I started writing about the things I love and hate about my Oliver Travel Trailer. But in doing so, I found myself writing about molded fiberglass trailers in general. Therefore, I thought a better approach might be to talk, first, about the pros and cons of molded fiberglass trailers before I dive into the specifics of the Oliver fiberglass trailers.
When I first decided to embark on the journey of an RV life, one of the earliest decisions I made was that my adventure would include a fiberglass trailer. I waffled on many decisions I made later but not on this one. I stood firm in my belief that a fiberglass trailer was the best option for me.
At the end of this three-series post, I’ll answer the question I am often asked. If I had it to do all over, would I buy the same trailer?
Who Owns Molded Fiberglass Trailers?
When I did my research on molded fiberglass trailers back in 2016 and 2017, there were only six manufactures in business and producing trailers: The EggCamper, Escape, Scamp, Casita, Big Foot and Oliver.
I think this remains true though once in a while I’ll hear tale that a past manufacturer might start up again. Over the decades, more than 50 companies produced molded fiberglass trailers. You’ll still see most of them on the road and many brands have a very loyal following. Early on, I wrote on this subject HERE.
Fiberglass trailers were originally dubbed “eggs” because of the egg-like look and shape. That was back when they were mostly 13-foot trailers and similar proportions to an egg. You don’t hear the term nearly as much anymore. When an egg went back to the factory for repairs, it was referred to as going to the “mother nest.” Kind of silly fun trivia.
My friend, Casita Dean (can you guess what fiberglass trailer he owns?), and I have estimated that only about 1% of RVs manufactured are molded fiberglass, possibly less. We looked but couldn’t find definitive data so made our assessment anecdotally.
Now, on to the list of pros and cons of molded fiberglass trailers.
Rounded Walls: Pro and Con
The biggest challenge of separating pros and cons is, so often, the things I love about fiberglass trailers are also the things I most hate about them. It’s ironic, I know. And number one on the list is the rounded walls.
When I took the factory tour at Oliver Trailers, I saw the two molds that make up a fiberglass trailer. There is a top half and a bottom half which are then brought together at the middle and sealed at what’s called the belly band.
My research taught me that water is one of the biggest problems RV have. Leaks can lead to mold. Repairs can be difficult and costly. One reason I stood firm in my fiberglass decision was because molded fiberglass trailers don’t end up with water leaks the way a traditional RV can. The reason? No flat roof with edges for the water to creep into. The curved top also doesn’t allow water to pool.
But—and I didn’t realize this during my research phase—there is a cost to a rounded RV. That cost is space. Open overhead cabinets and they follow the curve of the mold and a rounded cabinet makes optimizing the space difficult. For example, canned goods are impossible to stack neatly and evenly. No doubt, a cabinet with square 90-degree angles holds more.
Soft items such as clothing can form into the space better but, even so, they lack a certain neatness. The ones on top where the roundness cuts deepest into the space are squished and end up more wrinkled than the ones on bottom where the space is the widest.
Finally, to be fair, let me be clear in saying that a decreased chance of water leaks and problems is not the same as saying there is no chance of such issues. If they are not installed properly or if the seal wears away, water can come in through openings such as at windows, air conditioning units and roof fans.
Because of the molds, the form and shape of the trailer is what it is. Take it or leave it. You cannot customize molded fiberglass trailers the way you can traditional trailers or RVs. The place this is most obvious is with the dining seating. The seats are fiberglass and part of the mold which means it would be impossible to change them out. Whereas in a traditional trailer, I’ve known many people who have pulled out dining seating to replace them with regular chairs. Or who have pulled out a couch and replaced it with two lounge chairs. Or who have pulled out the entire dining area (seating and table) and built or installed a desk or side-by-side desks for two in order to have a more functional, comfortable space to work.
Not an option with fiberglass. A definitely con.
You’ll find that molded fiberglass trailers fall into three sizes, more or less. There is the 13-foot fiberglass trailer for those who want to try micro living. The bulk of fiberglass trailers today are in the 17- to 19-foot range. Then there are the longest ones in the range of 21 to 25 feet. The longest currently being manufactured is a Bigfoot Trailer at 25 feet. Though my Oliver Trailer, at 23.5 feet, is close behind. In the end, Bigfoot was a close second choice for me.
Both the 21-foot and 25-foot Bigfoot Trailer have a partitioned bedroom. I think it works out for Bigfoot because it is wider than other molded fiberglass trailers while the others all have a single living space. This means molded fiberglass trailers will likely never suit a family. Similarly, even some couples may find most of the molded fiberglass trailers too tight for their needs and comfort. Especially if they are full-time.
I haven’t discovered why you won’t find lengthy fiberglass trailers. But you know me, I have a theory. I think it’s because the fiberglass is a rigid material. As a result, there is no give the way there is in a traditional RV. If a 40-foot Class A rides down a rough road or hits a pothole in the highway, it adjusts by flexing a tiny bit.
Fiberglass doesn’t bend, doesn’t give, doesn’t flex. So, I think the longer you make a trailer, the more risk of it breaking in the right circumstances. The compactness of the molded fiberglass ensure that won’t happen.
The positive side of the shorter trailers—fiberglass or otherwise—is the wide-range of places you can take it. They’ll do better down difficult roads. Many national parks were built when trailers were much smaller so, often, their campgrounds won’t fit rigs longer than 30 feet. The thinner molded fiberglass trailers also fit better in narrow spots and drive with ease down narrower roads.
Wet Baths: Con
Because of the restriction in length, smaller trailers must comprise on features such as a dry bath. Again, the 21- and 25-foot Bigfoot are the exception. And, again, I think they make it work because they gain square footage in width. All other molded fiberglass trailers have wet baths and some are quite small.
Wet baths are certainly manageable but they are a lot more work than a dry bath with a separate shower area. And are a con on my list.
Maintains Youthful Appearance: Pro
Driving down the road, you easily and positively identify an older model RV, right? There is something so very 70s or 80s about it. The whites look dingy plus, of course, it’s obvious by the design.
As a side note: Did you know a lot of campgrounds have a policy of no RVs 10 years or older? Of course, they are trying to keep riffraff out of the park but tons of non-riffraff people have older model RVs. Most of the time, you can get around their policy by sending a photo to show your RV won’t be falling apart in their campground.
I think because designs of molded fiberglass trailers have changed little over time, they can be hard to date when you see one going down the road. Of course, if you spot ones no longer manufactured, you’d know they were older. But if not for that, I’d venture to say you might have trouble distinguishing an older model from a newer one.
The sleek white fiberglass finish stays white. It remains super shiny with an annual waxing. I know the Oliver Trailers keep their resale value much better than traditional RVs so assume that’s true of all fiberglass trailers. The rigid fiberglass keeps them sturdy and strong, and they don’t start falling apart the way other RVs do.
So, there you have it. The pros and cons of molded fiberglass trailers, in my opinion. Would love to know if you’d add anything to either list.
Interested in more? Specifically in the Oliver molded fiberglass trailer? Here are the things I love about the Oliver. To round things out, HERE are 6 things I hate, as well as 5 more things I hate about the Oliver.
Links to Relevant Posts:
- An Egg and a Funnel: Making the First RV Decision
- Deciding on the Right Fiberglass Trailer
- Oliver Travel Trailer Factory Tour
- Final Four Fiberglass Trailers: Bigfoot Trailer
- Oliver Travel Trailer Review: 12 Things I Love
- Oliver Travel Trailer Review: 6 Things I Hate
- and Oliver Travel Trailer Review: 5 More Things I Hate
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