You may have heard about one of the latest trends in the RV world- the hybrid travel trailer. This “hybrid” of a hard-sided travel trailer and tent-style pop-up travel trailer is gaining in popularity. If you have wondered, “What is a Hybrid Travel Trailer and Are They Any Good?” you have come to the right place.
A Hybrid Travel Trailer or Expandable Travel Trailer is a travel trailer with hard sides in the main living area with fold-out beds like a popup camper. They are great for RVers who need a lightweight travel trailer that can sleep 6 or more people.
We’ve researched the hybrid travel trailer market to bring you everything you need to know about this alternative to traditional travel trailers. From customer reviews to manufacturers’ recommendations, we have read and reviewed everything that you need to know before considering a hybrid travel trailer purchase.
What is a Hybrid Travel Trailer?
A hybrid travel trailer is a combination of a traditional hard-sided travel trailer and a pop-up or tent style camping trailer.
From the outside, a hybrid travel trailer looks very much like a traditional travel trailer. However, hybrid travel trailers feature more slide or pop-outs than hard-sided travel trailers. Typically, both ends of the camper expand to give you additional sleeping areas. Some hybrids even have slides or pop-outs that provide more living space. The advantage of having the sleeping areas in slides is that more interior space is opened up for other purposes.
A hybrid is typically lightweight and more affordable than a traditional hard-sided travel trailer. It also allows you to sleep more people in the same size footprint as a hard-sided travel trailer, a great feature for anyone needing more space in a smaller profile.
Many smaller hybrid travel trailers can be towed with mini-vans or smaller size SUVs, making them convenient for those new to camping.
The popularity of hybrid travel trailers has increased over the past few decades, replacing many pop-up campers. Hybrid travel trailers are an excellent solution for anyone who wants the style and low cost of a pop-up style camper with the comfort and convenience of a traditional travel trailer.
Do Hybrid Travel Trailers Leak?
One of the biggest concerns for anyone in the market for a travel trailer is the potential for leaks and water damage. Water damage is always something to watch out for, whether you have a hard-sided travel trailer or hybrid model. You may be surprised to learn that leaks are easy to prevent in the newer hybrid style of travel trailers.
To avoid leaks in your camper, be sure that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions when closing up the rig. If your travel trailer is sealed carefully, you will not have any more significant risk of leaks and water issues than you would in a hard-sided travel trailer.
If you have to break down your camp during the rain, it is best to open up your travel trailer again when you get home to make sure any water that was on the soft canvas sides is removed before storing the camper.
Are Hybrid Campers Any Good?
Hybrid campers can be an excellent choice for anyone looking for a spacious floor plan along with a lighter weight for towing.
Many hybrid owners share that they enjoy having the extra space that is found in a hybrid as compared to a traditional travel trailer. Having a lighter weight hybrid travel trailer also means less gas and easier towing, both of which are great features.
New, modern hybrid travel trailers are built to last. You won’t have to worry as much about water damage and leaks as you would with an older style pop-up camper. Hybrid campers are also an excellent option for anyone wanting to upgrade from traditional tent camping to something a little more comfortable.
How Do You Set Up a Hybrid Camper?
A hybrid travel trailer resembles a small or medium-sized travel trailer when it is closed. When you set up the camper, beds extend out of the front and rear of the travel trailer, similar to a pop-up camper. Having the beds in the pop-out slides creates great sleeping areas and provides more space inside the camper.
The setup time for a hybrid travel trailer is similar to that of a traditional travel trailer and less than that of most pop-up campers. Newer models can be set up in five minutes or less, while older models may take a few extra minutes.
Who Are Hybrid Campers Best For?
Hybrid campers are a great option for many different types of campers. If you are ready to make a move from traditional tent camping to something a bit more comfortable, a hybrid camper may be an excellent choice for you.
If you are in the market for a travel trailer but don’t want to buy a new truck for towing, the lightweight design of a hybrid may meet your needs.
Families and anyone looking for more space in a camper that is still easy to tow should consider a hybrid camper as well. Hybrids provide more room in less square footage, which makes them great for those new to towing and anyone looking to save money on gas while still having room to move around in the camper.
Hybrids can usually sleep more people than similarly sized travel trailers, which makes them an excellent option for families and anyone needing extra sleeping space.
Are Hybrid Campers Safe?
Safety is always a concern when you are camping. The two major concerns most campers have are break-ins and bears.
While it is very unlikely that a bear would attempt to gain access to your travel trailer, it is best to follow the rules of the area in which you are camping. If the campground recommends that you store your food in a bear box, be sure to do that to prevent any possible damage to your rig.
The other safety concern is someone breaking into your travel trailer. While it would be easier for someone to gain access to your camper through soft canvas sides, it is also very unlikely. The more significant concern for robbery when camping is someone taking items that you leave outside of the trailer or someone merely walking through an unlocked door.
How Much Do Hybrid Travel Trailers Weigh?
The lightweight design of hybrid travel trailers is one of the main reasons for their popularity. Most hybrids weigh between 2,800 and 5,000 pounds making them easy to tow with smaller vehicles.
Hybrid Campers Pros and Cons
The Pros of Hybrid Travel Trailers
✅ Open Floor Plans
The typical hybrid travel trailer design with the beds in pop-outs means that there is more space inside the camper to move around. You will be amazed at how large and spacious a hybrid feels compared to a similarly sized travel trailer. More space inside means more amenities. Typical hybrid camper features are bigger kitchens and more storage space.
The major advantage of a hybrid travel trailer is its low weight. Compared to a similarly sized travel trailer, the weight is comparable, but you will get much more space in the hybrid travel trailer than you would in a traditional travel trailer.
Hybrids usually have several slides for sleeping, which does not add much to their weight. The slides give you lots of room for sleeping areas without adding to your tow load.
Many people find that they can get the space they need in a smaller sized hybrid, which can save you gas when towing. Hybrid travel trailers can also be towed with smaller vehicles making them a great option for folks without a large truck or SUV.
✅ Less Expensive
Hybrid travel trailers are usually less per square foot than traditional travel trailers. Since hybrid travel trailers have more open space and amenities than traditional campers, many people often find they can get the space and features they need in a smaller sized hybrid trailer, which is also a cost-saving benefit. While the price can vary depending on the finishes and upgrades you select, hybrid travel trailers are cheaper, in general, than travel trailers.
✅ Similar to Traditional Camping
If you are a longtime camper who loves the feel and sound of being out in nature, a hybrid camper may be a perfect upgrade for you. The openness of the hybrid style means that you will have more of a connection with the outside.
From the crickets in the evenings to the soothing sounds of a nearby stream, a hybrid travel trailer allows you to be in the great outdoors while sleeping and living in comfort.
✅ Air Flow
The open floor plan and multiple canvas windows throughout hybrid campers mean that you will have much better airflow in this style of camper. Having great airflow inside the camper allows you to open the windows instead of using the air conditioner. It also gives a better feeling and temperature overall inside the travel trailer.
✅ Bigger Beds
Because there is more space in hybrid campers, most of them come with at least two queen-sized beds. We love the larger size of the beds as well as the ability to choose a camper that has even more sleeping areas if needed.
Cons of Hybrid Travel Trailers
Since you are more open to the outside, which can be a good thing, you will also hear more noise in your hybrid camper. The sound from generators and other campers will be noticeably louder in your hybrid than in a traditional travel trailer.
⛔️Water Damage Concerns
The potential for water damage is a concern in all travel trailers, and a hybrid travel trailer is no different. While many people worry about getting wet during a rainstorm, most new hybrid campers are designed to keep you dry, even during a downpour.
With a hybrid travel trailer, you will have to deal with condensation inside the camper. Condensation happens when tent camping as well. It takes place when warm moist air, like that inside your hybrid, meets a cold surface. Hybrid beds are perfect for condensation!
While condensation will not likely interfere with your sleep or enjoyment, you will need to be sure that all of the condensation is out of your trailer before you close it up to prevent water damage. If it is damp or raining when you leave the campground, it is best to set up your camper again at home to make sure all of the water is removed before storing the travel trailer.
⛔️ Temperature Control
The canvas sleeping areas inside hybrid campers can be hard to regulate in terms of temperature. While the furnace in most hybrids keeps them nice and toasty in cold weather, it can be more difficult to heat the canvas sleeping areas.
While this is not a huge issue, it is important to know that you will have more temperature variance in a hybrid travel trailer than in a traditional travel trailer.
⛔️ Maintenance and Durability
All travel trailers require maintenance and upkeep to keep them in good condition. Hybrid or expandable travel trailers require the same general maintenance as a traditional travel trailer as well as some extra care due to the canvas throughout the trailer.
While most new hybrids are very well constructed, the canvas can tear or mildew. You will need to carefully inspect your camper regularly to watch out for any potential problems.
How Much Do Hybrid Travel Trailers Cost?
Hybrid travel trailers are less than similarly sized hard-sided travel trailers. The actual price of the travel trailer will depend on the size. In general, prices for new hybrid travel trailers start at $14,000 and go up to around $25,000.
It is important to keep in mind that there is a big difference in the amount of space that you will get in a hybrid vs. a traditional travel trailer. Because of its design, a hybrid travel trailer will give you more space and sleeping capacity in a smaller footprint. Be sure to check out the floor plans and features of each rig you are considering to make sure that you are making an accurate comparison.
We hope we answered the questions What is a Hybrid Travel Trailer: Are They Any Good? and more! We think hybrid travel trailers are a great option for many people looking for their perfect rig. Whether you are upgrading from tent camping or if you are a growing family in need of more space, a hybrid travel trailer may be the right choice for you.