Today’s review is of the Coachmen Chaparral 336TSIK fifth wheel. This is a fifth wheel you might just brush over as being another of what is the most common fifth wheel floor plan. But it actually has some features that make it worth looking at, if this is what you’re in the market for.
We’ve looked at this floor plan before and I’ve mentioned how it might be difficult for some makers to truly stand out as, again, this is the floor plan I think every fifth wheel manufacturer builds. So what’s special here? A few things.
There are a lot of ways to do things in the RV space and the first of those is to ladle on a bunch of tech. The interesting thing about tech in a vehicle is that tech gets old much faster than vehicles do. The average age of today’s vehicle is now 13 years old, the oldest it’s ever been.
So that super fancy tech that was such a wow factor when the car (or, more likely, the pickup or SUV) was new is now 13 years old. Would you want a smartphone of that age?
This fifth wheel is not a showcase of RV tech, and I really like that. There are proper wall switches for all the functions you might want. So no fiddling with screens and phones just to turn on a light.
But they did pay attention to detail where I think it will make a difference long-term. I always like to see what RVs have underneath. This has a slightly higher-spec chassis than I would have expected, particularly in the suspension. There’s Road Armor™ suspension by Trailair® that features heavy-duty shackles and wet bolts.
I’m always surprised how many fifth wheel owners I know who have had to upgrade the suspension after a short time.
The wall construction in this rig features the man-made Azdel substrate both inside and out. They’ve chamber-tested the rig and certified it to be usable from 0° F – 110° F. Not bad. Further, if you really do like to cold camp, this has a heated and enclosed underbelly. But there are also optional 12-volt tank heating pads available.
Options in the Coachmen Chaparral 336TSIK
Options are another area where this rig stands out, and there are a number that will make a difference in your camping experience.
Since we were just talking cold camping, let’s talk where it gets coldest, the refrigerator. There is a standard gas-electric RV fridge, but you can upgrade the size of that to a four-door gas-electric model. It’s extremely rare that an RV company will offer you a size choice like this.
But wait, there’s more! You can also get a 12-volt standard size (10 cubic foot) refrigerator or a larger 12-volt fridge. Four fridge choices is almost unheard of.
There are also two bed sizes with the standard item being a queen-sized bed, but you can get a king. This does fill up the slide box that the bed occupies, of course, but at least you’re given a choice.
You also can choose to add a second air conditioner. This would seem almost like a must-have item in a trailer of this size. But, I guess if you’re in the Pacific Northwest, perhaps you may need no air conditioner, although that’s not an option unless you and cousin Bubba get up there and pull off the one that’s included.
Why do you let Bubba talk you into this kind of silliness? It only makes your wife angry.
Standout features in the Coachmen Chaparral 336TSIK
The kitchen was another area where I thought this fifth wheel really stood out. There’s a lot of prep space on the island, but that prep space can also be used as a breakfast bar.
You might think that the breakfast bar aspect means that there is a limited amount of storage, but that’s not true at all. There’s a pantry next to the stove and a whole wall of drawers at the front bulkhead of the living space.
The fridge choices you make will change the amount of storage available, but none of the choices mean storage is limited at all. You just get a bit more if you choose a smaller fridge.
There is also a large oven and a convection microwave included—nice!
A few more storage highlights include the cabinets beside the couch at the rear of the coach. And there’s storage in the armrests of the theater seats, although this is not unusual.
I also really like the large windows in the camp-side slide room—they really open up the space. But that does bring up the the challenges I see in this design.
Those big, beautiful windows in this rig make for a first-rate view from the main living space. But I was surprised that they didn’t put an awning over the slide room. Usually I think awnings over the slide room are silly, but with this much window coverage, it would make sense here.
Also, a high-performance vent fan is an option in the kitchen area (get this—trust me). But there’s only the worthless four-inch fan in the bathroom. You know, the room with the steam that you want out of the camper.
I was really surprised by how much carpet there is in this rig. Carpet surrounds the rear of the living space and is also under the theater seats and the dining table in the large slide room. The one place you want carpet the least is where carpet exists. Bleh.
Boondocking and travel access in the Chaparral 336TSIK
Most of these floor plans have limited access when the slides are in, and this one is no exception. You might be able to get to the fridge, depending on which fridge you choose. Of course, you can get to the bathroom—which is a good thing.
Solar is an option here, but only enough to potentially operate the smaller of the two 12-volt fridges, should you go that route. If solar is something you’re really interested in, perhaps a Keystone Cougar is the place to look. Or learn a lot about solar and install your own system.
There’s a lot I like about how they implemented this time-tested floor plan. The big windows, cold and hot climate certification, and the number of choices really are standout features. Further, going up a notch in terms of suspension and chassis will also pay dividends down the road (see what I did there?).
The nits that get picked are not such big things that they affect the usability of the rig, and there’s lots of storage inside and out.
I need one of those leader boards where I can put these specific floor plans and list them in order of preference. But this one would definitely get a good spot for the right type of buyer.
More from Tony
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Tony comes to RVtravel.com having worked at an RV dealership and been a lifelong RV enthusiast. He also has written the syndicated Curbside column about cars. You can find his writing hereat StressLessCamping and in several other places.
You can also check out his RV podcast with his wife, Peggy.
These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. They are based on information from a single unit and may not reflect your actual experience. Shop your RV and dealership carefully before making a buying decision. 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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