First Thoughts on the New 2021 Revel & Plans for Mods
First Thoughts on the New 2021 Revel & Plans for Mods
The Holcombe family shares an inside look into going from the 2018 to 2021 Revel.
By: Peter & Kathy Holcombe
From the moment I first saw a Winnebago Revel, I was hooked. There it sat, in a parking lot, just waiting for me to take it out on a photography assignment and create images for the product launch of this new breed of mud-slinging, dust-breathing Winnebago.
It was exactly what I had always dreamed about for my retirement, and I could not wait to put it through its paces. And to be honest, the more time I spent in the Revel, the more committed I became to making it my reality dream-home now. My only question was, ‘how would I be able to keep traveling full time with my family of three in something half the size of my current Winnebago View?’
We had already downsized from a 2,700-square-foot home to the 170-square-foot View and spent five years living full time on the road – a decision that proved to be the best move we ever made. But could we purge even further and make the Revel our full-time home?
We had ambitions of traveling all over Europe and beyond, and the Revel seemed like the perfect tool to make this dream a reality. So just like most everything else, we didn’t hesitate and jumped in with two feet: sold the View and bought the exact same Revel I had fallen in love with on that initial photography assignment.
And in the blink of an eye, we were flying to Europe to meet our Revel in Belgium for a six-month tour meandering through the Italian Dolomites, beach camping in Croatia, and watching reindeer out the window in Norway.
Someday, we also hope to look down that long straight road leading to the towering granite spires of Patagonia with Fitz Roy standing like a lighthouse signaling us in. It’s almost like Dr. Seuss wrote my manifesto in “Oh The Places You’ll Go” …
Famagogo crosses the Arctic Circle en-route to the most northern point in Europe at Nordkapp, Norway.
Favorite Features of the 2021 Revel
Our 2018 Revel proved to be a game-changer, taking us to the places beyond our wildest dreams, and when we heard rumblings from Winnebago HQ of a new design, we were intrigued to see what would change in the 2021 Revel and how those changes would impact our day-to-day life.
A small but much-improved feature is the new cabinets. They are cut from aluminum and welded to take a beating on rough and wash-boarded roads, with new latches that have stayed closed on every rocky and jarring road we have explored. The cabinets also have a much better shape and more capacity to accommodate larger pots and pans.
Famagogo’s 2018 Revel is showing the new 2021 the ways of the road. Boondocking in the Badlands of South Dakota.
The bench seat behind the cab has a new shape, making it more comfortable on long travel days, and the additional storage space both under the seat and at the feet is a nice touch. When living full time in such a small space, every nook and cranny of additional storage makes a big difference!
The refrigerator has moved to a new location just inside the sliding door, which I’ve found to be super convenient. Now, I can load groceries from the cart in the parking lot straight into the fridge. This was always a multistep assembly line process before. I can also grab a drink from the fridge without stepping foot inside the van.
The new fridge location is a great compliment to the new outside table design that uses a cable (instead of the previous leg that needed to be screwed on). I rarely used the original table as it just wasn’t convenient enough. The new design is so easy, I find myself folding out the side table all the time for silly little tasks because it’s just so convenient.
Making the outside feel like inside. The flip-down table with the power awning makes for a great place to spend an evening.
In the galley, there has been a major restructuring. The sink is now conveniently located in the corner and has a deeper, more useful shape. At first glance, the stove seems to be missing. It is now portable and stowed in the wide drawer under the countertop. This new location gives a clean look to the galley and allows a great deal of counter space while the stove is stowed.
Not new to the 2021, but an upgrade from our 2018, are the Rolef screens covering the side and rear doors. This offers a wonderful way to let fresh air in and keep the mosquitos out. I also like that it offers the bed area some weather protection when opening the rear doors in the rain.
The cavernous Revel garage. It offers so much space. We will organize this further with our drawer system to keep everything in its place and prevent avalanches.
Probably the most defining feature of the Revel is its wide-open rear garage space and power lift bed. This area is still spacious even though the freshwater storage tank is now built into the passenger sidewall and a new electrical system is on the driver's side.
By moving the batteries and freshwater holding tanks out from underneath the van, there is now more ground clearance and less chance of damaging a critical component when driving off-road. There are also storage pockets built into the walls and roof area under the bed to help organize this space.
A new breed of mud-slinging, dust-breathing Winnebago.
While all of these changes have made the Revel more comfortable and livable, the most significant improvement, particularly as a full-time digital nomad, is the Lithium-ion battery system. It’s a life-changer!
Now I have the power to spare and it affords me some new luxuries that were impossible in the 2018. I can now work on my computer indefinitely without worrying about whether or not we will have enough power to cook dinner or run the heater all night. And while we are still learning the full capabilities of this system, I have run the air conditioner while working somewhere hot, and had plenty of power available for everything else I’ve wanted to do … even when I’m off the grid in the middle of nowhere - so nice!
We also plan to add a voltage regulator to allow me to safely plug into shore power in Idaho or Morocco and everywhere in-between.
The line between work and play has become blurry with the ability to work anywhere.
Our Planned Mods & Additions to the 2021 Revel
Winnebago has created an incredible platform with all the basics covered, but one of the best features is that they have left room for each owner to customize it to best serve their unique lifestyle. We have a long list of things we want to modify to make the 2021 Revel our dream home and will be creating a series of videos that will showcase all that we are working on. I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but here are a few additions that I’m most excited about.
Loaded for fun in the Tetons, Wyoming.
Garage, Workspace & Storage Organization
The open garage area is great, but can easily become an unwieldy pile of gear if left untamed. I plan to add a drawer system to better organize the garage area much like that in my last Revel. But this time, I want to add a locking secure safe to conceal and protect our valuables. This will be bolted to the van floor and also out of view and accessed by a semi-hidden trap door. This will be large enough to store cameras, computers, travel documents, etc.
I will also be redesigning my front passenger seat dedicated computer workspace. This will be much like our last workstation in our 2018 Revel, but I hope to improve a few ergonomics and have even better use of space.
We also plan to add more storage capacity through added shelving in the bathroom. In seven years of living full time in Winnebagos, we have never used the shower for showering. So, making this storage space more organized will be nice. I will also add more storage to the rear window cavity with storage bags that turn this space into useable storage while insulating the windows from cold/heat.
Bugs make the ultimate sacrifice, but nothing will stop us from exploring a canyon or seeing what’s just over the horizon. The 2021 Revel’s cockpit is loaded with high-tech features to make exploring more comfortable and give you all the information you could need.
Upgrades to Fit Our Travel Style
There are times when we need to quickly use the bathroom and would like a fast privacy option to be used in conjunction with the side window blinds. A lightweight curtain that can be deployed from the cab over shelf will greatly make quick potty breaks easier than setting up the full window blinds. This could be useful for keeping unwanted eyes from seeing in the rear of the Revel when parked in cities, too.
On my last 2018 Revel, I had a pair of Lightforce Genesis driving lights. Once you experience driving off-road at night to that remote camp spot with a quality set of driving lights you will never be satisfied with stock headlights again. I have already added one set of lights and will be adding more on the roof rack and a floating light mount and brush guard. I won’t ever strain to see that rock or ditch on that dirt track in the middle of the night again, and it’s quite possible that the great folks at NASA will be able to spot me from Mars.
Going off-road in the French Alps. The roads to the best camp spots aren’t paved. Our Lightforce driving lights make exploring off-road after dark so much safer and less stressful.
We are what many people consider to be whitewater fanatics and are very heavy roof rack users – it’s capable of so much more than just mounting solar panels! Normally, we travel with 4-6 whitewater kayaks on the roof and are up there daily to load and unload our kayaks. While the stock Revel roof rack is very capable, I will be adding some new features from Black River products to make the existing Revel roof-rack even more versatile.
This will include rearranging the solar panels to allow for more roof space for kayaks and adding a two-rail roof rack and standing platforms. I also hope to add a rooftop tent that will still allow kayaks to be loaded on top without having to unload the boats to use the tent. This will be a huge factor in increasing living space with only a small hit in weight and roof rack height. I will also add brighter perimeter lighting off the roof rack. This will be great when setting up a camp after rolling in after dark.
Kayaking is not a hobby, it’s a lifestyle. We always have a roof full of whitewater kayaks. This has shaped our daughter Abby Holcombe to become an internationally ranked top paddler and U.S. National Champion Freestyle kayaker.
One of the biggest blows for us personally was the 2021 Revel no longer has a second bed option. As a family of three, this was something that has to change for us immediately. We are currently in the process of fabricating and prototyping a wonderful bed option that will be a much better use of space and allow more comfort than any Revel second bed to date. Please stay tuned for more on this soon …
A huge draw for us is the ability for the Revel to take us to very out-of-the-way places. The 144” Sprinter 4x4 is the ultimate platform to allow access to so many wild and scenic places that a Winnebago has never been before.
Improving Our Off-Road Capabilities
I’ll be making a much-anticipated visit to Agile Off-Road in Southern California to get some of the most game-changing modifications made. I’m very much looking forward to upgrading the suspension to handle the weight of driving off-road in my loaded Revel with the Agile RIP Kit. This will greatly smooth out the ride on wash-boarded roads and stabilize the van with the added loads we will be carrying and towing.
This will go hand in hand with new BF Goodrich 275/70/17 tires and the Agile no rub fender kit. We will also get a new more attention-demanding horn upgrade. We plan to add a PedalBox to give better acceleration response control. Another big mod will be the addition of a Warn Zeon 12 Platinum winch in the Agile hidden winch mount.
This will all be topped off with the addition of a 28-gallon auxiliary fuel tank that will greatly add to our driving range and allow us to skip over countries that don’t offer ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel throughout our international travels. We will also add extensive skid plates to protect the fragile underbelly of our Revel from ruts and rocks.
In our experience, Agile Off-Road is a one-stop-shop for all things Revel, and some Winnebago dealers are even offering some of these enhancements to brand new Revels.
What's the point in going to these amazing places if you can’t bring the toys? Our Revel is always stocked with gear and toys to make our next leg an active, adventurous tour. Our load can change depending on where we go. Either way, having suspension to support all this fun makes a big difference.
Should You Plan to Modify Your Revel?
I always say the Revel is 90% of whatever you want it to be. It has got all the bases covered, but also allows you to modify it to suit almost any need you could have for an off-road, capable, diesel-powered adventure van.
I’m not saying you need to do any of these things to have a great time exploring. Our 2018 Revel had minimal mods added and worked brilliantly for us in 20+ countries all over North America and Europe. These are magical machines that take you to the places you have always dreamed about and allow you to spend quality time in comfort in almost any environment. However, we are excited to make the absolute most of our Revel with our planned additions!
For more on all of the upgrades to our 2021 Revel and where our dream machine takes us, watch for the upcoming Famagogo’s Ultimate Overland Revel video series on the Winnebago YouTube channel.