Our New Tandara Fifth Wheel Reveal: Hitting the Road in Style

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You’ve been waiting patiently and here it is! The reveal of our ‘new to us’ Tandara fifth wheel. In this blog post, we’ll take you on a tour of our latest home on wheels, sharing the impressive specs, features, and what we love most about the cozy floorplan of our new RV. If you’re shopping, you’ll pick up some handy pro tips, too.

Our ‘new to us’ RV made the cover of Roads & Stays Magazine’s Winter 2024 issue

We’re relieved to be sharing a story with a happy ending. Especially after the wreck of the RV that wasn’t meant to be! But before we dive into the details of our new Tandara fifth wheel, let’s recap on the serendipitous tale of how it came about. 

The Back Story

A few months ago, we backed out of purchasing a 2008 Domani fifth wheel on the day we were supposed to complete the transaction. That’s because the seller drove his truck towing the RV under a low clearance bridge AT the pickup location. If you missed the crazy story, photos, and the lessons we learned… you’ll find that here.

TOTALED domani reno parking lot daytime with our truck

The RV we were supposed to buy, but was damaged by the seller… at the pickup location!

We paused our RV-buying plans to catch our breath and hit ‘reset’. RV shopping can be both time consuming and arduous. But it doesn’t have to be. So we wrote up a detailed ‘wish list’ of everything we wanted. Note, we were not brand specific – we were open to any brand and model that fit our criteria. We wanted our next RV purchase to feel easy and effortless. And we were willing to wait for the right one.

Finally, our wish list ended with this line… “the RV comes to us quickly and easily and in a way that makes it very clear it’s meant to be for us.” 

PRO TIP: When you are very detailed and clear in what you’re looking for, it makes it much easier to know when you’ve found “the one” and take action.


Little did we know back then that our friends’ new Tandara would eventually be ours!

Even though we were willing to wait a couple months to buy, just two days later we received an email from some friends offering to sell us their RV. We had camped with them in Georgia in the spring of 2021. Of course, we got to tour their new Tandara fifth wheel and we loved it! 

But, a couple of years later, they were ready for a change. Our friends had decided to return to full-time RVing, and wanted a bigger fifth wheel. To be honest, we even tried to talk them out of selling the Tandara. We could easily RV full time in it. But they were adamant they wanted a different floorplan with an additional half bath, plus a dedicated office space.

Because they didn’t have time to sell the fifth wheel privately, our friends offered to sell it to us at an excellent (discounted) price that was within our budget.  When we went back to revisit our ‘RV wish list’ we quickly realized their fifth wheel had pretty much everything we wanted, and more!

3 more signs that this was the right RV for us

Aside from meeting the most important RV shopping criteria on our wish list, there were three clear signs this rig was ‘meant to be’ for us.

  1. This fifth wheel is Tandara model, and as you may know, Julie is Australian. Amazingly, ‘Tandara’ is the Australian indigenous term for ‘camp here’. 
  2. We aren’t fans of swirly RV designs and love the modern mountain graphics. Especially as Marc is a Colorado native, and we have a home base there. 
  3. Our friends offered to tow the RV from Columbus, Georgia, to us. They were headed west anyway, and drove 1,700 miles to buy their new RV from a Colorado dealer. This made for an easy changeover at a local campground.

With these serendipities, along with the convenience of the purchase logistics, it was really a no-brainer that checked all the boxes, so we said YES.

PRO TIP: When buying an RV, stay true to your most important buying criteria. Stay within a comfortable price point for your budget, and recognize the value of ease, convenience, and location when it comes to finalizing the transaction!

OK, now let’s tell you all about our ‘new to us’ fifth wheel and why we love it!

Overview of the 2021 East to West Tandara Fifth Wheel 285RL​

This newer mid-profile fifth wheel combines luxury, comfort, and practicality in a beautifully designed package. We love the modern amenities, bright and stylish interior. And it has all the features we really want and need.

While Tandara models will vary across trim levels, our unit came fully loaded, with both the luxury and four seasons packages. Being a 2021 model, it’s about 2.5 years old, and it is in excellent shape.  The previous owners took excellent care of the unit and added a bunch of other valuable upgrades and improvements. 

So far we have been pleasantly surprised by this RV’s quality and comfort! And as our home away from home, it makes extended RV travel even more comfortable. 

PRO TIP: A huge advantage of buying a well-cared-for used RV over a new one is it may come with additional mods, upgrades and gear, at little to no additional cost.

white truck and fifth wheel

Specifications of the Tandara Fifth Wheel 285RL

The Tandara 285RL measures 33 feet and 4 inches long, providing ample space for living and storage. Its dry weight (unloaded) is around 10,000 pounds, and the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) fully loaded is 13,655 pounds.

This is right around the towing capacity of our Ford F250 truck. The rig is slightly heavier than we originally hoped for, especially since it has a lot of aftermarket add-ons. But it still remains comfortably within our truck’s capabilities since we have not maxed out the cargo carry capacity. 

PRO TIP: Always check your towing vehicle’s capacity is more than adequate for the RV you plan to buy.

What about tank capacities?

The Tandara features a 63-gallon freshwater tank, 90-gallon combined gray water tanks, and a 45-gallon black water tank. Outside, there are two 30lb propane tanks.

Tandara Fifth Wheel 285RL Floor Plan

One of the most exciting aspects of the Tandara 285RL is its floor plan. It has two opposing slides in the rear living area, a central kitchen and dining area, and a private bedroom at the front. The design of this RV ensures each area feels separate and spacious, making it feel more like a home, and less like a vehicle. 

The rig originally came with a king size bed, but the previous owners cut the bed platform down to accommodate a queen size mattress. We also happen to prefer a queen bed, as it gives us more space to walk around – and make – the bed.

The bathroom is in the upper front area of the unit.

Fun Fact: The Tandara 285RL floorplan and style reminded us of two RVs we really liked that were finalists in the 2022 RV of the Year Awards (the Arcadia won).

Originally a king size bed, this has been cut down to a queen, which we prefer

Tandara Features and Amenities

Among the things we like most about the Tandara 285RL are the comfort and luxury touches. This rig is very open, light, and bright with the “Artisan Maple” modern farmhouse-style interior. The living area is spacious, with a tri-fold sofa that turns into a queen bed. Plus, two reclining theater seats, 50-inch LED TV, and a 5000 BTU 48” electric fireplace, which we use for both for heat and ambiance.

We love the kitchen, with its free-standing island, farmhouse stainless steel sink, pullout kitchen faucet, 14.8 cubic foot residential refrigerator plus two freezer drawers. There’s also a three-burner cooktop, oven, microwave, and a HUGE two-door pantry. 

The Tandara has a dining table with chairs, that we use for eating and also as a workspace. Although Julie often prefers to work stretched out on the recliner!

As you can see, the Tandara has very large windows all around the living area. These bring in loads of natural light, and showcase the views outside. 

What’s our favorite feature?

Aside from those big beautiful picture windows, the double door pantry is probably our top favorite feature of the Tandara. This offers such a handy and flexible space with an impressive amount of storage. Our coffee-loving friends had set up one side as a coffee bar. But we use it for a couple of larger appliances, and storing jackets, shoes, and dog supplies. 

RV Systems

The Tandara RV systems include a 10-gallon water heater (electric/gas), two air conditioners, and a 35000 BTU furnace (propane). The 5000 BTU 48” electric fireplace is also an excellent additional heat source. 

While this fifth wheel is generator-prepped, we don’t have one. We do, however, have a small portable solar panel, a handy CarGenerator, and a Jackery portable power station for extra power needs when dry camping. For now, these are fine for short stays.

Boondocking in Quartzsite, Arizona

What about boondocking?

We’re already exploring our options for making our rig more off-grid capable. We really loved and appreciated the capabilities of our lithium batteries and solar panels that we’ve had in our previous RVs.

As we often stay in campgrounds, we don’t need to go crazy with a huge setup. But we also love the freedom of boondocking, whether it’s out on public lands, or at a Harvests Hosts location.

Recently, we only boondocked for a few days while visiting the Quartzsite RV show. That was all we could manage without an on-board generator. But we did use our CarGenerator to help top off the batteries.

We look forward to adding Battle Born lithium batteries and solar this year, to reduce battery anxiety, and enable longer stays off-grid.


Outside the Tandara fifth wheel

While we rarely put the awning out on our RVs, the Tandara does come with two large electric awnings with LED lighting. And the front cap features an LED light feature, which we typically don’t ever turn on. (We’re sure most of our RV neighbors appreciate that! 

Exterior Storage

Our Tandara 285RL fifth wheel has a huge pass-through storage bay with large access doors on both sides, and access panels to all the internal mechanical systems. 

The space is big enough to easily crawl up into. That is, when we don’t have it loaded with Julie’s folding e-bike, camping chairs, portable firepit, or other gear. We like that the basement doors have strong magnets, so they stay in place when you open them. 

This Tandara also has another very large storage bay at the front lower section. We can store large storage bins in there, and even Marc’s non-folding bike, with the wheels removed. And if all that storage space isn’t enough inside and outside, we also have a hitch for a bike rack on the back rated for 250 pounds.

>>> Download Brochure: See full specs of 2021 Tandara fifth wheel.

Aftermarket Mods and Upgrades

One of the best things about buying a used RV is it often comes with additional mods and upgrades. And luckily for us, the original owners added a ton! 

Let’s start with additional storage. Marc LOVES these Lippert underchassis storage bins on both sides of the RV. They are very handy to keep our leveling blocks and stabilizers in one, and sewer hoses in the other. It’s a super convenient location for quick and easy access to the items we use when setting up our rig at a campsite.

Even better, these undercarriage bins are located low, and behind the rear wheels, which keeps the weight further back and lower center of gravity. Each bin holds hold up to 100 pounds.

>>> Discover our fave RV gear that we use and love, here at our Amazon store

Next up, another upgrade we are loving is the Ground Control Auto-leveling system also by Lippert. This makes setting up and hooking back up with the auto-reconnect so much easier. 

More Lippert upgrades include the Flex Air pin box and suspension upgrade with the Road Armor shock-absorbing equalizer tandem axle kit to ensure a smoother ride while towing. While we have not personally experienced towing the fifth wheel prior to these upgrades, the original owners said they made a huge improvement ride quality.

Finally, another favorite upgrade is the premium Solid Steps with Lift Assist. These are also from Lippert. These sturdy steps feel extremely solid. are fantastic. They make it so much easier and safer to bring the steps up and down.

We are really appreciative of all these valuable upgrades that add so much more safety, ease, and comfort to our RV travels and living.

An RV inspector checks our RV oven

Did we get an RV inspection / extended warranty?

We always recommend buyers consider getting a professional RV inspection before purchasing an RV. And it’s worth getting a quote for an RV extended warranty to help you determine if that’s right for you. It is not a one-size fits all! 

But the short answer is yes. We did take out an RV extended service contract for the Tandara. Part of that process also required a professional RV inspection, and thankfully no issues were found. We found the price of the RV extended warranty for our Tandara to be reasonable, so we went ahead with it.


Visiting East to West RV in Elkhart, to tour the Ahara

About East to West RV

East to West RV launched in 2021 and is based in Elkhart, Indiana. It is founded and run by Lisa Liegl Rees who grew up in the RV industry. (Her father is founder and CEO of Forest River). Lisa went on to a career in marketing and design then came full circle, bringing her expertise and experience to East to West RV.  

A subsidiary of Forest River, a Berkshire Hathaway company, Lisa and her team (many are women) at East to West RV maintain direct control over the quality and design of their RVs. In addition to fifth wheels, they also manufacture travel trailers, toy haulers, and Class C motorhomes. According to their website, East to West focuses on high quality construction, value added brands, at affordable prices. 

Learn more at their website: https://www.easttowestrv.com

PRO TIP: There is no “best” RV brand, as everyone’s needs and affordability differ. Look for an RV with a floor plan, layout, and build quality that suit your needs and budget.

So, What's Our Verdict?

It has been incredibly valuable (and fun) for us to experience and compare so many different kinds of RVs and travel styles, over the past ten years. And every RV type has its pros and cons, depending on your travel style, pace, and preferences. Of course, life and travel with a towable fifth wheel is different to motorhomes.

But so far, we have to say we are loving our journeys in our ‘new to us’ fifth wheel. And we have been pleasantly surprised by the quality and livability of this East to West Tandara 285RL. From the solid construction, to the insulation, and attention to detail in the finishes, it feels like this RV was thoughtfully designed and built to last.

After traveling and living in the rig for a few months, our Tandara continues to feel solid, reliable, and comfortable. Especially with the luxury / four-season packages. 

Naturally, we have a few mini-makeover projects, upgrades, and more travels planned. So sign up for our email updates, and follow us on social media to stay in the loop. We’ll soon be sharing a video tour reel of our Tandara.

In the meantime, please drop us a note in the comments below with your questions. Or feel free to share your own experiences, whether with a fifth wheel or any other kind of RV. Happy Travels!

PS. Looking to get started with the RV life? Grab a copy of our bestselling book “Living the RV Life: Your Ultimate Guide to Life on the Road” to guide you through the process. It’s available in print, digital, and audio, wherever books are sold.

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Picture of Author Bio: Julie Bennett

Author Bio: Julie Bennett

A native Aussie living in the USA, Julie has RV road-tripped to all 50 states and Canada. She is co-author of two bestselling books with her husband Marc: "RV Hacks: 400+ Ways to Make Life on the Road Easier, Safer, and More Fun!" and "Living the RV Life: Your Ultimate Guide to Life on the Road". In RV life, Julie takes care of the fun jobs – travel planning, decorating, and finding new places to eat!


We would love to hear from you. Drop us a note in the comments section below.

20 thoughts on “Our New Tandara Fifth Wheel Reveal: Hitting the Road in Style”

  1. LOVE your “new” 5th wheel. So many great features, but just “walking” in gives a wonderful, “welcome home” feeling. Love the colors and the large windows all around. Well done! Have fun!

    • Thank you Nancy. Yes, we love it. And Julie has already made quite a few mods and upgrades to the interior that bring the styling up another level. We look forward sharing those other updates in the future. -M

  2. Congratulations on your new fifth-wheel! My husband and I have been following you guys for the last five years! Actually your book was the first book I read on full-time RV’ing when we sold our house and went on the road in 2019. I can’t tell you how much that booked helped us that first year and beyond! We just bought a new 2023 East to West Ahara fifth-wheel at the Tampa RV Supershow in January. We picked it up Monday and just moved in today. I really love this brand so far and it is so similar (a little bigger) than our 32 ft 2015 Forest River Surveyor fifth-wheel that we called “home” for the last 5 years. It really is a perfect “full-timer” fifth-wheel. Safe travels and hope to see you all on the road someday!!

    • Hello Anna, Thank you so much for your lovely comment. We are so happy to hear that our book was so helpful, and Congratulations on your new Ahara. Great to hear that you have enjoyed your first five years of travel, and we are wishing you every continued success and joy! -M

  3. Thank you for sharing your new “home on wheels”. It is very nice. I agree with your comment about the double door pantry. I haven’t seen that option before. I also like the add-on bins underneath. That may be something I look into.

    Happy travels. I hope we meet down the road again. Thanks for the chat in Quartzsite.

    • Meeting you at Quartzsite was one of our highlights Kelley! We could not be happier for you! I LOVE the double door pantry, so spacious and versatile. And Marc LOVES the under storage – so handy for our leveling blocks, chocks, etc for setup gear. Hope to see you down the road again too! Safe and happy travels! – J

  4. Congratulations on your new 5th Wheel! We are also 5th wheel owners and love the big floor plan in a smaller footprint. Ours is 30′ which is plenty big. Sure hope to see you out there on the road. Have followed you guys for some time now, & really enjoy your content.

    • Thank you Lori! 30′ sounds like a great size, we had originally hoped to stay closer to that, and the Domani we were SUPPOSED to buy was 31′, but at 33’4″ this offered SO MUCH and was still relatively small as far as fifth wheels go. There are some monsters out there now, up to 48′ or even longer! This would be plenty big enough for us, even if we decided to go back to full timing, in fact it’s one of the reasons we wanted the extra space, for that option. Thank you for your kind words, safe travels and see you down the road!

  5. Wow, your new fifth wheel is beautiful, so glad you got it! We have a Solitude, 35 foot fifth wheel, have had it nearly 6 years now and love it. It’s interior looks a lot like yours, big windows, living and dining areas same set-up. kitchen has island and pantry and we have a king size bed in the upstairs bedroom, big closet and built in dresser. We also have the electric fireplace in the living area, our Doberman loves lying in front of it on cooler evenings. He invented a new game when we got this fifth wheel. He goes to the top of the bedroom steps with a ball in his mouth, turns around and throws it to us. We catch it and throw it back to him…his favorite in-the-RV game! We spend 6 months a year in our RV and love every minute of it. I really enjoy your articles, have a great time in your new RV, look forward to hearing about your adventures!

    • Than you Kathy! Oh that’s great to hear you found a rig you love too! Love the story of your Doberman throwing you the ball – that is hilarious! We may have to teach Sunny that LOL Thank you for your kind words – it means a lot. Safe travels to you!

  6. Yay! So happy to see you both out on the road. Hoping to get out there ourselves soon. Your new fifth wheel looks wonderful. Enjoy every minute!

  7. Congratulations on your new to you fifth wheel! As you know we have been following you for at least eight years. You guys provided us with the information we needed to make the jump to full timing. We have enjoyed our adventures, and “Following Our Dreams,” for five years now. However, after completing our 50 State tour, we have decided to purchase a sticks and bricks home in Arizona. If you know of anyone who would like a well maintained and pampered 2018 Tiffin Phaeton 40IH XSH, we send them our way.

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge and expertise throughout the years.

    Safe travels.

    Ken and Corinne Glassman

    • Hi Ken and Corinne,
      Thank you for your kind words, and for being a part of the RVLove community for so long. We are so happy to hear that we played a role in helping you follow your dreams and live the traveling lifestyle for five years. We also totally understand that for most people (including us) full-time RVing is not a forever thing, and wish you every continued joy once you have your home base in Arizona. We will keep our ears open for somebody looking for a great coach like yours. Thank you again. Marc and Julie

  8. Congrats! We, too, have a somewhat smaller 5th wheel. We just switched out the handrail to the new moryde safe- t rail. Love it! It extends all the way down to the bottom of the steps. Comes in handy!

  9. Congratulations. It looks like it was all worth the wait. My 5th wheel is the same size as yours and curiosity grabbed me. What is the pin weight on your beautiful trailer and what might be the maximum truck payload capacity.
    Happy Trails with many years of enjoyment with your new home.

    • Hi Ray. Thank you. Yes, it seems worth the wait. Fortunately, with no slide in the upper area, and by storing most of our heavier gear lower and further back, our pin weight is on the low end of fifth wheel percentages around 15%. So, the last time we weighed it, the pin weight was around 1,850. Our trucks payload capacity is the area that we are closest to the maximum at 9500 of the rated 9600 pounds when we are fully loaded with fuel and passengers. We are well within all other ratings (tires, axles, GTWR, GCVWR, etc.) -M


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