Sunday, October 2, 2022


RV Review: Ember RV Overland 170MRB Travel Trailer

Today’s RV review is of the Ember RV Overland 170MRB travel trailer, a no-slide floor plan that very closely matches what I had in my previous trailer. Part of what I try to do in these reviews is highlight the things that I think will make a big difference to you on a longer-term basis. 

As I see things in the RV industry, certain aspects of what is done eventually sort of add up. Then I either get frustrated and have to break out my soapbox, or I become a fan of a product or company. There are also plenty of RVs that, if you ask me a month later, I might not even remember writing the review. There is more than one time I’ve written two reviews of the same RV. 

Boy, I don’t like when I do that. 

But I also make no apologies for liking either certain brands or certain models because I just think they’ll serve their owners well over the long haul. And as Peggy, my wife, and I get closer to getting our own new RV, it may become apparent where my preferences lie. 

One of the brands that has made it high on my list is Ember RV. For a number of reasons, I really, really like what this company is doing and what they’re building. 

Ember RV

If you’re new to these reviews, then let’s introduce you to Ember RV. It’s a company started by a few RV industry veterans including Ashley Bontrager Lehman, whose grandparents founded Jayco. Lehman partnered with a few others to found the company and create something different—and they certainly have. 

Ember’s products cater to the adventurous who might take their RVs far off the beaten path. Starting at the bottom, these single-axle offerings all feature a really advanced CURT independent coil spring suspension with dual shock absorbers. Tires are 16″ Goodyear Wrangler Off-Road tires. 

There’s also an innovative wheel chock built right into the system that can be locked. That makes it more difficult to steal these trailers. 

Stargazer windows

Further, all the trailers thus far have included a Stargazer window above the bed. This is so, so much better than a windshield. That’s because it’s above the bed with a built-in shade but also a screen as you can open the window for air flow. I really like this. And it’s a double-glazed Lexan window so it’s less likely to shatter than glass. 

That window is mounted to a roof that’s made of the same laminated panels as are used in the walls. They feature Azdel substrates on the inside and out with a fiberglass outer layer—so that means no rubber on the roof. 

All the joints between wall seams on the outside are covered in an Eternabond tape. That is the stickiest permanent thing I’ve ever messed with (I’m rebuilding a vintage trailer and using this stuff). Then a section of the aluminum exoskeleton is placed on top of that. 

The company says these are “generational” trailers. That means they’re meant to last for a very long time and, seeing how they’re made, I don’t doubt that at all. 

Another keynote build feature is the flooring, which is the same TransCore™ structural composite flooring as used in an Airstream but with a key difference—it’s twice as thick on an Ember. 

What’s inside the Ember RV Overland 170MRB

This particular trailer is a no-slide model with two couches by day and a Murphy bed by night that’s actually a proper queen-sized mattress. But it is a bendy bed, so don’t get too excited just yet. 

There’s a couch across the front of the trailer with a fold-down armrest that can jackknife down and become a day bed. Or, you can unlatch a panel above it and bring down a platform on which rests the mattress. That mattress has to fold up in the compartment so it has to be bendable. Maybe. 

There is no slide in this model and the mattress/bed doesn’t interfere with anything from a usability standpoint. Therefore, you could just leave the bed down permanently and replace the factory mattress with something you prefer. So there are options. 

Under that couch is a bit of storage, but not a lot. Also, should you order the company’s upgraded solar and battery package, you’ll find that that storage is consumed by batteries. 

There’s still the couch along the camp side of the trailer. And there’s a table that slots into a holder so you can sit and enjoy a meal or whatever. There’s a similar bracket on the couch along the front of the trailer so you could use the table there instead—your choice. 

The galley in the Ember RV Overland 170MRB

The galley on this rig consists of a two-burner propane cooktop, where the two burners are linear. There is a microwave, but it’s an option. It’s not a convection model—which I think is odd. I wish a convection microwave were an option for those who wanted it. 

There is a decent amount of drawer and cabinet space here. There’s a pantry behind the fridge, which is a 12-volt model. 

You could argue that the optional flat-top griddle outside the camper is a good addition to add more cooking space. One really smart thing: There is an outdoor mini fridge standard, and Ember has a built-in inverter that will run this thing. So you can actually have it chilled before you get to the campground where there’s shore power. 

The bathroom in Ember RV Overland 170MRB occupies the entire rear of the trailer, which is much how the bathroom was in my previous trailer. This makes for really good space despite the fact that the trailer is small. 

There’s a big cabinet above and behind the toilet on the camp side of the bathroom. It has a hanging bar but also flip-down shelves that are held up magnetically. You can have your choice of multiple shelves or hanging space. I like choices. 

Boondocking and Travel Access

It’s obvious that travel access is good since the Ember RV Overland 170MRB has no slide. But one of the keynote features is that you can leave the bed down to be used at all times or take advantage of the ability to fold up and go away.

There is a 190-watt Go Power! solar panel that’s standard along with a 1000-watt pure sine wave inverter and 30-amp solar controller. But if you really want some off-grid power, you can upgrade to a system with a 3000-watt inverter, two 100Ah lithium batteries and two additional 190-watt solar panels, bringing the total to 570 watts of solar.

The tank sizes might be more the limiting factor in how long you stay off the grid. But there’s a big 55-gallon fresh water holding tank up front, and black and gray tanks are each 35 gallons. Further, this has a Showermiser system that helps conserve the amount of water you use when waiting for the water in the shower to get hot.

Oh, and the furnace and water heater are a Truma Combi system, and there are no floor ducts for that furnace. Be still, my heart.


Aside from the microwave option, know that the front pass-through storage is a bit limited in the Ember RV Overland 170MRB. If you don’t get the optional solar and battery package, the space for those options is still set up to accommodate them. This takes away from the front pass-through storage.

Further, I really, really like the way they’ve integrated a fifth wheel style Nautilus water management system in the front pass-through storage on the road side. It even includes handles for the knife valves that work the black and gray water tanks. But this also takes some of the storage away.

However, there’s also that big metal box on the front which is one of those odd “mandatory options.” So this does make up for some of the storage losses. Further, you can stand on this box and you could put a generator up on top of it if you want to bring a generator.

There are a few other ways that attention has been paid to details. For example, the interior lights are dimmable. The control panel for the trailer features a sensor so that it shuts the backlighting off unless you are in front of it. Further, you can operate most of the features with an app which also monitors the tire pressure levels. But there are also buttons.

In summary

Before you fire up your keyboards to say you wouldn’t buy something this size at this price, remember that you get what you pay for. There are plenty of trailers built to fall apart long before the loan is paid off for you to choose from. 

Another thing I really like about this rig is that the marker lights up on top flash with the turn signals. I think that should be mandatory, frankly. 

Further, I like the way the foot comes down on the front tongue jack and you can get either a hitch ball or more flexible hitch with the way things are mounted. 

I really like Ember RV

Overall, I really, really like this brand and what they’re doing and, apparently, so do buyers. No, they’re really not for everybody—but what RV is? It’s nice when an independent company steps up with something different and carves out a niche for themselves in a crowded market of similar 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.

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 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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5 months ago

In Colorado, dumping gray water on the ground can get you fined. Dumping black water on the ground can get you jail time. I have been at Colorado dumpsites that have security cameras aimed at the dump, which are remotely recording every RV that stops there. And, due to the crowds now overwhelming many public campgrounds here, camp hosts are recording license plate numbers at each campsite. When the hosts clean a campsite after a camper’s departure, law enforcement agencies can be notified if they find excessive trash, vandalism, or evidence that black water has been dumped. This is one reason that the formerly free camping at Colorado Wildlife Management Areas now requires a license/pass. Too many tax dollars were being spent cleaning up these WMAs when campers left mountains of trash because the campgrounds were “free.”

Roger Spalding
5 months ago

Addressing Susan’s dislikes. There are lots and lots of RVs which have terribly insufficient freshwater tank capacity. Inadequate freshwater capacity is the biggest impediment to boondocking, especially for a couple or small family. Hauling along a couple 5 gallon containers of drinking water is one thing, chintzing out on water for showers, dishwashing and general cleanliness is quite another. If your going to carry water containers in your rig, you’re simply adding redundant CCC weight. You shouldn’t carry a full water tank on the highway anyway. Putting then in your tow vehicle just takes up space. Jayco supplies 5 gallon jugs of drinking water on many of its models. However, it still offers some of the largest freshwater tanks in the realm. One reason for Jayco’s popularity. Also, dumping waste tanks of any kind on the ground is a good way to get arrested by a park or game and fish commission ranger. It makes judges real angry, too.

5 months ago

One oversight, in my opinion, in almost every RV intended for boondocking is tank size. Many manufacturers seem to think that freshwater storage tanks should be huge. To me that’s wasted space that could be better used. Separate freshwater containers can carried along and water easily added to the onboard tank at any time. Greywater can be captured before heading down the drain, strained, and dumped outside. The biggest constraint when boondocking is not the freshwater or greywater tank size, but the blackwater tank. I’d like to see them make that tank the biggest, leave the others smaller.

5 months ago
Reply to  SUSAN M

Good point!

5 months ago
Reply to  Rebecca

Rediculous. You really want to strap big heavy jugs of water to the sides of your rig? What are you, Mammie Yokum? And you want to dump your filthy bath water out untreated in our parklands for the next guy to smell? Thanks a lot.

For boondocking, water should be in vast quantities in a secured tank mounted low in the RV frame. Safe and secure. Black and grey should be suitably large. THAT makes for good boondocking.

Donald N Wright
5 months ago

Tony, we all know you are going to buy a custom motorhome, made from a city transit bus with the accordion attachment between the front half and the rear half. Eighty feet long.

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