2020 Black Series HQ 17 Review.......................Part 1

JumpJ

Adventurer
2020 Black Series HQ 17 Review.

I have to split this up into 2 parts due to the words limit in posts.
I’m not one for writing reviews but given the newness of the product to the USA market and the potential interest from the community, I thought I would take a moment to give my initial impression of the Black Series HQ 17, which we purchased at Thanksgiving. Like many out there I am sure-I was excited about the product coming to the USA market. But Buyer Beware! I went with the HQ 17 because we have two kids and one thing that lacks in the Overland world is family capable vehicles. Over the years I have had to adapt or make do with products out there to look after the family. This has always surprised me that the industry tends to speak to vehicles and tents that really only do 2 sometimes 4 people. We have two kids and so, we chose the HQ17 because of the two bunk beds in addition to the Queen bed. After years of RTT and Land Rovers-I choose to be extra comfy-what can I say. I also do not have the technical talent many of you have on here so please don’t ask me for too many technical answers.

Because there will be excitement for this caravan camper for the USA market, I want to be brutally honest. I don’t wish to hurt Black Series but if you are going sell a camper for $50K for off-road use - it better stand up to its price. I also want to be clear I have not yet taken mine off road yet. That will happen in March. I have a ranch in New Mexico, and we will be putting it through its paces down there.
Okay - Beware this trailer is manufactured in China and then sent to the USA. As you will see in the pictures simple lack of attention to detail are both annoying and need to be double checked by the dealers selling these. We bought ours at Tom’s Camperland in Phoenix. Mike McFarlen and his team were simply awesome to us. Even came in on their day off to handle the delivery due to a travel complication for me before the holiday. Thank you, team, Tom’s Camperland.

The plan was to get the trailer back to Boulder. Go through it prior to leaving for Moab for the Xmas holiday. Thank goodness we did that. Suffice to say the first thing you notice about the Black Series HQ 17 is its weight. 5200 lbs empty. I have a hefty tow vehicle, but this is a heavy trailer. So make sure, before you get all excited, your tow vehicle can handle it and then some. The trip back was in those terrible storms right before Thanksgiving and the HQ17 handled it without issue. Except not 50 miles from the dealer when I looked underneath it, I noticed that one of the shackles was missing underneath. Also, we removed the rest of the clear plastic delivery covers and found one of the lights completely full of water.

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Once at home I hired an RV specialist to go through the camper to be sure we were safe for the cold of Moab for our Xmas planned trip. This is where the wind comes out of the sails. The exterior shower head had a hairline crack in it, drinking water filter cracked, sink faucet leaking, front night off road light full of moisture, exterior solar light inoperable, safety bolt on under carriage missing.
BIG BIG PROBLEM: The faucet is non-USA fixture so not camping world, camper stores, Home Depot, ACE or anyone carries them. So-we had to come up with a very so so fix for the trip. After hours and hours of store hopping-some plastic tubes and look to the clouds for some “hope to overcome the issue” help. And some very nice folks at Home Depot – we came up with a fix but for $50K that should not be the case on an Off-Road trailer. The good news is that the HQ 17 has a wet bath so the leaking water had somewhere to go and did not affect the interior. Due to the lack of insulation around the shower the water did freeze. Another issue is lack of thought about the elements-zero insulation around the shower and silly little pipe holders drilled out of wood preclude ambient air from circulating or insulating any water items!

XMAS arrives and So we set off. For this trip we used a two-week-old 2020 Chevy Suburban to pull the trailer. This is an interim vehicle while our new overlanding truck is waiting to arrive. First hurdle- I-70 was slow going but it pulled it fine. I would make sure you check your vehicle pulling capacity. The HQ 17 is 5200 lbs empty before you put your kit in it. Really you better be capable of 8K to be safe. Over bumps we knew the trailer was there with the Chevy and yes it had the tow package. The trailer tracked beautifully and the hitch that moves in every direction makes for impressive maneuvering. We are upgrading to a 10 ton tow capacity so I’m sure we will not even know the HQ is there in the future.

The front door is weird. See my video. They put all this emphasis on being this Aussie -door but frankly you have to push it with pressure-slam it- to close it every time-it’s a load of rubbish. And one annoying factor. They go to all this effort to put in blinds to black out the trailer at night. Every window has built in blinds - Then on the front door they put curtains that let in the light – hello China - what they could not do one more blind. Again this is where the HQ17 fails on detail. I digress.


Now let’s talk interior storage. No bragging rights here. Look at my pics. The freshwater system which is completely overkill for the US market – three filters-takes up the entire under sink closet! There are 4 storage drawers or compartments that are filled with TV wires, water pipes etc. you can’t use for your kit. Oh and then all of the water lines are in enclosed holes under or behind the fridge for if the temp goes close to 32F. Forget it you are not going anywhere. In order to get ambient air into the cabinets we had to open the cabinet under the fridge. In the future I will be drilling holes in this door to allow ambient air under the fridge.
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Exterior storage is good. There’s a full width storage across the front of the trailer. Two boxes upfront. One has the two gas cans with auto switch over and the other started with jerry can holders in it. We removed this because frankly it is a waste of otherwise useful storage.

Heat. Here again they failed to look at our market. The heather which I think is a 13K BTU is too small for the trailer it needs to be larger. And there is only one vent at queen bed end so the bunks are literally 25 degrees colder. My kids were in artic bags and were ok but we had to buy an electric heater to plug in and ensure they go some warm air. We’re going to design a new system to ensure heat gets down to the other end of the trailer.

I can’t comment on Black Series Warranty response yet as the process has just started but so far Tom’s have been outstanding. Stay tuned. I filed a list of items for replacement and until they arrive the trailer can’t be fixed and can’t be used.



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