Honest Brinkley RV Review: 10 Months of Full-Time RV Living + Factory Tour Insights

Is Brinkley RV a good brand? That’s a question we get asked a lot. Craig and I will give you an honest Brinkley RV review after living in it full-time for 10 months and traveling 10,000 miles across 17 states.

Overall, our Brinkley fifth wheel has held up really well, and we’ve been very happy with its build quality.

In this article, we’re sharing some insights on the quality of our Brinkley RV based on our personal experience. While getting some warranty work done at their service center, we also got a chance to tour their factory. Later in the post, we will also walk you through Brinkley’s build process and touch on some things they are doing differently than most RV manufacturers.

Strap in!

A Quick Back Story On Us

Meet Victoria and Craig. We are a young couple who travels full time in our fifth wheel across North America. We met at a church youth camp in 2008 and have been married for 11 years.

With a shared passion for adventure, we sold our house in Tallahassee, FL, in early 2021, bought a 6-year-old 2014 Dutchmen Denali 330RLS, renovated it ourselves, and hit the open road. Not so surprisingly, the RV was always falling apart, so in 2023, we upgraded to a new Brinkley RV Model Z.

I, Victoria, work as the Head of Marketing for a fully remote health tech company, while Craig is a former landscaping business owner. He also has extensive experience in construction and has worked as a home inspector, gaining invaluable knowledge that transfers well to RVs. His expertise and ingenuity are what keeps the wheels turning and the adventures rolling.

Oh, and we travel with our two Border Collies, Leeland & Maverick.

Side note: We’re not sponsored by Brinkley, they don’t pay us, and we’re not their brand ambassadors. What you’re about to read is our firsthand experience and honest Brinkley RV review.

Our Brinkley RV Model

We own a Brinkley RV Model Z3100. It’s a 35-foot luxury mid-profile fifth-wheel designed and warrantied for full-time living. It has a rear living room with opposing slides, a mid full bath, and a front master suite with a king-bed slide. 

Here are the specs and features of our Brinkley RV Floor Plan – model Z3100

  • Dimensions (LxWxH) – 34′ 11″x8’x13′ 2″
  • Holding Tanks (gals) – 75 Fresh, 90 Gray, & 45 Black
  • Weight Ratings (lbs) – 11,923 UVW, 14,995 GVWR, 3,072 CCC, & 2,142 Hitch
  • Sleep Capacity – 4
  • Warranty – 1-year limited base warranty and a 3-year limited structural warranty
  • Our MPG – We get 10-12mpg towing with our 2020 Ram 3500 SRW
  • Exterior Storage Capacity (cu.ft.) – 130+
  • Heating & AC – 18k BTU rear AC + 13.5k BTU front AC + 5k BTU furnace
  • Awning – 11′ + 15′
  • MSRP – $106,526
  • Other Standout Features – A modern-look interior, theater seating, tri-fold sofa, king bed, gourmet kitchen with island, walk-in closet, 3 slides, fireplace, 2 smart TVs, 16 Cu. Ft. fridge, 370W solar panel, heavy-duty chassis and suspension, pet features, & rated for full-timing.

Who Makes Brinkley RV?

Founded in 2022, Brinkley RV is a new independent towable RV manufacturer based in Goshen, Indiana. It’s owned by a group of five dynamic RV industry executives, each one bringing an invaluable blend of expertise to the company.

To deliver long-lasting quality, they started by identifying all the issues that have plagued the RV industry for years and built the solutions into their design. They constantly challenge the existing processes, materials, technology, and even suppliers to ensure they deliver high-quality units and the best after-sales service.

Brinkley RV’s mission is to re-ignite cutting-edge innovation in RV construction and bring back customer-driven product designs that will raise the bar for everyone.

Brinkley has three 175,000-square-foot production facilities on a 252-acre campus near the Elkhart County Fairgrounds. They specialize in fifth wheels, travel trailers, and toy haulers. Currently, there are five 5th-wheel Brinkley RV floor plans.

Our Brinkley RV Review

Personally, we feel pretty qualified to give a Brinkley RV review. After all, we’ve put our Brinkley fifth wheel to the full test—a rigorous 10-month, 100,000-mile shakedown test that includes real-world camping in all different types of settings, from full hookup parks to boondocking down some crazy dirt roads.

Watch our Brinkley RV Review on YouTube instead!

Here are our thoughts on Brinkley RV quality, the problems we’ve encountered, the customer service, and company vibe:

Brinkley RV Interior Review

Positives: We really like the interior. I love how you get a very residential feel in it. What ultimately drew us to this RV was the more modern look of the Euro square frameless windows. When we bought it, no other RV seemed to be doing that.

One more thing we really like about the interior is the super functional layout. The space is way more usable, and it feels more open. We went three feet shorter from our previous rig, yet we feel like the Brinkley is bigger.

The pantry is bigger, the fridge is larger, plus you get clever space saving features such as a sliding desk-dining table, multi-purpose bench/ottoman with a work surface, and pull-out trash bins and pet dishes.

Small Complaint: Appliances are the only thing that is not our favorite when it comes to our Brinkley RV model Z interior. There are all Furrion, a Lippert brand, which isn’t our favorite company. Granted, we haven’t had problems with our microwave or fridge.

But we understand it makes sense for Brinkley to use the Furrion appliances. If they went for a high-end brand, their rigs would be sold at a significantly higher price point from the current $100k.

Honestly, nobody would be willing to fork out upwards of $200k. So it’s a balance. After all, you can always swap out the appliances for a better brand.

Brinkley RV Exterior Review

Positives: Our previous rig (a Dutchmen Denali fifth wheel) had walls that were literally falling off, so we definitely needed something sturdier. And honestly, the exterior build is why we bought the Brinkley RV. Craig had started following Brinkley before they were really anything, back when they only had a Facebook page.

And one of the things they said on it was that their automotive exterior doesn’t have to be sealed for a lifetime. Craig was immediately sold. Like, you got me. I’m done. I’m buying it!

So we went to the 2022 Tampa RV show to check out Brinkley’s automotive exterior. And indeed, we were so impressed that we were about to buy it right then and then.

Fast forward, we haven’t had any issues with our fifth wheel’s exterior—no water intrusion, nothing. We’ve only been in it for 10 months, so time will tell how it holds up in the long term.

And despite having a shorter footprint, it has tremendous storage space. We even carry a Christmas tree that we only pull out once a year, plus a paddle board. Once again, we absolutely love its sleek, modern look with clean lines.

Complaints: None at all.

Brinkley RV Suspension and Chassis

Positives: We haven’t had any problem with our suspension and chassis. And another thing that also drew us to Brinkley is that they’re just using heavier-duty everything. Yeah, if they can put a better grade of something on it, they do it. All the way down to the tires.

Brinkley RVs’ chassis are designed in-house by their engineers. They beef up the frame around the common problem areas, combating issues that pop up down the road after you start racking up miles. That’s not all. Brinkley also uses a heavier and thicker grade of metal.

In addition, their leaf springs are rated higher, the shackles are stronger, and they come with H-Rated 16 Ply Cooper Tires with 17.5″ custom aluminum wheels.

On travel days with our old RV, we always had fears of breaking a part, losing a tire, or having something dangle off the unit because we didn’t fully trust its construction. With our current unit, we feel pretty confident.

Complaints: None. So far, so good.

Brinkley RV Customer Service

Positives: Their customer service is phenomenal. When we first got our Brinkley, we ended up needing a new motherboard for our leveling system. It was literally the 4th of July weekend. Craig called them on that Friday evening and they flew the part to us overnight. And we were boondocking in the middle of nowhere in Colorado. Their customer service has been so reliable, and we understand that’s how they treat everybody.

Complaints: Zero complaints about customer service.

Brinkley RV Problems and Repairs

In the wacky world of RVs, every brand (even the most luxurious) comes with its own set of glitches and surprises. And yes, we’ve also had a few issues, although they were largely cosmetic and easy to fix. Still, we decided to save them up and take them to Brinkley to have them fixed at the factory. These are the problems we encountered (all were fixed under warranty):

  • Bathroom fan stopped working
  • Broken blind string
  • Two cabinet doors hitting each other when closing
  • Kitchen sink drain finish peeling
  • Support for a shelf fell off.
  • Bubbling in dining chairs.
  • Closet rod fell off due to inadequate support
  • Missing caulk in the shower track caused water to run out of the shower onto the floor. Our bathroom sink cabinet was soaking up the water, causing its paint to peel. Brinkley easily fixed the caulking and replaced the bathroom cabinet, and it’s been working perfectly fine since then.
  • Lippert brakes recall (we had this fixed when the recall happened).

On our part, we honestly feel like that was a pretty small list of issues for 10 months after traveling some 10,000 miles. And we got everything fixed under warranty, at zero costs. They even sent us pictures and updates throughout the two-week repair period.

More importantly, most of these problems have been addressed in their current models. So in terms of problems and repairs, we’re very happy with that small number of easily fixable issues. It’s not been anything that has prevented us from hitting the road.

Brinkley RV Company Vibe

We give them an A++. Yeah, they’re really great. When we took the Brinkley Factor tour, we felt that the people we talked to really believe in the company. Similarly, the company seems to really believe in their workers, and they take care of their people.

That’s great for consumers because it means the workers are gonna take pride in their work and try to do a better job. It seems like the executives at Brinkley are trying to do the right thing. And that really shows in the people you will deal with as a consumer, most of the time.

Of course, we can’t speak for everybody because we didn’t speak to every single worker.

Our Brinkley RV Factory Tour Experience

While picking up our RV at the service center, Craig and I were lucky to get an exclusive tour of the Brinkley RV facility in Goshen, Indiana. We met one member of their marketing team who gave us a full tour of one of three production plants. In this section, we will explore their build process and highlight how their materials and construction process stand out from other RV manufacturers.

A Custom Factory With State-of-the-Art Tools

Currently, Brinkley RV has built two brand-new, heated and air-conditioned 175,000-square-foot plants. Their third plant will be complete this April 2024. So, one of the cool things about Brinkley is that they built their facilities from a blank slate and laid them out based on their precise needs.

Instead of leaving materials out in the elements like many manufacturers do, Brinkley’s plants have massive indoor space. They have huge sky-scraping racks to store all of their raw goods in-house. So by the time a part is ready to go in your unit, it’s still brand new.

They have invested in cutting-edge equipment like Tiger Stop and Up-cut saws that cut their interior trim and cabinetry to ensure clean lines and identical cuts. They also have hoists in every station to precisely move around heavy parts, thus lessening the strain on workers.

Upgraded Chassis Frame

Brinkley RV’s engineers design and build a custom-chassis. They have done their due diligence, so they are aware of the issues that plaque chassis in the RV market. To counter those problems, they use heavier grade steel, adding outriggers and supports to make sure the frame is as strong as possible.

The upper deck and sidewalls are really what gives the frame its rigidity. They use wood-stuffed aluminum framing/tubing and super-strong Sikaflex industrial adhesive to attach the walls to the frame. This ensures the wall framing isn’t hollowing out or screws backing out over time as your RV bounces on the road.

During the tour, they explained to us how they performed a Bosch test to analyze the efficiency of their new chassis. It’s basically a hundred-thousand-mile simulation. They loaded the RV to well over what the rated GBWR is, and over-exerted it for quite some time to see what would break. This helped them identify and eliminate weak points before starting the production process.

Extra Holding Tank Support and Innovative Plumbing

With many RVs, the holding tanks are always in danger of falling out of the underbelly. As crazy as it sounds, this is a top-10 warranty issue. Most manufacturers install 90-degree brackets that support the tanks on each side and steel straps underneath them.

So, when the tanks fill up, they tend to swell up and be round, meaning the only thing that’s supporting them is that small steel strap. It’s only a matter of time before the tanks come loose. Brinkley understands this pain point, and they showed us how they set up the tanks differently.

They use a steel floater on the top and bottom of the gray and black tanks. It’s basically a support bar they put in the top and the bottom along with the two 90s and sandwich the tanks in. This doesn’t give the tanks a chance to expand or have a way of dropping out of the bottom. The fresh tank is fastened right above your axles.

Certainly, we loved the way they plumb the two gray tanks together at the bottom, so they can drain and fill up pretty much at the exact same time. They’re 45 gallons a piece, so tied together, you get a true 90-gallon tank.

Custom Wire Harness

One of the biggest difference about Brinkley RV construction is the use of wire harnesses. All their wiring comes cut to length, loomed, labelled and color coded. So the only thing their electricians need to do is cut the zip ties and lay it out in the chassis.

This eliminates a lot of human error and enables easy serviceability. And remember that faulty electrical wiring is one of the main causes of RV fires.

Extra Waterproofing With Eternabond

Another key observation during the factory tour was the use of Eternabond—a strong sealant tape that water proofs any surface in minutes. They apply it in all those places that are traditionally vulnerable to water intrusion in RVs.

Especially on edges where there’s wood exposed, like the edge of the flooring and roof, where side walls meet, the AC hole on the roof, and high traffic area where slide-out’s are coming in and out.

Automotive Exterior With No Caulking Required

On the exterior of every Brinkley, you’ll notice that there’s no silicone. They use cell foam covered in butyl waterproof tape to install and seal windows and baggage doors. This eliminates the need for caulking.

They actually do a seal test on every single unit. Here, they close the windows and baggage doors and pressurize the inside of the coach. Then their experts go around the outside of the windows and the baggage doors with soapy water, looking for a bubble. Anywhere where they see a bubble, they know there’s a problem. No unit leaves the line until it’s fully sealed.

Rigorous Testing of Every Unit

When the exterior construction and interior furnishing is complete, every Brinkley RV rides on a shaker plate for a minute. This is a platform that simulates rough road conditions to assess a unit’s structural integrity and performance under stress.

This rigorous test helps identify and address any potential issues or defects before the rig leaves the factory. Brinkley is the first to introduce this type of quality control test.

What We Love About Our Brinkley RV After 10 Months of Full-Time RV Living:

There’s so much we love about our Brinkley RV model Z. Modern aesthetics, cozy residential-style living area, multifunctional features, hidden and innovative storage among others. But what has impressed us the most is the heavy-duty construction that has allowed us to venture far and wide without encountering serious issues.

What We Wish Was Different With Our Brinkley RV:

The only regret we have is that sometimes we wish we had a smaller off-road rig so we could access more off-beat boondocking locations. But not that we would give up our Brinkley. For what it offers, we really like it, and we would buy it over again.

Wrapping Up Our Brinkley RV Review

No doubt about it! Purchasing the Brinkley RV is one of our favorite life decisions! We put it to the full test, and it has held up really well after 10,000 miles, 17 states, and counting. Well, the test hasn’t stopped either because we’re getting ready to go to Alaska. So check out our channel, by the way, if you want to see how our fifth wheel performs in the unforgiving Last Frontier!

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