What Is A Hybrid Travel Trailer? All You Need To Know About Hybrid Campers

PublishedApril 23, 2020

If you want an RV that you can take camping on the weekends that is small, fairly lightweight, yet has sleeping areas for a larger family, a hybrid camper may be worth looking at.

Hybrid Campers Defined

Well, what is a hybrid camper? A hybrid trailer takes a traditional hard-sided travel trailer and adds 'pop-outs' on one or both ends (front/back and sometimes sides) with the bed(s).

The pop-outs are manually opened and have fabric/mesh walls.

Hybrid travel trailer

Hybrid Camper

Also known as an expandable travel trailer, they are unique among the types of RV trailers as they can come with traditional slide-outs in addition to the pop-outs.

The slide-out will have additional living space, whereas the pop-outs (up to 3) will have beds.

Hybrid Travel Trailer Quick Stats:

  • Length: 13 to 25 feet
  • Sleeping Capacity: Up to 6 people
  • Slide-Outs: 0 to 2 (plus up to 3 pop-outs)
  • Gross Vehicle Weight: 3,000 to 7,000 pounds
  • Retail Price: $18,000 to $40,000

*Above stats are approximate ranges to give you a general idea

Hybrid Camper Pros and Cons:

  • Able to sleep more people than a comparably sized 'normal' travel trailer
  • Sleep more people in the same sized campsite
  • Easily towed by many SUV's and smaller trucks
  • Soft sides don't offer much protection from temperature extremes
  • Noisier (due to fabric walls) than traditional travel trailers
  • Similar cost to a completely hard-sided trailer

Hybrid Camper Interiors

The main body of hybrid trailers uses the same construction techniques and materials as traditional travel trailers.

It's the fabric/mesh walls that differ and are unique to this style of RV (though it's also found in the pop up campers).

Expandable camper interior

Interior of Large Expandable Camper

The interior of the expandable trailer will look much like a traditional travel trailer floor plan, except for canvas-sided pop-outs.

It will have a similar level of equipment and amenities that most travel trailers (not high-end) will have, giving you a similar comfort level for daily living.

There will be a small RV kitchen with stove and fridge, a dinette table where you can eat, work, or play games, a bathroom that most likely will have a shower, and on larger rigs, you may even find a couch in the living area.

Typical RV windows will be present in the hard-sided portions of the hybrids, with the pop-outs having screen windows that have zippered panels to close them off.

Interior storage space will be similar to other similarly sized RVs, including a place to stash your food, cooking supplies, clothes, and other daily use items.

Expandable Travel Trailer interior

Expandable Travel Trailer Interior

Bed space is where hybrids shine. With beds that fold out of the side of the camper, this design helps open up the floor plans, and makes it so a lot more people can sleep inside expandable travel trailers than traditional trailers.

Just keep in mind that the mattresses on the fold-out beds in a hybrid camper are most likely thin and uncomfortable. They are okay for kids who can sleep on anything, but not for someone with an achy body and needs certain sleeping comforts.

Just tell the kids they are on a tent camping adventure with the canvas sides and hard laying surface. Then remind them how bad you had it growing up. LOL!

Sometimes models have bunk beds which really helps free up floor space while having multiple sleeping areas.

Are you into queen beds? There's most likely a model that has a camper queen mattress and otherwise would work for you.

Stand-Out Features Of Hybrid Travel Trailers

The biggest feature of hybrid campers is the number of people it can sleep.

The 'pop-outs' greatly expand the sleeping capability of a regular travel trailer without requiring a much larger overall length.

This lets you bring everyone along, yet still fit into a smaller campsite.

Because an expandable travel trailer has hard sides, and can be of pretty good length, you are likely to find exterior storage bays.

Pop-Up Tent Trailer interior

Expandable Travel Trailer

Shorter hybrid trailers may have a wet bathroom to save room.

A smaller expandable RV will only have a single axle, whereas larger ones will be dual axle.

Due to the lighter weight of most hybrid camper trailers, towing is possible by most light trucks and SUVs that have a decent tow rating.

A hybrid RV is an excellent option for weekender camping but it won't withstand the rigors of heavy, full-time use very well.

The canvas walls of the pop-outs limit the seasons these hybrid travel trailers can be used in, as they do absolutely nothing to keep temperature extremes outside of the RV. Heat comes in, as does the cold. When the wind is blowing, expect to feel air drafts.

In crappy weather, an expandable trailer might not be the best place to spend a camping trip. You will feel the elements. Rainwater may become a 'feature' inside the rig, making for a miserable experience.

Another thing to consider with the canvas walls of the fold-out portions of an expandable RV is your sense of security while camping. If you are worried about people being able to get inside your rig (not an issue one should be overly concerned about at most campsites), then having an RV with walls that won't even stop the wind should give you pause.

How Much Does a Hybrid Camper Cost?

Retail prices for a new hybrid camper can be the same as many traditional travel trailers of the same size.

New, they typically range from $18,000 to $40,000.

But when you consider the cost per person you can sleep in these expandable campers, they offer a better deal.

  • Want to buy a used hybrid camper but don't know what you should be paying? Learn how to find out what the NADA RV values are so you don't over pay.

Conclusion

Hybrid travel trailers combine the benefits of a traditional travel trailer with the flexibility of a pop up camper to make an excellent weekender RV for those needing to sleep a larger number of people but who don't want a large rig.

The light weight of smaller expandable campers makes this an excellent RV for those with 1/2 ton trucks or SUVs with lower towing capability when a larger conventional trailer might be out of their reach.

That said, a hybrid camper is probably not the best choice for a couple looking to head out on camping adventures, but it could be a good idea RV for families looking to head to the great outdoors.

While hybrid campers aren't for everyone, they certainly fill a need in the RVing community. Now that you know the answer to the question 'What is a hybrid camper?' you know if this kind of rig is right for you.

Regardless, whatever type of RV you choose, there is nothing like the freedom RVing allows your family when you want to get out and enjoy the camping experience!

Marshall Headshot

Camp Addict co-founder Marshall Wendler brings his technical expertise to help explain RV products in an easy to understand fashion. Full-time RVing from April 2014 - December 2020 (now RVing about 50% of the time), Marshall loves sharing his knowledge of the RV lifestyle. Marshall spends the majority of his RVing life boondocking. He is the part of Camp Addict that knows 'all the things'. He's good at sharing his technical knowledge so you can benefit. 

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  • My husband and I did travel across the nation in our hybrid. We never had problem with the rain. We did prefer to get electric hookup and plugged in our little electric heater. We were fine then. Had 2 inches of snow on us and the inside was toasty. The wind was a concern, at one campground ,and did tear a corner from the bed. We were able to fix it. We were also in a sketchy area in Texas and opted to make the bed on the fold out couch and not open up the ends. It was an awesome trip! Recommend for everyone to get out there and see this amazing country!

    • Hi Sandra,

      Great to hear that a hybrid trailer worked well for you on your travels!

      Fully agree with you that people just need to get out and see the country. It will open your eyes to the beauty and diversity of the United States. And you’ll have a blast doing it!

    • Hi Pamela,

      Thanks for the feedback.

      Yeah, I suppose it depends on the design of the fold-out portion, as well as the actual weight.

      The heavier it is, the harder for one person.

      If designed with some sort of helper spring or other setup, then easier for one person.

      Great point! Thanks for the comment!

    • Hey Jason,

      Yeah, I do believe that is a Forest River Rockwood Roo. The 24WS floor plan if I’m not mistaken.

      I hope that helps!

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