Do you have a large family? Like the Brady Bunch size family?
Do you want to go enjoy the great outdoors, and love tent camping, but want more amenities besides a creek or campsite bathroom?
Then start looking for a hybrid travel trailer.
There are some cons of hybrid travel trailers you need to know before you throw down a couple stacks.
That’s what this article is all about. The good, the bad, and the… wet?
You’ll find out what I mean below.
So… What Exactly Is A Hybrid Travel Trailer?
When exploring the different types of RVs, a hybrid camper (sometimes called hybrid RVs, hybrid trailers, or expandable trailers) is the combination of a pop up camper and a hard sided travel trailer.
Hybrid campers will offer what looks like a regular travel trailer, however instead of a fiberglass slide out it has mesh walls that expand (think of the same material as tents) to provide additional sleeping space.
In theory, most hybrid campers are supposed to offer the best of both worlds. You get the traditional travel trailer amenities (like the kitchen and bath) while getting more sleeping space because the canvas pop outs open up the beds.
A hybrid RV is ideal for a family (typically a family of 5 benefits the most) who want to sleep more people but want a smaller trailer footprint.
Think of a hybrid camper as tent camping with a roof over your head… Kinda.
But if it’s just you or two people traveling, you may like the teardrop trailer for weekend adventures.
Hybrid Travel Trailer Quick Facts
Between 10-27 feet, but you typically see them between 18-22 feet.
Typically light weight. Usually between 2,500 – 6,000 pounds.
Often sleep 6 comfortably.
Between 0-2 slide outs, plus 2-3 tent pop outs.
Fairly inexpensive. Between $10,000 – $50,000.
Advantages of a Hybrid Trailer
Hybrid camping trailers offer a few advantages worth paying attention to. Let’s dive in!
Tent Campers Love It
If you’re very comfortable with tent camping, then upgrading to a hybrid could be right up your alley. Why? Well, compared to traditional campers, you get to stay very close to nature with the fabric pop out sections. You’re basically sleeping under the stars in a tent when laying on the pop out section. Except you get more stability for your back because you’re not sleeping on uneven ground.
More Interior Space
I think the most significant advantage of hybrid campers is the extra living space (and extra sleeping space) they provide. The floor plans of most hybrid campers tend to be fairly open because of the pop out beds providing more sleeping room for your guests or family. A tiny(ish) 20 foot camper can easily sleep 6 people comfortably where traditional travel trailers would fail at this. Basically, you can do more with less.
If you’re looking for a little less interior space, and more “garage” space, you should check out a toy hauler.
There’s a good argument that you get a better bang for your buck with hybrid campers. The typical hybrid camper cost is in the range of $20,000. That’s actually fairly cheap for camping trailers that sleep 6 people comfortably and also provide more living space than some of their hard sided travel trailer peers. Sure, you’re sacrificing a few benefits from the other options available to you, but make the kids sleep in the fold out beds, they’re not the ones paying for it!
Disadvantages of a Hybrid Trailer
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows when it comes to a hybrid travel trailer. Here are some cons of hybrid campers you need to think about.
Hybrid camper trailers make it difficult to keep temperature of the interior space under control. There’s no way around this. A hybrid RV has pop out sections that are just fabric and offer no real protection from the outside. We live in Texas and Florida most of the time. There is no way we could ever survive with warm moist air constantly causing our A/C to run at full throttle just to keep the unit a little cooler than sweltering hot. Speaking of cold, if you’re planning to do any cold weather camping, good luck. A hybrid camper would be my last choice for winter traveling.
Hybrid travel trailers leak. Don’t listen to any sales rep. Don’t try and justify that getting sealant will fix the problem. When it’s raining, and you have your pop outs in full glory, you’re just collecting puddles in your trailer. In my opinion, this is a knockout punch by the traditional travel trailer. Leaks are a nightmare to deal with, not only because they spoil the mood during your camping adventure, but now you have to worry about funky mold growing in places it shouldn’t. Just think of how nasty your slide out carpet would be with water sitting underneath it for weeks. Not. Fun.
You thought the leaks were bad? Wait until you’re halfway through your road trip, needing to stop at a rest stop, and have to listen to every semi rolling through the night. You’re not getting any sleep in that hybrid camper, I can tell you that. Why? Because once again you’re dealing with a flimsy piece of fabric separating you from the great outdoors. What makes this situation slightly more disturbing is the security issues. You won’t typically face this at an RV park, but if you’re boondocking it can be a real concern.
Main Features of Hybrid Travel Trailers
If you haven’t had the chance to step into and view the interior of a hybrid RV, then you’re probably wondering what you might expect.
Well, right away, hybrid campers are going to provide very similar interiors to their traditional travel trailer cousins.
You can expect the following main features:
- Interior Living Space
- Bed Space (multiple)
- Storage Space
The most noticeable difference will become apparent when the hybrid camper is fully extended with the pop outs. That’s when you get to see the expandable travel trailer in all its glory.
Anyways, let’s dive into the different aspects of each feature.
The first thing you’ll notice with nearly every hybrid travel trailer is there’s nothing fancy. Now, I don’t want that to come across like you need to fancy RV correctly. Not at all. What I am trying to communicate is hybrid campers are built to be more rugged and durable due to those disadvantages we talked about earlier.
With that in mind, almost all floor plans will offer basic features like a sofa for lounging and a dinette for eating.
Like a traditional trailer, both will often convert into extra bedding for more additional mattresses for guests or family. With the length of the RV being roughly 20(ish) feet, you can expect fairly cramped floor space within the living section, unless there’s a slide out to open it up.
The pop outs will definitely make the main living quarters more spacious. With the hybrid camper fully extended, you get an increase in the square foot of room, which ultimately makes it feel significantly less cramped.
A bathroom is typically present in nearly every hybrid camper model I’ve looked into. Be warned, it’s going to be small, but that’s standard for a travel trailer of this size.
Like small camper trailers, you can expect a wet bath for a large portion of the models (where the shower and toilet all get wet).
I looked into a lot of hybrid RV floor plans and almost every one showed a fairly nice kitchen set up. Nearly all of them offered a sink, refrigerator, and stove (usually one burner, sometimes 3).
The one thing to pay attention to is storage space for your cooking items. Not only that, but almost every hybrid camper I looked into had very small food prep areas. Like, non existent.
If you’re the type to prep outside, then by all means this won’t be a problem for you, but most people I know like to prep food inside, and for us that would be a constant battle.
This is where hybrid travel trailers win compared to any other RV option on the market. These things can comfortably sleep 6+ people (I’ve heard of families of 8 sleeping cozily in their camping trailer).
Let me break down how much more space a hybrid camper provides compared to it’s peers.
Okay first, you have the pop outs, where most models will offer between 2-3 king and queen size beds when fully extended.
We’re talking a nearly full queen size bed too, which is pretty neat. Those alone will sleep 6 people if you’re two people to a bed.
Now you’ve got the dinette and sofa in this camping trailer type. The dinette will provide an additional queen alone which can sleep 2 extra people. The sofa can typically convert into another sleeping option which provides room for 1 (maybe 2 kids).
All of this, within a lighter weight travel trailer coming in at under 25 feet on average. Good night, that’s a lot of people in one RV.
Here’s the deal though, the average mattress of a hybrid camper is going to be flimsy at best. Most of the time they’re roll up mattresses, which can sometimes be a good experience, but I’ve often seen blow up mattresses be the preferred choice for the pop out sections.
This is a hit or miss based on my research. Quite a few people say hybrid travel trailers lack storage compared to a hard sided travel trailer.
Most models I saw offered an overhead section for more storage space along with some more space under the travel trailer. However, I’ve heard and read that quite a few hybrid camper owners talk about needing to use floor space to carry additional RV gear.
Frequently Asked Questions About Hybrid Travel Trailers
I’ve tried to cover everything I could about hybrid campers in this article, but often there are questions that need to be addressed in a Q&A format. So here we are.
Do Hybrid Travel Trailers Have Condensation Issues?
Yea, that’s going to be affirmative. This is an issue with tents and pop up campers. In fact, if you’ve ever been camping you know what it’s like to wake up to dew collecting inside your tent only to have a little breeze cause that dew to start raining on you (I think that rhymes?).
This goes back to the mold and leaking issues I talked about earlier. Outside of renovating your travel trailer, I don’t really know what can be done about the dew issue (another one!).
Is Buying A Hybrid Travel Trailer Worth It?
If you have a large family (like 3 kids plus) and you need an expandable travel trailer that will fit those children comfortably… AND, you don’t mind tent camping, then yes a hybrid travel trailer might be worth it.
For everyone else, hybrid trailers are probably not your ideal choice. What is supposed to be the best of both worlds, just ends up being a kinda sucky compromise.
How Long Do Hybrid Travel Trailers Often Last?
Like any travel trailer, this question will depend on how well you take care of the camper. It will also depend on the quality of manufacturing, particularly with relation to the canvas pop outs. This is almost ALWAYS the first point of failure with hybrid campers.
They will wear down significantly faster than any other trailer type, especially if in frequent use.
With all that being said, you could probably expect 5-7 seasons of use from a hybrid RV before needing either a refurbish or a new recreational vehicle.
Which leads us to our next question…
Do Hybrid Campers Resell Well?
In my personal opinion, and after speaking with quite a few RV sales people, hybrid camper trailers don’t resell well at all. I’ve heard people getting roughly 80% of their money back, but for whatever reason, this RV type doesn’t do well in the after market.
Hybrid campers provide the flexibility of a pop up camper with some of the benefits of a traditional travel trailer. They’re great for a larger family, or just the weekend warrior looking to sleep a lot of people, but don’t want to drop cash for a class A motorhome.
While a hybrid travel trailer might not fit every RV lifestyle, it certainly offers a chance for those looking for light traveling that can easily be towed by any pickup truck or many popular family vehicles.
Hopefully you learned a couple things and have a better understanding of these awkward, but kind of enduring RV.