That headline up there is making a big claim. You and I both know that the majority of RVs out there aren’t built like a Mercedes, but maybe a Yugo, and that might be an insult to the Yugo. There are companies out there with quality on their minds. Oliver, a producer of fiberglass trailers, is one of them. These campers are far more expensive than many of the fiberglass trailers I’ve written about, but they’re also several steps above in build quality than most trailers. I toured a couple of Olivers at the 2024 Florida RV SuperShow and left feeling like these were the fiberglass trailer equivalent of an ’80s Mercedes.
Oliver Travel Trailers is not a new brand; it launched in 2007, making the company a younger one in the RV world. It was only recently when Oliver finally launched a dealer network, allowing prospective buyers to check out the trailers in person while also permitting easier service for existing owners. As of writing, Oliver’s dealership network stands at six dealers. Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Virginia each have one dealer, while Georgia has three. It’s a small start, but the network should improve the experience of having one of these trailers.
The trailers themselves are expensive, but I think if you view them as the fiberglass competitor to an Airstream they make a lot of sense.
Decades Of Camping Experience
Oliver Travel Trailers was founded in Tennessee by Jim Oliver, and helping to run the company are sons John Oliver (no relation to the comedian) and Scott Oliver. The Olivers say the family spent decades of their life camping. John says camping is so deeply ingrained in the Oliver family that he considers their adventures to be family heritage. For the Olivers, there are few things better than being in the middle of nowhere and sitting around a campfire while sharing and creating family memories.
The Oliver travel trailer was born in part from the family’s history of camping, but it also solved a company need. The Olivers have been running Oliver Fiberglass Products since 1995, a Tennessee company that produces walk-in bathtubs and showers. There’s also Oliver Technologies, Inc., another family business founded in 1995. That one specializes in foundation products for manufactured housing.
In the days before the Oliver travel trailer, the Oliver businesses would send its representatives out to job sites. Those representatives would have to book a hotel room and then try to find their way to the job site at seven in the morning. Of course, this isn’t always easy, especially if the job site is somewhere rural. The Olivers thought there had to be an easier way. At first, the solution was to buy a bunch of travel trailers. This ensured the representatives were at the correct place on time, but Oliver’s reps were putting 60,000 to 80,000 miles on the trailers a year. That would be pretty hard on a car, let alone a poorly-built trailer. It won’t surprise you to learn that the Olivers learned the hard way that a typical trailer fell apart with the heavy use the Olivers were putting on them.
Scott says the event that pushed them to create their own trailer was a camping trip, which saw one of their travel trailer’s pipes freeze up, forcing the family to spend a ton of time just fixing the trailer rather than enjoying the camping trip. Jim partnered up with his brother to create the first Oliver trailer. The two, alongside some hired help, spent two years in the family garage building what they felt was the solution to rickety campers that can’t be used in the winter.
Out of the other end, the men created a new take on a familiar shape. The fiberglass trailer has been around for decades and Oliver is a modern interpretation of the idea. At the core of an Oliver is a lower inner shell and an upper outer shell. This provides strength and is also good for preventing water leaks. If you look at an Oliver, you can see where the lower and upper halves meet around a seam. I like this type of design because if you somehow have a failure, water still drips down. Some designs, like my U-Haul, mate two sides together, which can fail and cause leaks.
I also like how the floor of an Oliver is a part of the fiberglass hull. Some fiberglass campers still have wood or hybrid material floors, which can eventually fall apart. That’s not the case here.
Something I’ve found pretty amazing is how dedicated Oliver owners are to their trailers. Oliver has videos up with testimonials from happy owners. Ok, a lot of companies have that. What warmed my heart was that when I went to the 2024 RV SuperShow, I got to meet a couple who owned an Oliver. These people were just random people visiting the show, but they loved their Oliver so much they decided to hang out for a bit and talk to people. That is something you’ll almost never see with typical travel trailers. These people loved their trailer like a car enthusiast loves their dream car.
From what this couple told me, what makes an Oliver stand out is that because they’re built so well, you just pull up your stabilizers, hitch up to your truck, and drive to a new place. That’s how things should be, but as I’ve written about a few times, the typical camper can be built so poorly that you can miss an entire year just fixing things and waiting on parts.
The Oliver Travel Trailer
The team at Oliver walked me through how each trailer is built. It starts with four fiberglass shells. There are two inner shells and two outer shells that are joined together around the trailer’s beltline. The lower outer shell comes first. Next, the plumbing lines, electrical, and holding tanks are installed. Then, the Oliver team assembled the living space bubble out of the inner lower shell and the inner upper shell. Inside the bubble are molded cabinets, counters, seats, and the floor.
Insulation is added and the interior is finished out, then the outer upper cap is bonded to the rest of the camper. Oliver says that insulation, plus the air gap from the double-hull design, allows the trailer to have good insulation properties. Thus, you can camp in your Oliver in all seasons.
All of this rides on an aluminum frame, and Oliver says there are quality checks from the moment materials arrive at the factory to when the final touch is added to your trailer. The company also gives you a free stay at a campground so that you can test your trailer out before taking final delivery.
Oliver’s first trailer, the 18′ 5″ Legacy Elite launched in 2007 and sold into 2008. The 23′ 6″ dual axle Legacy Elite II arrived in 2008, but Oliver shuttered production that year due to pressures from the Great Recession. The company restarted production in 2013 with the Legacy Elite II coming back for the 2014 model year and the Legacy Elite coming back in 2015. Oliver is still selling the same trailers today, but they have been upgraded over time after input from customers.
The Legacy Elite II
Let’s take a look at the flagship Legacy Elite II. This trailer measures 23′ 6″ and has tandem axles. It weighs 4,900 pounds and can be loaded to 7,000 pounds. Interior headroom is 6′ 6″, so there’s some decent room for tall people in there.
You get a two-burner stove, a sink, a refrigerator, a microwave, and storage drawers with dovetail joints. Some cold weather warmth is handled through a forced-air ducted furnace while cooling is through an air-conditioner and a roof vent. For entertainment, you get a TV and a Bluetooth stereo with four speakers. There is a full bathroom and I’m happy to say that if you’re a bigger person like me, you will fit! In terms of holding tanks, you’re getting 32 gallons for fresh water, 32 gallons for grey water, and 15 gallons for waste.
As you can see, there is no primary bedroom. Instead, the dinette either converts into a king bed or twin beds. Oliver says that sleeping capacity is up to three. So, this is a trailer for a couple or a couple plus a kid. You’ll note that my list of features isn’t that amazing, and that’s true. What was nice was the fit and finish. It didn’t seem like a bad pothole would cause you a headache when you arrived at your destination. Everything felt solid and I also liked the yacht aesthetic of the interior.
Oliver’s options list is long. It starts with your choice of three power packages. You could get 400 watts of solar, a 2,000-watt inverter, and two deep-cycle batteries. Or, you could swap those deep cycle batteries for 390 Ah of lithium batteries plus a 3,000-watt inverter. The top package gives you the solar and the 3,000-watt inverter plus 640 Ah of lithium batteries.
You can also upgrade the water heater to an instant water heater and get a high-efficiency quiet air-conditioner. Depending on your needs, Oliver will also sell you a communications antenna, a composting toilet, an aluminum storage box, a rear bumper accessory hitch, leatherette upholstery, a grilling kit, and a second awning.
The Legacy Elite
The smaller trailer in the lineup is the 18′ 5″ Legacy Elite. You still get sleeping for three people and a bathroom of a decent size, but the trailer is more compact and with a lower base weight of 3,700 pounds. Oliver says the trailer maxes out at 5,000 pounds. Sadly, you do lose some interior height as some people might bang their heads against the 6′ 1″ ceiling.
Most of the features list is the same. You get the same tanks as the larger model and the same kitchen, too. You even get the same two 20-pound propane tank capacity as the larger trailer. The floorplans are even the same between the two trailers, but the smaller Legacy Elite loses the center section storage area that you’ll find in the larger Legacy Elite II.
The options list is also slightly different for the Legacy Elite. The base power package nets you 240 watts of solar while the power upgrade gets you 260 Ah of lithium batteries. With either package, you get a 2,000-watt inverter. The smaller Legacy Elite also cannot get the optional street-side awning.
Are You Sitting Down?
After touring both of these trailers, I think Oliver hit it out of the park. These trailers look good, feel good, and you can tell they were designed by people who aren’t just businesspeople, but people who do go camping. I do think an Oliver is a step above other fiberglass fare. If these were cars, my U-Haul or a Scamp would be a Chevy Malibu while either of the Olivers would be a nice Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Look, car analogies probably don’t work that well with trailers, but you get the point.
Alright, now for the part I hope you’re sitting down for. The Legacy Elite starts at $65,500 while the Legacy Elite II starts at $73,500. Most options are a few hundred dollars each, but there are some heavy-hitters. The best lithium and solar package for the Legacy Elite II costs $15,900 and it’ll cost another $2,100 to get a backup camera, electronic keypad for the entry door, an automatic drain, and a 4G signal booster. The composting toilet is a $1,350 option all by itself.
These prices place it far above most fiberglass trailers, including the weird and modular Happier Camper. That said, the Happier Camper is also a little trailer. Oliver competes with the likes of the Bigfoot B25, the Escape 23, and those brands’ smaller trailers. Oliver’s pricing is competitive with those other brands, coming in at mildly more expensive than an Escape or cheaper than a Bigfoot depending on model and options. The brand also sees itself as a sort of fiberglass alternative to an Airstream. These are luxury trailers with pricing to match.
However, if you can stomach the price, it looks like you’ll be getting a trailer that might allow you to enjoy camping, rather than spend most of your time getting to know dealership service department employees on a first-name basis. The Oliver owners I spoke to expect to pass their trailer down to their kids one day. There’s no telling if any trailer will last that long, but these fiberglass units do make a great first impression.
(Images: Author, unless otherwise noted.)
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