So what exactly are hybrid travel trailers?
They are basically a light weight conventional travel trailer equipped with the pop out beds of a popup in the front and the rear of the trailer. Sometimes they will have a pop out off to the side, too. This feature expands the size of your camper when in use, allowing for more open floor space in the cabin of the trailer and is the reason they also called "expandables".
A hybrid travel trailer requires less maintenance than a popup, but a bit more than a conventional unit.
Many people think that popups leak more than hybrids. That's not always the case.
Take my parents for example. They own a popup and have never leaked, even it's it's pouring outside they are as dry as ever on the inside. I know that's hard to believe, considering popups are pure canvas, connected together with zippers, and have a hard top on them.
Beyond this point, the maintenance of your hybrid travel trailer includes...
Tidbit: When traveling with your hybrid travel trailer after a heavy rain, instead of folding the beds up in to the bunks, try leaving them down below in the trailer so the boots can dry on your trip home. We've done this many times and it does help so the air can move through the boot helping it to dry better.
Check out our RV Maintenance section for more detailed information.
One of the challenges of hybrid travel trailers is keeping the cabin cool during the summer months and warmer when it's cooler out in the Fall. The wings are the main reason for this. They allow heat in, in the summer, and out in the colder months.
Most expandables have curtains to close off the bunks, but these are seldom adequate enough to maintain the comfort in the main living area; unfortunately, on the older units sometimes the curtains don't even close.
We have noticed that as soon as we drop our bunks, it gets very warm, or cold inside the camper.
The easiest and least expensive solution is to clip blankets across the entrance of the sleeping areas using ordinary clothes pins. This was one of the first things we did one hot Summer. It is very effective for anyone who is budget conscious, since most people already have blankets packed and clothes pins can be purchased at any general store or camp store. Light blankets work the best, since heavy ones may fall over the day.
Another solution, that we stumbled upon at a weekend camping trip, is solar covers from Popup Gizmos. We came across a couple who owned a hybrid and they had these covers on them, so we talked to them and they told us about these covers that changed our hybrid from a hot furnace to a nice comfortable camper during the Summer. They also work in colder months.
They are custom made to fit the bunk ends of any hybrid or popup. These covers have a shiny silver side to reflect the sun. Many individuals think to turn them over with colder weather to the green side, but this is not the case. You need to have them with the shinny silver side up at all times when in use. This is stated on the manufactures website.
They do an excellent job of keeping the bunks warmer in cooler weather and cooler in hotter weather. The living area is comfortable, they are relatively inexpensive, and easy to install using the clamps that are included with the covers. The newest model, Super High Wind Series, uses bungee straps along with the clamps which help if you have any type of winds. They are much easier to install than the ones with just the clamps. This is the set we purchased last year for our hybrid.
One draw back we've noticed on our hybrid, is they don't do the greatest in constant wet weather. The dampness soaks into the canvas and in turn, the bunks get wet on the inside; however, they are wonderful for those warm sunny days, and definitely worth the investment. You just might get dripped on and feel like your tent camping again!
Another great idea we have recently come up with is to tarp the bunks. If you own a hybrid, and you have the issues like we do with ours, this may work for you as well.
On a recent camp out we decided to tarp both bunks, knowing with what weather was a possibility on this trip. It worked very well. It would have been nice to be able to officially get the bunks up, Gizmo'ed, and tarped before the Good Lord decided to let go with a torrential downpour with about 50mph wind gusts!! Wind is another thing you need to be aware of with expandable travel trailers.
So our bunks aren't soaked on the inside, nor are they on the out. They are damp, but doable for tearing down.
If you try this, be sure to have the correct size ladder for your safety. You will also need some twine to tie the tarps on the top of your camper and use tent pegs for the ground. Be safe setting up, as they act like a parachute if it's windy!
For more detailed information, check out the RV Forums.
Expandable travel trailers are not a camper for everyone. These units require more maintenance than your conventional travel trailer, but less than a popup travel trailer. If you have the time, space, and area to work on them they are great trailers, but if you don't have that it's a very difficult trailer to maintain.
If you love to camp and you're more of an outdoorsy person, this camper is for you and your family. If you're not, you may want to consider a different model.
Since we have owned an expandable travel trailer, or as we like to call her Cabbie, we have learned so much in the past 11 years. She was a great starter camper for myself and a great re-entry for my husband Scott. At the time of purchasing her, we had a lighter vehicle and smaller land area, she was stored offsite. So this worked well for our situation.
Those are things to consider when first starting out in the RV world.
We currently own a 2001 Keystone Cabana Hybrid, and we love it! It is a fun trailer, that is easy to tow and store. The thing we love the most about it is we have the convenience of a full 21 foot travel trailer that expands to 30 feet with the beds set up. Every bit of floor space is well thought out and well used.
If Hybrids are a trailer that you think you might love, then we suggest renting one before you buy. This is a great way to find out if this really is the trailer for you and your family.
Written By: Melissa