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Old 06-18-2022, 01:10 PM   #1
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Forest River build quality

We bought a Wolf Pup 17JG as our first travel trailer and although we love it, it is not well-made. I expected this because I read forums before I bought it and I understand that travel trailers arenít generally good quality, especially entry-level ones.

We are considering upgrading to a better constructed tt, but because of my experience with the Wolf Pup, I am instinctively staying away from Forest River. Is this fair? Some of their brands look fine on paper, but Iím afraid that they are all built with the philosophy of turning them out as quickly as possible. Better materials get erased if they arenít put together with care.

Does Forest River carry better brands that arenít churned out at the expense of quality? Outdoors RV is my current standard, I am particularly interested in durability off paved roads. We like the size of the Wolf Pup, under 25 feet, but of course the new one would cost more and weigh more.
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Old 06-18-2022, 01:14 PM   #2
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Old 06-18-2022, 02:04 PM   #3
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My wife and I love our 2019 2109S Mini Lite and have had no major issues. Our neighbors just bought a 2021 2205S Mini Lite and after using it a handful of times have had no issues. Another neighbor just purchased a 2019 2104S and have been very happy with it. Rockwood Mini Lites generally have a pretty decent reputation, and I would buy another if I were in the market.
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Old 06-18-2022, 02:08 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kidlowell View Post
We bought a Wolf Pup 17JG as our first travel trailer and although we love it, it is not well-made. I expected this because I read forums before I bought it and I understand that travel trailers arenít generally good quality, especially entry-level ones.



We are considering upgrading to a better constructed tt, but because of my experience with the Wolf Pup, I am instinctively staying away from Forest River. Is this fair? Some of their brands look fine on paper, but Iím afraid that they are all built with the philosophy of turning them out as quickly as possible. Better materials get erased if they arenít put together with care.



Does Forest River carry better brands that arenít churned out at the expense of quality? Outdoors RV is my current standard, I am particularly interested in durability off paved roads. We like the size of the Wolf Pup, under 25 feet, but of course the new one would cost more and weigh more.
The entire RV Industry is lacking in quality, especially during the pandemic.
Even Airstream has many quality complaints on their owners forum. Even many million dollar motorhomes have numerous quality issues .
Bottom line, there is no brand that's immune to quality problems.
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Old 06-18-2022, 02:15 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by kidlowell View Post
We are considering upgrading to a better constructed tt, but because of my experience with the Wolf Pup, I am instinctively staying away from Forest River. Is this fair? Some of their brands look fine on paper, but Iím afraid that they are all built with the philosophy of turning them out as quickly as possible. Better materials get erased if they arenít put together with care.
Nope. Not fair.
They are all having trouble getting parts and labor which affects build quality. It's also true that build quality depends on the materials that go into building them. A Wolf Pup is an entry level trailer.
If you've got the problems fixed, why not keep it?
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Old 06-18-2022, 02:16 PM   #6
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We lucked out and had a good dealer. Our PDI was postponed for 2 weeks while the dealer corrected all the deficiencies. Well worth the 2 week wait!
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Old 06-18-2022, 02:31 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kidlowell View Post
We bought a Wolf Pup 17JG as our first travel trailer and although we love it, it is not well-made. I expected this because I read forums before I bought it and I understand that travel trailers aren’t generally good quality, especially entry-level ones.

We are considering upgrading to a better constructed tt, but because of my experience with the Wolf Pup, I am instinctively staying away from Forest River. Is this fair? Some of their brands look fine on paper, but I’m afraid that they are all built with the philosophy of turning them out as quickly as possible. Better materials get erased if they aren’t put together with care.

Does Forest River carry better brands that aren’t churned out at the expense of quality? Outdoors RV is my current standard, I am particularly interested in durability off paved roads. We like the size of the Wolf Pup, under 25 feet, but of course the new one would cost more and weigh more.
During my RVing years (2011 - 2022) I've owned 1 - TT (used), 1 - FW (new), a used 2006 35' Deisel pusher and my current 2021 Vibe 21BH and out of those I felt the 'Build Quality' of my 2006 Class A was the best, but it would not be considered as an entry-level RV

(In my opinion) Since many of the components (Water heaters, furnaces, stoves, ovens, lights, microwaves, Refrigurators, frames, suspensions, tv, stereos, convertors, electrical panels, etc., used to build a camper are the same used by most manufactures in the industry. So, the failure any of theses components isn't on Forest River, they didn't design it, build it, they simple installed it! So, for the most part RV manufactures simply assemble RV's making the 'build quality' the primary thing they can control on a particular brand/model that can set it apart from other comparable brands/models.

There are too many variables in the entire RV Industry to define quality as good or bad by a manufacture or brand alone. The biggest part is workers' 'attitude - work ethics' about doing a job right or just doing the job. This can have a big affect on build quality. I even believe a camper built on a Monday or Friday may not be built as well as a mid-week built one may be.

My first 2 RV's (SOBs) were built in 2010 and 2012 and all issues I had were poor quality control (the company was a 2008/2009 startup). My 2006 Class A, had the best build quality and I associated that with the fact that it was built before the 2008-2009 market collapse that really affected RV manufacturing quality from that point on. I had been in friends' 2013 - and newer same model Class A's and they just were not built as well as my 2006.

So now I'm at my 2021 Vibe, I considered it as an entry-level camper and expected quality to be much lower than the Class A I came from, but I purchased it understanding that. Yes, as many campers (all brands), it is stapled together, as most are at this level. But after almost 2 years of ownership and about 6000+ miles towing, it has performed flawlessly. The only service/repair cost has been replacement of the tires to Goodyears, something I knew I would do before I purchased my Vibe.

Now my Vibe was manufacture before COVID and I feel that had an impact on it's built quality being good for an entry level camper. I suspect that some manufactured during and after all the challenges COVID had issues meeting their quality standards.

The best thing is having a Good Dealer to help you. I've been lucky, I never had to take my Vibe back to the dealer!

All I offered here is just my humble opinion based on my RV ownership since 2011.

I hope you find a brand that can meet the expectations you hope for.
Safe Travels
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Old 06-18-2022, 02:35 PM   #8
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Our 2018 was built in 2017. We have over 28,000 on it (the truck keeps track of the camper mileage) and have had no major issues that were not our fault or due to build quality.
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Old 06-18-2022, 05:04 PM   #9
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We had a 2014 Wildwood TT, and, overall it was an excellent build. The only problems were the China Bomb tires and axle alignment. No matter the brand, if I bought a new trailer, I would make sure I had re[;laced the factory tires with reliable tires and I would immediately have the axle alignment checked.
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Old 06-18-2022, 05:05 PM   #10
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Look at the construction materials

As many have stated the appliances are all made by the same companies and they are NOT a reason to hate any mfg.
On the other hand things like smooth outside fiberglass walls over Aluminum welded walls, floors, and trusses in the roof on all 6 sides vs. wood with aluminum siding. Leaf springs Vs.. Torsion independent suspension. 4 inch thick Styrofoam roof insulation vs. fiberglass batts.
These are some of the things that make RVs premium and cost a bit more. Airstream, Lance, and Rockwood RVs are a few who utilize these features and why I keep going back to Rockwoods. Best bang for the buck!!!
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Old 06-18-2022, 05:36 PM   #11
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As many have stated the appliances are all made by the same companies and they are NOT a reason to hate any mfg.
On the other hand things like smooth outside fiberglass walls over Aluminum welded walls, floors, and trusses in the roof on all 6 sides vs. wood with aluminum siding. Leaf springs Vs.. Torsion independent suspension. 4 inch thick Styrofoam roof insulation vs. fiberglass batts.
These are some of the things that make RVs premium and cost a bit more. Airstream, Lance, and Rockwood RVs are a few who utilize these features and why I keep going back to Rockwoods. Best bang for the buck!!!
I have a close relative of the Rockwood, A Flagstaff MicroLite. I've owned it since July of 2017 and it's been great. No, it doesn't have 3/4" finished hardwood trim through out or Oak Flooring. Countertops aren't granite and walls aren't 4" thick. It does have nice finish, counters, and adequate insulation for below freezing weather.

The difference is that it only weighs 6300# when fullly loaded with my gear, a full FW Tank (that is in no risk of falling out) and full propane tanks. I can tow it with ease behind my Titan and have zero need for a 3/4 ton Diesel P/U.

If one wants a trailer built like a "stick and brick" house and as durable as a tank, be prepared for a very heavy unit and requiring a much larger/stronger tow vehicle.

As for initial build quality, shame on those who allow their dealer to pawn off the defects on the customer rather than correcting them just to "get the money in the bank".

My Dealer kept my TT on the lot for 10 days after I put money down on it just to make sure his "shop" had time to go over it and prepare it for delivery. Only gripe I had was the usual amount of sawdust trapped in all the compartments and corners but everything worked fine and other than my modifications, no repairs have been necessary other than a defective slide motor which I handled myself.
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Old 06-18-2022, 07:15 PM   #12
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Rockwood factory tour

I just toured the factory where my Rockwood A-frame was built. Many of the people working there are Amish or Mennonite. I have been pleased with my camper and have found my problems have been with the OEM parts used in assembling the camper. I had a problem with the Thedford toilet and I contacted them directly and they arranged to have it replaced at no charge. Orlando RV where I purchased the camper has been my major problem and I have dealt directly with Forest River to resolve issues I've had. I believe they make a good product.
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Old 06-18-2022, 07:48 PM   #13
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Trailer Quality

In general, trailers have to be built with lightweight materials and structural methods in order to meet the expectations of the customers and their tow vehicle ratings. Yes, trailers can be built stronger but will be heavier. Thus a bigger tow vehicle is needed.

Customers expect lots of nice pretty features and options. These add weight and cost to the final $$ amount of the trailer. So what are we willing to give up and what must we have? More is heavier or something else has to go.

Forrest River is a good reasonable-quality trailer. There are better trailers and there are worse trailers in all aspects. As a rule, they are built for occasional long trips and weekend use.

They all require regular maintenance and by that, I don't mean just fixing what is broken. Go looking for potential issues before you hitch it to your tow vehicle and take it out across the country.

Anything loose? Any loose screws? Tires less than 5 years old? Inflated to the correct pressure? Battery fully charged and less than 5 years old. Roof clean and checked for leaks around any seals? Any signs of water leaks inside? Electrical system functioning as it should. AC working and air temp at less than 60 degrees air out the vents? I could go on and on, but the point, go looking for issues. Don't just wait until something falls apart,or breaks, or doesn't work, or worse.
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Old 06-18-2022, 08:12 PM   #14
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Thank you all for the thoughtful responses. People really like their Rockwood/Flagstaffs, I will definitely take a look at those.

A couple of clarifications on my original post: I also had a pretty good dealer, I am not talking about things that I would drive an hour to the dealer for when I can take care of it myself. Crooked outlet boxes, excessive and messy caulking, a missing section of hose for the freshwater overflow, screws that miss the studs. Maybe the dealer should have caught some of this, but most of what I fixed came from living in it for a while.

These are also not bought-out equipment items, for the most part I have not had trouble with equipment. These are defects that are the result of rushing and not emphasizing quality. I don’t accept that labor shortages are causing these problems, they are caused by a price point that necessitates a management decision to go fast and lower costs. I am looking for a manufacturer that has a higher price point and as a result takes more time to make sure it’s right.

I’d also like to clarify that I am not looking for another TT because of problems with this one. But since we want to upgrade I would like to find a manufacturer that doesn’t rush so much. I knew this was an entry-level trailer and I’m satisfied with it, but the next one needs to be better. Rockwood sounds like a contender, thank you so much.
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Old 06-18-2022, 08:15 PM   #15
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These are also not bought-out equipment items, for the most part I have not had trouble with equipment. These are defects that are the result of rushing and not emphasizing quality. I donít accept that labor shortages are causing these problems, they are caused by a price point but that necessitates a management decision to go fast and lower costs. I am looking for a manufacturer that has a higher price point and as a result takes more time to make sure itís right.
A number of your points are wrong.
It's well documented that the Pandemic greatly affected the RV Industry.
1. All time historical RV sales and demand.
2. This coincided with all factories being shut down for weeks, therefore putting the Industry way behind in filling orders.
3. At the same time, their supply chain fell apart, just like every other Industry.
4. Then even when they opened up factories again, there was virtually no labor force to employ, again just like many other industries.
5. Many former employees found better jobs and others decided not to work, for numerous reasons. The factories raised wages and benefits to attract workers but a lot of the new ones, that were willing to work, were unskilled or barely qualified.
6. Meanwhile the demand for new RVs never subsided. New order completions, were taking a full year many times.

I'm not aware of any higher price point RV manufacturer, that is currently "taking more time to make sure itís right." They are all pushing bad quality rigs, to some degree.

As a former Rockwood owner(2007 model), I agree that it and it's twin sister brand Flagstaff, have the best bang for the buck.
My current 2016 TracerAir TT is also well built for the price.
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Old 06-18-2022, 08:40 PM   #16
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Forrest River is a good reasonable-quality trailer. There are better trailers and there are worse trailers in all aspects. As a rule, they are built for occasional long trips and weekend use.
Just to clarify, Forest River doesn't make any trailers, its divisions do.
And PrimeTime, Coachmen, East to West, Shasta and Palomino are independent divisions of FR Inc, that were acquisitions.
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Old 06-18-2022, 09:08 PM   #17
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I donít accept that labor shortages are causing these problems, they are caused by a price point that necessitates a management decision to go fast and lower costs. I am looking for a manufacturer that has a higher price point and as a result takes more time to make sure itís right..
Another thing that drives those poor workmanship issues is the quota system that some (many ?) of the factories work on. They have a quota of x number of units for the day. When they hit number the workers can go home and get paid for the full day.

I don't have any first hand knowledge of how different factories implement this, but it seems pretty widely known and certainly explains a lot the sloppy workmanship you see. Not sure this practice is specific to only certain price range models.
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Old 06-18-2022, 11:34 PM   #18
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We have had 3 Rockwoods and 4 SOBs in our camping adventure. We have not seen any grievous problems with any of them but our Rockwoods have been better in overall lack of minor or major issues. Our current trailer was built during the pandemic and so far has been excellent in its performance and build. (I hope I just didn't jinx us!)
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Old 06-19-2022, 03:00 PM   #19
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The entire RV Industry is lacking in quality, especially during the pandemic.
Even Airstream has many quality complaints on their owners forum. Even many million dollar motorhomes have numerous quality issues .
Bottom line, there is no brand that's immune to quality problems.
A man frequently told me the main difference between an expensive RV and an inexpensive RV is that it cost more to repair the expensive RV.
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Old 06-19-2022, 03:25 PM   #20
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We have a 2022 Signature that we’ve been pretty happy with. We’ve had a few issues but they’ve all been minor so far. Having a good dealer made dealing with those a breeze.
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