Thursday, November 30, 2023


RV Review: Coachmen Apex Ultra-Lite 290BHS—another view

Today’s review is of the 2022 Coachmen Apex Ultra-Lite 290BHS. If you’re experiencing déjà vu, don’t worry. It’s not your mind playing tricks on you. Instead, it’s RV R&D. No, no. Not research and development. Ripoff and Duplicate. We saw another interpretation of this floor plan just a few days ago in the Forest River Surveyor Legend 276BHLE.

Not that seeing a popular floor plan and making your own version is such a bad thing. It allows you to apply some of your own touches to a floor plan that could make a big difference to some customers. In the case of Coachmen and this Apex Ultra-Lite, that’s just what they did. 

Bunks and cargo in the Apex Ultra-Lite

Potentially one of the leading reasons to buy a floor plan like this is that it does the bunkhouse function so well. Not because there are bunks, per se, but because there’s a lower bunk that flips up and a cargo door in the back. You could legitimately put a couple of bicycles or, perhaps, a kayak in here for travel. 

And, having recently spent time with nieces and nephews, I have become keenly aware of just how much stuff they like to bring camping. 

Now, I can’t complain as the RV gadget geek because I keep adding more and more gadgets to my trailer—as you’ve seen if you read my gadget reviews here. But having the door in the back with access to the cargo is really a nifty situation.  

More to like in the Apex Ultra-Lite

Another thing I like about this floor plan in general is the bathroom in the back along with a specific door to the outside for the bathroom. 

This bathroom offers decent space. While I’m not overly thrilled with glass shower doors in a bunk house, you could do what my wife and I did with ours. We just took them out and replaced them with shower curtains. Easy, breezy. 

While the breakfast bar was a nice touch in the Surveyor Legend, this one features a really large U-shaped dinette. I suspect there will absolutely be people who prefer this arrangement over the simple dinette and breakfast bar in the other trailer. But that’s the neat thing about each company interpreting the floor plan differently. 

What priorities might be right for some customers wouldn’t work for others. And that’s the neat thing about how big companies building RVs can offer something that works well for customers. 

On the subject of that big U-shaped dinette, Coachmen did something really cool with this one in that they put sliding doors under the seats. This gives you access to storage under the seats. Again, anyone who travels with younger campers knows that the more storage you can conjure up, the better. 


There isn’t anything revolutionary about the rest of this floor plan in the Apex Ultra-Lite. Wall construction features the man-made Azdel substrate and aluminum framing. Cool.

The main bed is a queen-size model. I’ve commented on some new RVs I see where there’s storage behind the cabinets on either side of the bed But this one offers a simple, big, night stand surface. That’s also a good thing.

I had whined on a bit about the solid steps and may have been misunderstood. I don’t think we should entirely go back to the old-fashioned steps, but I wish we were given a choice. In the case of this model, there are both solid steps for the main entrance and the traditional steps for the second entrance to the bathroom.

This solves the issue of the time it takes to deploy the steps compared to the urgency of a trip to the restroom. Further, you could stabilize the back steps, if you so choose, with the Lippert Solid Stance step stabilizer that I had in the previous trailer.

I also like having a second entrance specifically to the bathroom so that the younger campers rushing over to use the potty because the lifeguard at the pool told them that it doesn’t serve that purpose won’t have to go through the whole camper just to get things accomplished.

For those who camp where it’s hotter, there is the option of a second air conditioning unit and 50-amp service, as well. Some of the larger travel trailers are offering this, and I can see it being a big benefit in many parts of this country.

Boondocking and travel access in the Apex Ultra-Lite

As mentioned, there are two entrances to the Apex Ultra-Lite. You can get to what you need to from the bathroom entrance with the slide closed. Obviously, the bathroom is accessible—but the refrigerator and the rest of the kitchen are, too. The only thing the slide room blocks is the front bedroom.

Speaking of the fridge, this comes with a 12-volt model. But you can choose a propane-electric RV fridge if that’s what you prefer.


There were a few things about this model that plague the industry, in my opinion, and they’re here too. Those include the small 16” oven in a rig designed for lots of campers, and the small vent fans in the ceiling even though the younger travelers are going to run the shower as hot as possible and steam up the situation.

In summary

There really isn’t enough of an advantage between the Apex Ultra-Lite and the Surveyor Legend to objectively recommend one over the other. What might sway someone one way or the other boils down to personal preference and how good, or not so good, a local dealership is. Of course, I’m always curious if you see something I don’t or how your own reality would affect a decision. 

And then there’s the Keystone Bullet 312BHS. Considering the SolarFlex™ package and several other advantages, that one might still be at the top of my list.


More from Tony

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. He also works closely with a number of RV manufacturers to get an inside look at how things are done and is a brand ambassador for Rockwood Mini Lite with his wife, Peggy.

You can also check out his 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.



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Gordy B (@guest_193504)
1 year ago

I like the rear cargo doors. Anytime you add another door, you add another escape in an emergency. All RV’s should be required to have at least two doors for safety in an emergency. In my opinion escape windows are useless for the younger and older RV’ers. Happy Trails.

Steve H (@guest_193501)
1 year ago

The rear cargo door, outside access to bathroom, and Azdel panels are positives. Everything else on this trailer is a deal-killer for me. Leaf spring suspension, dirty solid steps adjacent to the kitchen counter, no access from bedroom to bathroom with the slide in, cold fall/spring draft flowing down the windshield onto the head of the bed, useless vent fans, too small gas oven, booth dinette, carpet in the slide, Schwintek slide mechanism (?), depressing gray-black interior color scheme are all negatives. I wouldn’t recommend this trailer to any of my RVing friends.

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