By Tony Barthel
I look at a lot of RVs and, of course, some really intrigue me. Sometimes after I’ve started looking at a specific RV I’ll come across a figure that seems so ridiculous I have to contact the manufacturer. There has to be an error… This is what happened while I was looking at the forthcoming RKS Purpose Off-Road trailer.
This is a small (2,500 lb. dry weight) trailer designed for an adventurous lifestyle. When I was looking at it to review, though, something caught my eye. I couldn’t believe the trailer’s specifications indicated that they had 70 gallons of fresh water aboard. How?
I called and spoke with Elisabeth Gritsch, one of the founders of RKS. She assured me that there was, in fact, 70 gallons of fresh water capacity in this trailer. It’s accomplished brilliantly with two baffled fresh water tanks, one fore and one aft to help balance the trailer. That’s some great thinking.
So, what else is different about this trailer?
In fact, there are a lot of things that are engineered differently in this trailer. Some of the construction utilizes aircraft-grade adhesives which actually result in bonds stronger than welds. There’s a full stand-up bathroom in a trailer that starts out 6’11” tall. There are racks on the side so you can bring bicycles or kayaks and that sort of thing. And there’s no wood whatsoever in the construction of these trailers.
The trailer walls and roof are a 1.5” thick honeycomb structure. It is so strong that they actually have a provision regarding the roof that you can just go up there and hang out. Some RVs talk about a walkable roof, referring to one individual walking around for a short period of time. But RKS encourages you and several of your friends (up to 1,000 lbs. total) to go up there under a folding Bimini top with your lawn chairs and enjoy the view.
The shower is plenty tall
The shower and bathroom are at the front of the trailer. It’s equipped with a pop top, like in an old VW camper, that pops up so you can fully stand up in there. When the top’s popped you get 7’1” of interior height in the bathroom and shower.
You can see the company’s German heritage in the build quality and also in the thoughtfulness of design. This includes using the gray water tank to source the water used in the toilet. If this isn’t one of the smartest ideas ever I don’t know what is. That’s also why the company has only a 25-gallon gray tank but a 60-gallon black water tank.
Those tanks, though… The way they accomplish this liquid capability is by having tanks consume almost the entire space between the welded aluminum frame rails. Then the gray and fresh water tanks are baffled so that water doesn’t slosh around in there as much. The frame itself is all welded aluminum, crafted right there in the company’s Southern California plant. The main structure is 6” x 2” aircraft-grade aluminum I-beams.
What are some limitations of the RKS Purpose Off-Road trailer?
In a trailer this small there have to be some limitations, of course, and one of those is that the kitchen is an outdoor kitchen of sorts. You swing open the big rear door and there’s your kitchen with a two-burner stove, sink and a Dometic 110-quart, 12-volt cooler.
This dual-well cooler can be either a cooler on one side and freezer on the other, have both wells be freezer compartments or both be coolers. You could start your journey with both wells containing enough frozen items for a longer road trip or trip to places unknown. Then, as you need them, one could transition to refrigerator temp and then the other when you need that.
In the company’s videos, they explain that they specifically chose the particular stovetop they’re using because it offered better-than-average wind resistance and each burner produced 20,000 BTU of heat. Also in the kitchen are magnetic lights that can be moved around.
Between that front bath and the rear outdoor kitchen is the bedroom. The bed can be folded up to form a seating area or folded down to form a queen-sized sleeping surface. The trailer features a single 105 amp-hour lithium battery standard, that powers a 2000-watt pure sine wave inverter. There is a 30-amp solar charge controller and the whole trailer is powered by a single 20-amp household plug. In other words, you can charge the battery from any common household outlet.
Can the RKS Purpose be used as an office?
So with the bed folded up for seating, it’s funny that the company mentions using this as an office. But in talking with Elisabeth Gritsch, apparently the idea came from customers who planned to do just that. “I was surprised that our existing customers are using this in their work too, and with the electrical system on board that makes it possible.” Indeed.
As for storage, you’re in control of this as the company has provided t-slot rails throughout the interior and exterior. These are industry-standard rails to which you can attach all sorts of things. These might include bike racks, arms, shelves and almost anything you can imagine.
The hitch is fully articulating
When it’s time to go there’s a fully articulating trailer hitch. It almost works like the hitch on a fifth wheel and was designed to accommodate greater articulation off-road. The suspension is an axle-less independent suspension, also in support of off-roading. But it also eliminates an axle across the center of the trailer.
Another way of telling this is a European design is that it includes the use of dual-pane windows and the implementation of a Truma VarioHeat Comfort furnace and AquaGo Comfort water heater.
Where does RKS stand regarding production?
As I talked to Elisabeth, they had just signed with their first dealership and production was literally happening in the background. Yes, this isn’t going to be the trailer for everybody. But my own German heritage and background of having a German engineer father who was instrumental in bringing the T3 automotive turbocharger to market makes me really appreciate the thinking behind this trailer.
Seeing pictures of this model with folks enjoying the roof top makes me wonder why this is the only time I’ve seen any RV company promote this idea. It’s a big flat surface on the top that’s perfect for enjoying – and I’ve been to more than my share of Rose Parades where that’s exactly what the roof of RVs were used for. And the brilliance of using gray water to flush the toilet is absolutely going to go on my favorite features article for 2021.
What you’re not likely to see is people using the outdoor kitchen in the dead of winter in the Midwest, of course. And not everybody is going to appreciate the wet bath, although it’s large enough that it offers plenty of space. There’s limited interior seating – but you can go sit on the roof if you don’t like it.
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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