If you own a Ford Maverick Hybrid, a small crossover, or a wagon, you usually have a slim variety of campers you can tow thanks to a 2,000 pound towing capacity. Often, you’ll find tent trailers, motorcycle trailers, or teardrops light enough for your vehicle to tow. Thankfully, manufacturers haven’t forgotten about you and some brands are getting into smaller, lightweight hard-sided trailers. A new face in this arena is the Encore RV VENŪ, a baby trailer that seems pretty cozy and weighs just 1,500 pounds.
When I go to an RV show, so many of the trailers and coaches are colossal, with pricing rivaling that of actual homes. That’s before you pay extra money for a beefy tow rig just to haul the thing. Not everyone has the kind of dough or even the desire to tow a 40-footer with a big truck. What if you have something a lot smaller? For example, a 2024 Volvo V60 has a tow rating of just 2,000 pounds. Fear not, because as you’ve seen here, a number of manufacturers have been introducing lighter, cheaper trailers that less-capable vehicles can tow. Encore RV is one of the latest in this market of tiny campers. At the 2023 Indiana RV Open House, the manufacturer debuted the VENŪ, a little camper that weighs just 1,500 pounds.
Elkhart, Indiana-based Encore is a new face in the RV world. I found the brand nestled in the independent area outside of Thor Industries’ expansive display. Encore was founded right in the thick of the pandemic RV industry boom in 2020. As RV Business writes, Encore RV founder Rich Schnippel has been in the RV and motorsports trailer industry since 2000. His resume includes managerial and marketing roles at names like ATC Trailers, KZ Recreational Vehicles, and until 2019, inTech Trailers. RV Business also notes that Schnippel designed many models of lightweight adventure trailers. Think of off-road trailers somewhat similar to the Off-Grid Trailers Pando 2.0 I tested earlier this year.
Schnippel decided to create his own trailer manufacturer with a focus on building durable campers. Encore’s launch trailer, the RŌM, boasted a lightweight, fully welded, all-aluminum frame and chassis. Sitting on that chassis is a composite body featuring CNC laser-cut aluminum cabinetry inside. Since then, Encore RV has offered several flavors of its off-road trailer from the compact 1,414-pound RŎG 10MC to the 2,900-pound RŎG 16RB that you can stand up in. An example RŎG is above.
(Update: To add some additional context, when Encore RV launched, the trailer was supposed to be called RŌM, but then the name was changed to RŎG due to a trademark issue.)
The Encore VENŪ
This new trailer is a refinement of the Encore RV concept. The VENŪ is still supposed to be an adventure trailer, but Encore has decided to maximize the trailer’s space for the comfort of the people who will be sleeping in it. The first model of this new line of trailers is the VENŪ 10KB, and it’s a cute one.
To illustrate how small this trailer is, it’s 13 feet from tongue to rear and the box is just under 10 feet. For comparison, a 13-foot fiberglass camper will often have a box roughly the same general size. The floor inside is just 8 feet long and the ceiling gives 5 feet, 10 inches of headroom at its highest point.
Despite that, the interior looks and feels like a larger trailer just scaled down. Walk through the door and the kitchen is right there. You’re getting a sink there and a solid countertop. I did not find a stove, but there’s plenty of space to toss in your own propane stove or induction cooktop.
Behind me was an optional 3.5 cubic-foot 12V refrigerator. Encore RV brought another example VENŪ 10KB that didn’t have the refrigerator and in its place was a cassette toilet. The cassette toilet would be stored somewhere else in a trailer with the optional fridge. Other standard features include a MaxxAir fan and a 21-gallon freshwater tank.
Unfortunately, that cassette toilet is the only type of bathroom you’ll find inside of this trailer. Thankfully, there are water outputs outside of the trailer so you could have an outdoor shower. The vast majority of the interior space is a nice dinette that converts into a bed. This is good for two adults to sleep in. Encore’s options list includes an air-conditioner with a heat pump, a 32-inch television, and an off-roading package. This package consists of all-terrain tires, an optional roof rack, and an optional awning.
My favorite part about this interior is the lighting. Encore RV embeds lighting under the composite countertop, resulting in a cool glow, sort of like you’re in a nightclub. Look, I know I love silly things!
Like other Encore RV trailers, the VENŪ rides on an all-aluminum chassis and features composite walls and a one-piece fiberglass roof. Encore prides itself on the total lack of wood used in the construction of its campers, from Encore:
“We’ve found success by differentiating ourselves and building our products with materials that are engineered to last a lifetime,” Schnippel explained. “By eliminating the steel and wood from our construction, we not only take away the possibilities of rust, mold and rot, but we also are building an RV that can last for multiple generations.”
You get this with a base weight of just 1,500 pounds. Encore puts 3,500-pound axles under these trailers and says you can carry another 1,500 pounds of gear, cargo, and water. But if you leave it at its base weight, it could be towed by something like your Ford Maverick Hybrid!
Sadly, these trailers are so new that Encore RV doesn’t have pricing on the units just yet. Heck, they aren’t even on Encore’s website yet. If these trailers come in with a rock-bottom price, like those earlier LIV plastic trailers, I think Encore could have a winner here. At the very least, I’m always happy to see more choices at the smaller end of the RV market!
(Images: Author, unless otherwise noted.)
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