Our SportTrek ST327VIK setup at Eastcreek Campground near Mt Rainier National Park. July, 2018

SportTrek ST327VIK

Manufacturer: Venture RV
www.venture-rv.com
Support #: (888) 988-8440

Quick Overview:
2017 Model delivered March 2016
Tow Vehicle: 2001 Ford Excursion 6.8L V10 w/3.73 rear end.
Hitch: Equalizer 12,000/1,200
Brake Controller: Prodigy P2

Season 1:
From our home base outside Cleveland, OH we made the following trips:

Chattanooga, TN (~1300 mi)
Acadia National Park, ME (~1750 mi)
Beth Page RV Resort, VA (~1000 mi)
Numerous local weekend trips (~1400 mi)
Total: ~ 5,400 miles

Repairs:
At end of season 1 we took in for warranty repairs of the following:

  • Failed LP Detector
  • Improperly mounted couch rail pad separating couch from dinette
  • Outdoor kitchen water lines would loosen and leak when opening/closing the sink slide - had to properly reinstall the swivel fittings connecting the hoses to the faucet.
  • Outdoor kitchen weather seat replaced
  • Replace awning motor cover that blew off while driving.

Season 2:

Nashville, TN (~1130 mi)
Wapokeneta, OH (~440 mi)
Numerous local weekend trips (~1400 mi)
Western Trip: 5 weeks out including Wisconsin Dells, Badlands NP, The Black Hills, Glacier NP, Oregon Coast, San Francisco and Yellowstone NP. - (~7500 mi)
Total: ~10,500 miles

Repairs:

  • Propane regulator failed - replaced.

Prior to leaving for season 3 we had the axles serviced.

  • Repack bearings
  • Brakes and drums were shot and had to be replaced.  Replaced with standard manual adjust (auto adjust in reverse) brakes.  The stock forward adjusting brakes were always too tight and wore too fast.)

Season 3:

St Augustine, FL (950 mi)
St Augustine, FL -> Gulf State Park, Al (425 mi)
Gulf State Park, Al -> New Orleans, LA (209 mi)
New Orleans, LA -> San Antonio, TX (555 mi)
San Antonio, TX -> Caldwell, TX (157 mi)
Caldwell, TX -> Home base (1400 mi)
Home Base -> Sequim, WA (2544 mi)
Total: ~ 6240 mi

Repairs:

  • Plastic kitchen sink cracked - replaced with stainless steel unit.
  • Tire blowout on US 101, lost tire and rim.  Tire fragments also damaged second tire (small hole in sidewall) so both tires and the one rim had to be replaced.

Season 4

Sequim, Wa -> Astoria, OR (~210 miles)
Astoria, OR -> Crater Lake, OR (~354 miles)
Crater Lake, OR -> Klamath, CA (~202 miles)
Klamath, CA -> Lodi, CA (~376 miles)
Lodi, CA -> Mojave, CA (~308 miles)
Mojave, CA -> Palm Springs, CA (~169 miles)

Trip Total: ~ 1619mi

No issues.

Palm Springs, CA -> Grand Canyon N.P. (~405 Miles)
Grand Canyon N.P. -> Meteor Crater, AZ (~121 Miles)
Meteor Crater, AZ -> Petrified Forest N.P. (~81 Miles)
Petrified Forest N.P. -> Albuquerque, NM (~200 Miles)
Albuquerque, NM -> Amarillo, TX (~285 Miles)
Amarillo, TX -> Gore, OK (~411 Miles)
Gore, OK -> Memphis, TN (~335 Miles)
Memphis, TN -> East Central Alabama (~411 Miles)

Trip total: ~2,249 miles

Tire Blowout 1 hour west of Oklahoma City on I-40.  Tire exploded but we got pulled over quick and saved the rim this time.  Replaced the tire with an E-Rated tire which left one original D tire on the trailer.  While it was still "good", we decided to replace that one too so we have all newer E-Rated Tires. - Cost $187

Total Miles So far: ~26,250 mi
Total Repair Costs: ~$1840

Modifications:
2 x 6V Battery Upgrade
SteadyFast Stabilization System
Renogy Solar Charge Controller Integration

 

Prepurchase:

I'll start off at the beginning of our RV adventures to give some background information on how we ended up deciding on the SportTrek 327VIK.  In 2011, we bought a 1992 Dutchman 35' aluminum sided travel trailer.  It was in decent shape for it's age and the price was right.  While Jessica and I had both camped in travel trailers as kids we didn't want to pour a lot of money right away into something that we weren't sure would work out.  The kids had never camped, and with the crazy lives we led we didn't even know for sure we'd have time to use it as much as we'd hoped.

Of course, it turned out to have a few more issues then we thought.  Nothing earth shattering, but it had lived a previous life as a park trailer so the tires were dry rotted, it was missing the water pump and the power center only operated on shore power.  Fortunately, it did have a new refrigerator and the water heater worked like a charm.  So we went about fixing the problems and started using it.  And ... we all loved it!  For the next 5 years we used that trailer for our annual family vacations and nearly every weekend the local parks were open during the summer.  It was a sad time of the year every fall when the parks closed and we had to put the cover on and say goodbye until the next spring.  Winters always seemed a little longer (and colder) after we started RVing but they were filled with great memories of the previous summer and the anticipation of the one to come.

In those 5 years we learned a lot about RVing in general.  More importantly, we learned what we liked, didn't like and needed in a travel trailer should we decide to buy another one.  Over those years, we visited the Cleveland RV show a couple times and looked at all the shiny new trailers on display.  If you've never been, it's a huge show in the middle of winter with hundreds and hundreds of units on display.  If you're seriously shopping it would be hard to see it all in one day.  In either case, reflecting on our time in the trusty Dutchmen we decided our ideal travel trailer would be about the same length (35 feet or so), have slide outs (the Dutchman did not), have lots of storage, an outdoor kitchen, a bathroom that you can access with the slides in but does not have a direct door outside, and be a bunkhouse with 4 bunks for the kids.

Sounds like an easily accomplished list right?  We thought so too.  Or first trip to the show in 2014 yielded zero options.  Maybe we weren't looking seriously enough, but we just couldn't seem to find anything that met those requirements.  The hangups were 4 bunks w/outdoor kitchen - most travel trailers with the outdoor kitchen sacrifice 1 bunk for the kitchen space.  The other bigger issue was storage.  We would go into a trailer and see all these closets and get excited, only to open them and find out they were 3" deep and completely useless!  Even kitchen cabinet spaces are often (needlessly) small and useless.  It was very frustrating to stand in this otherwise beautiful, modern trailer knowing you could barely fit in a weekend trip's cloths let alone pack for a week or two family vacation.  Something my 22 year old trailer could handle easily with room to spare.  Rather then settle, we decided to stick with old faithful.

The SportTrek 327VIK:

Two years later we decided to try again.  In 2016 we were back at the show and came across the SportTrek line.  At first sight we were very impressed with the "feel" when you walked in.  It was warm, and felt very sturdy.  As we walked through we noted the 3 slides (opposing kitchen and living room slides with an island) which made the living space feel very large.   The bunkhouse area in the back is separated by a door and "offset" to the right - which takes away that feeling of being in a long box which most travel trailers have.  The bunkhouse has 4 bunks and there is a nice outdoor kitchen!  The only thing left was storage, and I have to say, there is plenty.  Stand up closet in the bunkhouse, storage under the beds - both open and in cabinet drawers.  There's a deep almost full height pantry in the kitchen.  The furnace is under it which takes away about 1 shelf height, otherwise it would be floor to ceiling.  There's cabinets next to that by the stove - deep ones, there's a full drawer under the stove.  Then there's more cabinets (shallower but still useful) along the wall by the refrigerator.   There's additional storage under the dinette and couch and still more over the couch and TV.  Then, the island is large enough for several full depth drawers, and your garbage can will fit inside under the sink.

So, it looks like we found our "ideal travel trailer".  But, we've never heard of SportTrek... is it any good?  First off, SportTrek is a brand name of Venture-RV, which is a division of KZ, which is a division of Thor, which is the largest RV manufacturer in the US.  Of course, size<>quality or at least it doesn't guarantee it.  Fortunately, they had one of their engineers on site and he went over the construction with us.  He pointed out some key points (focus on higher end hardware like the exit door) and the use of 3/4" tongue and groove marine grade plywood flooring.  We have been around enough trailers both new and old to know these are not built to residential standards for a number of reasons.  So after talking with them and carefully looking it over we felt it looked like a quality built unit... so we bought it.

Life with our SportTrek 327VIK:

We took delivery in March 2016 and against the dealers advice, we immediately took it on a long trip.  Cleveland to Chattanooga, TN.  For those of you just starting out, you should never take a new RV on a long trip.  It's well known that if problems are going to happen, they will probably happen early and you don't want to be stuck hundreds of miles from home.  We'd been at it long enough that we felt we could deal with most possible issues, and those we couldn't we'd find another way around somehow.  Fortunately, the trip went flawlessly.  From the day we took delivery to today, we have never had second thoughts about our decision to buy this trailer.  That's not to say there haven't been issues, I'll cover those in a minute.  And while we originally thought this would be our "perfect travel trailer" we have found room for improvement over the time we've spent using it.  Today I would refer to it as the "closest off the shelf approximation to a perfect travel trailer we could buy" and we would absolutely buy another one if we needed to.

Problems we've had:

There have been a few problems along they way.  Nothing significant so I just listed those things in the summary to the right.  All in all, it's been a fairly trouble free 3 years.

Things we've changed:

We changed the kitchen sink (the original plastic one cracked) with a stainless steel unit.  We also added a steadyfast stabilization system to keep the shaking down while parked.  The batteries were upgraded from the single 12V to 2 x 6V deep cycle gulf cart batteries.  We did this in anticipation of boondocking and the addition of a solar system.  Along those lines we also integrated a Renogy Rover 20A solar charge controller into the stock electrical system.  This will allow us to plug any solar panel (or panel set up to 400 watts) directly into the SAE solar port on the back of the trailer.

Options we didn't get, but should have:

Dual ACs.  We're from the northeast, where a single AC works fine.  The weather doesn't usually get that hot and even if it does, there's usually lots of shade trees to keep you out of the direct sun.  Over the past year we've spent a lot of time in Texas (hot and no trees) and I can tell you first hand that one AC will never keep up with that.  Adding a second AC later is a lot more work and cost then getting it in the first place. If you have any thoughts of going to hot treeless places (more than 1/2 the country as it turns out) during the summer then go for the dual ACs.

Things we'd have Venture-RV change (some of these may be in newer models already):

First and foremost, we would turn the master bed 90 degrees and put it on a slide.  Yes, more weight, complexity, and cost but the bedroom is borderline too small.  There's barely any room to move around the bed - particularly on the far side.  Putting it on a slide would open up the bedroom to be more livable.  Of course, they have a bunkhouse touring addition model (STT343VBH) that has this, but it has a different floor plan all together.  I'd keep the floor plan of the 327 over the bedroom size benefits of the touring addition model.

5000+ lb axles.  The 327 comes with 4400 lb axles, which is the limiting factor in its cargo capacity.  Slightly heavier axles would increase the load capacity without increase the unit cost very much.  It would not effect the empty weight much but would allow you to safely get the most use out of all that storage space on extended trips.

Outdoor kitchen drain.  This is the only "duh" feature we've found on the 327. The outdoor kitchen sink drain just has a tube with a screw capped garden hose fitting strapped to the bottom of the tray.  Take the cap off and it drains on the ground (or your toes if you happen to be using it like you'd normally use a sink).  Now, Venture claims to make trailers "designed by RVer's for RVer's".  If you're an RVer, you know it's illegal just about everywhere to drain a sink on the ground (it's considered grey water).  I can understand why they did it that way - with the sink on a sliding tray, reliably plumbing it back to the grey tank would be challenging and maybe even expensive but that's no excuse.  For a trailer in this price range, this "feature" is an embarrassment.

 

 

 

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