We recently picked up an '09 Palomino Gazelle G218 and are pleased with it. I thought I'd share our initial impressions for anyone else looking for a light-weight travel trailer.
Initially we looked at units from Jayco, Forest River and Thor but were limited by tow vehicle constraints (Toyota Tacoma, tow rating 6500lbs). An obvious choice would have been a pop-up, or one of the newer hybrids, but since canvas doesn't protect against bears, cougars, or displaced cheetahs, and since all of those animals could potentially eat us, my wife vetoed that entire segment of RVs.
I took a Jayco 26S for a test tow and it was obvious within minutes that towing at the maximum tow rating for our vehicle was a horribly bad idea. As a result, I also took the Jay Feather 213 off our list of potential RVs. Even though there is a 500lb difference between the 26S and the 213, the test tow was so bad that I didn't think the weight difference was going to be significant. So, after looking at some smaller Jaycos, the Gazelle became a case of love at first tow.
Overall, my only complaint with the floor-plan is the lack of a pedestal bed. However, as making the bed is not my job (my reward for being designated keeper of the black tank), I'm not overly fussed. Other small annoyances include poor fit of switches and pulls. I find if I drink enough, stuff in the trailer starts to look straight, square and true. Perhaps that's an indication of the condition of the Forest River employee who did the initial installation. The front cover for the propane tank fits poorly, and I'll probably just forgo its use as it's a pain in the butt to r & r every time I want to open and close the propane valves.
My bedroom mattress at home has 800 coils, and if I had to guess, I'd say our trailer mattress has 7. Not 700, just 7. Thankfully Costco has those memory foam toppers and the bed is now adequately comfortable. The Concertone AV centre is nice, and there's a little subwoofer underneath one of the dining room benches that helps fill out the sound. The instruction manual for the Concertone is from the "All your base are belong to us
" school of translation. I still have no idea how to shut off the alarm. The fridge gets things cold, and the stove gets things hot, and the supplied side-kick RV-b-que is wonderful for burning wieners, but I don't trust it to evenly cook a tenderloin.
As we plan to do more dry camping then full hookup camping, we wanted to get two beefy 6 volt batteries. Unfortunately, the battery tray was too small to support two 6 volts so we went with 2 Group 27 12 volts (100ah AGM) -- one in the tray, and one in the back of the truck. We're getting about two days per battery and that includes liberal use of the water pump and interior lights.
The window coverings are nice and fit snugly, but we have to bend out the valences when we open the blinds to allow the blinds to clear the cranks on the windows. The windows are darkly tinted, and are wonderful at keeping the trailer cool. The awning is easy to use and adjust and the door has a good, solid feel when being opened and closed.
The bathroom is cramped for a 200 pounder like myself, but functional. I haven't tried the shower yet but I'm sure using it will be interesting. The bathroom fan is a 'create-a-breeze' fan, and can exchange the air in the entire trailer quickly. The double sink in the kitchen is handy, as is the hood fan. There's also an outdoor shower attachment that is handy for washing paintballs off the exterior of the trailer. Bright orange paintballs. Grrrrrr.
In spite of the brochure's proclamation of this being a 5 person trailer, this is definitely a 2 person trailer. The couch folds out to a bed suitable for a short contortionist, and the table transforms into a bed big enough for canines or felines, but nothing approaching a full size human.
Overall, the Gazelle has met with our expectations. We like the floor-plan, cabinetry and appliances, all of which combine to give us that intangible and subjective feeling of 'home'. The deficiencies are minor, and largely cosmetic, and serve to give our home away from home some character. We feel our Gazelle represents good value for the money and will be a great weekend travel trailer.