Wednesday, October 5, 2022


RV Review: No Boundaries NB20.4 Beast Mode prototype

Today’s review is of a prototype version of the No Boundaries NB20.4 travel trailer. No Boundaries, or NoBo, is a relatively new division of Forest River that started in 2018 in recognition that there was a significant market for people interested in moving to a more off-grid camping solution but who still wanted all the relative creature comforts you get in a travel trailer. 

The division’s model range also tends toward the smaller side owing to their focus on the market for customers who might have half-ton trucks or even some SUVs that are well-suited for towing. 

I got to see a preproduction prototype of a new version of the No Boundaries NB20.4 trailer with the “Beast Mode” suspension and the newest standard solar package the company is offering. 

Beast Mode

I have been at the FROG (Forest River Owners’ Group) Rally this past week with about 900 of my closest friends. One of the interesting things was all the rigs on display, including a NoBo 20.4 with a prototype of the Beast Mode suspension package. 

Essentially this suspension is identical to the one that Lippert’s CURT division provides to Ember. This two-axle setup can be found in the Ember 201FBQ that we looked at a while ago. The suspension features swing axles on a fairly rigid subframe. Each wheel gets its own coil spring and dual nitrogen gas struts. 

Typically, most towable RVs do not have shock absorbers at all and many are just simple, cheap, leaf spring suspensions. In the past if you wanted something better, there were torsion axle suspensions. They did provide a better compliance and a bit better control along with an approximation of an independent suspension. This is the next step, but it ain’t a cheap upgrade. 

What the Beast Mode system delivers

What this system delivers is additional ground clearance and a more rigid subframe along with improved suspension travel. The idea is that you can take your NoBo to more places that may not be official places. If nothing else, it certainly looks the part of an off-road trailer like the Ember or even a Black Series. 

The model I saw at the FROG Rally was clearly a work in progress. The rep I got to speak with from NoBo assured me there would be some adjustments to the suspension height and changes to the stabilizer jacks on the actual production models. 

NoBo 20.4

The No Boundaries NB20.4 is certainly one of the larger of the company’s offerings at 23’9” long and 96″ in width. As mentioned, the company is focusing on smaller units. 

What intrigued me about this was the Murphy bed and bar. Sure, sure, let’s just call this a breakfast bar. Wink, wink. 

The advantage of a Murphy bed is that you do get a couch by day. That couch and the breakfast bar along with a four-place dinette give you a decent number of seating spots. In this circumstance, the Murphy bed does give you a proper queen-sized mattress at 60”X80”. 

This is a bendy bed and, for whatever reason, I didn’t give it the lie-down test. The bed does bend about a third of the way down, so it would probably have the split near your shoulders or so. I know a lot of people put a mattress topper on their beds, so that would eliminate feeling any split. 

The bed is easy to transform

The bed was also really easy to transform from seating to bed. I was able to do it with one hand while holding the camera with the other. 

Of course, as I’ve written elsewhere, one of the goofiest things any RV company does is offer a Murphy bed model with a windshield. 

The kitchen in the NoBo 20.4 features a three-burner stovetop and a convection microwave, which does make sense. 

Also, I love when the bathroom occupies the full width of an RV, as is the case here. So you get a large bathroom with lots of space in a relatively compact travel trailer. 

Boondocking and travel access in the NoBo 20.4

I really wish I had brought a tape measure with me because I think this model can be fully accessed with the slide in, but I wouldn’t write you a guarantee of that. 

Recently I wrote an article about the NoBo Unplugged Package, which is pretty comparable to the system in my own trailer called the Power Package that I shared with you all. The system in the NoBo is built by Mastervolt, the same ones who built the system in my RV. The biggest difference is that NoBo incorporates the Truma Aventa air conditioner, which is probably the most advanced RV air conditioner in production today. 

I have A.C.E.: Air Conditioner Envy. 

However, I do not know whether this package will be available in the NoBo 20.4 in the short term. NoBo has only revealed its availability in their 19.8. 

Regarding boondocking, even with the company’s smaller standard 200-watt solar system and, perhaps, a portable solution like the Go Power! DuraLite 100, you may be just fine for spending time off the grid. To me, the limiting factor here would be the 40-gallon fresh water tank in this model. I wish it were larger. 

But there are ways around this, of course, including portable water systems. 

Observations on the No Boundaries NB20.4

Like many smaller trailers, if you came here to sit and watch TV for hours on end, this won’t be your best place to do so. Yeah, yeah, the TV faces the couch and the bar, but it’s a bit of a distance. However, I suspect the customer for this trailer is much more likely to have something like an iPad or smartphone that they watch things on rather than sitting and pretending to be informed by watching a channel that purports to be news, but really isn’t.  

That’s not really the point of this trailer, anyway. The whole idea is to get away from it all and enjoy the outdoors. 

I like that NoBo has put a map of North America on the base of the Murphy bed. The company also includes stickers that you can put on the states when you’ve traveled there. I know many of us have a similar map and it’s neat that they’ve done this. Plus, this is a good place for it. 

Adjustments will be made to the NoBo 20.4

When you look at the photos of the NoBo 20.4 you’ll notice it’s riding very high—so much so that the corner stabilizer jacks need blocks under them for them to be effective. This is part of the preproduction process—making these detail adjustments. Talking to the gent from NoBo, the jacks will be swapped plus the suspension won’t have as much height as this prototype does. 

Another thing: I had to take a picture of the weight measurements on the inside of the door of this trailer. That CURT suspension isn’t light. While the regular NoBo 20.4 weighs in at about 2,817 pounds, this prototype is much heavier, at 5,088 pounds. That CURT suspension and its subframe are beefy. 

I also like that there’s a built-in vacuum in this model, which is true of IBEX, r·pod and NoBo brands of trailers. They sort of all come from the same family to some extent. 

The No Boundaries NB20.4 shows what’s coming down the pike in short order. I also see other RV brands building models that offer more ability to go more places. 

I’m not sure that the majority of customers are going to be trekking into the deep off the beaten path with these. But I do believe that a lot of people are looking for camping away from a lot of other people. With the cost of many campgrounds going up and offering rather crowded spaces, I count myself as someone who seeks more solace from this through boondocking and off-grid camping. 

With that in mind, I think NoBo is in the right place at the right time. 

I do not have a chart for this model as it is a preproduction sample.


More from Tony

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 having worked at an RV dealership and been a lifelong RV enthusiast. He also has written the syndicated Curbside column about cars. He also works closely with a number of RV manufacturers to get an inside look at how things are done and is a brand ambassador for Rockwood Mini Lite with his wife, Peggy.

You can also check out his 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.

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Kier Hodas
1 month ago

Hi, not sure when you viewed this unit to write this article however not sure how this is a prototype. I have a 2023 Nobo 20.4 that I just purchased/picked up last week in Ohio that was put under contract on 8-15-22. At the time they had two units and in the rest of the country there was another 2023 listed in Arizona but may have been a pre-sale.
Mine appears to be identical to the photos and the suspension is super high on it and the jacks are a scissor type that require a good stack of blocks underneath them. Also regarding the weight, mine is slightly over 5000 pounds empty, but I believe the prior year unit is over 4500 pounds not 2817. From the specs I see that is the cargo capacity of the older unit not the unloaded weight. Reference towing, I have a 2019 F150 crew cab 4×4 with 2.7L, 3.55 axle, capacity only around 8000lbs. We added a bunch of gear, and tanks mostly full from campground, and towed it OH to NC mtns. At 75mph hwy and uphill it did good. Thanks.

Bob M
1 month ago

Glad to see you’re back Tony. Missed your daily RV reviews.

Steve H
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob M

Me too, but the personal evaluations of the new products are well worth waiting for. Sure you don’t want to move to Indiana instead of New Mexico, Tony? Nah, I wouldn’t either!

Steve H
1 month ago
Reply to  Tony Barthel

That’s probably why every snowbird RV park we have stayed in south of I-10–FL, TX, NM, AZ–has been full of RVs with license plates from MI, IL, IA, MN, WI, ON, SK, and AB.

Steve H
1 month ago

Wow! An extra ton of dry weight for the heavier frame and suspension is going to mean a GVW higher than a majority of “half-ton trucks and some SUVs” can handle. The towing capacity of a brand-new, right off the dealer’s lot, Ford F-150 starts at 8,100#. Deduct a payload of a family of four and all their gear in the crew cab and four mountain bikes in the bed from the truck’s GCWR and you have a potentially dangerous overload.

1 month ago

“ sitting and pretending to be informed by watching a channel that purports to be news, but really isn’t.“ Hahaha!