Lustrous vacuum-infused camping trailer blends timeless and modern

2022-05-07 06:18:43 By : Ms. Linda Lee

Wearing an ageless shape and style the camper world has known for many decades, the new Cortes Travel Trailer gets an update from the latest in construction and component technologies. Cortes keeps the wood in the forest and leaves the chopper guns behind, building its shimmering caravan using a vacuum infusion of aluminized fiberglass. It then fills out its cabin with Furrion appliances and entertainment equipment, the stuff of smart yachts and tractor-trailer glampers.

A new startup born from Ohio-based US Lighting Group's push into the booming RV market, Cortes makes its mission clear while throwing some pointed shade at the competition:

"Just like another well-known travel trailer manufacturer that decided to build campers the same way airplanes were built approximately a century ago, Cortes Campers plans to repeat that success by manufacturing a technologically advanced trailer that utilizes the latest breakthroughs in aerospace manufacturing technologies. By utilizing the latest in lightweight aerospace materials, such as carbon fiber, and incorporating the process of vacuum infusion, Cortes Campers is able to offer a camper that is immune to corrosion, rust and rot [and] extremely lightweight, at a price that competes with traditional campers on the market."

Since Bowlus has had a more fragmented history, we take that well-known, decades-old aircraft-style trailer-maker to be Airstream, which almost makes sense from a competitive standpoint because Cortes' debut 17-footer would directly compete with the Airstream Nest, had Airstream not discontinued that model last year. As it is, it's more a competitor to existing fiberglass trailers from the likes of Happier Camper, Scamp, Oliver and Armadillo (original Boler molds).

Actually, with its aluminized fiberglass shell, the Cortes trailer feels like the camper Airstream should have launched instead of the Nest, seamlessly bridging its alu-skinned past with a new fiberglass future. But Cortes is the one to launch it, relying on the type of vacuum infusion molding process that also serves as the foundation of seven-figure off-road motorhomes and compact electric day boats. Cortes is careful to point out that it doesn't even own a fiberglass chopper gun, an inferior molding method used by other fiberglass RV builders.

Cortes' specific formula uses a sandwich of inner and outer 1208 biaxial aluminized fiberglass layers around a DuPont honeycomb core, finished in a marine-grade Armorcote 991 Series gelcoat. Cortes molds two halves, seals them together and plants the camper body atop a 6061 aluminum chassis with 3,500-lb (1,587-kg) Timbren Axle-less suspension. The trailer weighs in at 1,800 lb (816 kg) dry.

Cortes' shining gelcoated fiberglass looks gorgeous outside but becomes a bit cold and clinical inside, where we think the trailer would benefit from a little more wood, metal and fabric. But we're sure some buyers will like the build tech-forward look that features throughout the floor plan.

The kitchen across from the side entry door has a sink with high-arched faucet and loads up on Furrion appliances, including a 17-in oven/three-burner range, ductless hood with charcoal filter, 227-L standing-height fridge/freezer and microwave. To the left, in the very front of the trailer, a closet stands next to a wet bathroom with shower, sink and toilet.

The very back of the trailer houses a dual-bench dining area with carbon fiber/Kevlar table that converts into the 48 x 76-in (122 x 193-cm) main bed. Tucked between the rear dinette and doorway is a single-seat workstation/dining nook that converts over into a 27 x 81.5-in (89 x 207-cm) single bed, good for sleeping a third person or maybe even two small children on opposite ends. The single bed also doubles as a sofa bench during the day.

Cortes doesn't include any additional closet space beyond the entryway wardrobe, but it installs wraparound overhead cabinetry that runs the length of the trailer and an under-seat storage space below the workstation seat.

Cortes' travel trailer also comes fully equipped with a 28-in HD TV, air conditioning, heating, hot water, and an electrical system with command center. It carries fresh water in a 123-L tank, gray water in a 134-L tank, and black water in an 70-L tank.

Cortes announced the start of production in June and began taking $2,500 deposits for 17-foot (5.2-m) trailer builds. The aluminized fiberglass model described wears a retail price of $47,950, and Cortes also offers a non-aluminized fiberglass variant with similar features and slightly different floor plan options, starting at $39,950. The company has ambitious plans to launch a full line of various-sized travel trailers, teardrops, off-road trailers, pickup campers and even Class A motorhomes, starting with a $27,900 teardrop, which appears quite closely "inspired" by the Icelandic Mink trailer, already in the works.

The 2.5-minute video below provides a full walkthrough of the 17-footer.