bowlus road chief review

Bowlus Review and Buying Guide

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If you’re looking for an eye-catching luxury camper trailer, then this Bowlus review is for you.

I’ve seen RVers getting excited about a lot of travel trailers during my RV journeys in the past two decades. Shiny aluminum trailers aren’t an uncommon sight for outdoor lovers.

But the Bowlus is different. Place it in a crowd of travel trailers and the Bowlus stands out in terms of design. And the modern version of the classic design is even more exciting.

Quite simply, it’s a luxury travel trailer inspired by the aerodynamic shapes of racing cars and aircraft. 

After trying out multiple trailers through the years, I know that choosing a trailer involves many other aspects as well. And for first-timers, the decision isn’t easy.

So, what about the actual features and performance of the Bowlus? 

Let’s take a closer look and find out.

Bottom Line Up Front 

The Bowlus was a remarkable travel trailer first introduced in the 1930s. The three modern lines continue the brand’s legacy and vintage-inspired design while offering top-of-the-line, lightweight, technologically advanced, and luxurious travel trailers! 

Each Bowlus RV is designed to stay off-grid for up two weeks and is light and maneuverable so you can tackle rough roads with ease. Bowlus offers three different lines:

  • Endless Highway Edition
  • Endless Highway Performance Edition
  • Terra Firma Edition

These lightweight RVs offer a ton of features outside of their off-gride capabilities like:

  • Lightweight but durable aluminum construction that allows you to tow your Bowlus with a mid-size luxury SUV without sacrificing build quality. 
  • Best in class amenities and interiors with great views!. 
  • Top-of-the-line quality with a price tag that reflects just how much love goes into these travel trailers. 

With high-end features and stunning looks, it’s no wonder Bowlus found a place in Neiman Marcus’s fantasy gift list. To sum up, the Bowlus travel trailers are a great choice for a couple or a small family.

History of the Bowlus

Bowlus Road Chief 

Bowlus boasts a rich and unique history that started with engineer and aircraft builder Hawley Bowlus. In 1934, he designed the first lightweight travel trailer, and within a few years, the model was trending. 

And a few of these models built in the 1930s still exist in private collections. That’s a testimony to the quality and durability of the now-famous Bowlus design.

In 1936, Bowlus stopped manufacturing travel trailers and returned to aircraft design. Wally Byam took the design and adapted it into the first Airstream travel trailer, the Clipper in 1936.

The brand was revived in 2014 by Geneva Long and her family. It all started when her family found a 1935 Bowlus and restored it. This inspired them to re-engineer a modern-day version and share it with other outdoor lovers. At present, the brand manufactures three premium models.

  • Endless Highway Edition
  • Endless Highway Performance Edition
  • Terra Firma Edition

Bowlus focuses on quality and sustainability. Their designs focus on the minimalist styling that Hawley developed. On top of that, there’s the promise of top-end quality and superior performance.

Main Features 

The signature shape of the Bowlus Endless Highways is marked by the aerodynamic curves. To those not accustomed to the Bowlus design, the model looks like a trailer straight out of a science fiction novel.

Built to support the demands of off-grid adventures without compromising on creature comforts, Bowlus travel trailers have multiple standout features that set them apart from the competition.

The most notable is the best in class power and battery system that allows you to stay off-grid for up to 2 weeks. 

The starting price of the Bowlus Endless Highway model is $235,000. This is not a small price tag; in addition to the base cost, there are taxes, license fees, insurance costs, and other add-ons, like a solar panel as well. 

The Design 

Bowlus Road Chief 1

Bowlus travel trailers weigh 3,200lbs, thanks to their all-aluminum construction. The monocoque structural technique allows the travel trailer to stay lightweight because the aluminum used for the trailer’s skin provides structural integrity without adding a ton of extra weight. 

This allows you to pull this travel trailer with a mid-sized luxury SUV, like a Tesla Model X or Porche Macan. 

The shiny exterior skin is constructed like the fuselage of an aircraft using 2024 aluminum held in place with over 5,000 high-strength rivets per trailer.

The aerodynamic shape results in better towing dynamics and gas mileage for the tow vehicle, along with a low center of gravity for improved handling and stability. 

Bowlus claims that the towing experience is stable, with the aerodynamic shape of the trailer allowing it to withstand wind loads effectively. 

Under The Shell

It isn’t just a shiny piece of eye candy that you connect to your car.

Beneath the exterior skin, there’s a TIG-welded aircraft-grade aluminum space frame skeleton. The metalwork is precise and flawless, to say the least.

Sandwiched between the interior and exterior skins, there’s a layer of Polystyrene insulation with a high R-value. This type of rigid insulation is far superior to the traditional fiberglass insulation that you’ll find in other RVs. 

With an exterior length of 27’1” and a width of 80”, this isn’t a small trailer by any means. The net carrying capacity is 800 lbs. The trailer can hold 19 gallons of fresh water and 21 gallons of greywater.

Power and Batteries

Perhaps one of the most talked-about features of a Bowlus travel trailer is its ability to stay off-grid for up to 2 weeks. 

The Endless Highway trailer has a 4 kWh lithium-iron-phosphate battery as its power source. The Endless Highway Performance Edition and the Terra Firma boast 8 kWh lithium-iron-phosphate battery power source. Bowlus claims this is the biggest battery in the industry, providing a two-week supply of power. 

Users have reported that the batteries are long-lasting even when using the appliances and the fridge. However, the AC unit depletes the batteries fast; the smaller system takes 4 hours while the larger system takes 8 hours. 

Bowlus units are solar panel ready with a 25,000 BTU furnace that provides instant hot water. You’ll never miss out on a hot shower! 

Bowlus also offers bespoke opportunities for wood and color customization. You can sit with their design team to give a personal touch to the interior design, selecting from over 56 million possible combinations.


Bowlus Road Chief 2

The interiors of the trailer are expansive, to say the least. Admittedly, the design offers the feel of a hotel suite. The trailer has a sleeping capacity of 4 people. The bedroom, bathroom, and main cabin come with signature door systems to offer complete privacy.

The interior walls are made from natural wood and offer a premium feel. Twin-sized beds that convert into a king are custom-made mattresses that ensure the best night’s sleep.

The living room has a sofa and armchairs. The sofa converts into a sleeping berth, and the large table provides a comfortable dining experience.

Another highlight is a smartly designed kitchen. It comes with a refrigerator/freezer, a dual burner Italian cooktop, and a microwave. There are plenty of options for storage, including drawers and cupboards. 

The trailer is equipped with a cellular booster, a WiFi router, and an antenna pre-wired on the roof when it comes to connectivity. Embedded in the router are a 4G Modem and a GPS unit.

Just connect one or two different cellular networks with sim cards, and your Bowlus will allow you to safely keep in touch from anywhere.

Unique Features Bowlus Road Chief 3

The Bowlus has plenty of special features that help it to stand out from the competition. Technology innovation and attention to detail are two hallmark features of the brand. 

To start with, the Bowlus trailer has the best weight to length ratio in the market. Thanks to the monocoque or single shell design, it can be pulled easily by a small vehicle. At the same time, the structure is extremely robust. It can easily withstand high compressive and tensile forces.

Next, the heated floors are a great feature that makes camping in the cold easier. There are eight radiators that evenly distribute the heat and work silently. 

The Hydronic Heating System powers the furnace, how water heater, and heated floors. It’s computer-controlled and extremely efficient, running off propane or a 120v connection. 

Since heated floors aren’t the best option for pets, the designers have also kept two heat-free spots for your four-footed friends. A nice touch that pet parents will appreciate.

Bowlus also keeps the interiors free from VOCs. There are no adhesives or formaldehyde-based materials used in the trailer. Since VOCs can cause multiple health hazards and even damage the central nervous system, Bowlus is a welcome step.

The vented air conditioning system is another excellent feature that comes with adjustable vents. It circulates cool air more efficiently than a standard ducted AC unit.

Bowlus also uses specially designed silent vents to help preserve silence by ensuring noiseless airflow throughout the interior space. 

Alternatives to the Bowlus

So, you had a look at the Bowlus review and feel like checking out a few other alternatives. Here are three options that you can check out.

Living Vehicle MAX

Living Vehicle MAX

The Max is a state-of-the-art mobile home that’s perfect as a second home. This is a unit best left parked on your offgrid property as it’s incredibly heavy (13,000 lbs base weight as compared to the Bowlus 3,200 lbs) and difficult to maneuver. You’d need a super duty truck to tow a Max and it’s not something you’re going to want to set up and tear down frequently – it’s a time consuming process. None of the vehicles offered by Living Max are designed for weekend off-grid adventures.

The Max is great for those who want to live off the grid and want a bigger space than can be provided by a travel trailer. The interiors are luxurious with features like a spa-like bathroom, washer-dryer combo, a queen-sized bed, and more.

The structure is a combination of aluminum and steel and the sleeping capacity is for 4 people. The other special features are the 4-wheel electric-hydraulic disc brakes and a 5-point auto-leveling system.

The trailer is powered by a Volta lithium-ion battery that offers a superior off-grid experience. Besides, you can also use the battery to charge the towing electric vehicle. The Max also comes equipped with solar panels for a more comprehensive off-grid experience. There’s a tankless water heater that offers excellent heating capability.

Other than that, there are options for choosing upgrades like a central vacuum system, a washer/dryer unit, and a dishwasher. You can also install a SONOS home theater system. The extra-spacious bedroom with a large skylight is another plus.

Overall, this is a well-made RV that offers plenty of great features. Living Vehicle has thought out of the box in many areas to deliver a superior customer experience.

Airstream Pottery Barn Special Edition

Airstream Pottery Barn Special Edition

If you’re looking for a lower cost aluminum trailer, you could consider the Airstream Pottery Barn Special Edition. This trailer has the typical airstream exterior, with an interior styled by Pottery Barn. While it’s an eye-catching look, the quality of the materials and finishes don’t match those offered by Bowlus. It’s also more than twice the base weight of a Bowlus (6,600 pounds compared to 3,200), so you’ll need a heavy duty truck or SUV to tow this Airstream.

This trailer from Airstream comes with a timeless design and lavishly designed interiors. It has all the must-have features needed in a travel trailer along with high-quality amenities. Actually, Airstream teamed up with Pottery Barn to design the interiors and the end result is eye-catching.

The interiors are custom-made and have features like a solid oak wood dinette table, classy window shades, and wall sconces. One of the best features is a CZone control system. It allows users to control the heating, power, and climate control from a central control panel. 

Airstream has added a duct-based air conditioning system. It claims the system offers excellent efficiency and a silent operation. There are LP gas, smoke, and carbon monoxide detectors as a practical safety feature. A 1000W pure sine inverter ensures safe power for your electronics, although the technology isn’t as advanced as the Bowlus power management and battery system.

In addition, you get the Pottery Barn Belgian flax linen bedding for optimized comfort. Other features include customized storage solutions and a bathroom that offers a “residential feel”. There’s also an awning system that functions at the touch of a button.

Airstream has considered every detail to provide home-like comforts no matter where you travel. If you want a luxury trailer from a reliable brand, this model is worth a closer look.

Grand Design Reflection

Grand Design Reflection

If you’re looking for a trailer for the whole family without compromising the luxury factor. And Grand Design offers plenty of floor plans and customization options to deliver all the comfort factors that you may need. That way, you can choose a convertible dinette or even a bunkhouse for the kids.

The trailer has a 165W roof-mounted solar panel and a 50amp charge controller. The interior is spacious and there are plenty of storage options. The large, panoramic windows, a kitchen island, and residential cabinetry are other features that users appreciated.

The Reflection also has an Arctic 4-Season Protection package that makes it ideal for extreme climates. These include a 35000 BTU high-capacity furnace and double insulation on the roof and the front cap. There are additional heat pads on the holding tanks too.

Beyond that, the unit doesn’t lack utility features either. It comes with a microwave, Bluetooth Stereo, LED television, “One-Touch” Electric Awning, and an automatic leveling system.

The Grand Design Trailer is low in weight and doesn’t compromise in terms of interior space and amenities. Overall, it’s a fantastic option as an affordable family RV.

It’s important to note that the Reflection is in a different (lower) class than the Bowlus, so while it’s a good lower cost option, it’s not exactly a one-to-one comparison.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Question: How much does a Bowlus Cost?

Answer: The Bowlus trailer models come in three varieties- the Terra Firma, Endless Highway performance Edition, Endless Highways. The starting prices are $285,000, $260,000, and $235,000 respectively.

Question: What is the weight of a Bowlus?

Answer: The base weight of the Bowlus performance edition is 3,200 lbs.

Question: Where is the Bowlus made?

Answer: Bowlus travel trailers are manufactured in Oxnard, California.

When was Bowlus founded?

Answer: Bowlus was founded in 1934 when Hawley Bowlus built the first trailer.

Question: How much does a Bowlus Terra firma cost?

Answer: The starting price of the Bowlus Terra Firma is $285,000.

Final Thoughts

There you have it.

The complete Bowlus Review.

The demand for travel trailers and motorhomes is on the rise. That means travelers with a substantial budget will be looking for more luxury and comfort in their trailers. This is where Bowlus scores above its rivals in terms of features, aesthetics, and performance.

When you want to visit off-grid campsites, you need to have the right supply of power and other necessary facilities. Bowlus combines the necessary features for off-roading with the right level of luxury to create a well-balanced package. 

Since the unit is solar panel ready, you can be self-sufficient for longer periods. In fact, this is a trailer that’s ready for 4-season camping.

Looking to head out for some off-grid adventures in the coming days? 

The Bowlus is a great companion.

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