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RV Review: Highland Ridge RV Mesa Ridge S-Lite 212FB

Today’s review is of a Highland Ridge RV Mesa Ridge S-Lite 212FB. Oh, the crazy long names that RV companies use to distinguish models. But that’s what happens when so many RV companies make the same floor plans as their competition—there has to be some way of distinguishing one from the other. 

And seeing the same floor plan from various brands is also enlightening. The little design and engineering twists that people put into their iterations of the floor plans is something I enjoy. But then, look at what I spend my days doing. 

The floor plan in the Mesa Ridge S-Lite 212FB is much like the ones I’ve been focusing on as we move toward picking up our next travel trailer. I was made aware of it thanks to reader Joy P., who has one of these. 

Highlights of the Mesa Ridge S-Lite 212FB

There are things I really like about Highland Ridge RV’s implementation of this. One of those is something I’ve seen in very few RVs in general but that I really like. That is when the storage under the bed is segregated into various drawers and cabinets. 

Atop those cabinets is a queen-sized bed—which is good. On the camp side of the bed is a door that lets you dump dirty laundry into the front pass-through storage. Well, that’s assuming you’ll put some sort of a laundry basket in there. Or, what the heck, fill up the whole pass-through with dirty laundry. 

I wonder how you all feel about these clever under-bed storage cabinets. Would you rather there just be a big open space or something like this? Another option is the combination used in the Rockwood Mini Lite 2205S, which features outward-facing drawers at the bottom and then a larger storage bin. 

The “J” lounge is a highlight in the Mesa Ridge S-Lite 212FB

Another highlight, to me, is the available “J” lounge here. This is sort of a combination of a sofa and a day bed with a longer extension on one end of the sofa. You get the benefits of a traditional sofa but also some of the features of a spot for lounging or cat naps. 

In addition to these benefits, there’s also storage under this thing. There’s no such thing as too much storage—until you exceed your cargo carrying capacity. 

One of the things about this implementation is also that there’s a really good amount of countertop space in here. This trailer seems to be a really nice compromise of being roomy inside while also not too large on the outside. It has an overall length of 23’8”—a good size for driveway mooch-docking. 

When you’re sitting on the sofa, you’ll find a TV directly across in the upper cabinetry. I like that Highland Ridge specified a sound bar for the audio. So many RVs have that iRV radio—which is both difficult to operate and just sounds lousy. 

No carpeting, no floor registers

Sitting on that couch, you might also notice that there is no carpeting in this unit whatsoever. That’s a big plus. Further, the company specifically mentions that they have no floor registers for the heating system. Another plus, to me. In fact, one of the heat ducts comes out the front of those cabinets under the bed. 

I’m seeing better and better materials creep into RV builds. Those include a wider use of PVC roofing materials which carry a limited lifetime warranty. This model features that build material. But there is no mention of Azdel used in the substrate of the wall builds. It’s probably safe to assume they use Luan instead. Oh, well. Just another reason to check the seals on the openings in the wall every three months. That is a good practice in any RV anyway. 

Boondocking and travel access

One of the many things I like about this general floor plan is that it’s fully accessible with the slide closed. Of course, the downside to this floor plan, which is common to all of these, is that there’s no wall between the bedroom and the main living space. As with the rest of these, Highland Ridge uses a curtain to segregate the two.

There is a solar package available on this model that includes a 190-watt solar panel on the roof along with a 12-volt TV. That’s a pretty smart arrangement, meaning you don’t have to operate an inverter to operate the TV. Of course, they also make no mention of an inverter, so there’s that.

But better batteries and inverters and all of that are things we solar nuts have been putting into RVs for some time now. So it’s not that big of a deal when it’s not offered by the manufacturer. But it’s also nice when it is offered and we don’t have to run special wiring and make electrical changes to our RVs.

A plus side to these features not coming from the factory is that those who don’t want them don’t have to pay for them. Every coin has two sides.

In summary

This is another example of the diversity that gets created by RV companies who encourage their various brands to compete with one another. 

For those who don’t know—companies like Thor and Forest River actually encourage the brands under them to compete with one another as well as brands from outside the family. For anyone who complains that Thor or Forest River make lousy products, know that the various brands within the family are all encouraged to do their own thing. 

Fewer RV suppliers competing

There is the challenge of the ever-shrinking number of RV suppliers out there. That’s something that is concerning in any industry—when fewer and fewer companies have to compete to make things. So, for example, if there are four companies making any RV component, there is greater incentive to strive to be better than the competition. If there is only one, then you can pretty much do what you want. 

One more thing. I’m less inclined to bring up the small oven and cheap vent fan in a trailer designed really for two people than in one for a larger number of campers. However, these both still are things I’d love to see disappear forever. 

But I don’t see any excuse for any RV manufacturer not to have good photos and even videos of their campers on their website. Unfortunately, it seems to be a really common practice. So, once again, photos were ripped off from a video—which means they’re less than ideal. 

Get my own photos and make my own videos for these reviews

One of my goals when moving from my rural community here in NorCal to a larger area outside of Albuquerque is to be closer to more RV dealers there. That means I can actually go and capture more photos myself. Perhaps I’ll even start doing my own RV review videos which I can include in these articles. 

No way I could be as prolific as Josh Winters or Matt Foxcroft, but I’m thinking I could at least get one done a week. We shall see. 

Anyhow, this is another floor plan to look at in this field. And it has some distinct advantages, including that nifty sofa and the under-bed storage. 

I would love to read your comments and suggestions over on our 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 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 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.

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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Leslie Schofield
5 months ago

My only negative is making the bed would be a nightmare.

Spike
5 months ago

Those little cheap vent fans are worthless regardless of how many people an RV is designed for. Fortunately, an easy and not too costly DIY upgrade should everything else in an RV trip your trigger.

Personally, my wife and I never have a traditional oven. It’s convection microwaves for us above and more storage drawers below.

I agree with the other comment on LOTS of wood construction in that build! Yuk!

Bob p
5 months ago

Very similar to our MR 23RLS 2020 model except we have a mid-bath with a solid wall dividing the bedroom from the rest of the trailer which DW loves. Ours is also stick and tin and it costs $20,000 less. We’ve had ours over a year and love it, it is easily pulled by our 2018 Nissan Frontier so we’ll keep it. Instead of a trap door into the basement for dirty laundry we pick up the foot of the bed and drop them into the proper basket, that way none of the storage compartment is taken. Good review!

Steve
5 months ago

My first impression from the cut-away is that there is a whole lot of wood in that 212FB! Despite the PVC roof, there will still be as many holes cut into that PVC as there are in every trailer (AC, TV antenna wiring, vents of all kinds, etc.). That means all those wood roof trusses could get wet from a leak, which IMHO is not worth risking in a $40,000+ RV.

If I were shopping for a trailer this size, I would have to opt for the Rockwood Mini Lite 2205S that Tony mentions. It has an aluminum structure, Adzel wall substrate, 22″ oven, torsion axles (no leaf springs), 12v fridge with solar and inverter, and the same standard 80″ queen as the 212FB. And that’s a decision I would make with full knowledge that the Mini Lite has my hated front window over the bed and the 212FB doesn’t! Like Tony says, “there is no perfect RV.”

Les
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve

That Rockwood would be purrfect if it didn’t have that front windshield!

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