued to the roofs of RVs which means they don’t have any air flow.
As for the 12volt fridges out there I’m finding that many home appliances now have a life span of about 5-7 years which is just sad. In my residence I have vintage appliances from the 1950s which still work really well. So how long will the 12 volt fridges last? I don’t know but many residential fridges in RVs seem to give up in 3-5 years so I’m hoping the 12 volt models outlast the residential units.
I have used rigid solar panels since about 1998. We had our first trailer 16 years. 14 of those years had solar on the roof. Our 2012 trailer has had solar on the roof almost from day one. My only concern would be a horrific hail storm, which luckily, we’ve not experienced.
There’s a discussion about 12v compressor fridges on another day’s edition of rvtravel. I’ve personally quit thinking about swapping out my electric/propane fridge for one of the 12v units due to energy use to run them. Same thing for the thought of tossing out the current fridge for a 110v fridge (which would be an even easier swap-out due to not having to dedicate a new 12v power line). Compressor fridges are bigger inside than the customary RV fridge.