Keystone’s newest lightweight fifth wheels, the Cougar Sport 2100RK and 2700BH, are hitting the road and are ready for camping season. They’re two of the most thoughtfully engineered and carefully constructed lightweight fifth wheels on the market.
But, we hear concerns from prospective campers about how modern RVs are made. Questions like:
Will it last?
How is it made?
What’s the build quality?
So we took a behind-the-scenes look at the Keystone Cougar manufacturing process to uncover how these 2023 models are built to last.
Let’s start with a quick overview of the Keystone Cougar Sport fifth wheels.
Keystone Cougar Sport 2100RK
Fifth Wheel Specs
- Length: 26’3”
- Dry Weight: 6,815 pounds
- Pin Weight: 1,120 pounds
- Sleeping Capacity: Up to 6
A perfect lightweight couple’s fifth wheel, the Cougar Sport 2100RK is designed and made using the quality construction standards that Keystone’s Cougar lineup is known for – HyperDeck no-seam flooring, efficient heating and cooling systems, and SolarFlex packages for boondocking capability.
Keystone Cougar Sport 2700BH
Fifth Wheel Specs
- Length: 32’3”
- Dry Weight: 7,455 pounds
- Hitch Weight: 1,390 pounds
- Sleeping Capacity: Up to 10
The Cougar Sport 2700BH offers a bunkhouse floorplan perfect for family and group camping. With many of the same base features as the 2100RK, this model also boasts a rear bunkroom with triple bunks, a convertible U-shaped dinette, a tri-fold sleeper sofa, and a queen bed in the primary sleeping area.
How the Keystone Cougar Sport is Made
From the frame to the pre-delivery inspection, here’s how each Keystone Cougar Sport model is made.
It all starts with quality assurance.
During every stage of its build, the Keystone Cougar Sport is overseen by quality control specialists responsible for maintaining high standards of craftsmanship. It is vital that the quality of construction is not sacrificed for the quantity of production.
Quality control is built into every stage of Keystone’s construction. But in the final build stage, each unit undergoes a multi-point inspection from top to bottom before it rolls off the production line.
By separating production output from quality control, Keystone ensures that only the highest-quality RVs roll off their assembly lines.
Every Cougar Sport fifth wheel starts with an engineered frame in partnership with Keystone’s engineering department and the frame supplier. The structural 8” I-beam frame for the Cougar Sport features full-width outriggers and stamped steel cross-members.
The frame is wheeled into the facility in the first production stage with the installed Road Armor™ shock-absorbing hitch pin with MaxTurn™ Technology.
It is flipped, and the underbelly is enclosed using a single polypropylene sheet. Two heavy-duty axles and suspension components are installed, along with the rear power stabilizing jacks, propane lines, 2” rear hitch receiver, and 10-ply E-rated Trailer King tires.
The frame is flipped back over before the trailer is rolled to the next station.
Holding Tanks, Electrical, Plumbing, Propane, and Ducting Systems
The next station installs fresh, gray, and black water rotocast holding tanks. The tanks are installed in between the frame rails to maximize storage space inside the coach and provide more efficient towing.
The Cougar Sport has one black and one gray tank under the bathroom, an additional gray tank under the kitchen, and a fresh water tank at the rear of the trailer frame.
The 2100RK and 2700BH have the following tank capacities:
- Fresh: 54 gallons (one of the largest tank capacities in its class)
- Black: 30 gallons
- Gray: 60 gallons
These tanks are strapped in from above and held in place by the enclosed underbelly below. That underbelly design also means the tanks aren’t exposed to road debris as you tow.
Color-coded wiring for the Cougar Sport’s 50-amp electrical system is run through the frame and connected to the 12-volt distribution box mounted in the front compartment.
Color coding isn’t an industry standard, but it is an example of Keystone going above and beyond to simplify troubleshooting your RV’s electrical system for owners and RV mechanics.
Keystone’s Giggy Box™ is another example of its innovative approach. The box centralizes your RV’s 12-volt wiring inside a protective housing, providing easier access and protecting your electrical connections from road, weather, or cargo damage.
It includes a battery disconnect switch, an inline fuse for the portable solar panel side port, a dedicated breakaway terminal, and more. For easier troubleshooting, there’s also a wiring diagram inside the cover.
Learn more about the Giggy Box™ 12V Distribution System:
Heat ducting and plumbing lines run through the frame at this stage, including the seven-pin connector you’ll use to tow this fifth wheel RV safely. Hot and cold water lines are run for the bathroom, shower, and kitchen fixtures, as well as the trailer’s outdoor shower.
With holding tanks, wiring, furnace ducting, the early stages of plumbing, and some flooring installed, the fifth wheel proceeds to the next station.
Hyper Deck™ Flooring
All Keystone Cougar Sport models and half-ton fifth wheels and travel trailers are developed with their exclusive composite flooring.
Replacing wood flooring, Hyper Deck™ is constructed with materials resistant to water damage. This no-seam flooring has four distinct layers from bottom to top:
- A protective film resistant to road damage.
- A fiberglass-reinforced thermoplastic base layer lighter than wood and able to take on water, replacing the need for a Darco wrap.
- A strong foam core that’s higher in density than traditional laminated plywood flooring (also known as lauan).
- A fiberglass-reinforced polypropylene that’s water-resistant.
The benefits of Keystone’s Hyper Deck™ include:
- Increased strength.
- Reduced flooring weight by up to 25% compared to traditional laminated plywood.
- Less likely to degrade over time.
- Increased screw retention for durability and security.
- Improved insulation and noise dampening.
On top of the Hyper Deck™, Keystone uses linoleum throughout the floorplan, including in the bedroom. The only difference is woven flooring in the slide-out, which provides a softer feel and better insulation.
With the Hyper Deck™ and linoleum flooring installed, the fifth wheel is ready to move to the next production stage.
Interior Walls and Cabinetry
It’s time to begin installing some interior walls and loading cabinetry. Cabinetry and some interior construction are done before attaching the exterior walls.
The first interior to install is the bathroom. Beneath the bathroom, technicians install the RV’s furnace, Girard tankless water heater, and exterior systems control panel. The bathroom base set includes the shower pan and surround, vanity cabinetry, and toilet.
Next, technicians install interior walls between rooms. These walls are screwed into the flooring first and then eventually screwed into exterior walls, providing added structural support for the roof and the entire RV.
The interior walls and cabinetry are up. The RV is ready to move to the next stage.
Exterior Walls and Front Cap Framing
The fifth wheel’s laminated exterior walls go up, starting with the off-camp side that will include the RV’s slide-out. These exterior walls are constructed in a separate, climate-controlled facility that maintains a consistent temperature and humidity.
A 24-hour curing process before the exterior walls leave the lamination plant ensures a strong, durable sidewall. Once they reach the production plant, these laminated walls secure to the five-sided aluminum superstructure underneath.
The fifth wheel’s upper and lower front cap frames are built at this stage. These are aluminum-framed with wood sheeting as a backer. The rear wall goes up, and the exterior walls are trimmed to conform to the frame before being securely screwed into place.
With all exterior walls installed, the RV heads to the roofing station.
The roof structure of the Cougar Sport begins with wood framing. This frame provides the aerodynamic roof curvature. The interior ceiling board fits to the bottom of these roof sections and the top of the exterior walls.
With those substructures in place, all the electrical wiring is run for interior lights, vent fans, air conditioning units, the standard SolarFlex 200 package, and prep for a rear backup camera. The ductwork for the Cougar’s Blade Pure™ Air Conditioning System is also installed.
Keystone’s Blade Pure™ A/C system delivers 20% more cooling power, excellent air filtration, and sound dampening.
The centerpiece of the HVAC system is the Coleman-Mach Q Series air conditioner, which is 10-15 decibels quieter than traditional units without a filtration component. The internal Merv 9 filter removes up to 50% of dust, mites, pet dander, pollen, mold, and auto fumes so you can breathe cleaner air every time you camp.
The system is also designed with duct elbows and wyes that accelerate airflow and reduce air turbulence to cool your RV more efficiently. Tuf-Lok™ thermoplastic duct joiners also keep the duct seams from collapsing, ensuring better durability and more efficient airflow over the life of your Cougar Sport.
The Cougar Sport models are also prepped for an optional second A/C unit over the front bedroom. That optional unit’s ventilation, vent hole, and wiring are prepped at this stage.
Holes are also cut for the roof vents, the skylight, the primary air conditioning unit, and the holding tank vents. Then, insulation is added before they lay sheets of ⅜”-thick OSB on top and staple them down. Insulation is also added over the fifth wheel’s front cap.
Before the glue is spread for the Alpha Super Flex TPO membrane, the seams and edges of the roof decking are sanded and taped to eliminate sharp spots and increase weather protection. When that’s complete, glue is poured on the decking and rolled out evenly for the strong TPO membrane.
A single Alpha Super Flex membrane sheet is stretched over the roof’s substructure.
The material is stretched from all directions by hand, and soft squeegee brooms are used to eliminate any air pockets under the material, ensuring better adhesion to the strong glue underneath.
Next, a hoist delivers the air conditioner, roof vents, holding tank vents, and other roof accessories, which are promptly installed. The solar panel for the Cougar Sport’s standard SolarFlex 200 package is mounted.
The SolarFlex 200 Package
As a standard feature on all Cougar Sports, this solar package includes:
- 220-watt solar panel
- 30-amp solar roof port with MC4 connectors and 10 AWG MPPT solar charging circuit
- 15-amp Victron SmartSolar MPPT control with Bluetooth app
- Inverted 110-volt loop prep with up to seven outlets (inverter not included)
- Zamp Solar portable solar panel charge port
This package is also prepped for expansion, meaning you can add the following:
- Zamp Solar portable panel
- A second 200 or 220-watt solar panel
- An upgraded 30-amp solar charge controller for faster charging
- An inverter to power up to seven 110-volt outlets
- A Victron SmartShunt Battery Monitor for real-time energy visibility
The Cougar Sport can also be upgraded to include the SolarFlex 400i Package. You can learn more about Keystone’s solar offerings here.
With all roof accessories installed, the final steps in this stage include installing and sealing the roof’s edge trim, sealing around all the roof accessories, and screwing the awning rail to the camp side.
The end result is a fully walkable roof with the rear wall prepped for a roof ladder. Once the roof installation is complete, the front cap is installed before the fifth wheel is wheeled into the pre-finish stages.
Furniture, Appliances, and Interior Cabinetry
While the roofing crew works above, other technicians are working on finishes in the interior of the Cougar Sport. This includes wiring for all interior lights and appliances, the trailer’s turn signals, running lights, and reverse taillights.
The Cougar Sport has backup lights, a unique feature that’s not available on all towable RVs.
Technicians install the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, bunkroom cabinetry, and the interior appliance suite, featuring a three-burner range, microwave, stereo system and DVD player, interior and exterior speakers, and 40” Smart TV.
Craftsmen build the bed frame, while interior lighting fixtures, switches, and controls are wired and completed.
The tri-fold sleeper sofa is the final piece of furniture to be installed (in the 2700BH). It fits through the entry door before it’s safely secured to the floor.
Doors & Windows
Frameless tinted safety glass windows are also installed while the roof is under construction. These windows are covered with a protective film until the final stages of the construction process to prevent scratches or dings.
Most of the windows on the Cougar Sport swing out to open, providing valuable ventilation while preventing water from running inside the coach on rainy days. This helps keep your RV cool when camping in hot climates without worrying about water leaks.
The entry door offers a glass exterior finish and rests on a friction hinge that prevents it from swinging open dangerously when you open your door in high winds. Because the glass door is tinted, the upper window lets you see who’s knocking on your door without them seeing in.
Keystone’s slide-outs for the Cougar Sport are built off the line and installed in the pre-finish stage. The 2700BH slide-out features a U-shaped dinette and a 12-volt refrigerator. The 2100RK slide-out features a refrigerator and a tri-fold sleeper sofa.
The slide-outs are built with a cable-slide mechanism, and the slide-out roof is fully walkable.
This is a feature you won’t find on many other slide-outs in the industry, but Keystone wants RV owners to have safe access to their roofs for cleaning and preventative roof maintenance.
While the rest of the Cougar Sport features linoleum flooring, soft woven flooring is used in the slide-outs. This provides a comfortable feel under your feet and improves insulation for a critical area of your 5th wheel that is not insulated by the RV’s underbelly when extended.
The heating and cooling control systems are located above the entry steps in the 2700BH. In one spot, you’ll have controls for the water pump, slide-out, and awning, as well as the level indicators for the holding tanks.
In the 2100RK, you’ll find the heating and cooling control systems to the right of the steps before you make your way toward the bedroom and bathroom. You’ll also find your tank level indicators and water pump control here. In this model, the controls for your awning and slide-out are on the cabinet to your right when you enter.
The Girard On-Demand tankless water heater control is in the bathroom on both models.
Finish, Cleaning, and Initial PDI
After the Alpha Super Flex roof is secure, the awning installation takes place. This includes wiring into the RV’s electrical system and testing the operation of the 17’ (2100RK) and 20’ (2700BH) powered awnings.
While the awning is wired and secured, the final sealants are applied on the slide-out, outdoor speakers, windows, and compartment doors.
Final Quality Control Checks
In the finish stages, quality control personnel rigorously inspect the interior and exterior, marking any cosmetic inconsistencies with red tape. These areas are finished in the final build station before the Cougar Sport undergoes a series of system tests.
Here are the systems that get a thorough inspection and test:
- The electrical systems and all wired components
- All propane appliances and connections
- All holding tanks are filled to capacity and drained to test plumbing systems
The quality control checks on each unit are extensively documented and inspected by Keystone’s independent quality control department, ensuring quality craftsmanship throughout the process.
Secondary PDI (Pre-Delivery Inspection)
Keystone uses a separate secondary PDI (Pre-Delivery Inspection) facility to put their RVs through additional testing once they leave the production line.
During PDI inspection, a secondary test ensures the RV is free of water intrusion. They utilize a Sealtech RV Leak Tester to pressurize the interior of the RV. Then they spray a soap solution on the exterior and check for bubbles that alert them to leaks in the RV’s seals. Any areas of concern are reported and fixed immediately.
In this facility, every lug nut on every wheel is checked and torqued to the proper specification. Every unit is weighed on a digital scale, so the number on your vehicle identification sticker represents exactly what your RV weighs.
Keystone’s RVs are built well and cared for all the way to your local Camping World dealership. But Camping World takes it one step further to ensure customers receive a quality RV built to last.
Each unit goes through yet another comprehensive PDI once it arrives at a Camping World dealership, including inspecting the roof and all door and window seals, checking the propane, water, and electrical systems, and much more.
So, what are you waiting for?
Explore Keystone Cougar Sport fifth wheels near you. Walk through and discover the quality and construction of these campers yourself.
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