Keystone Montana Fifth Wheels Compared to Grand Design Solitude Fifth Wheels

Keystone Montana Fifth Wheels Compared to Grand Design Solitude Fifth Wheels

An Overview of Key Differences to Help You Choose Between the Keystone Montana & Grand Design Solitude

Over the past three years customers have purchased 27,349 Montana and Grand Design Solitude fifth wheels.  Montana has been building fifth wheels for 21 years and is the most experienced luxury fifth wheel manufacturer in the industry with over 110,000 built.  In fact, over half of the production workers in the Montana plant have been building Montanas for over a decade making the Montana plant the most experienced RV work force in the industry.  This experience has resulted in Montana having the most repeat buyers, most full time RVers, and highest resell value of any fifth wheel on the market at this time.  Grand Design’s Solitude is a newer product with one tenth of the production history and a growing group of dealers offering their product.

 

In order to compare these two different fifth wheels, this article will outline some of the key differences in chassis, construction, exterior features, and available options.

Chassis Differences between Solitude & Montana:

  • Montana features patented Max-Turn Technology which allows for the best turning radius in the industry- Solitude lacks this feature
  • Montana’s Hitch Vision mirror on front cap with led light allows for easy hookup to the trailer day or night- the Solitude lacks this feature
  • Montana uses a 12 inch I beam chassis on all floor plans that is heavier duty, reduces the stress on the sidewalls, and supports more weight.  Solitude uses a 10 inch I beam chassis on some floor plans and a 12 inch I beam on other floor plans
  • Montana features a Road Armor suspension equalizer with 6 inches of axle travel, rubber shock absorbers on top and bottom, ½ inch shackle plates, and greaseable wet bolts. Solitude uses a suspension equalizer with 3 inch of axel travel, no rubber shock absorber at the top, ¼ inch shackle plates, and no wet bolts
  • Montana features the Road Armor hitch pin that reduces or eliminates chucking while towing and features a pivoting roto flex head. Solitude’s hitch pin does not have a pivoting head which does not keep it in contact with the hitch pin’s rubber shear shock absorbers when there are bumps in the road

Construction and Exterior Feature Differences between Solitude and Montana:

  • Montana uses one-piece roto cast holding tanks. Solitude has two piece holding tanks with a seam in the middle that can be more susceptible to leaks
  • Montana uses color coded and numbered electrical wiring. Solitude uses all white wires and does not use numbers.  (This makes electrical repairs significantly more difficult to trace on the Solitude and more costly to complete.)
  • Montana runs its water lines on the lower deck in the floor on top of spun fiberglass insulation. Solitude runs their water lines in the underbelly which could make water lines more susceptible to freezing up.
  • Montana uses an In-Line-High-Capacity heating system which means a 3-inch X 14-inch aluminum heat duct runs in the floor from the back wall to the staircase. In contrast, the Solitude splices 4-inch dryer vent hoses off the furnace to heat the lower deck.  (When heat ducts are spliced multiple times with bends and turns it is typical to have hot and cold spots, heat loss, and difficulty maintaining a consistent temperature.)
  • Montana comes standard with rain gutters over the slide boxes.  The rain gutters on Montanas also have a track in them for slide awnings so if a customer decides to add slide awnings it is a simple addition (add less costly).  Solitude does not use rain gutters.
  •  Montana has prep for solar to the roof. Solitude does not.
  • Montana has a power channel on its exterior awnings. Solitude does not.
  • Montana uses solid metal locking handles on exterior baggage doors. Solitude has plastic handles.
  • Montana’s auto leveling touch pad is located on the outside of the units for easy access and does not require bending over into the pass-through to get to the touch pad. Solitude places the leveling pad in the pass-through.
  • Montana has slide selector valves that allow the user to choose whether to have all the slides in or out. On Solitude there is no Slide Selector available.
  •  Montana has 2 attic vents to help manage moisture. Montana places one attic vent behind the main A/C and one attic vent in front of the second A/C to prevent mold and mildew.  Solitude has only one attic vent at the center point of the unit, which places the only vent extremely far from the air conditioning units which are a large source of moisture in the RV attic space.
  • Montana comes standard with a 16,500 BTU heat pump.  This electric heat source means that a Montana owner does not have to run the furnace and burn propane to heat their unit in temperatures a little above freezing.  Solitude does not offer a heat pump.
  • Montana has a double laminated rear wall.  In the event of an accident or a repair to the rear wall, the rear wall on the Montana can be removed without disrupting the side walls or electrical channels.  Solitude on has a single laminated rear wall.
  • Montana features two doors and compartments in the front bulkhead area.  One door for storage or a generator and another door to access the battery and hydraulic area.  Solitude has one compartment and door for these areas.
  • Montana’s optional full body paint includes painted baggage door handles, fender skirting, and bulkhead.  Solitude does not paint these items.

Power Options Available on Montana:

  • Montana offers an optional 265-watt solar panel with a 30-amp controller and a 2000-watt inverter.  In addition, this option includes inverting the living room TV outlet, refrigerator outlet, a kitchen outlet, and a bedroom outlet.  This allows a customer that pulls off into a rest stop to be able to run their lights, tv, make a pot of coffee, run the refrigerator, and use a CPAP or charge a cell phone the bedroom.  This option is not available on Solitude

Legacy package option on Montana fifth wheels offer additional features such as:

  • Disc Brakes (not available on Solitude)
  • Rear Cap (not available on Solitude)
  • Hard wood framing (not available on Solitude)
  • Power Cord reel (not available on Solitude)
  • Side view and rear backup cameras (not available on Solitude)
  • Surge Protector (not available on Solitude)
  • IN – Command (not available on Solitude)
  • Generator ready (optional on Solitude)

In addition to the many differences in the physical construction and features of the two units, Montana does offer a warranty for full time RVing.  For those considering full-time RVing this is important and some units (like the Solitude) do not have this type of warranty available.

Share Button
RV Financing Is the Best Option for Financial Flexibility

RV Financing Is the Best Option for Financial Flexibility

There are plenty of options available when you’re looking to buy a new RV.  To this end, we’ll explore below why financing is one of the best options for you, and how you can find the terms that are suitable for you.

1. There are a Wide Variety of  RV Financing Options

If you are trying to buy a new RV, you’ll be pleased to know that there are plenty of options available through banks, credit unions, and other institutions. This means that you can find a lender that can assist you with the arrangements that make sense.

In addition to dealership lending, you’ll be able to look into third-party banks that make opening an account simple and straightforward. Just keep in mind that RV dealerships have access to a wide range of lenders and can often help buyers get access to lenders that individuals might not be able to access on their own.

2. You May Be Able to Deduct Your Interest

Another perk that many people don’t know about is that you can deduct the loan interest on your taxes. This way, you’ll be able to receive a nice chunk of change for your tax refund.

So not only do you conserve your personal cash by taking out a loan, you can take advantage of some tax benefits that might further your over-all financial goals.

3. A Quality Down Payment Matters

If you really want to be sure that you are getting the ideal RV financing terms, it’s about what you do on the front end. By taking the time to put together a down payment, you not only knock some principal off of the price tag, but you can get more favorable terms as a whole.

For best results, make sure that you put together a down payment of about 10 percent if possible. This way, you’ll be able to make your monthly payments more feasible and affordable.

4. A Loan Opens Up Your Options

When you are purchasing a new RV, your loan options will open you up to a series of different RV types- which means more choices for you!

Whether you are looking into a travel trailer, fifth wheel, or a motor home, having lending resources at your disposal gives you options. These loans come in handy when you are trying to buy either a new or a used RV as well.  (And if you are not sure where to start, our finance department has been helping happy RVers finance their purchases for almost 50 years.)

You’ll also be able to have some money left over to buy extra RV equipment to help you in your travels. This way, you’ll be prepared for anything that the road throws your way.

Get the RV Financing That You Need

When you are looking into the best RV financing possible, these are the tips that you’ll need to keep in mind. Thankfully, there are plenty of lenders that support RV loans, so you should be able to get a quality RV that will also fit your budget.

Consider these points and be sure to check back with us for all your RV needs. Stay tuned to check out information on RV parks, maintenance and so much more.

Share Button
The Winnie Drop compared to the Forest River R-Pod Ultra-light trailer

The Winnie Drop compared to the Forest River R-Pod Ultra-light trailer

Key points to help you decide between the Winnie Drop & the R-Pod by Forest River

In just a few years R-Pod trailer trailers have made an impact in the recreational industry’s ultra-lite towable sales market. Though considered an ultra-light trailer by many and not an official teardrop, Forest River considers it to fit both categories. When Forest River first introduced its R-Pod travel trailer in 2008 it became an immediate success. The R-Pod is now available in thirteen floor plans with lengths between 18’4″ and 22’2″. Eleven of the units feature a slide and many units offer an option called the R-Dome, a screened awning room. The chassis is a powdered coated steel frame holding a one-piece, seamless fiberglass roof unit. Features include a gas/electric DSI water heater, a 3.7 cu ft 3 way  refrigerator (Gas, Electric, 12V), a 2-burner stove, a 20,000 BTU furnace, shower, and toilet.

The R-Pod travel trailers have a unique feature; a pop-out tent area (only a few have this feature) made of Aqualon™ which is a heavy-duty, yet breathable material that remains flexible in all climates and is resistant to mold and mildew. Some models also offer a rear garage option, much like a tailgate, which provides outside entertainment. Each garage R-Pod model comes with a 19″ flat screen TV, marine grade speakers, sink, sliding storage, and a gas grill.

To look at some of the other important differences, we’ve created a simple chart below:

Feature Winnie Drop R-Pod
Black Water Tank 25 gal 30 gal
Fresh Water Tank 31 gal 36 gal
Grey Tank Capacity 25 gal 30 gal
Lightest Unloaded Vehicle Weight* 2630 2338
Max Awning Length 10′ 11′ (or R-dome)
Interior Height 6’5″ 6’6″

The Minnie Drop is More Different from the R-Pod than it looks

First, your fresh water, grey, and black tank capacities are larger on the R-pod.  For those that might be staying in places where access to water is limited, those extra gallons can make a big difference.  Second, the large selection of floor plans available in the R-pod mean that it is much easier for campers to find a model that will meet their unique needs.  For example, only the R-pod model 191 features twin beds with a center night stand in the sleeping area. Third, for those really tall folks, the extra inch of head space in the R-pod might be important.

In closing, shoppers that prefer to have a variety of floor plans and camping options that they can customize based on their needs and travel plans will want to be sure and look at the Forest River R-pod before making a final decision. Its roomy interior is surprising given its smaller size, and the attention to camper-friendly accessories and options have made it an RV customer favorite.  And for those that are looking for a community, the r-pod nation forum is filled with happy R-pod owners that are active on-line to help those new to the R-pod experience make the most of their new RV.

*weights pulled from on-line brochures provided by manufacturers at time this article was written

Share Button
7 Items every RVer Will Want to Have on their RV Gear list

7 Items every RVer Will Want to Have on their RV Gear list

While this list is certainly not exhaustive, we do think several items on here are must-haves for your RV Gear. For example, clean, clear, and tasty drinking water is a must. And for others, coffee is also a must! Whatever you travel life-style, we are sure you will one or two items on here that are worth adding to your RV stash.

1.  Walkie-Talkies  

A pair of these makes backing into a camp site much easier. You can find hands-free versions that also make navigation a lot easier. Walkie-talkies will come in handy when putting out and pulling in your slides. Many models of these will also double as a weather radio, which is an added bonus!

2. Bodum French press coffee maker

Every RVer begins to watch their electrical usage the more they travel- so this handy coffee maker is a welcome addition to many kitchens. It also eliminates the need for filters. For those that want to enjoy their coffee outdoors, boiling water from the campfire can be used to make a pot of coffee without having to use any electricity.

3. AeroPress Coffee Maker and Espresso Maker

This little gadget gets 4.5 stars on amazon with over 1600 reviews. So, for those that really want their espresso in the morning and may be running low on power (while boondocking) this is a great option. Just remember that pressure is being applied to the mug since the espresso is being pressed into the mug itself- so a sturdy mug is required for this

4. Camco drinking water hose  

This drinking water safe hose is lead free, BPA free, phthalate free and also won’t give your water that ‘garden hose taste’. The ends are high quality nickel-plated brass machined fittings for maximum corrosion resistance, and the hose assembly is CSA low lead content certified to NSF/ANSI 372 and complies with all Federal and State level Low Lead Laws. All of this is to say that it’s a really good hose that will not only keep your water tasting great- but it will keep it as healthy as possible!

5. RhinoFLEX 20ft RV Sewer Hose Kit

Our final tip on RV travel is the same one we give to new RVers- we recommend that seniors take it slow. America is an incredibly large country to explore, and without the time constraints of a job, why rush? Don’t focus on covering a certain amount of miles every day or making it to a certain state before nightfall. This prevents you and other drivers from becoming too tired. Slow down, enjoy the drive, and stop at a few places along the way. Remember, the best parts of travel are often the most unexpected!

6. Little Red Campfire by Camco

Why do we like the Little Red Campfire by Camco? It’s super easy to get a campfire going with no wood and for those with allergies or asthma there is no smoke or ash! The controls are very easy to manage so the flame and temperature controls are very manageable too.

7. Quick-Zip Sheets

Finding sheets designed for RV size mattresses is just part of the process of getting settled into your RV life. However, if you utilize under the bed storage, or struggle with managing a mattress, quick-zip sheets are worth checking out! They feature RV Queen size sets that have gotten rave reviews on-line from popular news sites like Buzzfeed and People.

These are some of our top picks for comfort and ease of use.  Comment below if there are other items you think we should look at for our next list!

Share Button
9 Essential Phone Apps to Add to your RV Tool Kit

9 Essential Phone Apps to Add to your RV Tool Kit

We are sharing a fresh list of 9 essential phone apps to help make your RV life a bit easier this month. Some of these you might have heard of before, but we hope there is at least 1 or 2 on the list that are new to you. Here is our list of the top 8 tools worth checking out:

RVing Phone Apps for both Apple and Android:

  • Gas Buddy– it’s free and helps you find the cheapest gas in your area on the go! Gas prices are for USA and Canada only…and for every gas price reported you’ll earn points toward prize giveaway entries…They give away a $100 gas cards to keep reviewers motivated to share info.
  • Trucker path – No matter what type of RV you have, we all know it’s easier to pull through a gas station that is made for longer, bigger vehicles.  Trucker Path will help you find the closest truck-friendly gas station, let you know if overnight parking is available nearby, inform you of low clearance issues, while also giving you access to navigation, real time overnight parking estimates, and reviews from their 600K drivers updating info.  This app is also claims to show which Walmart locations are overnight stay verified. (for iphone users try Truck Stops and Travel Plazas)
  • RV parks & Campgrounds by ParkAdvisor (both) – this app shows a map and users click on their state and keep enlarging to see map pins that show RV Parks. While it does not claim to be an all-inclusive list, after a few clicks we discovered many of RV parks that appeared to be reviewed by seasoned travelers.  Comments were clearly written to inform new travelers of key issues that RVers would want to know about like “many dogs roaming the park”, or “not a ‘resort’ by our definition, wooden steps had been built for several, decks had been added for several, and the bath house was in bad need of repairs”, or “Great campground with beautiful park. Spacious, paved, shaded camping spaces each with a picnic table and fire pit…
  • Oh Ranger! Park Finder is an excellent resource for RVers too -Oh, Ranger! ParkFinder contains an exclusive database with information on thousands of different types of public lands, which can be searched to find activities like RVing, Hiking, Boating, Camping, etc.
    The app scours databases that include info on several different types of public lands including:
    National Parks
    • State Parks
    • National Forests
    • Wildlife Refuges
    • Bureau of Land Management (BLM) sites
  • KOA App– allows users to filter, reserve, and mark campgrounds as a favorite in the app… and driving directions and KOA campground info is supposed to be available off-line which can be super helpful!
  • WeatherBug (for Android and Apple) -When driving and traveling, accurate and current weather info is important for both safety and sight-seeing plans. WeatherBug, the best free weather app, powered by the world’s largest network of professional weather stations, providing the fastest weather alerts, real-time weather conditions, accurate hourly forecasts & 10-day forecasts, 18 weather maps including Doppler radar, satellite, lightning alerts, precipitation, local temperature, local pressure, local radar, wind chill, heat index, humid, wind, pollen, UV and much more!

RVing Phone Apps that are Apple Only:

  • All Stays Camp and RV (iphone only) is on almost ever app review list we found on-line. For those with iphones, a few clicks gives users info on areas to camp and RV.
  • LifePics is an app that is free and lets you order all of your iphone photos throug the LifePics Photofinisher network.  This is network hsa over 18,000 stores located all over the world where you can print your photos and pic them up at places like CVS, Office depot, Ritz/Wolf Camera, etc.

RVing Website we had to include that’s not an App:

  • RVDumps.com – this is not an app- but we tested it on our mobile phones and the website appears to be mobile responsive. Plus, we could not find another app that provides dumping station info nationwide.  Using a mobile phone as a hot spot, or using free wi-fi at a restaurant, RVers can hop on RVDumps.com and find a geographic map of the US and then navigate visually by selecting a state, and selecting different push-pin location markers for dump stations.  What’s fabulous is the little pop up for each push-pin will show if the dump station is supposed to be free or if a fee is required. It also appears as if the free dump stations might color coded differently from the paid dump stations. When testing the light blue ones seemed to be free and the dark blue icons appeared to be paid.

There are plenty of other travel apps and sight seeing apps to choose from, but with these top picks installed on your phone you’ll be well on your way to a successful trip this spring!

Share Button
Top 3 Reasons Why Renting an RV is a Smart Choice.

Top 3 Reasons Why Renting an RV is a Smart Choice.

The main reason why renting an RV is a smart choice-

How do you figure out if renting an RV is a smart choice? If you plan to use your RV the typical number of days per year (27) and you purchase your RV on credit, you will pay a premium of $200 more per day for the privilege of ownership versus renting! To make ownership finacially worthwhile you need to use your RV about 40 days per year if you buy the RV outright, or about 50 days per year if you buy the RV on credit. On the other hand, for those who live full-time in their RV, the costs per day can be well under $100. (from “Rent vs. Buy” by Dave Neale.)

More reasons why renting an RV is a smart choice;-

There are other solid reasons to rent an RV before you buy one for yourself of your family:  (1) experience the difference in driving different types of motorhomes – handling a small Class C can feel a bit different from driving a longer Class A.  Trying each size out for a weekend (or a week) can save you the experience of purchasing new and then up/down sizing.  Are you as comfortable parking the Class C as the Class A? And yes, we know there are Class Cs that are of similar length to the Class As…so try ut the different lengths and see what feels comfortable for you and your driving partner. (2) Try out a couple of different floor plans. Why? well the bunk over cab may sound great…but what if your kid doesn’t like sleeping up high? What if navigating to the restroom at night from the bunk was more effort than they thought it would be?  Can everyone use the shower with ease?  These are experiences only gained by staying in an RV overnight. (3) Do you have a truck or SUV? If so, you may discover after driving a rental motorhome that you would rather park a travel trailer and drive your regular vehicle around to sight see and then return to your sleeping place in the evening.  My sister and her husband bought a Class A (used), gutted and refurbished it, and then decided they would rather tow a 5th wheel they could park and drive their truck for sightseeing…

Learn more about renting at BankstonRVrentals.com

-by Tanya H. Miller

Marketing Director

Bankston Motorhomes, Inc.

Share Button