It would be impossible to talk about the RV industry without mentioning Chinook. It debuted as Mair & Son, Inc. back in 1938, but the brand's most famous models are from the '90s and '00s. They're well known for their small footprint, single-piece fiberglass shell, and feature-packed floor plan with a rear entry. Examples that are 15+ years old can still fetch over $50,000 on the used market.
Unfortunately, that version of the company didn't survive the 2008 financial crisis. From the ashes, however, rose a new Chinook with new owners who've been quietly building the brand back up with other offerings in the RV market like camping trailers. Now, Chinook is ready to compete again in the segment that made it famous. Meet the Summit.
The Summit, with its small form factor and rear entrance door, clearly draws inspiration from those famous Chinooks that came before it. Based on a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis, its form factor allows users to set up shop in areas as small as a city street or as deserted as a creek by a mountainside. It’s not a fully fledged overlander, but that’s actually not so bad when you take a look inside.
Gallery: Chinook Summit
With a length of 23 feet, 9 inches and about 200 square feet of real estate to work with, the Summit is a touch larger than older Chinooks, though the interior is just as densely packed and incredibly functional as the originals. One of the clear party pieces is the two facing sofas upfront, which fold flat into a king-size bed. Along with ample sleeping space, the rear of the Summit packs a separate shower and bathroom – older Chinooks made do with smaller wet baths. It also carries a 30-gallon fresh water tank, 24-gallon grey tank, and 24-gallon black tank on board.
It’s no surprise that recent circumstances have led to a boom in the RV market. As many are apprehensive about the idea of staying in hotels or shared spaces, these types of vehicles fill that need. This resurgence has opened the door for Chinook to rise again with the Summit, though its competition is perhaps even more fierce today than it was 15 years ago thanks to new entrants like the Winnebago Ekko and Advanced RV B Box.
While information regarding availability and pricing on the new Summit remains sparse, it’s great to see so many features from the originals live on. We haven’t seen many other RVs that offer the same level of functionality in such a small package.