Glacier Peak vs. Augusta RV Ambition – a VERY interesting comparison

Glacier Peak vs. Augusta RV

AND… I’ve made my decision on what my next 5th wheel will be!

I’ve been in the market for a new fifth wheel for about 18 months now. I’ve looked at MANY manufacturers models with a focus on design and engineering over “bells and whistles”. Having lived in a reasonably good Crossroads Seville since 2011, and “tested” it in winter conditions where over 250 inches of snow fell in a winter and temperatures regularly fell WELL below Zero Fahrenheit, I know what to look for and have a good idea of what will “hold up” for the long run.

Two 5th wheel trailers have caught my eye in a true sea of mediocrity in the RV world – these are the Glacier Peak model 30’s, brand new this year and the Augusta RV Ambition model 33. Both have many fine attributes and in many ways excel beyond their peers – but only one survived my head to head comparison.

Incidentally, both are at a length I consider optimal for full-timing. They are just under 35 feet (real length). Yes, I’d agree that longer fifth wheels are REALLY nice to live in, but they are equally as difficult to maneuver into the more remote (and best) camp sites. Thirty five feet represents a compromise – large enough to be comfortable and small enough to go (almost) anywhere.

glacier peak 30 rds
Innovative storage in the Glacier Peak 30RDS
glacier peak 30RDS
Even MORE innovative storage locations in the Glacier Peak 30RDS

Glacier Peak is manufactured by Outdoors RV, a relatively small company located in eastern Oregon. They claim to know their buyers and make rigs (fifth wheels and travel trailers) designed for heavy duty, off-road use in all types of weather – including heavy snow and low temperatures.

Augusta RV is likewise a relatively small company – now owned by the RV Factory. Their claim to fame is to be factory direct and focused on doing custom modifications for their customers. That is, if you need significant changes in their existing floor plans, if it can reasonably be done, they’ll do it. From my conversation with one of their sales reps, I found this claim to be questionable. I asked about simply switching out the residential fridge the Ambition comes with for a Norcold propane/electric, and the response was “probably not.”

Augusta RV Ambition
Yes, the interior of the Ambition 33 is GORGEOUS, but does it have what it takes where it COUNTS?? See the comparison chart below!
Of course… the Glacier Peak’s interior is no slouch either! I love the rustic look and when you’re in it, you see just how much window space it has – and… they’re **thermopane windows**

As I studied each fifth wheel, I have to admit the Augusta Ambition is GORGEOUS inside and frankly I like the layout better than any Glacier Peak – but – for me to spend my hard earned dollars with Augusta, it HAS to stand up to certain specific criteria before I can consider spending my hard earned bucks on it.

To settle the “face-off” between Ambition and Glacier Peak, I developed a comparison chart (below) that details specific issues I consider important in a fifth wheel and my findings with each trailer.

coach-net
I have had Coach-Net for years now – far more than simple emergency road service. Simply put, I wouldn’t be without it.

A side by side comparison of the Glacier Peak and Augusta RV – Ambition

Design FeatureGlacier PeakAugusta RV AmbitionAdvantage
 Insulation2″ high density, solid foam in all walls including slide walls and top of slide1 layer fiberglass and 1 layer R14 foil including slide walls and top of slideGlacier Peak – a clear advantage, important in winter AND summer. High density foam beats fiberglass/r-foil any day!
 Composition of the underside of the slide (the slide-ski)High gloss fiberglassHigh gloss fiberglassTIE – both are excellent! It’s amazing how many companies cut corners in this important area – one that will cost the owner down the road.
 suspensionMORryde 3000 + shock absorbers on both axlesMORryde 4000Glacier Peak – shocks make a BIG difference, amazing more companies don’t provide shocks on their axles.
 refrigerator12 cu ft Norcold with winter kit and heat tape20 cu ft LG residentialGlacier Peak – residential fridges will drain your batteries in less than 24 hours if you dry-camp AND they have NOT stood the test of time. LG did not design their fridges to do 60mph down pot-holed highways!
 Insulation in roof2 layers fiberglass and 1 layer R14 foil1 layer fiberglass and 1 layer R14 foilGlacier Peak
 Roof Truss5/8″ truss that does NOT pinch fiberglass towards edges5/8″ trussGlacier Peak
 Insulation in chassis2 layers fiberglass, 1 layer R14 foil, tanks wrapped in R14 foil, 12v heater on fresh water tank.1 layer fiberglass, 1 layer R14 foil, 12v heaters on tanksTIE. Fact is if you skirt your rig AND burn propane “as needed”, you won’t freeze up with either GP or Augusta
 Quality Control IssuesEvery Glacier Peak is inspected before it leaves the Outdoors RV factory to minimize QC issuesA recent merger with the RV Factory was accompanied by a spate of QC related complaints, the sales rep I spoke with claims this has abated.Glacier Peak
 Grey and Black Tank PullsNO cable system in useUses cablesGlacier Peak – cable systems are prone to fail.
 Weight 12075 (dry), 2655 (hitch), 15000 (gvwr) (this is on the 30RDS model, the other 2 are very similar) 14500 (dry), 4100 (hitch), 19180 (gvwr) Glacier Peak – The Augusta will require a 1 ton Dually (minimum) whereas the GP requires a 3/4 ton SRW. Diesel is recommended for both.
 Outside StorageVERY innovative, with extra compartments in each model, the most is in the 30RDS, the front storage is broken up into 2 separate sections and one has shelving in it!Standard – no additional outside storage areas Glacier Peak

Summary on the Glacier Peak 30 vs. the Augusta RV Ambition 33

Glacier Peak has 3 models ranging from 33′ 9″ to 34′ 11″, the Ambition 33 is 34′ 6″. For a smaller trailer, it IS heavy and my concern is you need MORE truck than many folks own. Personally, I will NOT get a dually as I spend lots of time in the snow in the winter. I had also hoped to get photos of the storage bay in the Augusta as the sales rep Colin promised me, but he never followed through to send me photos or any additional information as I requested of him.

So…I’m done! Glacier Peak by Outdoors RV it is – this will be my next fifth wheel! All I need to decide is 30RDS or 30RLS – both of which are great (and frankly, for those who like a rear kitchen, the 30RKS is THE choice to make!) I took the time to make this detailed comparison as Augusta RV seems to make a solid fifth wheel and does offer *some level* of competition to Outdoors RV’s Glacier Peaks. Had I chosen a different manufacturer – particularly ANY from Thor or Forest River, there would be virtually NO basis for comparison.

Special note… The RV Dream audio series for Living the RV Lifestyle begins May 8 – Click HERE to learn more and gain access to 20 Experienced RV’ers speaking on a number of topics (and I’m one of them!)

UPDATE… Here is my NEW 5th Wheel Purchased 10/16/2017… https://rvacrossamerica.net/outdoors-rv-glacier-peak-4season-5thwheel/


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105 thoughts on “Glacier Peak vs. Augusta RV Ambition – a VERY interesting comparison”

  1. Peter,

    I’m responding to you despite the obnoxious and confrontational tone of your note to me. If you take the time to review these specs – https://media.ford.com/content/dam/fordmedia/North%20America/US/2015_Specs/2015_SuperDuty_Specs.pdf – for the 2015 Ford superduty’s (as an example), you’ll find ALL payload capacities are OVER (in most cases WELL over) 3000 pounds. And that’s on 5 yr old trucks. I’m CERTAIN the new models handle even more (or at least equivalent.) Here’s the reality Peter, from EXTENSIVE EXPERIENCE, MOST 5th wheel trailers can SAFELY and REALISTICALLY be pulled with a 3/4 ton diesel truck. And, yes, I do have a paid Concierge Buying and Selling Service (https://rvacrossamerica.net/buysell) and if you take the time to read my reviews, I have a growing list of VERY satisfied clients. With that said, have a wonderful day Peter.

    Reply
  2. You keep advocating 3/4 ton diesels for small to mid fifth wheels. The payload on these will be blown out by 50% or more as most 3/4 ton diesels have a payload of less than 2100 pounds. So you, as a paid consultant are giving folks bad advice that would make them illegal at a weigh in of the D.O.T. And they paid for that advice?

    Reply
  3. I purchased a F30RDS in August of 2017. It turns out that ORV has discontinued this model which is a shame because the rear dinette is more useful than a table and chairs and the large rear window provides a great view over the RKS model and the TV viewing position is better than the RLS. We camped (Full hookups) for 3 months in Breckenridge CO (altitude 9,500 ft) this past winter. We bought a full skirt from Custom Skirting in So. Dakota and highly recommend them. On days below 10 deg F the 35K propane heater can only maintain about 60 deg F. We used 10-15 lbs of propane per day. However, the electric fireplaces are wonderful to make the inside well above 75. We have also camped in 90 deg F heat and the single AC is adequate. The basement storage volume and tank sizes are big advantages over most other fivers. The 12 cu ft fridge seems much larger than our previous 8 cu ft unit and we have fed 3 adults and 3 ‘tweeners’ for 5 days with it. The battery storage space is also an advantage as it holds 4ea 6 VDC AGMs. We recently had an “opportunity” to demonstrate the capability of the tires and off road suspension when we were detoured onto a narrow, muddy, and steep dirt road for 7 miles in Routt county. I wish we had a video of that to show our 4 wheeler friends the capability of a GMC 3500 and a 15,000 lb fiver but the folks on the road behind us gave a big thumbs up at the end of the detour.
    One big plus for ORV has been the support of their warranty dept. They have provided assistance and advice for every item that we have contacted them.
    I have added a Xantrex 3012 inverter/charger and so boondocking is great. A future addition will be solar panels. For now, we are very pleased with this ORV product. As you point out the length has proven to be just right for many campgrounds.

    Reply
  4. Hi Al: Yes, we want the 2018 Glacier Peak Titanium F30RLS.
    Options I would like are
    1) king bed
    2) back up camera
    3) generator prep ( Champion 3500 watt)
    4) solar panel prep for portable panels. (200amp)
    5) off road package

    The hitch I want to purchase for my 2014 F350 Lariat Is (B&W Companion with slide
    BWRvK3370)
    I’m also having my fuel tank switched to a 63 gallon tank.

    If you need any more info let me know.

    Reply
  5. Hi Allan: My wife changed her mind and now she likes the ORV. I’m ready to buy. Do you have the F30RLS in stock anywhere.
    Send me a personal at boblacourse@hotmail.com and I will get you my cell # so we can discuss price.

    Thank you
    Bob

    Reply
  6. Hi Allan: I heard ORV will no longer manufacture 5th wheels. Is this true?
    If so what in your opinion is a good 5th wheel in the 34 to 36′ range.

    Reply
    • Not true. I know for a fact that the 26 and 28 Glacier Peak’s are scheduled for a build in August/Sept., the 30 models are not on the calendar at the moment, but a build is anticipated in mid-autumn. A GREAT 5th wheel in the 34-36ft range IS the glacier peak – and I happen to have 2 of them in stock at the moment – but – when they go, it will be quite a while before we get more.

      Reply
  7. Hi Allan: I heard ORV will no longer manufacture 5th wheels. Is this true?
    If so what in your opinion is a good 5th wheel in the 34 to 36′ range.
    I decided against the Grand Design Reflection. There not as well built as they should be. I walked in 1 at a dealer in Mesa Az and felt like I would go through the floor. Just don’t understand how manufacturers can let issues like this get out to dealerships. No quality control at all.

    Reply
  8. Al,
    Thanks for the quick response. Sounds like there is a work-around for the grocery trip! Just would have to pull all slides back in if i am boondocking ovrnight in a Walmart parking lot, for example. The Glacier Peak sounds like a well-built and reliable rig which is important to me as I would be travelling solo. I will also want to stay in state and national parks so short length is better. Trailer, 5th wheel, trailer, 5th wheel…hmmmm.

    Reply
    • Yep, all good points. If you want a GP, I still have 2 left on my lot. There is NO firm date for when more “30” models will be built.

      Reply
  9. Al, question about the F30RKS — if all slides are in, can you walk into the kitchen? Can you reach inside the refrigerator to stock it with items?

    PS: This is my first ever RV post! In the research stage but looking to make the leap! Thank you for your time. Joan

    Reply
    • Joan,

      Thanks for reaching out. You’ve identified one of the best 5th wheel trailers you could possibly own – and you know I’m in one myself! In the 30RKS, when the slides are in, getting to the fridge would be impossible. That said, you can easily operate the slideout and in about 40 seconds have full access to the fridge. Your slide motor will operate off the campers 12 volt battery system – which is recharged as you drive. So, if you are traveling and stop at a grocery, park your trailer, do your shopping and then slide the slide out when you return to your camper and load your fridge. I often park a bit away from the entrance to the grocery store and try to park along the edge of the parking lot so I can slide out a slide (or two) to do anything in the camper while I’m in the grocery store’s lot.

      Reply
  10. You should be a consultant for manufacturers of RVs. You can help manufacturers meet a minimum standards. On the other hand you said,

    “I’m planning to remove the dining table and replace it with a custom piece of furniture that will add drawers, cabinets, surface space, and still retain dining space for 2.”

    I’m sure that there’s a market out there for people that already own glacier peak’s that need your custom piece of furniture.

    I really mean that. It could be a nice little addition to many GPs. Where the GPs is a 365×24/7 camper underneath, that could help make up the ground, where the other RVs have more in the way of aesthetics.

    Reply
    • Brad,

      Thanks for your kind words. I can tell you ORV (Outdoors RV) is aware of the modification I made to the cabinet in my 30RLS behind the TV and they’re looking into the viability of incorporating sliding drawers into future builds. I also plan to share the change I’m making to the dining table as soon as work is completed.

      Other companies are likely not nearly as interested in anything that costs extra as they are very ‘bottom line’ oriented. You also mentioned “minimum standards” – the unfortunate reality is there are NO minimum standards in the RV industry. If people will buy it, they will make it.

      As to other Glacier Peak owners, I’m sure that some (many?) are following my posts and as I do updates, they can update their trailers as they see fit.

      Al

      Reply
  11. She likes the Grand design Reflection 320MKS. It’s 34’8″ long, GVWR is 13,995, so I can still tow with my F350 Limited.

    The F30 RLS is 34’11” long and has a Max trailer weight of 14,950

    what I don’t like about the Grand design is they use Westlake 16″ H rated tires, and the hitch pin is a Trail light or something like that. I’d much rather have the Good year G rated tires and the Mor ride hitch pin. I’ll definitely be switching out the tires to Good year.

    These were the 2 RVS we were interested in from the start. My wife loves to cook and spends a great deal of time in the kitchen. Having cabinets and counter space is a big deal for her.

    Reply
    • I can show your wife how I modified my cabinet behind the TV to turn it into a pantry (3 drawers that are on rollers), further, I’m planning to remove the dining table and replace it with a custom piece of furniture that will add drawers, cabinets, surface space, and still retain dining space for 2.

      After speaking with an engineer at Grand Design, I find several areas where they fall short:

      No shock absorbers on the axles where Glacier Peak offers 2 levels of shocks including Monroe air shocks! important for off road
      No option for better tires! They only supply Westlake – chinese manufacturer; GP has Goodyear
      No fiberglass under the slide where GP has fiberglass
      No steel plate above the tires where GP has a steel plate that separates the tires from the inside of your camper!
      Grand Design is using the new style stairs which I see as a trainwreck – you can NOT hook up to the trailer while your stairs are still down or you will destroy these stairs! Further, they lift up and store INSIDE the camper – so whatever is ON the stairs will end up IN the camper. Many (most) rv’ers like to hook up while stairs are still down so you can do a final check of the inside before taking off.
      Glacier Peak has insulation in the slide out (2″ thick) in the ceiling & walls – I don’t believe GD has this.
      Glacier Peak has a CRE 3000 suspension (3″ cushion) – I don’t believe GD has this important for off road
      Glacier Peak has a custom chassis that is designed for the floor plan, no such luck with GD important for off road – pulls better

      Reply
  12. Hi Al: After my wife did her own research on the F30RLS and we went out and viewed a couple she decided this is not the 5th wheel she wants to spend time in. Her main concern is it has no interior character, no cabinet space and no island.
    I wanted to inform you immediately before you spent any more time getting paper work for me. Sorry for the inconvenience.
    Bob

    Reply
    • Bob, I’m truly sorry for you to hear this. I’d welcome the opportunity to speak with her and address her concerns. Frankly, to get something better in this length, you’ll have to go to New Horizons, spend 3x the money, and need a F450 or better to pull it. And I’m not exaggerating. Based upon my experience and research, if you limit yourself to 35ft or less, the Glacier Peak is THE camper to own. I’d love to hear if you find another that meets it for quality.

      Briefly, regarding your wife’s concerns – regarding the island – I wish they made one as well, but they can’t and still do what they’ve done in the bedroom/bathroom complex – which is head and shoulders above almost any other in the industry AND stay under 35 ft. As to cabinet space, I can speak to how to maximize and improve upon what they’re providing you with. As to interior character – they’re going for a new england ski lodge atmosphere and as such were not looking to create lots of flash (which usually hides substandard construction) that other companies strive for. The best company that does “flash” is Forest River… if you go that route, all I can say is good luck.

      Reply

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