Thursday, November 30, 2023


RV review: Coachmen Freedom Express Select 20SE, a no-slide travel trailer

Today’s review is of the Coachmen Freedom Express Select 20SE. This is a floor plan that, to me, is almost a throwback—and that’s not a bad thing. This 24’6” trailer has no slides and no windshield, and makes really great use of the space. You know, like vintage trailers used to do. 

In fact, my own 1970 Aristocrat Land Liner is truly a study in effective space utilization with its front kitchen and huge bureau, yet all in a 2100-pound package. This new Coachmen is also a good example of space utilization in a thoroughly modern platform. 


There are a lot of things that have been the beneficiaries of progress. Among those are components like Azdel substrates in the wall build. Azdel is a man-made product that is not affected by water and it also has better sound isolation properties. 

Our ability to harness the sun as RVers is another very welcome innovation of just the past few years. Part of that is the newer 12-volt refrigerators in RVs that can be safely operated in transit. They also chill faster and more effectively. There is also the improved PVC roofing material, in addition to the vast number of wall outlets and charge ports in modern rigs. 

One of the best things we humans have come up with is tire pressure monitoring systems and, for 2022, this trailer comes with one of those. 

All those are improvements over things we had in the past, and they are all part of the picture in the Coachmen Freedom Express Select 20SE. 

But things that I am seeing more and more of which are not part of this trailer are windshields in bedrooms, for example. There is not one here. 

Good things in the bedroom of the Freedom Express Select

But while in the bedroom, we should check out the actual queen-sized bed and the cabinets around it. These are all good things. 

I like the bathroom in the Freedom Express Select, as well. It sort of bisects the trailer, almost, over on the road side. I’m seeing more and more glass shower enclosures. However, I much prefer shower curtains just because they don’t shatter mid-transit, leaving shards of glass all over the floor. I know this is an infrequent occurrence, but it’s a monster inconvenience when it happens. This trailer features a shower curtain.

That also makes the bathroom feel roomier when you’re on the toilet as you’re not bumping up against those glass doors. Unfortunately, you’ll be sitting on a plastic toilet. But these are easy to swap and not everybody is opposed to these. 

Who am I kidding. Nobody likes plastic toilets. 

Kitchen and dining area

On the camp side is the kitchen. It actually has a good amount of counter space, with the usual three-burner stove, albeit with small oven, and a double-bowl sink. But beyond that there’s a good length of counter. This one features the pressed membrane design that has a nice feel and shouldn’t be damaged by water. 

Coachmen has this drawer which is a part of this trailer that is a U-shaped arrangement with a plastic insert in it to help organize utensils. The drawer is shaped to go around the sink and is a terrific use of space that is often otherwise just not taken advantage of. 

The best feature in the Freedom Express Select

But the best feature, to my way of thinking, is the seating in the back on the Freedom Express Select 20SE. 

A large bench or even gaucho lines most of the back wall. This gives plenty of space for three seats. Across from this is a bench with two more seats. So this really is a great place to sit and play games or enjoy a meal. This is predominantly a couples’ camper. But that doesn’t mean you can’t put out your pink flamingoes and invite the neighbors over for a drink and a card game or whatever. 

I also really like the free-standing table as opposed to a table on a pole just because it allows you to accommodate all sizes of campers. I could sit across from a skinny camper and we’d both be happy. 

You could also take that table outside or use it over in the kitchen area to add to the prep space. Further, you could just move the table and sit on the rear gaucho and watch TV or whatever. The TV is positioned to take advantage of this type of use case. 

Heck, sitting on one side you could put your feet on the other until your wife gets out of the bathroom and tells you not to put your feet on the seat. 

Lastly, there is a closet right at the entrance of the Freedom Express Select. It provides either pantry or hanging space, or even a place for a broom or whatever.

No slide = no damage

But not having a slide, you won’t have to be concerned about those tiny rocks on the floor that can do so much damage when the slide comes in. 

I’m a big fan of keeping things simple, and this trailer is a prime example of this. 

One of the reasons this trailer has a more spacious feel to it is the ceiling height, which is greater than average at 81”. 

Boondocking and travel access

Since there’s no slide in this trailer, everything’s always accessible. But Coachmen also fitted this with a 50-gallon fresh water tank, which is pretty large.

While solar is not standard, it is an option with a 175-watt solar panel and 30-amp MPPT controller on the options list. If boondocking’s something you enjoy, as I do, then this might be a worth check box on the options list.

In summary

Sometimes I’m a bit concerned that my tastes might be far outside the norm in the world of RVs. I’ve talked to lots of RV decision-makers about units with no slide. Universally they tell me that larger units without a slide room are difficult to sell. 

It could be that my judgment is colored by having to file warranty claims on slide rooms. Or maybe it’s just that my vision of wanting to go RVing means spending time outside under the awning more than being inside. But I also know there are plenty of places in the country where going outside means fighting off bugs and other pests, so being inside is better. 

In fact, in my own world, if there’s a mosquito in the county I’m visiting, it’s going to be attacking me, which is why I’ve been such a big fan of the Thermacell. But that’s not the only pest that affects camping.

What do you think about no-slide travel trailers?

I’m curious about your take on no-slide travel trailers. Am I truly an odd outlier in this world? Or are there more of us who might be interested in something like this?


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 an 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. 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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William Mangan (@guest_183774)
1 year ago

I prefer no slide outs because the trailer is lighter and easier to tow plus there is less to breakdown and ruin your trip. It is also less expensive to buy.

Char L (@guest_182830)
1 year ago

We have 2020 Freedom Express with this floorplan/length. WE LOVE IT. It has no front windshield and this is a good thing. We are outside all day and want a dark, quiet sleeping area. We also did not want a slide out. The large entry closet is another plus. The large dining/sitting area with extra large windows is bright and roomy. Our model has a single large sink, which I prefer. The utensil drawer is a great use of space. But the best is the ample kitchen counter. Fabulous.
Oh, it has a porcelain toilet!

Gordy B (@guest_182750)
1 year ago

Tony, I’m with you, I don’t like slides either. I am not a big fan of computerized controls either. I believe in keeping it simple. Control boxes with led lights are a constant draw on power even though minimal. I love the older TT’s because if you are not using something, it is not running down your power. I want total control of power and water when boondocking. Happy Trails

Bob M (@guest_182736)
1 year ago

Tony you always indicate the plus of having a folding dinette. But have you ever tried folding the one on this travel trailer? You can spot it by the yellow protrusion on the front as in the picture. I have this table in my jayflight 29 RKS and feel it is dangerous folding and unfolding. I would never buy another with that table. When I bought mine neither the salesman or technician could open or fold it. I prefer a travel trailer without a slide, but am on my second travel trailer with a slide. I don’t feel comfortable with a slide. I would never buy a RV with a Schwintek Slide. Do like this floor plan. Would have to see in person.

Bob M (@guest_182737)
1 year ago
Reply to  Bob M

Using the toilet looks like it would be tight in the video I watched.

Warren G (@guest_182730)
1 year ago

This is a nice floor plan and I like the no slide. Seems well thought out and nice tank sizes. I’ll have to remember this one for future consideration!

DPJ (@guest_182712)
1 year ago

When we bought our trailer ~slides were a no go! Just two of us and our 21.5 Nash fifth wheel is the perfect size.

Steve (@guest_182696)
1 year ago

Tony, one of the Options on this Coachmen is “MEP fee (replaces RVIA)”. I have no idea what that means or why it would be an extra cost option. What is “MEP” ?

Stacey A. (@guest_182690)
1 year ago

This is a strange question, but I am wanting to know what an item is in one of the pictures. In picture #5, there are 2 black things mounted above the light switch by the door. I have one similar in the console of my vehicle. What are they used for? Thanks in advance. And thank you for this column. It is my favorite part of the daily newsletters.

Les (@guest_182680)
1 year ago

Great review, nice trailer, checks all my needs and wants. Slides equal headaches.

Spike (@guest_182661)
1 year ago

First, that is a very nicely designed camper. Good review!

Regarding slides, I guess we’ve just been lucky. We had numerous non-slide campers over the early years, but got our first with a slide in 1999…a Fleetwood Bounder. Every camper since then (one 5er and four motorized) have had multiple slideouts. Knock on wood, we have never had a slide not go out or come back in normally. We’ve also never had the Schwintek system, which might be why we’ve been so “lucky!”

We travel with multiple large dogs. Slides provide that extra floorspace for them to not be underfoot and to use a portable kennel, if necessary.

Slides also allow the use of sofa sleepers….real ones that pull out into a good sized bed…not just scissor types.

I cannot imagine us going back to a non-slide unit although we won’t have one that blocks the refrig or bathroom.

Bob p (@guest_182640)
1 year ago

Another great review, as for the slide I go back to 1978 B/S(before slides) where we didn’t know the +/- of them. They do open up the space, the newer designs are a piece of sh**. All my slides have been rack and pinion except the first one which was hydraulic, after many modifications with flow control valves I was finally able to get the slide to extend and retract evenly. Design engineers don’t seem to understand when using two cylinders if one starts to bind the other one just speeds up creating an awsh** of increasing magnitude. Several times during the first few months of ownership it took numerous attempts to extend/retract before accomplishing the operation. Perfect leveling was a must with hydraulics. The miniature rack and pinions mounted on the side top and bottom are good “until” something goes wrong. SIL had one of these, he and I worked for 2 weeks trying to get it straightened out. Finally found a pinched wire in the harness where the water tank was installed.

Scott R. Ellis (@guest_182628)
1 year ago

Nice floor plan, no broken slide (or, you know, bathrooms you can’t use when the slide breaks), good payload . . . I don’t give a hoot if the toilet is plastic. Nice trailer.

Jane Fender (@guest_182623)
1 year ago

If my partner and I ever really bite the bucket and get a RV of any type, it would be something along the line of this one! No slides, please! From what I have gleaned from reading (absolutely no personal experience!) they seem to present lots of headaches! Thanks for my daily dose of dreaming!!

Steve (@guest_182691)
1 year ago
Reply to  Jane Fender

We had a travel trailer with a sofa slide and a fifth wheel with a dining table, four chairs and a pantry. We never had any problems with the fifth wheel slide in six years and 33,363 miles. If slides are maintained as per the manual, they should have few, if any, problems.

The only slide problem we had in 3.5 years and 27,000 miles with the travel trailer was in White Horse, YK, after traveling the Top of the World “Highway” while on our way home from a 9,000-mile Alaska trip. The torque of the 12v electric slide motor pulled it out of the wall. I went to Home Hardware for 2 scrap pieces of 1″ x 4″ lumber, 4 angle brackets, wood screws, and a manual coping saw. I cut semi-circular pieces from one end of each of two 1×4’s and screwed the brackets to the square end. I positioned the curved ends under the slide motor, and screwed them into the plywood floor. The motor was held securely with perforated pipe strap screwed to the tops of the 1×4’s. The whole project took about 3 hours, including the store trip, with the RV park picnic table as my workbench. The cost was <US$10.

Many RV "problems" can be solved just that easily and cheaply if you're handy. If not, an RV can be expensive to maintain.

patti panuccio (@guest_182622)
1 year ago

No slide for me ever again. In my opinion it’s not worth the weight or hassle.

Tommy Molnar (@guest_182611)
1 year ago

Our first trailer was a no-slide 97 Nash 25S. We loved it, and hauled that puppy EVERYWHERE. But now we have a 2012 Arctic Fox 25Y WITH a slide and don’t know how we’d live without it. Actually, the slide mechanism broke two years ago and we DID live without it for five days on our way home.

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