Sunday, October 2, 2022


RV Review: 2022 Heartland North Trail 21RBSS—little trailer, big features

Today, this review is looking at the Heartland North Trail 21RBSS, a couple’s smaller travel trailer that has a lot of things I’ve seen people ask for, including a true king bed but in a trailer that is easily half-ton towable.

King-sized little trailer

For whatever reason, I read a lot of requests from folks who want a king-sized bed in an RV. But a mattress this large is really going to take up a lot of space in the rig. That’s true here, of course, and that translates into narrow side closets. So if hanging space or bedside tables are a priority, you might look closely and see if the compromise works for you. 

On the subject of big stuff, Heartland has one of the largest pass-through storage compartments I’ve seen in what the company calls King Kong storage. This is pretty huge, and with the trailer’s more than 2,400-pound cargo carrying capacity it makes a lot of sense. 

But everything in life is a tradeoff, and the large cargo area means the bedside boxes really make it a bigger challenge to crawl into that king-sized bed. Then you have the overhead cabinet and, as demonstrated in Josh’s video attached here, you better watch your head sitting up in bed. 

So you get a big bed and huge pass-through storage, but with the price of that comes some convenience. 

Insulation in the North Trail

The bed isn’t the only area where this little trailer stands out—insulation is, as well. Most smaller and lightweight trailers tend to incorporate as many weight-saving components as possible. Those include thinner, more poorly insulated sidewalls. This trailer is just the opposite. It has a full-two-inch thick sidewalls, which means more insulation. Further, Heartland’s bed base is also an insulated panel. So the cold that might come in through that large front pass-through storage is blocked from making the bed cold. 

This is a very unusual practice. It is probably something quite welcome by campers in these who might be in more extreme weather. 

I know in my own virtual wanders on antisocial media, I’ve seen more than a few travel trailer owners add insulation to their front pass-through storage. You won’t have to do that here. 

The walls also incorporate an Azdel man-made substrate in the wall build. That means slightly better sound insulation over typical Luan. Plus the material isn’t damaged by any water that may intrude. 

Further, the underbelly is both enclosed and heated, thus extending the season in which you can enjoy this trailer. 

The best feature in the North Trail

But despite those two key features, the best feature in this trailer may be the couch. 

That couch has a pull-out section beneath it so it goes from a couch to a couch with a foot rest. Then, for snoozing, it becomes a two-place bed. Further, there’s a folding table included in the trailer that converts it into a dinofa (thank you to Josh Winters for this nerdism). 

As you all may know, I love things that do a great job serving multiple purposes, and this is the best couch design I’ve seen in an RV. 

Other pluses and minuses

Other things I noticed were that the roof build was a two-inch laminated structure. It is similar to how Rockwood and Flagstaff make their roofs. It is my favorite type of RV roof construction. It’s light and strong and fully walkable. All good things. 

There are shoe garages both at the entrance and under the foot of the bed. The handles for the black and gray tanks are placed such that they’re really easy to operate when it’s time to do the dirty work. Some of these handles are placed parallel to the sidewalls of RVs which gives you no leverage. But these are parallel to the exit pipe, which is how it should be. 

The cabinetry is all pocket-screwed lumber core, which is good. But the monotone finish means any imperfections or staples are going to be really, really obvious. I know we’ve all tired of brown and fake wood, but I like the fact that that surface does cover imperfections better. 

There are also no floor vents for the furnace. Plus. 

Axles on this trailer are spaced further apart than normal. RV transporters who I spoke with really liked this type of design, saying that it towed much better than in rigs where the tires were closer together. 

Boondocking and Travel Access

This floor plan allows full access to everything with the slide room in. Potentially the only challenge might be getting to the road side of the bed. But it’s not the easiest bed to get into anyway.

However, this flush-mount slide might mean you don’t want to put much weight on it when it’s in. So that does take away from the functionality.

Why. Why. Oh, why don’t more RV companies offer models with no slide room? Oh, well. That’s just part of the reason I’m building my own new RV.

Heartland also doesn’t really offer any solar on this other than a simple charge port for a portable panel. So this is definitely an area where they could improve.

In summary

This floor plan is one that I really like and there are others who make it, as well. Logical competitors would include the Rockwood Mini Lite 2109s, the Flagstaff Micro Lite 21FBRS and Coachmen Freedom Express Ultra Lite 192RBS. All of these are almost the same floor plan with a few twists that separate them. 

As a servant of you, I want to always provide the most unbiased information I possibly can and give you information to make informed decisions. With that written, I have to admit a huge bias against Heartland products based on my experience a few years ago working in warranties. 

Things may have changed at Heartland

Do know that things may have changed in two years, either for the better or worse. But that experience colored my ability to be unbiased toward Heartland products because of not only what I saw in terms of build quality but also how poorly the company handled warranty claims. But I have friends in the dealer world who have shared similar stories, so take that as something to look into if this model appeals to you. 

Otherwise, this is a nice twist on a good floor plan that excels in front pass-through storage. Plus there’s that super-nifty couch. 

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. 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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Flexible sofa
Huge front storage
Wide-stance axle spacing
Small oven
Entry-grade tires and suspension


heartland's North Trail 21RBSS is a small trailer with a really usable design that offers unusually large storage and even a true king-sized bed.


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7 months ago

This is what I would love to have but the towing is too much for my jeep. Wish it was smaller and around 3500. O well I will keep looking.

7 months ago

We had the Rockwood 2109S that you mentioned as an alternative to the Heartland. As an engineer, I’ll take the Mini Lite’s torsion axles and queen bed over leaf springs and a king bed any day. Especially a bed so wide that it wouldn’t allow the camp-side sleeper (me) to get to the bathroom at 2:00am without turning on a light to see how to climb over the bed or kitchen counter. Personally, I’ll take ease of getting in and out of bed over a big bed in a little trailer any day! But the Heartland, Rockwood, and Flagstaff all have accessible fridge-toilet-bed, so are great for lunch stops at rest areas and Flying J-docking on short, overnight stops.

PS–we took the folding table out of the 2109S after just one trip. It was laminated 3/4″ particle board and so heavy we could hardly lift it behind the sofa (its factory storage space). We substituted two lightweight “TV trays,” which we used later in our fifth wheel in place of the dining table and 4 chairs and now in our motorhome.

RV Review: 2022 Heartland North Trail 21RBSS—little trailer, big featuresheartland's North Trail 21RBSS is a small trailer with a really usable design that offers unusually large storage and even a true king-sized bed.

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