Thursday, September 21, 2023


2024 KZ RV Sportsmen 231RK—A smaller 5er

As I navigate my way from my home base of New Mexico to Indiana for the FROG rally, I keep seeing older, smaller fifth wheels in RV parks. This made me wonder why these are less common nowadays. With that in mind, I thought we’d gather ’round for a review of the 2024 KZ Sportsmen 231RK. 

Measuring just 24’10” in overall length, I can see some shoppers comparing this to travel trailer offerings, which makes sense. When you think that about three feet of this rig would hang over the pickup truck, you would have a total vehicle length that’s shorter than many truck and travel trailer combinations. 

Further, I betcha some RV salespeople are going to have customers convinced that towing this with a half-ton truck is a great idea. But wait. 

Half-ton fifth wheel?

With the relatively light weight and smaller size of this fifth wheel, you might hear some RV salespeople insisting that this is towable by a half-ton truck. But wait… 

Many truck manufacturers talk about how much weight their trucks can pull, but what matters more is what they can carry. 

You see, a tow vehicle carries about 15% or so of most trailers—more in the case of a fifth wheel. This 5er has a tongue weight of about 1,000 pounds. So now you have that to consider—and that’s the dry weight. Then you add propane, batteries, you and your passengers inside the truck, the dog, that hammock that you shouldn’t have brought anyway, the portable poop tank and now your truck is at, or over, the capacity. 

And you still haven’t packed any underwear. Yes, this is a brief comment. 

I like having reserve capacity in my tow vehicle and I don’t think most half-ton trucks would. Plus, this is still a very tall trailer to tow, especially when it’s windy. 

That’s brilliant

One of the things I saw in this fifth wheel is something I’ve never seen but that every RV maker should consider copying. Inside the kitchen cabinet is a list of recommended routine maintenance items.

So, so, sooo many RVs deteriorate more rapidly than they have to due to lack of maintenance. Many owners are surprised by things that they have to do, like checking exterior seals or packing wheel bearings. KZ RV should get some sort of award for this recommended maintenance chart.

I totally applaud this!

Another thing I like is that the screen door comes with the Lippert Screen Defender, which is a metal mesh that prevents pets from damaging the screen. Nice touch! This also has the Lippert Screen Shot, which pulls the screen door closed. That’s also a nice touch and not expected in a more affordable product.

Personal bias

When it comes to sharing these stories with you, I try to examine everything I can and highlight the things I believe will make a difference in your experience. I rarely talk about interior colors or microwaves or things I believe you can figure out for yourself. 

I also believe that some things make more of a difference to those who travel quite a bit compared to those who just tow once in a while. 

For example, this has a relatively low-end leaf spring suspension, but if you’re just going weekending now and then that won’t be such a big deal. I like the torsion axle suspension, but then I’ve put over 8,000 miles on my own trailer since December. 

However, I do think that the cheap tires on here, specifically Trailer King, are ones that I would replace immediately with Goodyear Endurance or Carlisle tires. 

From my experience with KZ RV company, I had a horrible time dealing with them when I was managing warranties. But that was also a time when they were in transition, having just been acquired by Thor. I had great experience with other Thor brands, so I can only hope they’ve adopted a better way of handling warranties and, with a two-year bumper-to-bumper warranty on this rig, I suspect that that is the case. 

What’s inside

I like this floor plan quite a bit and it reminds me of smaller fifth wheels of the past. Particularly upstairs in the bathroom, where the radius shower is just a part of the open space that includes the bedroom. 

However, there is a curtain you can draw around that space for privacy if you choose to. That space also incorporates the upstairs bathroom sink. 

A toilet is in an enclosed room all by itself, but this is a cheap plastic toilet (bummer). They also use the cheap, almost-worthless vent fan in here, which I would also replace almost immediately. 

The bed up here is queen-sized bed. This is a 50-amp rig, so there are two air conditioners. 

In fact, those air conditioners actually use a filtration system, which makes so much sense and is highly uncommon. We often camp where there are new and effective pollen producers around and would welcome an A/C system with a more effective filtration process, which this rig has. Nice!

Downstairs layout in the KZ RV Sportsmen 231RK

I also really like the downstairs layout, which features a kitchen along the back wall— resulting in a good amount of counter space. The fridge is a 12-volt model and is located right at the entryway door, so you could grab something out of it easily from inside or out.


There are some nicer theater seats in here, located in a slide room. These seats feature heat and power recline mechanisms although, truthfully, I’d prefer a manual recliner. After all, how can you and the person sitting next to you have recliner races with a power recliner? But, seriously, manual is simpler and faster, which suits me. 

Not really a big deal, though. 

There’s also a dinette with knee-knocker table legs. Perhaps while I’m replacing those cheap tires and that cheap vent fan, I might also be at the hardware store getting a folding table leg mechanism and dumping those pole mounts. That way you can also use the table over at the recliners or even for food prep, although there is a good amount of counter space already. 

One more thing. I’m also not a fan of floor ducts for the furnace only because you track stuff into them while you’re using the camper and then you get “that smell” the first few times you kick the furnace on. Plus, the upstairs ones surround the shower. That means you’re likely to step on them getting out of the shower and, perhaps, drip water down into them. 

Those magnetic sheets they sell at the hardware store would be one more thing I’d be getting right away to cover the ducts when I’m not using the furnace. 

Boondocking and travel access

While some of you may not love the way the upstairs bathroom is configured, the benefit to the layout is that the slide room does not impede access to the upper deck. So this rig is completely compatible with roadside stops for both intake and exhaust, if you catch my drift. 

The kitchen and bathroom are fully accessible—is where I’m going with this. 

There are two holding tank connections on this rig—one for the kitchen holding tank and another for the upstairs bathroom’s gray and black tanks. Bleh. I wish they could plumb them together, although I suppose you could get a “Y” adaptor.

Lastly, this RV has no provision for factory solar whatsoever. Honestly, that could be fine if you use this as a seasonal camper, which wouldn’t be a bad use case. Of course, you could put in your own solar and power system, as well. 

Final thoughts

There are a few more things to take note of. One of those is that this doesn’t incorporate any sort of leveling system, which is uncommon in a fifth wheel. But leveling systems were one of my top warranty claims, so I don’t think this is a bad thing at all. 

I carry Beech Lane leveling wedges. They don’t break or need warranty claims, and I’m quite pleased with that solution. This does have manual stabilizers at all corners. 

Oh, and naturally, this has the lousy 17” oven. Why wouldn’t it? 

Also one of the things I thought was odd was the wooden beams for the upper deck. They may be fine and RVs have been built that way for a long time—it was just unusual to see. 

Overall this is a more affordable fifth wheel and one I can see being considered as an alternative to a travel trailer. 

Depending on your use case, this might make a good alternative to a travel trailer, especially as a seasonal RV in places where it gets hot enough that the two air conditioners really get a workout. 

At the right price and, under the right circumstances, this could work out to be a good choice for some campers. Plus, now I’ve given you several reasons to patronize your local hardware store and, honestly, who doesn’t love going there in the first place? 

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.


Tony Barthel
Tony Barthel
Tony worked at an RV dealership handling sales and warranty issues before deciding he wanted to review RVs and RV-related products. He also publishing a weekly RV podcast with his wife, Peggy, which you can find at


  1. One nitpick: I love that you went out of your way to mention payload considerations, but it’s ‘pin weight’, not ‘tongue weight’ 🙂 . Also, the 5th wheel hitch itself is going to weigh quite a bit all by itself.

    My half-ton could barely pull it off with a 1700 lb payload, but I would totally not risk it. Best bet is a 3/4-ton, IMHO.

  2. We looked at this KZ fifth wheel before we bought our small Rockwood Signature Ultra Lite 8244WS in 2015. But I didn’t like KZ’s construction quality or use of wood framing. So, for a relatively small difference in price, we got an aluminum structure, vacuum-laminated fiberglass walls, torsion axles, EZ-lube hubs, a porcelain toilet, a table and chairs instead of a booth dinette, a wardrobe slide, a 60″x80″ queen bed, a single, ducted 15K AC, and thermopane windows. We towed that fiver for 33K miles (wth a 3/4-ton diesel, NOT a 1/2-ton) and sold it 6 years later for nearly what we paid for it. Unfortunately, Rockwood dropped that short fifth wheel 2 model-years later.

  3. Thanks for: Many truck manufacturers talk about how much weight their trucks can pull, but what matters more is what they can carry.

    So do many RV manufacturers, RV magazines, RV salesmen, blogs, etc.

    This concept is the most important one in RVing but often neglected.

  4. Frankly, the lack of factory solar wiring is a plus. They are generally way ‘underwired’ anyway if you want serious usable solar capability.

  5. Upon reading your review I thought where is the spec sheet, did he forget? Then I got down to the video and seen the spec sheet be it ever so small. It is refreshing to see a salesman being honest about vehicle towing capacity as most would tell a prospective customer that their Chevy Colorado will tow this unit knowing full well it couldn’t. Kudos to him! Very good review on your part.

    • Honestly I believe that the vast majority of RV sales people, at least the ones I’ve encountered, don’t understand towing or the role cargo carrying capacity (of the tow vehicle) plays in the whole picture. I think RV salespeople should know more but I’m not even sure owners understand it.

      Frankly I learned more about towing after I left the dealership from well-educated experts than I ever did at the dealership.

  6. Though I am not in the market for a new RV, I love your reviews! I have learned so much and have grown to appreciate my simple little 14 foot travel travel even more. The fewer the gadgets, the easier the maintenance!

  7. Good to have you back Tony! Love to read your reviews. As well as being really thorough, they always make me smile and even chuckle a bit.


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