Home Acura NSX This New Lightweight Plastic Camper Promises A Leakless Future With No Rot

This New Lightweight Plastic Camper Promises A Leakless Future With No Rot

This New Lightweight Plastic Camper Promises A Leakless Future With No Rot


If you’ve owned a typical camper for long enough, you’re almost certainly aware of what happens as your rig ages. Rubberized roofs can leak, laun panels can delaminate and rot, and walls can literally split open from water damage. I’ve shown you what can happen to an aging camper. What if you could prevent such terrible expensive failures? International RV’s LIV says it’s a solution with 100 percent composite campers with no wood to rot or rubber to leak. And the best part is the fact that these units are both inexpensive and lightweight.

I just got back from Indiana’s RV Open House dealer show. This year was very different than last year’s RV Open House. Last year, vintage RVs were on full display and the event was so huge that there were beer tents every 50 feet or so. There was even a concert from Florida Georgia Line and Nelly. Yeah, one of the duo’s last concerts (if not the last concert) was an RV trade show! The pandemic was a boom for the RV industry. Americans who couldn’t go to resorts or take cruises instead bought RVs and hit the open road. This resulted in all-time record high RV sales. Now, those sales have more or less pulled back to their pre-pandemic levels.

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Because of this, the RV Open House was less of a party and more of a serious show geared toward the dealers selling the units. The beer tents were gone and media had to be escorted around and kicked out at a certain time.

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Despite the dramatic change in atmosphere, I was able to catch some of the latest developments in the RV space. You will soon read about how Harbinger and Thor Industries have a plan for electric motorhomes that should blow developments from Winnebago and Grounded out of the water. First, I want to show you one of the coolest campers I saw at the show that you can buy right now.

Each year, Thor Industries sets up a massive display on the grounds of the RV/MH Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Indiana. Outside of the display on the entrance road to the museum, you’ll find a smattering of smaller RV conglomerates and independent RV builders. I love checking out what the independents are doing because they often love to stand out by doing something the big guys aren’t.

The Problem

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International RV

LIV, which stands for Lightweight Innovative Vehicle, certainly qualifies as different. At the RV Open House, I almost missed LIV’s display. From a distance, the campers look like any other travel trailer out there. But when you get close, you realize there’s something a bit different. The honeycomb texture of the walls piqued my curiosity:

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I spoke with LIV representative Brian Walczak. He told me that LIV was created two years ago in Americus, Georgia, to solve the problems faced by RV owners around America. As I said, if you’ve ever owned a typical camper before then you know how frustrating they can be to live with. You could follow maintenance to the letter and still find your trailer leaking water after less than ten years of use. That water damage is catastrophic, too, destroying everything in its path from the roof to the walls and the floor.

Nearly every camper my family has owned over the decades has sprung water leaks and usually, those leaks spell the end of the camper. If you catch the damage early enough, as my family did with our 2007 Adirondack 31BH, you could save the trailer. But that was a $7,500 job and it was closer to a patch than a true repair. Even today, as I walk through rows of trailers at RV shows, I see a lot of campers are still built with the same materials that can fail and leak over time.

Something Different

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There are exceptions to this, of course, from campers with metal bodies and campers built out of molded fiberglass. LIV is showing another way to defeat leaks: Thermoplastic. Walczak tells me that every LIV trailer is built from top to bottom from a thick thermoplastic honeycomb that is ultrasonic-welded together, making for one immense unbroken shell. LIV doesn’t just use thermoplastic for the shell, either, but for its trailers’ floors and interiors. Inside of these trailers, you’ll notice no fittings or fasteners holding those plastic pieces together.

Like the body, the interior is ultrasonic-welded to the walls and floor.

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International RV


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In building these trailers basically entirely out of thick plastic, LIV says its trailers are so strong that they don’t need a traditional frame. Indeed, peek under a LIV and you’ll find a smaller subframe that exists to attach the camper’s body to the metal tongue and rear bumper. At the show, LIV marketed these trailer bodies as being strong enough to support themselves, like a unibody. LIV also showed photos of a LIV stacked on top of another LIV, a demonstration of roof strength.

I toured a few LIV models that were on display at the RV Open House. Stepping inside, I was most surprised by how normal these trailers’ interiors are. Here’s the inside of a LIV 201FIT:

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Ignore the textured plastic and what you get isn’t much different than what you’d buy from one of the big brands. Even the baby LIV 19BHD, which has a total length of 21 feet, has a full bathroom, bunk beds, a kitchen, a dinette, and a master bed. The LIV 19BHD even has decent holding tanks for its size with 25 gallons for fresh water, 30 gallons for waste, and 30 gallons of gray water.

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Standard features include an awning, a power tongue jack, a stereo, and an electric fireplace. Other factory equipment includes a two-burner stove, LED ambient lighting, an instant water heater, an air-conditioner, and deck mats to cover up that plastic floor. The options list is short and includes a lift kit, knobby tires, solar power, a lithium battery, carpet, and a galvanized chassis.

You can get all of this in a trailer with a dry weight of 2,250 pounds and a current starting price of $18,990. To put this into comparison, one of the cheapest Dutchmen trailers, the Coleman Rubicon 1200RK sells for around $15,000 that thing is 13 feet long, 1,682 pounds, has no bathroom, and it’s so tiny that you cannot even stand up in it. The LIV 19BHD has 6 feet, and 4 inches of headroom. Ok, that comparison probably isn’t fair. How about the Aspen Trail Mini 17BH below?

It’s about the same total length as the LIV 19BHD but is built out of traditional materials, costs $23,104, and weighs 3,069 pounds. In fact, I toured this very trailer, and at least after my short inspection, I’d say the LIV’s interior and build are miles ahead.

Now, look at the LIV 19BHD. Sure, the exposed furniture and trim fasteners aren’t pretty and the colors are equally drab, but unlike the Aspen Trail, nothing felt like it would snap off if you looked at it the wrong way. It’s feels like function over form:

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Something For Almost Everyone

Currently, LIV offers a lot of sizing options from that baby 19BHD to the large 26RB (below), which comes in with a total length of 29 feet, 8 inches, and a weight of 4180 pounds. The features and options are largely the same across LIV’s line. In going with a larger trailer, you get more space, more places for people to sit and sleep, and larger appliances. The larger models also offer up to 6 feet, 7 inches of standing room.

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International RV
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International RV

Walzcak tells me that the company also has an even smaller model in its pipeline. Prospective customers have reached out looking for a trailer they could tow with vehicles like a Volkswagen Golf TDI or various wagons. This demand for a plastic trailer that could be towed by a smaller vehicle is great enough that the company plans on rolling out a 1,300-pound model in the near future. Sadly, an example of that trailer was not at the RV Open House.

One question I have is if how a plastic trailer would hold up to temperature cycles. Will it warp in high heat? LIV trailers went on sale in 2022, where the company sold 42 units. As of June 2023, an additional 105 units have been sold. Some of these have sold in hot places like Arizona, where at least one owner reports that their trailer is holding up just fine. Again, the sample size is small, but it does appear that LIV has happy customers. Most of LIV’s current customers live in Florida.

As of present, you can buy a LIV from a dealer in Americus, Georgia as well as a dealer in Tennessee, two dealers in Florida, and one dealer in Indiana. I’ll be watching this brand and I hope to be able to test a LIV one day. At least on paper, this is a great concept. But, time will tell if thermoplastic is the durability hero the RV world needs.

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(Images: Author, unless otherwise noted.)

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