Some folks have the world better figured out than others. For example, one of my customers was remodeling their kitchen and, instead of doing without for a year, he bought a Springdale 242RK. This rear kitchen trailer was one of my personal favorites at the dealership just because of the floor plan.
When a good floor plan comes out that’s popular, it doesn’t take a lot of time before another RV company comes out with something similar, and sometimes even better. Such is the case with the Coachmen Freedom Express Ultra Lite 274RKS.
While on paper this is quite similar to that Springdale, the two are actually significantly different. That proves, as always, that the devil is absolutely in the details. But which is better?
Coachmen Freedom Express Ultra Lite 274RKS
Build a laminated trailer with Azdel substrates both inside and out, and this Coachmen is part of the “Ultra Lite” series at the company. Like so many RV manufacturers, Coachmen offers a dizzying array of models in various configurations depending on where the word “Lite” is placed, or eliminated.
In this case, this trailer offers a kitchen across the back but also a second really usable kitchen outside. Both of these food prep areas feature one of Coachmen’s unique properties – a silverware drawer that sort of “wraps” around the sink. This really makes a lot of use of the space.
The rear kitchen configuration already allows for a good number of cabinets and drawers. But as they say on late-night TV, wait, there’s more.
This trailer features theater seats across from a TV and fireplace, as well as a dinette. That TV’s cabinetry provides for more storage of stuff behind the TV. Then there are cabinets and drawers at the front of the main living space, as well.
Lots of storage
All told, there’s quite a bit of closet, pantry and drawer storage in the main living area of the Freedom Express Ultra Lite 274RKS. And don’t forget that under the dinette there is additional storage.
Another unique place for your stuff, as George Carlin might espouse, is at the rear of the trailer. There’s a compartment that is effectively a shallow bay under the sink and counter that’s inside the trailer. It’s a small space, but someone was thinking here and has provided for accessing just about every cubic inch of storage possible.
Speaking of that, there’s also a linen closet in the bathroom of this rig. But you can get to the contents from cabinet doors in the rear of the bedroom as well. I like this arrangement quite a bit, as you can have towels or whatever in the bathroom accessible in the bedroom too.
More clever storage in the Freedom Express Ultra Lite 274RKS
Still on the subject of clever storage, under the bed Coachmen has two cabinets with a large drawer in each one. Between those is a good amount of space which could be used for shoes or whatever, or maybe a pet kennel.
Further, you could lift the bed and sit on one cabinet while putting on your shoes. Now, Coachmen has done an even better job with under-bed storage in their Apex Ultra-Lite 256BHS. I wonder why they didn’t carry those great ideas over to this series? That literally is the best under-bed storage arrangement I’ve seen.
I do like that they’ve put a picnic table in a slide-in compartment above the front pass-through compartments. That table could find a number of uses, including being used with the theater seats inside but also as part of the outdoor kitchen.
I had mentioned the clever utensil drawer both inside and out, but the outside kitchen also features a proper fully plumbed sink. For cooking there’s a Suburban griddle that slides into a rail on the side of the trailer. I have and absolutely love this griddle, but it’s made even better with these wind screens on Amazon. Trust me. If you have one of these griddles or a Blackstone, these can make all the difference in the world.
Options in the Freedom Express Ultra Lite 274RKS
A few choices will confront you if this is the rig you fall in love with. One of those is choosing between the theater seats and a hide-a-bed sofa. To me, this choice is easy. But we each have a different style.
You can also outfit this trailer with two air conditioners and a 50-amp service. This would make a big difference if you camp where it gets really hot.
You can also choose either a 12-volt DC compressor-based fridge or a traditional propane-electric model. And, while boondocking is on my mind, you can get a 175-watt solar panel with a 30-amp MPPT charge controller, if you choose to.
I am going to have to learn not to complain about the black cabinetry that suddenly is making its way like a pandemic (sorry) through the RV industry, as I’ve found Coachmen is using it as well. I guess to each their own, but I would rather go back to the olden days of brown interiors than suffer through black cabinetry.
Why, RV people? Just why? And, of course, this one also has the lousy 17” oven.
I think the huge amount of storage space in this rig along with the very usable kitchen (except for that oven) and open feeling are huge pluses here. I wish there was more cargo carrying capacity, as the 50-gallon fresh water tank, when full, would consume 400 pounds of that from the start. This isn’t a particularly small trailer and isn’t especially light, despite the name. So going with a better suspension and tires and giving us another 500 pounds of cargo carrying capacity would really have made sense in something with this much storage capacity.
Watch what you put in the Freedom Express Ultra Lite 274RKS
So, watch what you load into this. But I like this floor plan with all the storage quite a bit.
My thanks to Josh Winters from Bish’s RV for use of the photos with this article.
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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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Going back a couple of weeks, a reader complained about the 81 gallon freshwater capacity on the Keystone 316rls 5thW. He wrote that such a large freshwater capacity impaired CCC. I commented that since no one should be pulling a 5th wheel with 650 pounds of water on the highway at 65 mph, the freshwater capacity was irrelevant. You declined to weigh in on my ivitation to do so. When I was instructed how to pull a trailer or 5thW, it was emphasized repeatedly that you wait until you get close to your destination before filling your freshwater tank to the brim. You seem to endorse towing with a full tank also. A tank with 10 or 15 gallons in it for a night of boondocking, while en route, will not impair your CCC too much. Isn’t it supposed to be dangerous to pull a rig with a full tank? I was instructed that a full water tank could upset the center of gravity which would lead to an accident at 65 mph (or higher) on the highway. Do you disagree with this notion of dangerous towing?
If what you were told was true at all, it was true of the particular model you were looking at. Perhaps it’s true in some number of designs. But generally? The tanks are low, and CG (and towing safety) likely to be improved if anything by filling them. Provided, of course, that total weight remains reasonable.
No access to the fridge with the slide in is an absolute no-buy. When our slide mechanism broke on us when we were 2,000 miles from home, we would have been in much deeper do-do had we not been able to access our fridge. Of course, this gives credence to those who do not like slides for this exact reason. But we can use everything in our trailer if the slide fails except the TV (no biggie there) and the liquor cabinet (which was a bigger problem).
I think the under-bed storage would be better utilized without the fancy drawers and just leave that big open space for storage as-you-like-it.
Not at all accessible with the slide in and the TV swivels so that what? You can watch it from the pantry? These designers really need to use these rigs once or twice.
Do the picture of the stove (1st one) even match the floorplan?
We KNOW you don’t like small ovens, man. I’m personally far more bothered by a fridge you can’t use with the slide in. Which might be good–could keep you from burning up half the tiny useable cargo capacity with excess food.