Tuesday, January 18, 2022

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RV Review: 2022 OBI Dweller overlanding trailer

One of the ways I choose what to share with you is by how many folks read these. When lots of you read the stories about these adventure or overlanding trailers, I tend to find them – and that’s just what’s been going on. If you’re like me, there’s a part of you that has this vision of going somewhere remote and just sleeping among nature in one of these. 

If you look at this OBI Dweller and have a case of déjà vu, you’re not losing your mind. We looked at a very similar floor plan to this in the Black Series C12 a while ago. It wasn’t as long ago that we looked at the Opus OP15 as well, another trailer with a very similar configuration. (BTW – “OBI” stands for OutBack Innovations.)

This is also the same category as the new Ember RV trailers, which have made such a big splash in the industry. 

RV quality

Let’s start here, because I know there are going to be quite a few people who are surprised by the price of these units. I read a tremendous number of posts all the time about RVs falling apart and about RV “quality.”

From what I have read about this category in general in several user groups, these tend to be better made than the average RV. That makes sense, given the MSRP of these trailers. As with so many things – you get what you pay for. 

I like the cabinets in this trailer. They are CNC (computer numerical control) milled and feature positive latches. You could easily see this trailer experiencing some serious jostling not only from the lousy roads we all share but also once you get to where those roads have disappeared. 

Frankly, I’d like to see positive latches on all interior cabinets on all RVs like we used to have in the olden days. And I’m not just saying that because I like yelling at the kids on my lawn. 

Cool features

Some things I like about this type of trailer are just the thought process and basic design elements that go into them. 

For example, this and all of the trailers I mentioned in this category share the super-durable swing arm suspension system and off-road tires. I also like that there’s a handbrake on the tongue of the trailer and a wheel on the jack that lets you move it around. 

That’s made more possible by the handles up at the front of this trailer, although this isn’t a super-lightweight unit coming in at almost two-and-a-half tons. 

The hitch offers a tremendous range of motion, which is nifty. Hooking it up is different than most travel trailer owners may be accustomed to. 

Up front, the propane tanks are mounted on the outer edge of a big metal enclosure. There’s a lid at its center to cover whatever you choose to put in there. You won’t have batteries in there – we’ll get to those in a bit. The big compartment at the front of the trailer reminds me of a barbecue in how it opens. 

Get cookin’ outside of the OBI Dweller

All three of the trailers in this group invite you outdoors to do food prep. Since these are trailers meant to be taken to beautiful places, that’s not such a bad thing. But the outdoor kitchen on this unit wins, to me. The sink and stove run parallel to the trailer. There’s a topper that slides back giving you more counter space. It’s a pretty slick arrangement. I like that it doesn’t extend as far from the body of the trailer as in the Opus and Black Series. Plus, that sliding top is slick also. 

Up along the front is a 12-volt cooler that has two compartments: freezer and refrigerator. Not all of these 12-volt coolers have that feature. It, too, is on a sliding drawer-type platform. 

Grand openings

Speaking of sliding drawers, there are two on the road side of the trailer that are made of metal and offer a pretty decent amount of space. I like this, but I can also see the value of the slide-out drawer on the camp side for the fridge as an option. 

This trailer also uses a folding rear section that reminds me of the way the old Coleman stove’s wind screens folded. But this, of course, has a roof – which is the hatchback that covers the opening.

The whole trailer has a pop-top that lifts to increase headroom. This facilitates standing in the trailer. There’s also a wet bath in this rig. The space between the ceiling and where the roof folds down to is accommodated by a vinyl insert type of thing. 

With the bed at the back in that drop-down arrangement, that leaves the floor space so there is a couch on the camp side. A Lagun table turns this into the dining space. I wish OBI had put a second Lagun table mount outside, as these flexible tables are nifty. 

What they did put in was a power step arrangement like you might find in some Class C motorhomes. It’s unusual to see a power step in a travel trailer. 

Boondocking in the OBI Dweller

I had mentioned that there aren’t batteries out on the tongue. That’s because there are three 100 amp-hour lithium batteries in a compartment in the trailer. Lithium batteries don’t off-gas, so you can hide them inside like this. 

Those batteries are charged by three 100-watt solar panels on the OBI Dweller. That power is then delivered through a 2,000-watt Renogy inverter. 

This trailer has 21 gallons of fresh water aboard, but the big storage compartments in the front could be used for more portable water containers. I know I use an electric drill-powered water pump to replenish my fresh water tank when I’m boondocking. 

There is 21 gallons of gray tank storage, as well. The toilet in this is a cartridge model. I think this gives the camper more flexible options for dealing with yesterday’s Taco Tuesday than a fixed black tank. 

Temperatures

The OBI Dweller features a Truma Combi tankless water heater that also provides heat to the cabin. If you’re camping where it’s hot, there’s also a Cool Cat air conditioner. It is located in a compartment, so it’s not bouncing around up on the roof. 

What’s not

While I like the OBI Dweller trailer design, there are a few things I don’t like. Principal among those things is the control surface right near the entry door which has a number of red LEDs as indicators. I wish this were put behind a cabinet door or something, as these red lights would just annoy me all night long. 

Lack of communication at OBI Campers

I will also say that I tried to contact the company for some clarification of details. Their phone tree basically offered no humans to talk to and hung up on me every time. I did send an email but got no response. If I were plunking down this kind of money, that’s not something that would build a lot of confidence in me. 

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 RVTravel having worked at an RV dealership and been a life long 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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REVIEW OVERVIEW

Outdoor kitchen design
Ruggedness
Fold-out bed

SUMMARY

The OBI Dweller is one of a new crop of adventure/overlanding trailers that features items that will facilitate taking this out to the far reaches of where vehicles can access.

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Megan Edwards
21 days ago

That Freesolo trailer in the backgrounf looks interesting.

Bob M
21 days ago

Too expensive for what you get and no generator. The latches for the back section should be inside to prevent undesirables from gaining entry.

Tommy Molnar
21 days ago

On a trailer this small, why would you need a power step OR a power awning? Two other things I scratch my head over. That dinky little wheel on the frame will only allow movement on a driveway or other solidly paved surface. Forget that if you’re on dirt (which is where you would most likely want to move the trailer). And with all these smaller “boondock” advertised trailers, they all talk about “off road” tires. You could run these on BALD tires just as well. There is no need for “off road” tires because they don’t need any traction. Other than these teeny issues, I could see this for a single guy (or gal).
Oh, and if you go off hiking, it seems like anyone coming along can simply open up that back extender section and have access. There must be some sort of locking function back there – right?

Don
21 days ago

For that kind of money, I’d want more than someone to answer the phone. I’d want a free factory tour and a day-long seminar on how to work the thing…