By Tony Barthel
I can’t tell you how happy it makes me that so many of you like me looking into new RVs. Now, a number of you have suggested that I take a look at various models or brands. Thank you! I very much appreciate the suggestions. (If you have one in mind, fill out the form for me at the bottom of this post.)
One of the suggestions was a peek at the DRV Mobile Suites 41 FKMB, a large fifth wheel that is built for full-time living. This is a new floor plan for the company and they are just starting to process orders for these. This means there is less customer experience with this but, still, it’s a nifty floor plan to me and I can see why there is so much buzz around it.
Its design is unique in that it has a front kitchen, so all the kitchen is in the upper deck above the kingpin. This makes for a very different experience in many ways.
Front kitchen advantages
Since this is the part of a fifth wheel with the lowest ceiling height, it means that most cooks will actually be able to reach even the top cabinets rather than seek out a step stool to do so. But, since the ceiling is lower and, arguably, there is less cabinet space, DRV put a huge pantry in the nose of this unit.
On the road side is a slide that features a three-burner propane cooktop along with a microwave oven and a proper gas oven. This is much like what you’d expect in a home kitchen, and DRV’s messaging continually mentions full-time living use for their RVs.
The one thing some folks might miss is that the only proper dining place is a bar that overlooks the main living area. For my lifestyle, this would be fine, but some people want a more formal dining situation. If that’s the case, perhaps this isn’t the rig for you. But, again, DRV does make a number of floor plans.
I’m a huge fan of cool lighting, and DRV has hidden accent lighting throughout the kitchen that is nice looking. RV Geek approved!
Below the kitchen is the main living area, which has a very spacious feel. DRV claims that they have the tallest slides in the industry. I can’t substantiate this.
On the road side is a slide with a couch and an ottoman below the kitchen. The company indicates that they build in smaller quantities with a decent amount of customization available, so I would imagine it might be possible to get theater seats instead of a couch. Opposite the couch is a large TV and, below that, a fireplace.
Back in the back, the bedroom features two slides, one for the king-sized bed itself and the other for an enormous wardrobe and a second TV.
Finally, there’s the bathroom with a large shower and, since this takes the entire rear of the trailer, it’s a large and comfortable bathroom to use. The only thing that surprised me is that there isn’t a seat in that shower, but a trip to a home goods store can fix that in a jiffy.
When looking at this unit, I looked at a lot of information about how the company makes their units and, frankly, I was pretty impressed. There’s a different level of thinking that goes into building these.
For example, they talk about their wall construction. It’s very, very common that RVs are made of welded aluminum wall structures and often have laminated wall construction. That means that the walls are basically glued together with a layer of outer fiberglass, luan (although more and more RV companies are using Azdel, which is a man-made substrate), then either the aluminum stud or block foam insulation, then the inner luan or Azdel wallboard and, finally, the inner wallboard.
DRV talks about the fact that they only screw the studs together, rather than welding them, and that they have a “hung wall” – which means the wall is not glued to the underlying structure. The company claims that this allows for better expansion and contraction. They also use a foam core board that has cardboard on both sides as an inner insulating layer.
I would love to hear from owners of these on how long that cardboard inner layer lasts in an environment like an RV. But the company is good about keeping in touch with customers through social media, so maybe my concerns are unwarranted.
However, I’m not sure I totally buy this thinking. For example, unless they’re using a product like Loctite to keep the screws from backing out, that means there are a lot of screws hidden inside wall panels that could become loose over time. There are a lot of arguments on both sides of this, but block foam won’t settle over time. I don’t know the answer – it’s just something to think about.
What I did think was irrefutable was the company’s plumbing system. There’s a copper manifold with home-run half-inch Pex water lines to each fixture. While most RV water systems involve a series of T fittings where the line splits along the way, DRV’s system has the Pex plumbing line home-run from a manifold in the water bay. If there is a leak you can shut off one of those runs without having to disable the entire water system. That’s smart.
The company also claims that their water system is good for 100PSI. Most RV systems are best around 45-60PSI. If you’ve ever been to a park with extraordinary water pressure, you can damage an RV’s water system unless you have a water pressure regulator. I have first-hand experience with this.
The company also uses the SeeLevel tank monitors. These are on the exterior of the tanks and measure tank volume in one percent increments. Many of us have put these on the tanks ourselves because they offer much better performance, but DRV does so from the factory.
One of the things I have to give credit to the company for is a series of videos on their philosophy in building these units. With the power that YouTube gives to creators of anything, this is a brilliant way to showcase these advantages.
They also have video series on maintenance and service and more. This is a great platform to share this with people and it also puts a face on the company. Yes, a few others have done this as well, and I can’t stress how good an idea I think this is. YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world.
While I like the way the company has maximized the use of the interior space, I feel that it comes at the expense of windows. There are truly very few windows in this beast. While it’s a large fifth wheel with lots of space, I really like big windows. Again, choose what you like and buy based on that.
The DRV Mobile Suites 41 FKMB was one of those awarded as a “must-see” RV for 2021 and I have no disagreement with that.
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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