By Tony Barthel
As you can imagine, one of the job-related “hazards” of writing RV reviews is the fact that I get to go shopping for RVs all the time. And it’s work, which isn’t super helpful when I’ve got the itch to get a new RV. And now my wife is in on the game and she’s the one who pointed me to the Tiger Bengal adventure vehicle.
The Bengal is based on a one-ton truck chassis and is sort of like a pickup camper that’s permanently mounted. But it’s more than that. The company specifically builds their vehicles on one-ton four-wheel-drive chassis – the whole design is centered around being able to take them off-road.
Bye bye, grid
The Tiger Bengal is designed to go where few RVs can – and to thrive there. While there are several RVs based on Sprinter four-wheel-drive platforms, this seems to make more sense to me as these trucks are such beefy machines. Essentially, they’re one-ton four-wheel-drive pickups with a camper replacing the pickup box. So basically the Tiger Bengal is a Class C motorhome.
As standard equipment, Tiger outfits these with two AGM batteries for 220 amp-hours of power and then a 2800-watt Cummins Onan generator. You can also double the batteries for 440 amp-hours, or even go lithium if you choose.
One of the nice things about this small family-owned RV company, which sells only factory-direct, is that you can configure these in just about any way you choose. Want more solar? No problem. Different batteries? Sure! In fact, there are a lot of ways to configure these to your liking. They’re all custom-built in Columbia, South Carolina.
Interior of the Tiger Bengal
You can get into the camper portion of this vehicle either through the cab or through a side RV door. The interior layout is pretty straightforward – galley on the road side, couch on the camp side. But this oversimplification doesn’t do the design justice as it’s surprisingly airy inside. You wouldn’t expect this, but it’s perhaps due in part to the 6’ 5” interior ceiling height.
The galley is well thought out with a single-piece countertop. Typically, Tiger installs a two-burner propane stovetop with a microwave below that. Under that solid counter is a two-way “bar-sized” refrigerator that can operate on 12 volt DC or 120vac.
Above the fridge is a slide-out counter extension made of wood. There is more counter space in this relatively short RV than in many larger ones. There’s certainly much more than in my own travel trailer.
To the left of the galley is a hanging closet with two drawers underneath. The company is particularly proud of their maple cabinets. They mention that they’re built specifically to withstand the torture of off-roading. Speaking of the cabinets, they literally surround the entire interior as a “halo” above everything. There really is quite a bit of storage in this rig.
The bathroom in this is a wet bath, but Tiger has done this well. The entire interior of the bathroom is fiberglass. This means when you are using it as a shower you don’t have to worry about damaging things with the water. There is a waterproof cover for the toilet paper.
I’ve seen a lot of wet baths where there are surfaces that aren’t waterproof. In those you have to draw a shower curtain in the already-small spaces. Having the whole bathroom being waterproof makes more sense.
As for the toilet, Tiger gives you three choices: typical RV/marine foot flush models with a 14-gallon black tank, a cartridge toilet or a composting toilet. You could say you’re flushed with choices.
The comfy bits of the Tiger Bengal
The camp side of the rig is basically a long “L”-shaped couch where the cushions wrap around the rear of the floor plan and stop at the bathroom wall.
This couch can be a dinette, a bed, or a daybed. Those jalousie-style windows are dual-pane to make for more comfortable camping. An overhead high-performance vent fan can bring quite a breeze to this space.
Over the pickup cab is a permanent bed that is mounted on the Froli sleep system, a series of small plastic springs that reportedly offer a more comfortable sleep experience. The over-cab bed is 54” x 80.”
There is a propane furnace. However, the 9,500btu air conditioner also incorporates a heat strip. That way, when you’re hooked to shore power, you can take advantage of the fact that you’ve already paid for the electricity to run this.
No religious preferences
Notice I hadn’t mentioned which brand of pickup these are based on. That’s because the choice is yours to make. You can choose Ford, Chevy or Ram one-ton trucks. You can have single, crew or super crew cabs. Again, the choice is yours.
The common thing is that, if there was a back seat from the factory, there won’t be when the conversion is done. Tiger removes the rear seat and often the console and replaces that with additional storage and the ability to easily move from the cab to the camper.
Since the choice of the truck is yours, the choice of engine, trim level, and other components are yours, as well. Tiger does mandate that they get to see the specifications for the truck you’re choosing before you get it. This is only so that it will be capable of handling their camper and meeting their specifications. Furthermore, the one choice you don’t get to make is the bed size – they require an eight-foot bed platform.
It makes sense to go through Tiger for the truck, as well, since they’re aware of their specifications. Lastly, along with the ability to choose so many other things about the truck, you can also choose the color. Tiger can paint the camper to match, and any factory color is acceptable.
The camper of the Tiger Bengal is permanently mounted to the frame, so this becomes a Class C rig. The camper itself is about 2,500 pounds. Looking at various one-ton truck chassis, the cargo carrying capacity is generally triple this. That means you’re not going to have to worry about carrying this load.
A benefit of using a heavy-duty platform also means that you’ll be able to tow quite a trailer.
It seems that the folks at Tiger really understand this market. The feel of the interior is very warm and welcoming. In spite of that, the trucks themselves are big and beefy. They’re quite capable of finding those Instagram-worthy out-of-the-way places.
One of the nice things about a rig like the Tiger Bengal is that it can tow, as well. Tiger says that they specifically require the one-ton chassis for this reason. There are configurations available that can tow up to 9,000 pounds. That means you can bring a boat or a motorcycle trailer – or even a smaller travel trailer if your in-laws insist on camping with you.
Tiger has a link to two bloggers on their website, including one who has traveled all over North America and then shipped their Tiger to Europe and spent three years there.
Overall this is a very capable and well-thought-out adventure vehicle.
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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