Saturday, September 23, 2023


RV Review: 2022 Forest River Cherokee Arctic Wolf 261RK fifth wheel

There’s a bit of confusion for people out there and it comes down to names. Specifically, Arctic Wolf and Artic Fox. Yeah, yeah. Slightly different animals in the wild but wildly different animals in the RV world. One is a product of a smaller RV company in the Pacific Northwest, the other is a product of Forest River and is a member of one of that company’s very high-volume brands. 

Specifically, what I’m blathering on about today is the Forest River Cherokee Arctic Wolf 261RK fifth wheel. The Arctic Wolf 261RK is a smaller fifth wheel with a rear kitchen and a nice, livable space. It lives more at the upper end of the travel trailer price spectrum but offers many of the big-time fifth wheel features, including fifth wheel towability. 

There have been more than a few mid-priced travel trailers that are close in price to the $57,766 MSRP of this fifth wheel but, in many ways, you get a lot more here. 

Highlights of the Cherokee Arctic Wolf 261RK

Among the features here that you won’t find on most travel trailers is the automatic leveling system. It’s something I’m seeing on almost all fifth wheels nowadays, including the ones at the lower end of the price spectrum. 

Another thing that comes standard in this fifth wheel is a Lippert backup camera. It works with the same Lippert One Control smartphone app as a number of nifty gadgets I’ve seen lately. I like this solution a lot because you almost always have your phone with you. Also, even though it’s illegal in many places, a good number of us have a dash mount like the Nite Ize one I reviewed a while back. 

Rather than putting one more screen on your truck’s instrument panel, having the backup camera on your phone makes much more sense. Plus, as written, it’s included with the trailer. 

There’s also a solar panel that comes standard, but this is primarily for acting as a battery tender more than anything else. That being written, this also comes with a 12-volt DC compressor fridge. Having one of these myself, I know for a fact that that 50-watt solar panel isn’t going to keep that thing running. 

The nice thing about how they wired the panel in is that, even if you enable the battery disconnect, the solar panel will still do the job of keeping the battery topped off. That’s what it’s really all about—not really operating anything in the trailer. 

Interesting layout in the Arctic Wolf 261RK

Inside, the layout is interesting. How’s that? 

On the bulkhead at the front of the main living space is a long bench, above which are coat hooks and cabinets and below are storage cubbies. Oftentimes you’ll see something like a coffee bar here, but not in this case. 

The slide room has a spot for a TV and cabinets behind that. But these don’t come with a TV, and I like that. The reason is that some want a fancy smart TV and others just have something sitting around that’ll do “in the camper.” And others may want to seek out one powered by 12-volt or just have no TV, which would likely be my choice. 

Across from the place where the TV might go is a two-place couch. It incorporates two recliners but also a removable armrest. This could just be a couch or two recliners or whatever combination works for you. Whatever—it’s a nifty thing. 

The only dining choice is a table and chairs with the table top being a live edge simulation. I actually really like this. But I really do not like the carpeting under the table. If there were one place not to have carpeting, that would be the place. 

Some nice touches in the kitchen of the Arctic Wolf 261RK

Some of the nicer touches in the kitchen include a cutting board that doubles as the backsplash on the stove. This cutting board is held to the wall magnetically and makes for a useful item. 

Since this trailer is set up to work with Lippert’s One Control app, there’s a control panel that enables this. But, if you’re not a phone person, you can just push buttons. My wife and I have adapted well to this with our own trailer, where I’m the geek using the app and she pushes the buttons. 

Though, I must say, I know how to push her buttons, too. She has told me so. 

A different upstairs bedroom in the Arctic Wolf 261RK

The upstairs bedroom is differently arranged than I’ve seen before. While the bed is just that, on either side of it, the cabinets that you might expect to be closets are just cabinets. No hanging here. There is a drawer in each nightstand but the nightstands are really low. 

However, at the foot of the bed in the wall that is shared with the bathroom, there’s a nicely sized hanging closet along with a shoe garage. 

Arctic Wolf is part of the Cherokee family. Something that brand is known for is including an icemaker with all their rigs—this one being no exception. In addition to the icemaker outside, there’s a very small bar fridge. There’s also a “dog bowl” sink that you drain by flipping over, and a two-burner stove. 

If you forget how to drain the sink, just think of those family nights around the Monopoly table and that one angry player who turns the whole table over when he didn’t get the race car. Jerk. 

Boondocking and travel access

If you’re expecting to run that 12-volt fridge with a 50-watt solar panel, I am here to tell you that it will run. For maybe a short portion of one day. Having this same fridge in my own travel trailer it is a bit of a power hungry little beast. While it does a good job of keeping the grub at food-safe temperatures, it’s something you’re going to want to keep supplied with the Edison juice if you’re going to be off the grid.

I would say you need at least 200 watts of solar and at least one lithium battery to keep it rolling, depending on where and when you camp.

Otherwise, the majority of the trailer is fully accessible with the single slide room in, except the refrigerator and pantry. But at least you have access to the bathroom so those mid-roll stops after too much coffee won’t also require a change of the pants.

In summary

For what you pay, the Arctic Wolf 261RK has a good amount of value and a number of features that may be a surprise, like the icemaker and included backup camera. 

The carpet under the dining table in the slide is a bummer. However, on the plus side, there are no floor ducts for the furnace. With lots of windows and several places to sit, this could be a decent rig for a couple who wants something that offers a good amount of value in a very usable space. 

I would love to read your comments and suggestions over on our new forums, where you can weigh in and start or join a discussion about all things RV. Here’s a link to my RV Reviews Forum.

If you’re RV shopping here are some tips on RV shopping from a former RV salesperson—me!

Tony comes to having worked at an RV dealership and been a lifelong RV enthusiast. He also has written the syndicated Curbside column about cars also has an 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.

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


Tony Barthel has been a life-long RV enthusiast and travels part-time with his wife where they also produce a podcast, write about RVs and love the RV lifestyle.


  1. I would trade 20 gallons of grey water for 20 more gallons of freshwater capacity anyday. My family boondocks, so additional freshwater extends our stay away from the multitudes. Obviously, this rig is built for crowded park and camp vacationing where you’re hooked up to city water, and freshwater capacity is immaterial. Forest River has a specific group in mind as it’s target for this rig. Bon voyage mes amis.

  2. We just ran a “test” on our 12v fridge last week at our house before leaving on a month-long trip. Turned the fridge on without plugging the MH in on Tuesday. Began loading the fridge with some test items from the house fridge on Wednesday, which we re still cold or frozen on Thursday. So, we loaded the fridge/freezer completely on Friday after a trip to the grocery store. The fridge was only powered by the solar panels and lithium batteries during that time. Despite rain on Saturday and Sunday PM, the fridge kept everything cold until we left on Monday morning. So we had food in the fridge for 5 days before we left and the temperature on the fridge thermometer never went above 40 degrees and the frozen food stayed frozen.

    After that test, we are EXTREMELY happy that we have a 12v fridge instead of a two-way and will never go back to a propane fridge. I would even be willing to put ice cream in it, which we only tried once in the travel trailer with the two-way fridge!

    • It would be nice if someone somehow was able to test the different manufacturers 12 volt rv fridges. Letting RV travel readers know how long they run on battery, any issues and which is better. Would be nice if Consumers Reports would test RV equipment. Then maybe they would build a better product. Thanks for your feedback Steve H

  3. Looks like a big fan in the head. Good deal. Haven’t been ‘converted’ to the12v fridge legion yet though. Especially when they come with trailers that are supposed to be ‘boondock ready’. What we finally did was test (successfully!) running our ac/propane fridge on ac through our 2000 watt pure sine wave inverter, powered by two Lithium batteries and charged with ample solar panels on the roof. This has worked flawlessly when traveling and solved the problem of keeping grub cool on the road. But when parked, we use the propane.
    Like the freestanding chairs, but not the bench.

    I love your reference to the Monopoly player!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Sign up for the

RVtravel Newsletter

Sign up and receive 3 FREE RV Checklists: Set-Up, Take-Down and Packing List.