Saturday, January 28, 2023


RV Review: 2022 Forest River Vibe 26RK “beach cottage” travel trailer

Today’s review is of the Forest River Vibe 26RK, a trailer that would really be a good choice for staying in one place for an extended time. The reason I write this is the floor plan, which provides multiple places to sit, along with a logical conversation place. 

What truly overwhelmed me with this trailer is something I don’t often like to dwell on, and that’s the interior design. I think most RVs are built with interiors that are designed to appeal to the widest number of buyers, which truly makes a lot of sense. But that also means that it’s tough to get passionate about an interior on an RV because they’re sort of like mid-level hotel rooms. 

Not something that offends a lot of people but not something to really get excited about either. 

The interior in the Forest River Vibe 26RK stands out

Regular readers, of course, know I have commented on the appearance of an RV’s interior before. Particularly when it stands out as being very polarizing or particularly nicely appointed. So much of what we see is a variation on sticker wrapping and the same appliances that there isn’t much that truly stands out. 

This one does. 

It’s not so much the very light and very bright colors of the upholstery and interior, but also the sheer curtains along the sides of the windows. Somehow this really changes the depth of the interior and makes it much less flat. But, to this beach bum who grew up on the beaches of Southern California, it does make me think of a beach cottage. 

There are still roller shades to block out the light—but those curtains just speak to me. In fact, we put curtains in our last trailer and added curtains to our vintage trailer. They are something I like. Wow, that’s a lot of praise for curtains. Especially sheer ones. I’d be curious if they speak to you, as well, and we have our forums here where you can share your own thoughts. 

Highlights of the Forest River Vibe 26RK

This floor plan is one I’ve seen before in travel trailers that we sold a lot of to survivors of fires in Northern California, where I was selling RVs. There are two swiveling recliners on the camp side under a very large camp-side window. Opposite those is a tri-fold couch, and then a dinette. 

Under the dinette is storage, and Vibe includes plastic food-grade storage totes, a definite plus. 

At the back of the Forest River Vibe 26RK is a 12-volt refrigerator and a typical 16” stove. There’s a larger U-shaped kitchen counter which has cabinets overhead and houses drawers. There’s pretty good storage here, especially if you add the pantry to the right of the fridge. 

Another place where they’ve taken a better view of storage is under the bed. There are several soft boxes in a specific spot under the bed. Below that is a place for shoes, which is a good idea. There’s even storage behind these soft-sided totes. 

Further, there is a hanging expandable storage thingy in the closet at the rear of the bedroom. These are a nifty way to add more space. But, since it’s a hanging removable piece, you can just take it out. 

Or take it out, load it, and bring it back in.

Outside on the Forest River Vibe 26RK

Going outside on the Forest River Vibe 26RK—the underbelly of this is a sectional piece. So if you have an issue in one section, which is often the most difficult one to get to, you don’t have to remove the entire underbelly pan. Smart. 

Further, the underbelly is heated and enclosed by these sectional pieces. There are also 12-volt heating pads on the tanks. So you’re really in good shape for shoulder-season camping. 

The Forest River Vibe 26RK also has those spread axles, which some drivers claim is better for towing. I’m not saying it is, but it is what I’ve been told by transport drivers who tow these things to dealerships. One of our readers made a very valid point that often these transport drivers are pulling these with one-ton trucks and even occasionally medium-duty trucks. 

Many trailers have vaulted ceilings in them. So stating that the interior height is 6’9” is only part of the story, since that number reflects only the very center of the ceiling. But this ceiling is flat and, yes, it’s 6’9” edge to edge. 

Observations of the Forest River Vibe 26RK

One of the things that’s interesting about the Vibe 26RK is that the windows aren’t tinted. Perhaps that’s what opens up the interior. Also, the windows on the road-side slide room don’t open. However, the ones on the side of the slide box do. At least there are windows. Lately, RVs seem to share a lot with solitary confinement boxes.

On the front bulkhead of the living area is a larger TV. However, it’s not on any sort of swivel whatsoever, so everybody in the trailer has a lousy position to watch it. Oh, well. You could replace the mount with one that is adjustable easily enough. Or, you know, Vibe could have done it in the first place.

Oftentimes when there’s a rear kitchen, the dump valve for the kitchen and the one for the bathroom, at the middle of the trailer, are located in separate places. Since water seeks its own level, I don’t understand this no matter how many times it’s been justified to me by RV designers.

Even worse, the kitchen dump connection is smack dab in the middle of the slide, so getting to it is going to take a professional-grade campground limbo. Bleh.

Boondocking and travel access

Travel access is limited on the Forest River Vibe 26RK in that the slide room, a cable slide mechanism, blocks the refrigerator and pantry completely. The bathroom is still accessible, but no mid-journey restocking of the fridge in a parking lot.

There is a 200-watt solar package standard on these units. That could very well keep that 12-volt fridge humming along nicely. You can also upgrade with more solar, if you choose, right from the factory.

Holding tank sizes are okay in the Vibe 26RK, with 40 gallons of fresh water, 60 gallons of gray (divided into two tanks) and 30 gallons of black water capacity. I suspect this trailer is going to spend the vast majority of its life in RV parks, and many of them could very well lead a seasonal life.

The way this thing is dressed, it’s sort of a fancy dude rather than Crocodile Dundee.

In summary

As I look at more and more RVs for this, series I’m finding that many companies are building “me-too” products that really are there specifically to check boxes and nothing more. 

According to Forest River, Vibe 26RK is the best-selling lightweight (who decides that something that weighs more than three tons is lightweight?) rear kitchen model in the industry. I do admit I absolutely love the interior design of this unit. But, again, that’s subjective. 

What will make a difference in the long term are the good storage, potentially the spread axle suspension, and the ability to remove just a panel in the underbelly should something go awry. 

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.

Tony comes to having worked at an RV dealership and been a lifelong RV enthusiast. 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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Pat D
8 months ago

With the frig mounted on the back wall when you drive down the road, it will automatically toss everything inside like a salad. The back end of the trailer is the worst place to have a frig. All bumps are magnified and vertical movement increases the farther you load behind the axles. Not a fan of this design. The frig will need repairs sooner rather than later.

8 months ago

I would not buy anything Forest River if they were literally giving them away. I’ve waited a year for forest river to do the repairs to my unit that should have been under warranty. I finally became so fed up with them I sold my unit at a $25,000 loss and never even really used it. It arrived broken and was fixed the week before I sold it. I stored their busted piece of junk and paid $25,000 to do so. Do not buy Forest River

8 months ago

Once that slide out is in, access to the refrigerator will be impossible.

Bob M
8 months ago

There’s some things I like better with this Forest River Vibe 26RK than my Jayflight 29 RKS. My Jayflight don’t seem to bounce going down the road. But on some concrete roads mine porpoises being towed with a Silverado double cab short box. Wonder if the spread axles would help. Bought a F-150 hybrid with the 6” box, but haven’t towed with it yet. Like the outdoor kitchen, but not the windows which don’t open in the slide. I put my table stowed sideways with pipe insulation on each end to prevent sliding. This allows me to get to the fridge to open enough to grab a drink. Hate the table on my Jayflight. My Jayflight has more CCC.

8 months ago

Look on the bright side, Tony. The couch potato lying on the sofa with a beer in his hand can see the football game just fine. It’s the rest of the family that’s not so fortunate.

Interestingly, FR shows the size of the dinette, but not the “queen” bed. Makes me wonder if it is an “RV queen”. But it doesn’t have a front windshield over the head of the bed. So we can be grateful that the couple sleeping in the too-short bed won’t have a cold draft on their heads all night.

I appreciate the lighter interior too. But I prefer that it be done with light ash or honey maple, not paint. Yea, I know–I’m so old and stuck in the past that I once collected cars from the ’50s and ’60s! But RVs as late as the early 2000’s used those woods, so why not now?

Tommy Molnar
8 months ago

While wide spread axles may make for ‘easier’ towing, I would think it would put a lot more stress on your tires when having to make a 90 degree back-in. My opinion, of course. Also, wide spread axles may eliminate the use of those nifty things you put between your tires to help steady the trailer when parked for a time.

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