When one dreams of hitting the road full-time, they probably think they’ll do so with a full-size diesel and a luxurious home on wheels. At least, that was my original plan until 2020 happened.
I was saving for the full-size diesel pickup when my trusty Subaru quit on me, and I needed a vehicle immediately. My current truck budget gave me the option of a Toyota Tacoma.
But I refused to give up my dream of living on the road. If people could live full-time in a van, we could live in whatever small trailer a Tacoma could haul.
Like everyone else, I had to adjust life’s expectations in 2020, and I adjusted what full-time RV life would look like for me and my family, living tiny.
Why a Toy Hauler?
I knew I wanted a toy hauler, I had dreamt of those back patio views and had fallen in love with the toy hauler floorplan. I grew up camping in my family’s toy hauler. Many of my childhood memories consist of loading dirt bikes and spending the weekend in the desert.
Our toy hauler was where everyone gathered for potluck meals, with the ramp door down and a line of family friends waiting for their plate of breakfast burritos or chili dogs. The open floorplan was perfect for hosting friends, and I hoped someday my toy hauler could be the social trailer.
Our original plan was to be on the road for just long enough to visit all lower 48 states together, and then we’d settle back down in the Northwest, and our EVO would turn into our weekend camper. I owned a dirt bike and wanted the option to be able to bring my toys with me on future weekend camping trips.
In addition to wanting a toy hauler, I knew we needed some features to make this weekend warrior turned full-time home on wheels as comfortable and functional as possible: a bathroom, a permanent bed, and a couch. We found all this and more in our 2020 Forest River EVO 178RT.
RV Overview of the Forest River EVO 178RT
The 2020 Forest River EVO 178RT is a small toy hauler with many features and options.
Some interior features include a flip-out sofa, removable table, overhead cabinet storage, and a combination pantry/closet. The kitchen offers a two-burner stove-top, a microwave, a combination fridge/freezer, overhead cabinets, and drawer storage.
The front sleeping area offers a fixed queen bed, a full-length end table, USB charging ports, and additional overhead storage. Outside, we love the LED lighting, a 12’ awning, and access to the basement for additional storage.
2020 Forest River Northwest EVO 178RT Specs
- Length: 21’8″
- Dry Weight: 4,478 pounds
- Cargo Carrying Capacity: 1,432 pounds
- Sleeping Capacity: 4
- Fresh Water Capacity: 38 gallons
- Gray Water Capacity: 30 gallons
- Black Water Capacity: 27 gallons
Why Did We Buy a New Toy Hauler?
Toy haulers this small are not always easy to find. To this day, people tell us, “I didn’t know they made them that small!” We have only seen a couple of these trailers on the road. At the time of our purchase, it was easier to find a new trailer than it was to shop used.
One benefit of purchasing a new trailer is knowing it’s fresh off the factory line. We didn’t have to worry about poorly done remodeling work or how well the previous owner had maintained it. It was a clean slate for this new adventure!
We purchased our new Forest River EVO in August 2020. By November, we had put what was left of our worldly possessions into storage for what we thought would be a year-long adventure. Here we are over three years later, still on the road.
What Are Our Favorite Features of the Forest River EVO?
Over the years, we have come to have some favorite features of our home on wheels – things we couldn’t live without if we ever purchase another RV.
The top feature of our EVO has to be the back door. Those back patio dreams I had have turned into a reality, and the extra space that the back door allows has made all the difference in life on the road.
While we’re about the same square footage of a van, one benefit we have over van life is a dry bath. We have an actual bathroom with a door, and our toilet is not sitting in our shower.
We have a regular RV-size fridge and freezer, not a small cooler-like one that most converted vans have. This has made grocery shopping on the road much easier.
We love the ease of driving and finding sites a small RV brings. When hearing other campers in their 60-foot rigs talk about their horror stories of not finding a site or getting stuck on a windy road, we can’t relate!
With a total length of about 20 feet, we can enter every national park campground. We were even allowed to park in a tent site in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park for our wedding!
How Did We Upgrade Our Toy Hauler?
After a year of hard times washing dishes, we replaced the original faucet with a high-arc faucet with a pull-down spray nozzle. It has made cleaning up after meals much more enjoyable.
We made another purely cosmetic by adding a peel-and-stick backsplash to the kitchen to add more color. After about six months of full-time life, we discovered that the bed didn’t have much support. So, we added a couple of extra braces and two-by-fours to prevent bed sagging.
Our biggest upgrade was adding cables and hooks for our back door to lay flat and be used as a patio. This is my dream patio! We added a rear door screen to keep our pets safely inside and the bugs outside. We also attached a Quick Set Clam Shelter to give us an instant sun room.
What is Our Toy Hauler Towing Experience?
To make travel days more comfortable and safer, we upgraded our Tacoma’s leaf springs and added rear airbags to help the truck not drop in the rear with the additional weight. This has significantly helped improve the ride comfort on travel days and reduces strain on the structure of the Tacoma.
Safety is the biggest factor when towing a trailer, no matter the size. We invested in trailer brakes and sway bars to make our towing experience as safe as possible. I have driven in unfavorable driving conditions with gusting crosswinds, and the sway bars have helped keep our trailer from swaying dangerously into other lanes – or worse, tipping over.
The trailer brakes have made going down steep mountain grades safer. Instead of relying solely on the truck brakes to slow down the additional weight of a fully loaded trailer, the trailer brakes keep us at a safe speed down the hill.
When towing our toy hauler, we average about 10 miles per gallon. However, an added benefit of living tiny is our fuel tank is much smaller, and we don’t have to pay the higher prices of diesel fuel. So while we may average the same fuel economy as a full-size diesel truck or motorhome, it costs far less at the fuel pump.
Are There Any Drawbacks of the Forest River EVO 178RT?
Having a small toy hauler means fewer amenities compared to a travel trailer. We have a smaller kitchen and a far less comfortable couch than most RVs.
The EVO 178RT is a single-axle trailer, which is great for maneuvering but scary when you have a tire blowout.
One major drawback of purchasing a smaller trailer is fewer windows. The three windows we do have are small and, when paired with dark interior cabinetry, our home sometimes feels like a cave. It is very dark in here, especially on cloudy days in the northwest.
Things also wear faster when you travel full-time in an RV. Cabinets have more placed in them, which means they’re heavier and may eventually crack or sag. Additionally, our only place to sit is now so worn down that I sit on a metal frame all day while I work remotely.
This is one of the realities of investing in a budget-friendly or low-cost trailer: it may not be built for full-time use. While I can easily say we’re living the dream, it does not mean we can run from home repairs, especially when your house goes through an earthquake every time it moves.
Would We Buy The Forest River EVO 178RT Trailer Again?
If I had waited for that dream setup, I could still be waiting. I’ve owned bigger travel trailers, teardrop trailers, and even pop-up campers before, and each RV type has its pros and cons. From that experience, I can confidently say this EVO has been my favorite RV.
If we had kept to our original plan of a “trip of a lifetime around the country,” followed by using our EVO as a weekend camper, this trailer would’ve fit our needs perfectly. We don’t plan on giving up RV life any time soon, but we know it’s time for our family to upgrade to a model that fits our needs to live more comfortably on the road.
Having just one sink, a camper mattress, an uncomfortable couch, and a small countertop for over 1,000 days is not for the faint of heart.
In spite of all of the hardships of living tiny, this little trailer has become our home. It has kept our family safe in storms, hasn’t had any major repair issues that have left us homeless, and was even the dance floor of our wedding.
Countless memories have been made in this trailer – memories we wouldn’t trade for anything. Our EVO was a great intro to RV life and has taught us what we love and don’t love about this trailer.
There are some new features we’d love to have, but one thing remains true: It has to be a toy hauler.
Are you looking for other toy haulers for full-time or part-time RV living? If so, you might enjoy these additional resources:
- What Is The Best Toy Hauler Travel Trailer?
- RV Buying Guide: Finding The Right Toy Hauler
- Best Toy Hauler RVs for Off-Road Adventure
Do you have any questions about full-time RV living or this Forest River toy hauler? Ask Kerisa in the comments below.