Recreational vehicles have evolved to offer more luxuries of home — from second bedrooms with bunks to full-scale, outdoor kitchens built into the side of the trailer.
The Press of Atlantic City reported that as the RV industry continues its rebound from its recession drop, residential amenities are becoming major drivers in the market, according to New Jersey dealers. Outdoor kitchens can include two-burner stoves, refrigerators, television sets, hot-and-cold running-water sinks and grills — all concealed until an outside compartment is flipped open.
“The latest big thing for the towable is an outside kitchen,” said Rick Whitney, the sales manager at White Horse RV Center, with locations in Galloway and Williamstown. “It wasn’t available three years ago at the most. Now they have full outside kitchens and entertainment centers.”
More of today’s RVs include features and options unconsidered decades ago — porcelain toilets instead of plastic, sleek frameless windows, solid wood cabinets and second bedrooms, lending them a more residential feel.
“Kids aren’t sleeping on the couch anymore,” Whitney said.
RVs with such amenities are becoming a large segment of the market — a shift from previous generations that started with entry-level units and gradually upgraded over the years, said John Worthington, marketing director for Driftwood RV Center in Dennis and Egg Harbor townships.
“It’s coming to be the biggest section. There are a lot of younger families getting into RVs. And it used to be you’d start, get a pop-up, then a bigger trailer. Now more families want the four bunks, the outdoor kitchen, they want everything in it,” he said. “It’s growing and it’s now pretty much the majority.”
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Those of you who wiggle out of family camping trips by claiming you’re just not into roughing it will have to find another excuse.
A range of camping options and innovations have made it far more comfortable to eat, sleep and otherwise spend time in the Great Outdoors.
“’Soft rugged’ is what so many Americans are seeking in their outdoor experience today,” says Jim Rogers, chairman and CEO of Kampgrounds of America, or KOA, which runs about 500 campgrounds around the country. So much so that he now refers to the camping industry as “outdoor hospitality.”
KOA has beefed up some of its campgrounds to include both basic and luxury cabins – the latter being the kind more often equated with family resorts than places to pitch tents. Rental costs $100 to $150 per night. Some sites offer coffee carts, pancake breakfasts, kids’ activities and entertainment.
Campers who want things a bit more – but not much more – rustic can browse the equipment lining the shelves at well-stocked outdoors stores (although some of the fancy new goodies may hike the price of that simple camping trip).
Take, for instance, REI’s Kingdom 8 tent, which is big enough to sleep eight. For $529, the tent is not just waterproof and bug-proof but also has moveable room dividers to create separate spaces with private entrances. Fill it with cots, airbeds and perhaps a ceiling fan created for tents, and you’re bound to get in a good night’s sleep. Toss in another $100, and you can add to it a “garage” to store food or gear — or use it as a place for the family dog to sleep.
Nifty outdoor stoves and cooking gear have made campfire-cooked canned beans and hot dogs moot, unless you really like them.
REI’s camp kitchen, for example, is a folding trove of food-prep workspace and storage – all of which can be carried around in a zipper bag. It even includes hooks for hanging up spatulas, and windproof screens so the elements don’t mess with your cooking.
Coleman, one of the biggest manufactures of camping gear, sells a camping oven that fits handily onto one of the company’s two- or three-burner grills.
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