Skip to Content

Chinook Campers: The Rebirth of an Icon

If you haven’t heard of a Chinook camper, you’re not alone. Although once widely known throughout the RV industry, Chinook RV didn’t make it through the Great Recession and had to close its doors. But if you’re looking for inspiration and the story of a resurrected brand, read on to learn about the rebirth of an icon. Let’s dive in!

Chinook RV History: The Legacy of "The Sportscar of Motorhomes"

Where Is Chinook RV?

Like so many RV manufacturers, Chinook RV is in Indiana. The address is 1482 North Eel River Cemetery Road in Peru, about 80 miles south of the RV Capital of the World. Elkhart, Shipshewana, and Goshen are about an hour and 20 minutes north of Peru.

When Did Chinook RV Begin Manufacturing RVs?

In 1938, Mair & Son, Inc debuted as a motorhome manufacturer. In 1966, the Chinook 1400 hit the market. The new fiberglass designs made Chinook one of the most sought-after brands with this new sleek and aerodynamic appearance. The company moved to Union Gap Washington and manufactured all types of RVs, from micro busses to truck campers and fifth wheels. In 1971, the company debuted the first one-piece all-fiberglass shell in the Chinook Mobilodge 2500 and 2500 Brougham.

Over the years, Chinook RV produced motorhomes fit for traveling families. They had motorhomes with convertible living areas for additional sleeping space and motorhomes for adventurous couples with luxuries like stainless steel sinks and private bathrooms. Because the company was located in the western states, it was not as influenced by the mass production techniques of Indiana and retained a unique build style that owners loved.

However, like many RV manufacturers, Chinook RV took a hit during the economic downturn and fuel crisis of the early-2000s.

chinook RV 4x4
Chinook RV’s have had a dedicated following by their owners over the years. Some like this one go out of their way to make significant modifications.

When Did Chinook RV Stop Making RVs?

Unfortunately, Chinook RV couldn’t stay at the top of the RV manufacturing business. In 2005, the company ended production, and by 2006, it closed. The struggling economy was too significant of a hurdle to overcome.

Gary Lukehart, Chinook RV’s owner, stored the manufacturing equipment on his ranch, hoping one day the economy would improve and Chinook RV would return. His dream came true in 2013 when Phil Rizzio of Las Vegas purchased all the equipment and started the process of bringing back Chinook RV. Owners were delighted! The first new models were avaiable again in 2016.

Chinook Maverick
Chinook has recently returned to the RV market with reliable and stylish RVs.
Source: Chinook RV

When Were Chinook Campers Reborn?

It didn’t happen overnight, but within a few years, Chinook RV was manufacturing motorhomes again. Chinook RV recently purchased Riverside Travel Trailer in Peru, Indiana. Today, the company makes motorhomes and towables, enlarging its customer base. Chinook RV is an example of a company overcoming hard times and resurrecting to establish the same quality and reach new objectives in the RV industry.

Chinook travel trailer
Cruise about in a revamped Chinook camper.
Source: Chinook RV

What Types of RVs Does Chinook Make Today?

There are three Chinook camper Class B motorhomes in production today. They include the Bayside, the Maverick, and the Summit. “The Sports Car of Motorhomes,” Chinook RV installs the latest technology and plenty of standard features to make camping convenient, comfortable, and enjoyable for travelers.

There are also six Chinook camper towable RVs. They come in various lengths and floorplans and have fiberglass and aluminum siding options. Chinook RV even makes the Trail Wagon, which trailer owners can use to haul toys like ATVs or motorcycles or can use as an ensuite to their Class B motorhome.

Pro Tip: Keep an eye out for these Top 10 Easily Missed Things to Look for When Buying an RV.

Chinook camper interior
One of their most unique products is their automotive-style trail wagon toy hauler trailer.
Source: Chinook RV

The Chinook Camper Motorhome Lineup

The Class B Chinook campers have a GVWR of around 11,000 pounds and the ability to tow a small car or trailer. Whether you want a smaller model like the Bayside or prefer a longer option like the Maverick, these motorhomes have quality construction and features that rival other brands, including a full bathroom in the rear of all three models.

The Bayside

The Bayside Chinook camper is on a Ford Transit chassis with a 3.SL Eco-Boost V6 engine. It has a 148-inch wheelbase and AWD ability. It’s the shortest of the three motorhomes at 21 feet 11 inches and has the lowest towing capacity at 4,350 pounds.

Inside, you’ll find all that you need for a comfortable getaway. A Norcold 6.2 12v/120v refrigerator with a pull-out freezer drawer, a convection microwave, a single induction cooktop, a 50 by 72-inch power sofa bed, a Truma Combi-Eco heater system, and a 13,500 BTU air conditioner all come standard.

There are also 200 watts of solar, a 30-gallon freshwater tank, a 24-gallon gray tank, an 8-gallon black tank, and an option to upgrade to a lithium battery system. You could enjoy a weekend camping trip anywhere; off-grid in a national forest or at a local campground with amenities.

Separate SHOWER And TOILET! New 2023 Chinook Bayside Ford Transit Camper Van Conversion

The Maverick

The Maverick Chinook camper is also on a Ford Transit chassis with a 3.SL Eco-Boost V6 engine. Like the Bayside, it has a 148-inch wheelbase and AWD ability. It’s the longest of the three motorhomes at 24 feet 5 inches and has a hitch rating of 5,000 pounds.

Inside, there’s a Dometic 6-cubic-foot refrigerator, a convection microwave, a single induction cooktop, a Truma Cambi-Plus heater system, and a 15,000 BTU air conditioner. You can choose from a dual sofa layout or a single sofa with a dinette layout. Both options convert into a large king-bed sleeping area.

There are also 400 watts of solar, a 30-gallon freshwater tank, a 24-gallon gray tank, a 24-gallon black tank, and an option to upgrade to a lithium battery system. Like the Bayside, you could enjoy a weekend camping trip anywhere in the Maverick Class B motorhome.

Chinook Maverick - From Ocala RV Show 2023

The Summit

Unlike the Bayside and Maverick models, the Summit Chinook camper is on a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis with a 6-cyl diesel engine. It’s 23 feet 9 inches and has a hitch rating of 5,000 pounds.

However, the inside of the unit is very similar to the Maverick with a Dometic 6-cubic-foot refrigerator, convection microwave, single induction cooktop, Truma Cambi-Plus heater system, and 15,000 BTU air conditioner. You can also choose from a dual sofa layout or a single sofa with a dinette layout like you can with the Maverick.

Also like the Maverick, the Summit has 400 watts of solar, a 30-gallon freshwater tank, a 24-gallon gray tank, a 24-gallon black tank, and the option to upgrade to a lithium battery system.

Better Than Leisure Travel Van? New 2023 Chinook Summit Class C RV Sprinter

The Chinook Camper Towable Lineup

Chinook RV didn’t start manufacturing towables. But today, they’ve added six unique options for travelers. The Dream lineup offers three models to suit the varying needs of RVers, the RPM features standard and extreme options, and you can use the Trail Wagon as a cargo trailer or ensuite.

The Dream

There are six floorplans with single-axle and double-axle options. Five of the six feature rear full bathrooms while the sixth model moves the bathroom to the unit’s center. The D290DBS is the only unit with a slide-out. This floorplan, as well as the D260BH, have corner bunk beds. All of the Dream campers have a ducted A/C and furnace, a double-door 6 cubic-foot refrigerator, a cooktop, and a microwave.

These six floorplans range from 21 feet 5 inches to over 33 feet. The GVWR ranges from 5,140-10,280 pounds. The cargo-carrying capacity (CCC) also varies. The smaller units have around 1,500 pounds of CCC while the D290DBS has a whopping 3,200 pounds of CCC.

All New COMPACT TOY HAULER! 2022 Chinook Dream DH175

The Suite Dream

RV Pro’s “Best New Model” in 2022, the Suite Dream has the same floorplan offerings as the Dream. The interior and exterior of the units are mostly the same. However, the Suite Dream models have a fiberglass exterior while the Dream models have an aluminum exterior. The Suite Deam trailers are also solar-ready and feature a power tongue jack, frameless windows, and an enclosed underbelly with heated tanks. The weights and lengths of these trailers are the same as the Dream models.

Make memories that last a lifetime with the Suite Dream D175BH lightweight Camper!

The Dream Hauler

There’s one Dream Hauler option by Chinook RV. This floorplan has a 13,500 BTU air conditioner, a double-door 6 cubic-foot refrigerator, a cooktop, and a microwave. The L-shaped lounge offers seating for meals, and the overhead cabinets offer ample storage space.

If you’re looking for a trailer to haul your ebikes, motorbikes, or fishing poles, the garage of the Dream Hauler is 8 feet long. The overall length of this trailer is 21 feet 5 inches.

The tank sizes are also for an off-grid, close-to-the-trailhead adventure. The freshwater tank is 30 gallons, the gray tank is 44 gallons, and the black tank is 44 gallons. You can also upgrade with options like 12v heat pads on the holding tanks, a built-in air compressor, or a flip-down bed in the garage.

Dream Hauler DH175 Toy Hauler by Chinook RV

The RPM

For a more rugged design, the Chinook RPM camper has a diamond-plated rubber floor mat, diamond-plated metal to protect the side walls, and six 6,000-pound tie-downs thru-bolted to the chassis in the garage. There’s also a ramp door for easy access to the garage.

There are four floorplans in the RPM line that range from 21 feet 8 inches to almost 31 feet. The GVWR is 10,160 pounds on all four options. If you’re looking to haul large toys, the RPM has a cargo-carrying capacity range of 3,770-5,520 pounds. The garage lengths vary from 13-16 feet. It’s more than capable of transporting your outdoor gear!

Two floorplans feature a queen bed in the front. The other two smaller options have a full kitchen and bathroom in the front. The kitchen includes a double-door 6 cubic-foot refrigerator, a cooktop, and a microwave.

CHINOOK RV RPM 27QB TOY HAULER

The RPM Extreme

The RPM Extreme line has six floorplans, which include the four floorplans of the RPM line. The 19FB and 20FBS models are new to the RPM Extreme lineup. Four units have the front bedroom. The other two only have the Happijac bed with dual sofas in the garage. All models have a full kitchen and bathroom.

The garage area features a raised roofline for taller vehicles, dovetail flooring for easy access, and diamond-plated rubber floor mats. It also has diamond-plated metal to protect the side walls, six 6,000-pound tie-downs thru-bolted to the chassis, metal side exhaust vents, and overhead cabinets.

The RPM Extreme package comes with off-road tires, custom alloy wheels, and “Extreme” orange and black graphics. With a 90-gallon freshwater tank in all models, a 30-40-gallon gray tank capacity, and a 30-40-gallon black tank capacity, this trailer is ready for off-road and off-grid travel.

2022 Chinook RPM Extreme 27QB

The Trail Wagon

Finally, the Trail Wagon is a unique Chinook camper to accompany your motorhome. It features several industry-leading upgrades like a remote-controlled electric rear ramp door and a remote-controlled winch. It’s made of fully-bonded aluminum construction, has full body paint, and is solar-prepped for two 110-watt panels.

There are four floorplans ranging from 18 feet 9 inches to 21 feet 3 inches. The interior is a blank slate for you to use as you need. There’s an electric drop-down queen bed that converts to sofa seating for entertaining guests. You can also choose from many upgrades like a toolbox, refrigerator, diamond-plated full floor coverage, an entertainment center package, and more to suit your travel lifestyle.

Meet Trail Wagon by Chinook

Where Can I Buy a Chinook Camper?

If you’re ready to make your Chinook camper purchase, there are dealers across the country. You can search for motorhome dealers or towable dealers on the website. Arizona, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, and Washington are the only states with motorhome and towable dealers.

Pro Tip: Walk down memory lane and check out these 9 Coolest Blast-From-the-Past Vintage Motorhomes.

The Chinook Camper is Making a Comeback!

Chinook RV is a great story in the RV industry. The company started strong and suffered severe setbacks with the Great Recession. However, Chinook campers have resurrected the brand! 

If a Class B motorhome is the right fit for your travel lifestyle, check out the Bayside, Maverick, and Summit models. If small toy hauler travel trailers are more your style, check out the five towable options. And if you need additional storage space or want to bring a motorcycle or ATV on your adventures but prefer the drivable Chinook motorhomes, the Trail Wagon may be an option to make your dreams come true!

Have you ever heard of Chinook RV? Do any of its models speak to you and your adventures? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

Become A Mortons On The Move Insider

Join 15,000+ other adventurers to receive educating, entertaining, and inspiring articles about RV Travel Destinations, RV Gear, and Off-Grid Living to jump-start your adventures today!

About Tom and Caitlin Morton

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of “Go North” on Amazon Prime Video, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for Hwy.co and an Arizona travel guide.

About Us

Sharing is caring!

Dale Rose

Sunday 6th of August 2023

I still don't see that one-piece fiberglass shell that the older Chinooks were famous for. I would have thought that the first model you would have tried to re-make would have been the Concourse as it was the most popular model. I see this as more of a rebirth of the name Chinook rather than the RV itself.

Mortons on the Move

Monday 18th of September 2023

You are right, they didnt really stick to their roots.