Today’s review is of the 2023 TAXA Mantis 5.1, a single-axle adventure trailer that we’ve looked at before. For 2023, the Mantis has undergone some scrutiny from Garrett Finney, the NASA designer behind TAXA Outdoors products.
I have really liked the Mantis in the past. It had a very innovative design already, and then they just upped the game.
What the Mantis already is
The Mantis is an unusually shaped trailer that features large windows and a pop top, much like one of those VW vans of the 1970s. Up front there is seating across the trailer. In back there is more seating in the form of a U-shaped dinette.
The sink and two-burner propane stove in the Mantis is on the road side of the unit, along with the bathroom which has been reconfigured. On the camp side is a low bench on which you can put a cooler of your choice, including something like the Alpicool that I reviewed and still like.
Storage is highly unusual in that you essentially have cubbies all over with crates that slide into them. This means you can bring them out and load/unload easily or even have alternate crates depending on what you’re doing.
There are also metal attachment points all over the Mantis so you can mount things you might need. For example, you could use these to hang pots, clothes, or curtains—but also hang a hammock. No, seriously. You could hang a hammock.
Changes for 2023 in the TAXA Mantis
The first thing that’s changed is the bathroom situation. The optional bathroom has been replaced with a place to put a portable cartridge toilet like the one that I reviewed. The nifty thing about this is that you can stow the toilet under the bench if you’d like.
This leaves space for the second big change to the Mantis. In the place where the toilet was is a table. But not just any table—a Lagun table with a mount that lets you use it as a work station. In fact, you could mount it at a height that would enable you to use it as a standing desk. This makes so much sense.
I actually had to rip out furniture in my own new RV so I could accomplish this. Here it’s simply an option.
The kitchen, too, has received a rethink with adjustments in the design to improve its usefulness.
Another area that’s received attention is cargo carrying functionality. The seating areas have been designed so that they are better able to flip up to accommodate cargo. That means you could bring your bikes or other adventure gear, and that large rear hatch in the Mantis will facilitate loading and unloading.
Building the Mantis
The Mantis not only looks unusual, but it’s built differently, as well. Some things we’ve seen before like a powder-coated steel chassis and torsion axle independent suspension.
The walls are aluminum composite and painted with a substance called Kynar®. The hinge for the pop-up roof is made of stainless steel, so it should be around for as long as you want. The interior is made primarily of Baltic Birch plywood. The flooring in this trailer is a nickel-patterned flooring which is pretty impervious to damage. There’s even an 8’ awning.
All over the Mantis are metal brackets and attachment points where you can hook bungees and attach things. I have often liked the idea of flexible spaces and surfaces and the ability to define uses yourself. TAXA apparently agrees, based on what I see here. In fact, they’ve taken it further than I could imagine.
The windows are dual-pane flip-up European-style Lexan panes with day-night shades and screens built in. The windows can flip up to be perpendicular to the trailer wall. You could literally leave them open and use this as a pass-through to hand things to people outside. There’s also a large hatch in the back with struts for either loading or just leaving open.
Heat and hot water come from a Truma AquaGo system, which is essentially continuous hot water and heat in a single unit.
There is an automatic brake system such that you don’t have to install a brake controller in your tow vehicle. This can be a big advantage on some vehicles.
There is a window-style air conditioner. You have to push it out when you get to camp so that it will drain. There’s a large metal door on the outside to protect it when it’s in transit.
I was boondocking at a brewery (there’s a shock) and there was a couple next to us doing the same thing. They had two children and were living full time in their RV, a TAXA Mantis! Seeing how they used the various spaces in the Mantis both during the day and the night really gave me a lot of respect for that trailer. They also reported to me how much they liked it and how well built it was.
I have liked the TAXA Mantis since I first looked at it, and the changes they’ve made for 2023 just make it that much better. The idea of using a Lagun table to make a sit/stand desk is absolutely brilliant.
Another thing I like is that this will fit into most garages but offers a lot of functionality and usability. You can take this on a longer adventure or just a few-day getaway. With the easy flexibility of this design it would be a good choice for both. Then just back it into the garage and take the crates into the house. As mentioned, having different crates already ready already (hehe) for differing adventures would make a good design that much better.
More from Tony
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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. 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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