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Black Series HQ19 Trailer

Photography by Richard Giordano

When I sent a membership request to the Black Series Camper US Facebook group, I felt like a bit of an infiltrator. Sure, I had spent over a month in the 2020 Black Series HQ19 and had my own opinions about the trailer, but I was also genuinely curious how the product had been received on a larger scale. More than anything, I wondered if my experiences were typical. Were their plates and bowls expelling themselves from overhead cabinets? Did they also love the generously sized bathroom that felt nothing like an average RV? And, perhaps most importantly, were they convinced that the Black Series HQ19 is, as the company states, the “ultimate off-road trailer?”

Based in Australia, this family-owned and operated business brought its product line to the North American market. The design, with its diamond-plated siding, red graphics and skid guards, unique suspension system, and rugged-looking body, is eye-catching. Whether parked at a fuel station or in the Arizona desert, people came out of the woodwork, drawn to this “awesome-looking” trailer. “Is that yours?” they’d asked me, eyes gleaming with the possibility of roughing it up on a dirt track.

desert driving

The Black Series chassis and suspension system was designed with off-pavement shenanigans in mind. Independent suspension boasts dual shock absorbers per control arm and coil springs, and the Hitchmaster DO35 V2-1 polyblock hitch provides 360 degrees of rotation and articulation. Indeed, the trailer moved gracefully over some of Arizona’s roughest washboard, reversed intuitively (even on a bumpy, narrow, cactus-lined track), and performed as I hoped it would considering the contemporary suspension system. It is important to note that the “stone/skid guards” are not rock sliders (the thin-walled steel tubing is not designed to handle the trailer’s weight) but rather aim to protect the body. Two rear recovery shackles fill out the rear and are rated to 4.75 tons. The trailer weighs 6,122 pounds dry.


black series

The HQ19 is equipped with a drop-down electric step, which hangs down quite significantly prior to deployment. This seems counterintuitive in an off-road trailer with stone and skid guards. Entry is via a tri-lock security door with a fly screen; this leads into a floor-lit entryway and queen-sized bed with an innerspring mattress to the right. The bed feels luxurious, with a soft headboard and touch-activated reading lights. However, in a small living space, sacrifices must be made when it comes to space. In the HQ19, the bed is prioritized over convenient clothing storage space. Two narrow, deep closets lie on either side of the bed with additional cabinets overhead. To access anything stored in this area, you must crawl over the bed to get there. I would love to see the bed raised, with a vast storage area for clothes accessible beneath the mattress instead.

black series bed

The trailer has a good-sized dinette with plush leather seat cushions and an adjustable table that transforms into a second bed (this trailer sleeps three). Strips of Velcro (or the like) would prevent the cushions and bench seat lid from shifting to the floor during transit. The dinette is a pleasant space to work or eat at, as the large Eurovision windows allow plenty of natural light with visual access to the surrounding landscape, while a fly screen keeps bugs out. There are five windows, complete with privacy shades.

black series dinette

The kitchen is outfitted with a plethora of Dometic products, including a fridge/freezer, stainless steel sink, propane-fueled oven, and stovetop. Counterspace is limited; I felt a smaller sink would allow for additional food prep space, although one could arguably prep food at the dinette table as well. Underneath the sink lies a three-stage water filter connected to a 60-gallon polyurethane general water tank, and a 25 gallon stainless steel drinking water tank. Clever that the two are separated, and ensures drinking water is reserved for the backcountry.

black series water filter

For the most part, the HQ19’s ensuite bathroom is a smashing success. A Dometic gravity flush sanitation toilet, large ceramic sink, fiberglass-enclosed shower partitioned with a bifold sliding door, gigantic mirror, and plenty of counter space round out the ensuite, which feels nothing like the cramped RV bathrooms I’ve been in. There is also a hidden 7.7-pound Giantex automatic top-loader washing machine. Hot water is supplied from the 6-gallon Atwood gas system (which also routes to the outdoor shower) and is dumped into a 26-gallon greywater tank. To access the hot water, the shower must run for several minutes, which wasted a lot of water (and promptly filled the greywater tank in no time at all). Note this trailer is suited for three seasons—not four. The water tanks and pipes are located on the trailer’s exterior, without insulation.

black series bathroomblack series washing machine

Appliances run off propane, diesel, a generator, or the 120-volt electrical system with a 2,000-watt Black Series pure sine wave inverter. The four AGM 100 Ah gel batteries are charged by four 150-watt solar panels which sit atop the roof. A Dometic Penguin II unit cools the air, while a diesel air heater warms the space. The heater and hot water control panel are in an inconvenient location near the ground to the left of the bed.

black series solar

black series control panel

Ample cabinetry fills the HQ19, but, unfortunately, in this model, much of it fell prey to fit and finish issues. I experienced multiple hinge failures, cabinets opening and closing during transit (shooting the contents onto the vinyl floor), bubbling of the veneer in several locations, peeling trim, and damage to the microwave housing case. Little piles of sawdust accumulated in kitchen corners. At one point, the glass turntable launched itself out of the microwave. Screws holding the beauty mirror loosened during transportation; the mirror was just one piece of a collection of paraphernalia that took flight during our drive (on both paved and corrugated roads). This is my biggest beef with the Black Series HQ19 trailer—it is promoted as an off-road unit, but the interior components simply weren’t up to the task.

black series microwave

When I emailed Black Series’ Marketing Manager Richard Barrios about these issues, he told me that the company has taken steps to address them, including “hiring dedicated people to quality control those aspects of production as well [as] address[ing] warranty claim[s] for customers and dealerships.” Indeed, Black Series offers a five-year structural warranty, which covers the drawbar and chassis and applies to all tent and travel trailers, including coverage on workmanship and materials.

Black Series has made changes to the newer HQ19 models, including the introduction of touch-to-open cabinets with travel safe locks, a countertop pantry, and additional kitchen counter space. As for the Facebook group, members use it for troubleshooting, expressing their excitement as new Black Series owners, and sharing custom upgrades to the battery/solar/air conditioning/toilet systems. Nobody chased me with pitchforks when I asked a few journalistic questions, either. I found the occasional post about hatch leaks, broken dinette tables, funky tasting drinking water, refrigerator difficulties, and more.

Ultimately, no trailer is perfect. With its upgraded suspension system, modern interior, and unique style, this highly sought-after trailer is one-of-a-kind in the overland and RV world. However, I expect more from a dedicated off-road trailer upwards of $90,000 and am eager to find out if the 2021 and 2022 models address the myriad of fit and finish issues.

blackseriescamper.com | blackseries.net | MSPRP: $94,699 USD

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black series lights

arizona desert

black series trailer

Ashley Giordano completed a 48,800-kilometer overland journey from Canada to Argentina with her husband, Richard, in their well-loved but antiquated Toyota pickup. On the zig-zag route south, she hiked craggy peaks in the Andes, discovered diverse cultures in 15 different countries, and filled her tummy with spicy ceviche, Baja fish tacos, and Argentinian Malbec. As Senior Editor at Overland Journal, you can usually find Ashley buried in a pile of travel books, poring over maps, or writing about the unsung women of overlanding history. @desktoglory_ash