Hybrid Travel Trailers

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". 

Hybrid Travel Trailers - Small Trailer BIG on Space

  • Hybrid travel trailers are a wonderful trailer and deserve consideration when you are looking for a camper to purchase.  They are great for a family looking for a small travel trailer that is big on comfort, convenience, and space. 
  • Hybrid travel trailers are usually a light weight unit and are more convenient than popups, when vacationing with your RV.
  • There are many varieties of floor plans available on hybrid travel trailers to accommodate your individual tastes and needs.  They are well thought out and make the most use of every available space.  Some of the plans include a slide-out room and three pop out beds, which expand the livability of these units even further. 
  • Hybrid travel trailers are very family friendly and can accommodate sleeping for up to 10 people, in some models.  They have all the comforts of home, like a refrigerator, bathroom with tub and shower, hot water heater, furnace, and air conditioner. 
  • They are more costly than popups, but offer better protection from the weather, offer more room to move around in, and are a safer option than a popup travel trailer.
  • Their  lengths run between 16 and 25 feet and weights range from right around 3,000 pounds to somewhere in the neighborhood of 6,000 pounds. Because of this, many of these units can be towed by smaller vans, pickups, and SUV s.

Caring for Your Hybrid
A Quick Overview

A hybrid travel trailer requires less maintenance than a popup, but a bit more than a conventional unit. 

  • One thing to be aware of is that they are prone to leak where the pop out bed meets the body of the trailer.  Check the seals and caulking frequently to prevent damage to the interior of your trailer and always check for any mold issues that may arise due to the dampness.

Beyond this point, the maintenance of your expandable includes checking for tears and rips on the vinyl "boots", checking and resealing the roof , cleaning and testing the refrigerator, stove, furnace, and water heater, and checking the tire pressure and tread wear.

Replacing a Water Heater in our Hybrid

Check out our RV Maintenance section for more detailed information.

Keeping Your Cool

One challenge of hybrids is keeping the cabin cool during the summer months and warm in cooler times.  The wings are the main reason for this.  They allow heat in, in the summer, and out when the weather is not so warm.

Most expandables have curtains to close off the bunks, but these are seldom adequate enough to maintain the comfort in the main living area.  We have noticed that as soon as we drop our bunks, it gets very warm 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. 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.  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. 

Pop Up Gizmos on our Hybrid

Another Great Tip!

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!!

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! 

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Lightweight and easy to tow
  • Expandable bunks leave more living space on the floor
  • You have the convinces of a traditional travel trailer
  • It feels more like your "camping"  because of the canvas bunks
  • You can hear the sounds of nature

Cons:

  • Not the best camper for a long trip
  • Storage can be an issue
  • Leaks in the bunks and seams where the canvas meets the trailer
  • If its wet, when tearing down, you'll need to pop out the bunks and dry at home
  • You can hear your neighbors more easily because of the canvas
  • Campfire smoke can seep into your trailer
  • Hybrids are lower to the ground making it difficult to dump your black and grey water at certain campgrounds
  • Not all campgrounds allow the "tents." Do your research first

For more detailed information, check out the RV Forums.

A Trailer we Love

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.

Written By: Melissa

Exploring Travel Trailers>Types of Travel Trailers>Hybrid Travel Trailers