If you look at the Grey Wolf Black Label 18RR, and you’re an RV geek like myself, you are potentially going to make some assumptions: Smooth skin means laminated trailer with aluminum framing; ramp door means getting larger toys in the back; fancy appointments like a super deluxe shower head mean pricey.
Forget all that. This trailer is full of surprises.
Grey Wolf Black Label 18RR
The folks at Forest River who bring us the entire Cherokee line, including the Grey Wolf Black Label models, have really been knocking it out of the park lately, to me. The company seems really good at packing a lot of value into a trailer with features that I think will make a difference over time to owners, but not charging as much as other brands.
One of those features is the valve stem caps on the tires which react to the air pressure in the tires. When the pressure is correct, the valve stem covers are green. When it’s not, they change to red. It’s a simple way to address a big problem with trailer tires.
This trailer also features a control panel with buttons. But you can also operate almost everything with an app. That includes the backup camera that’s included with the trailer, a surprising feature.
While the regular Cherokee Grey Wolf does offer some great features, the Black Label steps that up with more appointments.
Instead of the traditional corrugated skin you’ll find in a wood-framed trailer, the Black Label series takes a sheet of Luan and then laminates a sheet of fiberglass on top of that so you get a smooth skin. So, yes, these are still wood-framed trailers and they also feature a Luan substrate.
As someone who has been advocating aluminum-framed trailers with Azdel substrate, it’s good to know how these are built. You are going to want to be attentive to the seals on any breach in the trailer sidewall or roof, as water leaks could be particularly damaging.
Another disadvantage of this kind of build is that it’s simply a bit heavier than the aluminum-framed models. But, it’s also less expensive.
So, you get something with a shiny, smooth exterior skin. Also, the Grey Wolf includes frameless windows, which are a premium product. These are hinged at the top so you can actually leave them open in the rain.
In general, Cherokee’s trailers all feature a .040 aluminum nose, which is a pretty thick sheet of aluminum. Is this better or worse than a fiberglass laminate? Depends. I would say a fiberglass formed nose cap might be the least likely to incur damage – but that’s not always the case.
Toy hauler. Ish.
This trailer is also sort of a toy hauler, depending on your toys. What it offers is the flat floor and tie-downs you would expect in a toy hauler. Plus there’s a ramp at the back to load those toys. But this being a smaller toy hauler, you won’t be able to get side-by-sides in the back. But for all of us who are now bringing eBikes or kayaks or regular bicycles, this configuration could make a tremendous amount of sense.
Since there’s a ramp at the back, Grey Wolf saw fit to set it up so it also can be a patio deck complete with a surround. So you essentially increase the floor space on the trailer at those times of the year where the weather encourages sitting outside.
I have to admit whenever I see folks at a camp ground with a toy hauler sitting out enjoying the deck, I get a wee bit jealous.
I’m also a big fan of the fact that this does not have a slide room. I am not a huge fan of slide rooms, having handled warranty claims on so many of them. I like just being able to get to the entire interior of the trailer while in transit. Plus, all that unassigned space in the floor of a toy hauler can be used as an office or craft space or that kind of thing.
Now, I had mentioned this is a toy hauler sort of and one area where this is smaller than some toy haulers is ceiling height. This is no taller than a traditional travel trailer outside, so some taller toys just won’t fit.
Nice features in the Grey Wolf Black Label 18RR
I also mentioned there are some higher-end features in this trailer that were a surprise.
The first of those is the shower head which not only squirts water from above, but there are two body sprayers as well. It’s pretty darned fancy for a travel trailer and extremely unexpected in one with an MSRP well below $40,000.
There’s also a high-performance vent fan and a 50-watt solar panel.
Now, let’s be honest. All that 50-watt solar panel is going to do is maintain the batteries in the trailer – sort of like a trickle charger. But that’s not a bad thing.
Furthermore, the converter in this is specifically designed to accommodate lithium batteries. That means you could upgrade to those by simply flipping a switch (after going out and buying lithium batteries).
There’s also a nice cutting board that has magnetic hold-backs such that it forms a backsplash when not in use. It’s a really nice touch. The rest of the kitchen is pretty decent, as well. It has a large farmhouse sink and a 12-volt refrigerator.
Where’s the compromise?
So, with a decent kitchen and living space plus that deck, where’s the compromise? After all the whole trailer is only 24’1” in total length.
Well, let’s start in the bathroom, where the only way I could take full advantage of the toilet is by leaving the bathroom door open. Oh, sure. I would be able to accomplish the first portion of the job I came in to do, but handling the paperwork wouldn’t be possible with the door closed and, frankly, there is nobody on this planet that wants to share that experience with me.
Also, this is an east-west bed and many of us married folks just don’t like those. You know whoever is in the “pocket” is going to have to go to the bathroom the greatest number of times during the night.
I think toy haulers make a lot more sense than many folks realize. A lot of campers just don’t consider these and, to be fair, the interior detailing of toy haulers has been pretty dismal for a lot of years. That’s certainly changing. For example, this Grey Wolf does have fancy black cabinets with gold handles, although those really aren’t my style. But I have an air sprayer and I’m not afraid to use it.
Also, for all the premium and upgraded features in this trailer, it does still have a simple leaf spring suspension. That would be the first thing I’d upgrade, myself.
There are also slightly larger models in the Grey Wolf line that include a walk-around queen bed and much more space around the toilet. But they are still within the capability of many half-ton trucks.
The Grey Wolf Black Label 18RR might be perfect for some folks
So a toy hauler might be worth considering for a lot of folks, and this could be a perfect place to start.
My thanks to Josh Winters from Haylett RV in Coldwater, Michigan, for use of the photos.
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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.
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