OBI Dweller Review and Discussion

gendlert

Active member
Two months in, and we've got 12 nights in it so far. Here's our initial system and capability review.

Quick facts: we’re a couple without kids that have averaged about 35 nights camping per year since we started trailer camping in our home-built RTT trailer 4 years ago. We’ve upgraded a couple times and landed on a Dweller for the two of us and a small dog. And I’m tall (6’3”) which has been a driving factor for our model selection.

Towing: Fantastic off-road, and average on-road. We did a 6-night trip up to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, and the only thing we didn't like was driving on I-17 through Black Canyon. It's admittedly a little squirrely on the interstate at 75 mph, especially when compared to the OBI Graveler XT we were using previously. The only other similarly-sized trailer I've ever towed is a Conqueror UEV-490, and that wasn't any better, so I guess it is what it is. Turns out giant boxes on AT tires with independent suspension just don't tow like an Airstream. Go figure. We also had both water tanks filled because it was such a long trip, and I have driven it with only the front tank filled since that trip, and it's WAY better. Our suggestion is to only fill the front tank unless you need both; it significantly improves the on-road towing. On the other side of that coin, once we turned off the pavement, it was AMAZING. Totally happy bombing down washboard forest roads at 45mph; it was like there was nothing behind us at all. Worth any puckering I had on the interstate. I haven't done any rock-crawling type towing with it yet, but it seems happy to go wherever the truck goes. The compact pop-top style and under-bed AC make a small enough profile that I don't worry about overhanging tree limbs and stuff. It does have a bunch of pinstripes along the side of it now, but it's an off-road trailer; it's bound to happen. So on-road towing is the only negative thing I have to say about it, and it's not that bad.
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On the positive side, everything else.

Kitchen: The kitchen doesn't slide out perpendicularly to the trailer, which is a feature you don't realize is a feature until you use a few trailers. Our Graveler XT and the UEV-490 both had kitchens that just pulled out several feet, taking up valuable real estate under the awning. Since the Dweller kitchen just slides out along the wall of the trailer, there's more room to sit in chairs in the shade when your kitchen's set up. It's a subtle but REALLY nice design decision. We are also grillers as opposed to stovetop-cookers, so we bring a table and a portable propane grill and set that up next to the kitchen, but that's personal preference stuff. Admittedly, the drain hose is a little clumsy to fit back in its hole, but we got over that pretty quickly. I wish the propane and water plumbing was always hooked up, too, but it’s a very minor set-up issue (all quick-connects) and makes any issues easier to fix in the future rather than having everything run internally; there’s give and take on this one for sure. Overall, with the bar table and lateral design, there’s plenty of surface area and it’s very easy to set up and use.
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Pop-top: The pop-top is heavy duty, but my wife is pleased that she can lift it up and pull it down herself. I'm pleased because I'm 6'3" and can stand up inside with plenty of head room (why are so many trailers built for hobbits?). And there are windows on all 4 sides of the pop-top, creating great airflow. If it was a really cold night, you could pull the pop-top down and everything still works, you just have to duck down inside, but you'd probably just be sleeping so who cares?? Nice to have that option.

Pop-out Bed: Takes about 60 seconds to set up outside the trailer, and adds about 3.5 ft to the interior length of the trailer, effectively turning the 13 ft trailer into a 16.5 ft trailer. The folding mattress is REALLY comfortable; I can't feel the fold at all. And it's an RV King (72x80) so you can go to Camping World or Amazon or wherever and get fitted sheets that actually fit the bed. We also just leave the sheets on the mattress and fold it up to save time on multiple-destination trips (or a couple weekends in a row) and it works great. The giant window in the pop-out opens for lots of airflow in warmer weather, and is nicely sealed up for cooler nights.
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Bathroom: We've never had a trailer with a bathroom before, so take this with a grain of salt, but we LOVE having a bathroom. Total game-changer. I would have guessed I wouldn't want a wet bath, but after using this, I wouldn't want to waste the space of a separate shower/toilet when a wet bath works just fine. In practice, we poop in the morning and shower in the evenings and so it never is an issue. Wet bath for the win. The cassette toilet vs. black water tank? I don't know, because I've never had a black water tank, but the cassette toilet works great and isn't a hassle at all. No more digging holes in the woods! And the shower is luxurious. Again, I'm tall, and I love it. I don't have to duck or crouch, and having the toilet seat in there is actually quite nice for washing your dirty camping feet. There's a gray water tank, but we haven't used that yet. We just leave it open and run the water into the ground (we use biodegradable soaps). The 50+ gallons of water storage means hot showers every day. We're glampers now. Don't judge me; I know who I am.

Storage: Externally, there’s a huge tongue box, storage for two 20 lbs. propane tanks, and a rather large set of drawers and a cabinet on the driver’s side. I can store a LOT of stuff in all that. I use the tongue box for all my tools and leveling blocks and power drills; the drawers hold some other hand tools and spare parts and first aid kits and things I’ve acquired for camping over a few years; and the cabinet holds our firewood (enough for a few days of evening fires; we aren’t morning fire people). Internally, there’s a lot of storage, which we appreciate. In the front of the cabin there’s a HUGE open storage cabinet, where we throw a few plastic bins with supplies. In front of that are 6 full-sized latching drawers for our critical set-up equipment because it’s easy to reach from outside. We haven’t come even close to filling all that space up. There’s also a wardrobe/dresser which all have nice latching closures which, honestly, we have a hard time deciding how to use. I pack a duffel and throw it in the trailer and then transfer my clothes to the drawers so I can open the drawers instead of my duffel and then put all that back in my duffel and...yeah, it seems kinda silly to me, too. Still working through how best to use the drawers, but the wardrobe is really nice to store bigger things.
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Comfort: There’s so much to say here, and it’s all positive. This is the key aspect to trailer camping, right? You buy a trailer that makes your trips easier and more comfortable. In cold weather, the combination water heater/heater is awesome. You can set the thermostat as low as 40 degrees to take the bite out of the air if you want. The small water tank is enough to take a couple military showers with hot water, and it only takes a few minutes to heat the tank up again. I have no idea about the AC yet; it only works when connected to shore power or a generator (neither of which I’ve done yet) and I don’t typically camp in weather that hot. But, the under-bed AC is neat because it keeps your tow height about a foot lower than comparable models with rooftop AC. I’ll find out if it works someday, but that’s an unknown for now. My wife and the dog love lounging on the plush bed, and the windows open up to allow a nice breeze to blow through. There are TEN WINDOWS and the screen door on this trailer. We didn’t want a trailer that makes us feel cooped up, and this one definitely doesn’t. That was a big concern moving from the Graveler XT, which didn’t have hard sides, but was amazing for lounging. And outside you have a powered 12' awning for shade, which takes 30 seconds to set up and take down and with a couple of guy lines feels sturdy enough for most weather. If it gets ridiculously windy, we wouldn’t want to be outside anyway, we’d just close up the awning quickly and lie on the bed for a bit until it calms down. The inside dinette is set up for a two-person side-by-side, but we don’t eat in the trailer, so this hasn’t been an issue. It wouldn’t work if you had more than two people trying to have a meal, but then again, just go outside. It seems like a little thing for all the times you’d want to eat indoors when you’re camping.
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I think that’s it for now. I’ll update with additional quirks we find as we go, but feel free to ask if I didn’t cover questions you might have. We are really pleased with our purchase, and hope it will get us out even more this coming year than we’ve been doing.
 
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Thanks for taking the time to post this, there's such a vacuum of real-world user reviews on these. How have you found the build quality to be? How many days/miles camping in it do you have so far?
 

gendlert

Active member
Thanks for taking the time to post this, there's such a vacuum of real-world user reviews on these. How have you found the build quality to be? How many days/miles camping in it do you have so far?
Honestly, the build quality feels really nice. The canvas in the pop top is thick, the windows and walls feel sturdy, and the finish of the furniture/slides/drawers/latches doesn't feel cheap at all.

We've got 12 nights and about 1800 miles on it right now, and we're packing up to go out for two nights this weekend as I type.

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Cayenne-958-TDI

Active member
The Dweller looks interesting.
Looked online and did not see what the hard sides are made of nor the R value. Some components were mentioned like Snow Master, which is a good brand.
 

gendlert

Active member
Not sure what the walls are made of or the R value, but I can tell you that it's not thin and seems to hold temps well. We are in the middle of a 4-night trip in Cottonwood and it got down to the low 30s last night. We had the propane heat set to 45 and it didn't actually turn on until around 5 am. And we had the pop top up. It might not have turned on at all with the top down if we were inclined.

Oh, and speaking of the pop top, the sides are not canvas like a tent, but rather a thicker PVC material. It's not porous, so that helps with thermal balance and wind noise. Another cool difference from some other pop top trailers is that instead of a bungee cord wrapping around the entire outside (like the Opus we saw this weekend), it has springs built into the sides to ensure it packs inwards and not outwards when you drop it down. Just a cleaner look in my opinion.

This is the first trip we had hookups, and it worked great. Water worked as expected, but we didn't use the water heater (hot showers at the park). All connections were leak-free, which is good I guess. Electric hookup was easy. Nice to have an Aussie design built in an American configuration for the occasion when you do go to an RV park. The Opus did not have a shore water hookup. I thought that was weird.


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gendlert

Active member
No not yet. Admittedly, we live in and have only camped in Arizona, so not much moisture in the air, but I'll let you know next summer with the humidity.

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GPurcell01

Active member
No not yet. Admittedly, we live in and have only camped in Arizona, so not much moisture in the air, but I'll let you know next summer with the humidity.

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Thanks. I really like the options of the OBi compared to a Opus or Black Series. I love your camper.
 

super888

New member
I do a lot of camping in the Spring and Fall where temps will fall below 32 during the night. Can anyone give me some feedback on how the Dweller handles freezing nights? If I keep the heater on will that prevent the pipes from freezing? I'm not talking about extreme cold, probably in the high 20's to low 30"s overnight.
Thanks for any thoughts.
 

gendlert

Active member
I do a lot of camping in the Spring and Fall where temps will fall below 32 during the night. Can anyone give me some feedback on how the Dweller handles freezing nights? If I keep the heater on will that prevent the pipes from freezing? I'm not talking about extreme cold, probably in the high 20's to low 30"s overnight.
Thanks for any thoughts.
We camped for a few nights in Cottonwood, AZ over Thanksgiving. Got down to the low 30s, definitely below freezing as was evidenced by the dog-bowl-ice-cube in the morning. No frozen lines, and we were using the propane heater overnight (super cozy set at 45). The water lines for the sink would be the only really exposed line that would be at risk of freezing, but you'll want to unhook that on a cold night and close up the kitchen anyway (otherwise you have a huge open hole in the side of your camper directly under your bed). So in short, I think you're safe in mid 20s night temps. I'd have to go look at the water line routes under the trailer. The tanks themselves are mostly covered by the diamond plating. The pump and tank-sourcing valve are inside under the dinette seat. If there ARE any exposed water lines, I would think it would be minimal and easy enough to winterize with some pipe foam. The hose bib on the front of the trailer would be the most exposed line and probably would freeze even in the mid 20s, but you could just not use that until the day warms up and be fine.

Hope that helps.
 

super888

New member
We camped for a few nights in Cottonwood, AZ over Thanksgiving. Got down to the low 30s, definitely below freezing as was evidenced by the dog-bowl-ice-cube in the morning. No frozen lines, and we were using the propane heater overnight (super cozy set at 45). The water lines for the sink would be the only really exposed line that would be at risk of freezing, but you'll want to unhook that on a cold night and close up the kitchen anyway (otherwise you have a huge open hole in the side of your camper directly under your bed). So in short, I think you're safe in mid 20s night temps. I'd have to go look at the water line routes under the trailer. The tanks themselves are mostly covered by the diamond plating. The pump and tank-sourcing valve are inside under the dinette seat. If there ARE any exposed water lines, I would think it would be minimal and easy enough to winterize with some pipe foam. The hose bib on the front of the trailer would be the most exposed line and probably would freeze even in the mid 20s, but you could just not use that until the day warms up and be fine.

Hope that helps.
Yes, that helps- Many thanks.
 

bzerob

New member
Is the powerbank (3) AGM or Lithium? I can't find any details on it. And can the A/C run off it or is it hookup only?

I plan to take a drive up from Tucson to Mesa, AZ to check one out here someday.
 

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