Adventuresome RVers looking for a a top off-road travel trailer that’s small, easily towable, yet well-equipped, will find the new Ember Overland 171FB checks off all the boxes–and then some!
The Ember Overland Series off-road travel trailers are a product of Ember Recreational Vehicle Manufacturing, a new player in the crowded RV world, and a new addition to the Bish’s RV offerings of travel trailers.
Ember is an independent RV company started in 2021. But the CEO, Ashley Bontrager, is the granddaughter of the Jayco founders, and the key players by her side also have decades of Jayco experience in manufacturing, design, management and marketing. The name “Ember” is fitting.
The Ember Overlands are at the upper price end of travel trailers targeting the off-road, off-pavement RVing crowd. But discerning buyers in that market will see the value in both innovations and build quality of these campers that have just started rolling out the Ember RV factory in Indiana.
A Fresh, Innovative Camper Design
“Create new and innovative products that fulfill our customers wishlists, while challenging the status quo,” states the corporate mantra at Ember, and their first products off the assembly line prove they are forward thinkers.
The 171FB we got a chance to sneak a peek inside at Bish’s RV in North Salt Lake, Utah is the middle size offering of five Overland floorplans ranging between 20- and 22-feet, and all weighing in close to 5,500 pounds GVWR.
The 20’6” chassis utilizes a boxed outer frame like today’s heavy-duty pickups. The use of a boxed frame under a camper increases torsional rigidity so it doesn’t flex as much as a traditional towable RV’s “C”-channel frame when going over uneven terrain.
That sets the stage for the bigger innovation: an RV industry-first Curt independent trailing-arm suspension with coil springs and dual KYB gas-charged shocks. The suspension has its own frame that is welded to the Ember’s boxed chassis.
Trailing-Arm Trailer Suspension
A trailing-arm suspension provides better ride control and travel over uneven terrain better than either a torsion or axle-less suspension. This suspension allows the shocks can be finely tuned to the camper load and unsprung weight of the 30-inch LT235/75R16 Goodyear Wrangler A/T tires.
(Airplanes have been using this type of suspension for decades, which helps soften landings and increase passenger comfort.)
The Ember Series also makes use of an adjustable receiver hitch and an electric Flap-Jack tongue jack in leu of the traditional pole-type tongue jack.
The adjustable receiver makes it easier to fine-tune the trailer stance to the tow vehicle’s hitch ball, and the folding electric tongue jack frees up the top of the trailer’s “A”-frame to place a big steel cargo box to securely store the twin LP tanks, batteries and other gear. All little innovations that make a big deal for those who travel off-pavement, off grid.
Roomy, Bright Interior
Inside are a few more fun features, some one used to only see in upscale residential homes, others in teardrops and expedition-style off-road trailers. The Stargazer Skylight over the front residential-size (60”x80”) queen-bed is one that catches your eye right away. It’s a huge double-pane unit made from European acrylic with multiple locking latches and a pair of nice adjustable supports so it can be opened to any degree one wishes. It also features a built-in night shade—and retractable bug screen.
All of the larger windows in the 171FB are frameless, dual-pane with the same style shades and bug screens, so the insulating effect of the Azdel composite walls, ceiling and floor remain maximized and air circulation is easily managed for the most comfortable conditions indoors and out.
Big Shower, Cool Features
Water heating and interior heat are all handled by a Truma Combi eco plus system, which is compact and state-of-the art, while a 13,000BTU, low-profile roof A/C takes care of those hot, humid summer days and nights.
Then there’s the stainless 8 cu.ft., 12V fridge and built-in pantry on the left by the entry door. On the opposite corner of this Ember floorplan is a comfortable-sized bathroom with a big 32-inch-radius curved shower, which is quickly becoming a standard feature in the newest RVs yet not that common in these smaller towables.
The shower is also equipped with the popular Water-Miser system to minimize water usage, and important concern when dry camping.
Ember Overland Modern Features
Off-road travel trailers need plenty of room to rest and relax. Ember designers incorporated a residential-sized queen bed up front and a jack-knife sofa opposite the galley into the floorplan. (The sofa also hides the dining table top.)
The Overland 171FB has storage under both lounging locations, which adds to the storage available in the hardwood framed-and-fronted drawers, nooks and overhead cabinets that seem to ring the 171FB’s interior.
Lighting is LED, and all can be controlled via the Lippert Bluetooth Smart RV Control System if so desired, as can the 32” HD TV and AV system, trailer tire pressures, the slide, holding tank levels, along with other features and systems in the Ember Overland.
The galley is very efficient. The seamless countertop surrounds a two-burner stove and deep, bowl-shaped stainless sink with a tall faucet that makes kitchen cleanup a little easier. A good option is checking off the box for the microwave that replaces the storage cabinet above the sink. The Truma Combi quickly handles the hot water delivery.
Of course, during nice weather overlanding RVers love to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. To that end, the Ember Overland 171FB has a convenient outdoor kitchen with a small 12V fridge for drinks and a handy propane griddle perfect for cooking dogs, burgers, stir fry and steaks.
Off-Grid Solar Ready
RVers who looking for off-road travel trailers for off-grid camping don’t need to worry about keeping the Ember Overland’s dual 12-volt, deep-cycle batteries charged, either. The 171FB comes standard with 30-amp solar controller, a 190-watt solar panel on the roof, and a 1,000-watt inverter to control the flow of sun-sourced energy.
If that’s not enough juice, one of the few options Ember RV offers is an upgrade to the “Max Solar Package,” which includes a 3,000-watt inverter, two additional 190-watt roof-mounted solar panels, and replacing the regular RV batteries with a pair Battle Born Lithium-ion (LiFePO4) 100 Amp-hour deep-cycle batteries.
Ember RV has positioned itself as a premium brand name building innovative, high-quality, high-tech, trend-setting campers for the overlanding-style of family RVing. That comes with a premium price.
Premium Quality Camper
The Base MSRP is $51,128. However, with solar upgrades and other dealer-installed options, the price can top $55,000. (The MSRP on the Overland 171FB I checked out was $55,193.)
Overall, Ember RV has done an outstanding job in the build quality and design of their first line of travel trailers, and it’s apparent they’re industry trend-setters in the popular overlanding-style of family RVing.
The new company listened to what RVers who love to camp away from the crowds like to have in campers from suspension to creature comforts to durability.
The 171FB is a premium travel trailer found at Bish’s RV dealers that can be passed down from this generation to the next to continue enjoying the RV life of adventure camping. – Bruce W. Smith
Make/Model: 2022 Ember RV Overland 171FB
Hitch Weight (lbs): 570
Dry Weight (lbs): 4,165
Cargo Carrying Capacity (lbs): 1,275
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (lbs): 5,440
Exterior Length (overall): 20’6″
Exterior Height (with A/C): 10’4”
Exterior Width: 7’11”
Awning Length: 12′
Fresh Water Capacity (gals): 55
Gray Water Capacity (gals): 35
Black Tank Capacity (gals): 35
Propane Unit/LP Gas Capacity (lbs): 40
Sleeps: 2 – 4
Tire Size: LT235/75R16
Base MSRP: $51,128
MSRP as Reviewed: $55,193