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RV Review: Ember RV 201FBQ, now with twice as many wheels

Today’s review is of the 2022 Ember RV 201FBQ. This is effectively a four-wheel travel trailer with a walk-around permanent queen-sized bed that also sports a slide room. Since Ember RV first launched their company and product line, one of the things I’ve been reading is from prospective customers that wanted a permanent walk-around queen-sized bed and also wanted more space inside. 

Done. 

People also asked for tandem axles and this is what they sort of got. But it’s not necessarily tandem axles, since each wheel is independently sprung. But, okay, it’s what people wanted and there are four wheels. 

In fact, this is, in many ways, the same interior floor plan as my own travel trailer. But each RV company takes the same ingredients and makes a very different dish with it, just like in chili contests. 

Ember RV

I have written articles in the past about Ember RV. But, in this case, I actually got to tour the factory and spent time with Ashley Bontrager Lehman, CEO, and Christopher Barth, Vice President and COO, co-founders of Ember RV. I also briefly met Steve Delagrange, Director of Operations, who is about to buy his own Ember RV. While I’ve met with a lot of decision-makers in the RV space, there is an absolute difference with the Ember RV people. 

They’re not far removed from real-world RV experience—they actually go RVing. In fact, Christopher Barth was sharing photos of his most recent adventure with his own Ember RV on his personal social media feed from the previous weekend. 

While this would seem like it should be normal, it’s absolutely not. And that’s how you get a lot of stuff that we see in this column. RV decision-makers often never use the products they’ve designed, and it truly (and unfortunately) shows in some of the things we see here. 

Rock-solid floors

On to the RVs themselves. I had also written about the composite floors in these units and now got to see the material firsthand. The floor on these is rock solid, but the steel tube chassis is a factor in this, as well. There’s nothing like touching a product and experiencing it firsthand to be able to get a feel for what it’s really like. 

Unique features in the Ember RV 201FBQ

There are a lot of things that really stuck out to me on this trailer in addition to the basic layout options of this larger space. 

For example, the fact that there is no outside kitchen but there’s still a door in the side. That door leads to a cabinet that’s accessible inside, as well. It is such a simple but great idea. You could put your trash can in there, or things that you could access from inside or out, or whatever. I’m a big fan of flexible spaces, and this is a prime example of that. There’s even a 120-volt AC plug in there.

The cabinet behind the Furrion 12-volt TV is another such thing. In it you’ll find a shelf, but that shelf is hinged such that you can flip it up and there’s a rod across the top. So this one space can be a pantry, some additional storage, or even a place to hang clothing. 

One of the things I liked about that is that you don’t have to do “something” with that shelf when you’re not using it. It just flips up and is held to the back of the closet by a magnet. They’ve even placed a strap in there so it’s easier to return to position as a shelf. 

Lots of flexible storage in the Ember RV 201FBQ

That same thinking went into a storage compartment to the left of the entry door between the fridge and the wall. That one has several of these flip-up shelves so if you carry a vacuum or a broom or longer items, you could flip up the shelves and bring those along. If you only need to flip up one shelf, no worries. 

Another place that features storage that you wouldn’t expect is behind the couch, which is in the slide room. Back there are two swing-up doors, each revealing a storage compartment. Between them in a two-port USB charging station. 

Above that are cabinets with swing-up door fronts which mirror the cabinets above the bed. 

On either side of the bed are traditional hanging closets. There’s a drawer below that, as well. But, behind the closets are spaces with an inverted outlet as well as USB charging stations. So you could easily store your electronic devices or a CPAP machine back there. 

Dimmable lighting in the 201FBQ

Each of these also has an amber (Ember?) lamp as well as a night light. They’re so much better than the blue lights so much of the RV industry is using. 

Further, there’s a light across the top of the bed that has a dimmer as well as a switch that someone in the bed can reach. In fact, the interior lights are almost all on dimmers, as are the awning lights. 

Someone should give Ember some sort of an award for dimmable lighting.

 

There is actually a good amount of storage throughout this trailer with drawers and cabinet spaces. Those include cabinets in corners, storage under the bed, a pantry or storage area to the rear of the trailer next to the slide room, and more. 

The kitchen in the Ember RV 201FBQ

One of the quite legitimate complaints about the smaller trailers that Ember RV has been building centers around the prep space in the kitchen. Since this is a larger trailer, it has more counter space. Another thing I was impressed with is how large the single-bowl round sink is. 

I’m sure there are some campers who might question the two-burner propane stovetop. But I can’t remember the last time I used all three burners on the stove of my own RV. 

This does have an optional microwave. I did ask about a convection microwave but, apparently, the ones available to the RV world don’t fit into these cabinets. 

More details

Looking at the exterior, I’ve written about the build quality of these trailers in the past. It’s good to not consider this in the same category as ultralight trailers. This is truly built very differently than most travel trailers, so it does weigh more than some others in this size range.

But, as someone who split the frame on my own trailer going over a super deep drainage ditch, I can appreciate a heavier build. 

I really like the CURT independent suspension on these. In fact, this is the only suspension I like better than the torsion axle suspension. I also really like how Ember has incorporated a wheel chock into the frame and suspension. Seeing this in person, it’s really well thought out. There are provisions for adjusting this based on where the wheels are when you’re parked in various places.

One of the just cool little touches is that the outside night-lights illuminate that CURT suspension system. It’s a cool piece that absolutely deserves to have the spotlight shed on it. 

Corner stabilizer jacks on the Ember RV 201FBQ

Another new feature I saw is the new corner stabilizer jacks. They are actually warranted to be used with a power drill. Did you know that scissor jacks aren’t supposed to be used with a power drill? 

Neither did I, and I was showing off my use of just this solution to a bunch of folks in the RV industry. What do you know? 

Anyhow, these new corner jacks are very stable. They also have a provision to adjust them such that you can lower and adjust them for optimal stabilization. 

Lastly, the Nautilus water system in these is yet another thing I really liked. Basically, all your water connections and winterization settings are in one spot inside a cabinet. In addition to the connections, your dump valve handles are also in there. 

While the actual connection is at the back of the trailer, the valves are in a heated and enclosed underbelly and are super convenient. 

Boondocking and travel access

This trailer does have a slide room but that doesn’t affect its usability when the slide room is in. You can still use any of the features inside whether the slide is open or closed. In fact, the bed is still fully accessible and you can walk around it. 

One of the other things I saw was how the tanks were put into the frame of the trailer with metal bands acting to support them. There was recently a big stink on the social sphere about a comment from Jayco that you shouldn’t be traveling with water in your tanks. Apparently, they’re not using the same bracing because this looked great. 

There is also a ShowerMiser system which redirects the water from the shower back into the fresh water tank while you wait for it to get hot. I like this. 

You can also get either a single 190-watt solar panel or up to three, which then come with a 3,000-watt inverter. You can also get this package with up to four lithium batteries. Those enable you to actually run the AC, microwave or anything else from the power of the sun. 

In summary

(We can tell which block Tony was working in last. 😉 )

It was funny to see people’s reactions to this larger Ember RV trailer. Naturally, some were thinking the heavens had opened up and the angels had anointed them with the next vacation magic. There were also some who were thinking a larger trailer wouldn’t be as nimble. But, um, there are a lot of travelers like me who don’t necessarily go serious off-roading, but rather take our trailers to places where we are nonetheless off the beaten path.

I really appreciate a stronger, heavier option from an industry known for making things that often don’t last as long as the payments do. I don’t think that’s going to be the case with these. There are absolutely people for whom the price hit they take buying something like this is really well-justified. 

How much of a price hit? I don’t know. What I saw was a pre-production trailer and before all the things a manufacturer does to come up with a final price on these. I do know these trailers tend to be higher priced, though not as much as Airstream trailers. 

Possible complaints

There are a couple things that might legitimately garner complaints from prospects. Those include the fact that the laminated roof structure that isn’t covered with a rubber membrane also means they can’t duct the air conditioning system. That’s not a big deal in a trailer this size, though.

I do hope they figure something out regarding baking or oven use. As it stands now, the microwave is an option, anyway. One might measure out those cabinets and buy your own convection microwave if it’s that big of a deal. Since you’re not having to buy an entire factory’s worth of units, this may be a legitimate option. 

Since this is the same floor plan as my own trailer, it’s clear that I like this arrangement quite a bit. This one has the advantage of a slightly larger bathroom, but with a smaller door-side pantry.

Ember RV’s decision-makers actually use the product

I think Ember RV is doing a great job with what they’re building and there’s no doubt that much of that comes back to decision-makers who actually use and enjoy the product. 

I truly believe that is possibly the best recipe for success that Ember RV has, and it’s really coming through in what they’re doing. 

More information

If you’re interested, I did a podcast episode with Ashley Bontrager Lehman and Christopher Barth which you can hear here.

Other stories on the new Ember RV products.

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 RVtravel.com 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. 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!

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Bob M
4 months ago

With Jayco saying you shouldn’t travel with water in the tanks is another reason why I won’t buy another Jayco RV. A lot of people have to fill the water tank with water for their campsite. Plus leaving with full waste tanks. Saying you shouldn’t use a drill with the scissor jacks confirms about the poor quality of RV parts. The location of the sofa in the slide looks odd. I’d want windows on the sides to see the scenery. Plus wouldn’t want a RV without a oven. With cad cam theres no reason to not be able to design a over or convection oven.

Steve H
4 months ago

Looks like a great trailer for those of us fortunate enough to live in the Rocky Mountains, where we can be in a beautiful, remote, boondocking site in an hour. It should be towable by most properly-equipped, 1/2-ton 4WD trucks, but likely too heavy and too much frontal area for any Jeep Wrangler or mid-size 4WD pickup. But, with that independent suspension and good ground clearance, washboards, ruts, potholes, even medium-sized rocks shouldn’t be a significant problem for this Ember when off-road camping. Plus, with that 0-100 degree testing, this would be awesome for November hunters and January ice fishermen–a truly 4-season travel trailer!

Warren G
4 months ago

Great flexible storage for this size of trailer, and well thought out design. Will be interested in seeing how it ends up on pricing.

John Irvine
4 months ago

So if you are sitting all you get to look at is the kitchen. Not a fan of the bed being open to the rest of the camper.

Steve Wells
4 months ago
Reply to  John Irvine

Jon. It sounds like you spend more time camping inside your trailer than the people that this trailer is designed for. I think you need a trailer that is closer to a total of 30′ long to meet your needs. I sell the Ember trailers and they are amazingly well built.

Sharon
4 months ago

The Ember RV 201FBQ looks to be a nicely updated version of the Lance 1885 we have used for over 10 years. However, it still manifests what is a pet peeve of mine. Why is the fresh water tank the largest? It is relatively easy to find and carry extra fresh water when boondocking but where is it easy to empty tanks? If only one tank can be larger, I would love to see it be a grey water tank.

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