I have written before that companies like Thor and Forest River really encourage their various brands to compete with one another. The idea is that they further the mark and earn market share by just doing a better job. While every brand can sell almost anything they roll down the line, there is evidence of some brands really moving the mark forward.
One of those is Forest River’s Cherokee. That brand has really started to make a big splash and it’s showing with sales of Cherokee products moving ahead of some more recognized brands.
Cherokee trailers are affordable
For the most part, Cherokee trailers are wood-framed, aluminum-skinned “stick and tin” trailers which are popular for the simple reason that they’re the most affordable. There are also folks who buy them for the simplicity of effecting a repair should these trailers become damaged.
So why have Cherokee trailers moved ahead so much when established brands like Jayco and Grand Design have a good foothold? Simple. It’s almost all about the content.
Forest River’s Cherokee division does a lot of things that I think will make a difference to buyers. Under the skin they do a great job of framing their tubs, for example. They include high-performance vent fans. Almost everybody else in this category puts in vent fans that might as well not even be there, but they do make a buzzy noise.
Cherokee also puts these huge drawers under the dinette rather than just a door, making the space more useful. And almost every Cherokee product includes some form of outdoor kitchen with an ice maker. There are fireplaces inside, as well.
Cherokee products also have these zebra shades which can be opened to vary the amount of light they let in.
I also like the fact that there’s a cutting board that doubles as a backsplash when held to the wall with magnets. But I do wish they would put magnets on the side for a side splash as well.
Cherokee’s competitors couldn’t compete
I remember when the dealership I worked for signed-on the Cherokee brand. All the things these trailers included for the money made it much, much more difficult to sell the Springdale and Dutchmen stick-and-tin trailers we had. So we dropped Dutchmen. People would look at one and then check out the comparable Cherokee and it was almost universal – the Cherokee would win.
Unlike almost any other wood-framed trailer, Cherokee isn’t emblazoned with a bunch of swirly stickers. Instead, they have sections of the aluminum that are painted different colors. There are branding stickers, but Cherokee has the fewest stickers on the outside of any brand I’m aware of. This will absolutely translate into the trailer looking better for longer.
There’s also a Lippert OneControl system standard. You have buttons to operate virtually everything in the camper, but you can also do so with Lippert’s OneControl smartphone app. One of the things you can also do is see what’s happening in the standard backup camera through that app. Yes, the camera’s included.
Under the Cherokee umbrella are names like Alpha Wolf, Arctic Wolf, Grey Wolf, Wolf Pack, Wolf Pup and Timberwolf. Whew.
What we’re looking at today is the Forest River Cherokee Grey Wolf 29TE, a large bunk model trailer that offers one of the best outdoor kitchens I have seen. Ever.
Outdoor kitchen in the Cherokee Grey Wolf 29TE
I don’t usually comment on the outdoor kitchens because most of them stink. Or at least are mediocre. Not here.
This trailer features a proper sink with hot and cold running water, a flat-top griddle on a slide-out drawer, and a metal slide-out drawer for your stuff. The countertops on this whole kitchen are metal but the wow factor is the two refrigerators out here. Yes, two larger bar fridges. Oh, and an ice maker, as well.
If an outdoor kitchen is any kind of priority, this would absolutely be a model to look at. But it’s not the only leading component here.
Cherokee claims that they have the largest U-shaped dinette in the business. Yes, of any RV brand. I’m not sure who got the job of measuring every other RV makers’ dinette, or if they did, but that’s the claim.
This trailer also comes with a couch and a galley with a counter extension. The large sink also has a cover made of the same material as the rest of the counter, so it’s a nice place to work.
There’s also a larger 12-cubic-foot, 12-volt compressor-based fridge. So now you have three total fridges for a lot of cool space. The only thing they cheaped out on was the stove, where there’s just a 17” oven.
Sleeping around in the Cherokee Grey Wolf 29TE
This is a bunk model, so there are three beds in a back bedroom. It also has a decent amount of closet and drawer space. One thing I really didn’t like was that the back bedroom windows don’t open for air flow – which is a bummer. You know that your cousin Stinky is going to eat a precipitous amount of beans for dinner and let loose all night, knowing the windows don’t open.
That’s okay, the dinette is not a bad place to sleep, nor is the tri-fold couch.
Of course, mom and dad won’t hear you yelling at ol’ Stinky because they’re up past the bathroom and in the front bedroom sleeping on the “camper queen” bed. Yeah, it’s a shortie.
The bathroom actually has its own entrance from the outside. You can use that for mid-journey potty breaks. But don’t think you’re getting to the kitchen at all with the big slide room in.
The bathroom’s steps are the traditional travel trailer steps. I actually prefer those over the “stable steps,” so long as you have a Lippert Solid Stance Step Stabilizer. That way the steps don’t fold into the camper, but under it. I love ours.
Oddly, the doors on this camper are both glass doors. However, inside they look like normal camper doors.
What’s not in the Cherokee Grey Wolf 29TE
One of the things that cracks me up is Cherokee’s “Juice Pack” – which is a 50-watt solar panel on the roof. That’s fine as a battery tender if there is essentially no load, but that’s about it.
I’m not a fan of the black cabinetry that they’ve been using the past couple of years. For 2022, they added gold handles. Style is subjective, but gold handles and black cabinets make me feel like I should be there to rent a girlfriend for an hour.
I do really like that Cherokee plumbed all the tanks together into one bayonet fitting. That way you’re not stuck with having to “Y” a sewer hose. But the gate valve handles are right under the slide, so you’d better hope someone in the family is the state fair limbo champion because I know this wouldn’t be something I’d want to tackle.
Given the choice of a Cherokee or a lot of the other stick-and-tin trailers out there, I have to hand it to Cherokee. They’ve done such a good job with adding meaningful content and features along with reducing the number of decorative stickers that, as a salesperson, it made it difficult to sell the competing products.
So, perhaps I strongly dislike the black cabinets, but style is subjective and you can buy paint at any local hardware store. Or, if you’re afraid this will affect the long-term value of the camper, there’s alway Spoonflower wallpaper that sort of is a gigantic sheet of post-it note material. If you change your mind, you can just peel it right back off. No harm. No foul.
Style is subjective
But then, style is very subjective. My house features desert rose (that’s right, pink) kitchen appliances and we bought those on purpose.
Also, with just 40 gallons of fresh water, this isn’t a great choice if boondocking is your thing. I guarantee that, even at half capacity, you can easily drain the fresh tank in less than a day.
Still, for a lot of folks with larger families, this might be a great choice. It offers a lot of value along with meaningful features that will prove useful over time.
My thanks to friend Josh Winters of Haylett RV in Coldwater, Michigan, for the use of his photos.
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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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