Time has a way of sneaking up on us. It’s hard to believe, but in May we celebrated our one year anniversary with our Outdoors RV (ORV) Timber Ridge 24RKS. In this post we’ll cover the upgrades we made and share how it has performed.
We made several upgrades to our 24RKS in our first few months of ownership. By far, the biggest was Jason’s impressive power system upgrade which included two Battle Born lithium batteries, Victron battery monitor, Victron inverter, Victron MPPT solar charger, and three rooftop solar panels. The system has performed very well for us over 62 nights of camping without electrical hookups and has made our generator virtually obsolete. I still have to pinch myself when I can fire up the microwave or use my hair dryer. Jason did such an awesome job that he has had professional installers stop and compliment his system design and installation. Thanks for doing such an amazing job Jas! Project cost was about $5,900 for materials (Jason’s labor was free minus my buying him a couple thank you steaks and beers).
While working on the power system upgrade, we added some insulation to the pass through compartment under our bed. ORVs are well insulated, but we were inspired by Matt and Diana over at Adventurous Way to add a little more. We used a sheet of 1/2 in. x 4 ft. x 8 ft. R-1.93 Insulating Sheathing by R-Tech. Project cost was $7.88.
When we purchased our 24RKS from Thompson RV in Pendleton, Oregon, we immediately had them take out the factory loveseat. It was comfortable enough, but we wanted recliner chairs. We originally intended to purchase recliners from Thompson, but their inventory was pretty slim at that time. Instead, we opted for a pair of aftermarket RecPro Nash 28″ RV Euro Chair Recliners. Their ‘chestnut’ color matched our interior well and we have both been pleased with the quality and comfort. Total cost for the two chairs was $790.46 minus a $500 credit Thompson gave us for the original loveseat for a net cost of $290.46.
Another immediate upgrade was removing the factory showerhead and replacing it with an Oxigenics head. We had done this on our Jayco motorhome and we loved it. Oxigenics’ technology amplifies existing water pressure minimizing water use and extending the life of our freshwater tank. For those who wish to dry camp for extended periods of time, this is an affordable and essential upgrade. Project cost was $75.55. These units typically cost around $52 on Amazon…I think we got the 2020 COVID price.
The factory queen size bed that came in our 24RKS was more comfortable than most RV beds, but the need for an upgraded mattress was pretty apparent after our first few trips out. After researching many options, we took the recommendation of Robin over at Creativity RV and purchased a Montana Hybrid mattress from Wilderness RV Mattress. We went with their plush model which they rated in the middle of the firmness scale. The mattress came compressed and shipped in a box making it easy to move into the RV. Once unwrapped, it quickly expanded to full size and was ready for use in 15 minutes. At first we wondered if it was too firm. But after a full night’s use, we both found it surprisingly comfortable. After a few more nights our final verdict was that we loved our Montana Hybrid. Retail price for this mattress is $1,299, but we got it on sale for $682.
During an October trip, nighttime temperatures dropped into the 40s and we quickly realized that our Coleman analog thermostat was incredibly lacking in sensitivity (this is a well known issue). If we set the thermostat to 65 at night, the furnace wouldn’t turn on until the temperature dropped to about 62 degrees and then wouldn’t turn off until the temperature rose to about 67 degrees, creating a 5 degree differential (as measured by an independent thermometer in our dining area). This wasn’t a huge deal, but we knew we could be more comfortable with minimal effort and expense. We ordered a Coleman digital thermostat from AdventureRV. We had order fulfillment issues and we will not order from them again (Amazon offers the same part for more $ but a lot less hassle). Once we finally received the new thermostat, installation was easy and the digital version is much more sensitive. Project cost $76.45.
Our final year one upgrade to our 24RKS was the addition of a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) from EEZ RV Products. Our system came with sensors that easily attach to all four RV tires. The sensors monitor tire pressure and temperature to ensure they stay within pre-programmed safety parameters. This data is wirelessly transmitted to a monitor in the cab of the truck. We can see the real-time data plus the monitor alarms if set parameters are exceeded. Nothing will spoil an RV trip like a blowout on the interstate and this little unit will help provide early detection of a potential problem. Project cost $311.55 (although, can you really put a price on safety?) We highly recommend this upgrade to everyone with an RV.
A Thorough Test
We put our ORV through a pretty thorough test over its first year. We towed it 4,389 miles and stayed in it 77 nights. 62 of those nights were spent dry camping, which is where this rig really shines with its large fresh water tank and dual grey tanks. And we experienced temperatures from 18 to the low 90s. From the ORV Owner’s Group, we know these rigs can handle much more extreme temperatures, but we always aim for a 30-80 temperature range.
First Year Issues
Overall, we have been very happy with the build quality of our Outdoors RV, particularly when compared to everything else we have seen on the market. Outdoors RV is a small manufacturer in NE Oregon who, in our experience, cares about its customers and quality control more than the big industry giants. But no new RV is perfect and owners should be prepared to work out a few kinks in their first year of ownership. Here’s a look at the repairs/adjustments we needed on our 24RKS.
We had two minor items that we felt should have been caught prior to our purchasing our ORV. During our PDI at the dealership, I noted that it was hot under the kitchen sink (it was a cold morning and they had cycled the furnace). I was told this was because the furnace is located in the adjacent compartment. No—it was because the ducting was not attached to the furnace causing all the warm air to vent into our cupboards. While testing our RV at home, I insisted this couldn’t be right. Jason quickly identified the problem and had us fixed up after just a few minutes. Also while performing our initial tests at home, we noticed one of the manual stabilizer jacks did not make full contact with the ground when lowered. We had our dealer adjust the jack and it has been fine ever since.
Same sh*tty Norcold Refrigerator
All RV manufacturers rely on the same few suppliers for their major components. For example, walk into most RVs and you will see a Dometic or Norcold refrigerator. Previously these brands had good reputations, but quality has declined as outsourcing has increased. In the words of one mobile RV tech we hired “they are both crap now”. The Norcold refrigerator in our 2018 Jayco had a gas valve assembly failure early on in our ownership. While touring the 2020 ORVs for the first time, we immediately noticed they used the same model of refrigerator, but we figured surely Norcold had resolved the issue. That would be a big fat no. You guessed it, our 2020 ORV had the same gas valve assembly failure on our very first trip out. Fortunately we knew exactly what the problem was and how to fix it ourselves. Our dealer overnighted us a part and Jason had it fixed the next day. Fast forward a year and it should come as no surprise that our nephew is currently having the same issue with the Norcold in his 2021 RV! These same defective gas valves have now gone into at least 4 model years of RVs. Surely Norcold has realized there is a problem after all that time…
We Shake A Few Things Loose
An RV is quite literally a home on wheels. Each time you take it down the road, you subject it to a thousand tiny earthquakes. Take it onto washboard roads like we do and you exponentially magnify the number of earthquakes. Things are going to shake loose. This was the case with our first trip. Arriving at camp, I entered the RV to find a separated piece of cupboard paneling. Our dealer shaved a hair off the panel piece (which has helped to relieve tension as the RV bounces along the washboard roads) and secured it back in place. We have had no further problems.
Another common problem in RVs is the shower plumbing, which is particularly susceptible to the vibrations of all those earthquakes. We had significant problems with our Jayco Greyhawk due to poor design and build quality (the supports literally terminated in mid-air providing no support at all). We had an issue with our ORV, but it was quite minor in comparison. We inspected under the shower and noticed a small amount of water on the pipe where the drain joins the p-trap (we keep a close eye on that connection since so many RVs have issues). The fix was simple enough, just hand tighten the connection. Access under the shower is very tight, however, so we let the dealer squeeze in to fix that one.
The Pros & Cons of Double Pane Windows
One of the things we love about our ORV is that its a true four season RV. It is built to handle winter camping and includes double pane windows. Double pane windows have a layer of gas in between the two panes that acts as insulation. They are far superior to single pane windows when it comes to cold weather, but if that seal is broken moisture accumulates and you will experience condensation, or fog, in between the two panes of glass. This happens in houses and it is even more common in RVs (remember those thousand tiny earthquakes I mentioned?) We have one small window in our slide that has experienced minor fogging between the panes. We have only noticed it twice on especially cold and damp mornings, but it is still something we’d like to have replaced under warranty since the fogging will likely get worse over time. We had our dealer order us a new window, but unfortunately they ordered the wrong window and the repair is still pending. The dealership was very apologetic and they will be honoring the repair even though we are out of warranty at this point.
We love our Outdoors RV and after one year of use we are confident it was the best rig for us at with our current travel style. For those interested in why we chose our particular make/model of RV, refer to our blog post RV Life: Introducing Our New Home! In that post, we identified five ‘critical items’ that we considered while selecting our RV:
- Rugged build and high clearance for travel down dirt roads and uneven sites
- Four season construction for cold weather camping
- Large freshwater and waste tanks for extended off-grid camping
- Maximized interior and exterior storage for extended trips
- Optimal length
Our Timber Ridge 24RKS has 100% performed to our expectations in the first four critical items. As for ‘optimal length’, there is no such thing as an optimal length and we knew that when we made our purchased. Our RV is very comfortable and provides us with all the cargo carrying capacity, storage, and tank capacities we need for long trips and extended periods of dry camping; however, it does limit the sites that we can fit into. While there is no perfect length, we feel the 24 model is the best compromise for our current use and extended trips.
The Adventure Continues!
Please join us for our next post as we explore a new type of outdoor adventure! And don’t forget to check out our Amazon RV and Adventure Gear recommendations. We only post products that we use and that meet the Evans Outdoor Adventures seal of approval. By accessing Amazon through our links and making any purchase, you get Amazon’s every day low pricing and they share a little with us. This helps us maintain this website and is much appreciated!