Hybrid Travel Trailers: 14 Things to Know Before Buying One

When we were looking to buy our first camper, we wanted to make sure we were getting the best deal possible as well as a camper that best met our needs.  We looked at everything from hybrid travel trailers through to traditional travel trailers.

A hybrid travel trailer wasn’t at the top of our priority list at the time, but with research and after speaking to other hybrid travel trailer owners it quickly became an option.

When we finally made a purchase, we went with a more traditional travel trailer, but we now have a good understanding of the benefits and drawbacks of a hybrid model.

Imagine for a second that you’ve decided to buy a hybrid travel trailer. The sun is relentless and the canvas sides are offering very little in the way of insulation against the heat. The air conditioning isn’t making a dent in the stuffy atmosphere.

Additionally, it rained last night and some of the bedding was touching the canvas sides letting water in and wetting the sleeping area. Now the person in the campsite next to yours has started their generator and the canvas walls do little to prevent the noise.

That’s a worst-case scenario, but it doesn’t seem like a lot of fun.

If you make the wrong buying decisions, then this can happen with some Hybrid travel trailers. However, with some clever choices and informed decisions then it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, hybrids offer many advantages over traditional travel trailers.

What to Know Before Buying a Hybrid Travel Trailer

Generator Noise

With almost any traditional travel trailer, you can quite happily turn on the generator, go inside and close the door and marvel at how quiet it is. That’s why many of us enjoy going to the countryside in the first place, for a bit of quiet relaxation.

However, in a hybrid camper, the noise from the generator is difficult to ignore. Canvas has very little in the way of acoustic dampening, largely due to its thin walls.

Unless you plan on locating your generator far away, turning on the generator and then nipping inside to enjoy some quiet time isn’t really an option.

The Spaciousness of the Floor Plan

If you’re looking for a significant amount of internal space for your money then a Hybrid travel trailer is an excellent option.

As the construction of a Hybrid is generally lighter, manufacturers can afford to include many more popouts without compromising on the weight of the trailer. As such, hybrids can upwards of three popouts, which makes the internal space feel far more roomy and spacious.

Authentic Camping Experience

If like me you have fond memories camping out in a tent when you were a kid then a hybrid might just rekindle those memories without sacrificing convenience.

When you’re in a traditional travel trailer it can often feel like you’re in a small apartment, and not like your on an outdoors adventure. A hybrid feels much closer to a genuine camping experience but is still able to offer the usability offered by a standard travel trailer.

Security

The perceived security of a hard sided trailer is often a comfort for some travelers, which is less apparent with a hybrid. It’s very unlikely that any wild animals will pose a threat to either trailer types, but a hard sided trailer can at least offer solid walls and a feeling of safety.

Whether this is a concern depends on your personal circumstances and who you’re traveling with.

Canvas also presents little in the way to deter criminals. I would argue that both travel trailer types will not stop a determined thief, but I think hybrids are more open to opportunistic crimes.

Hybrids Offer Big Beds

If you like the thought of relaxing in a giant queen sized bed when you’re on your travels, then a hybrid trailer is well worth considerations. Due to the increased availability of various popouts in a Hybrid, it’s not uncommon the find queen sized beds throughout.

If like me you like to spread out when sleeping, or if you have a partner that does, then the extra room is a massive benefit.

Water Might be a Problem

99% of the time of the time, even the heaviest rainstorms won’t cause you any problems. However, condensation from cooking and breathing can cause a problem, especially if there is little ventilation.

You may wake up to find bedding is a little wet from where it’s touched the walls, but you should remain dry.

The main concern is that you’ll need to make sure they everything is thoroughly dried out before you pack up everything up at the end of the trip. If you’re not careful, mold and mildew can occur. If you’re only ever camping when the weather is nice, then this is less of a concern for you.

Keeping Things Warm

Unfortunately, canvas offers very little in the way of insulation. Some people resort to additional popup covers to cover their hybrids so as to offer a level of protection from the elements. This feels like an extra hassle that we could do without when camping, our whole reason for getting a travel trailer was because they are easy to use and convenient.

However, I have personally experienced taking a hybrid out when it was snowing, and it’s really not all that bad. You can easily stay warm and comfortable, and the space inside the trailer can be heated up quite quickly. It can be quite nice making a cozy place with blankets and a heater while the weather outside is freezing, you just need to travel prepared for the weather.

Weight is Less of an Issue

On a traditional travel trailer, any slideouts can weigh in excess of 700 pounds. This means you’re not likely to find more than a couple on most trailers.

While if we take a look at a hybrid trailer, a popout is unlikely to get above 60 pounds. This means you can have multiple popouts without making much of an impact on the overall weight of the trailer, which is great if you’re looking for extra space.

Set up Time

If you’re worried that a hybrid might take a long time to set up, then you need not to worry. Most of the newer hybrids can be fully set up in under 5 minutes, which is amazingly fast. Older models may take slightly longer, but you’re still only looking at 20 – 30 minutes to go to a completed setup.

We don’t think this much of an issue, having spent years camping and setting up tents, a hybrid is much faster. However, if time is constrained, the weather is poor or if your mobility is restricted, then the extra effort and time required to setup could be a problem.

If you’re spending a week or more in a single location set up and taking it down again is not a problem for us, but if we’re making a quick overnight stop, then that extra few minutes spent setting up is a bit of an inconvenience. It’s worth thinking about how you’re going to be using your Hybrid.

You can, of course, cheat slightly, and just not set everything up when you’re making a quick stop for the night. It’s very easy to park up and just have the essentials available to you without faffing around to set everything up. This is especially useful if there’s only a couple of you traveling.

Privacy

It might be obvious, but it’s worth pointing out. Canvas offers much less privacy compared to a solid wall. Your neighbors can quite easily hear your kids laughing, babies crying and possibly even your conversations if they’re close enough. This might not be a concern to you, but it’s worth bearing in mind.

You might also want to be aware of what light sources inside your trailer are projecting onto your hybrids walls. It’s not uncommon to see a silhouette projected onto canvas if the light is just right, akin to something out of Austen Powers.

Ventilation

Ventilation and air flow are often much better on a hybrid when compared to a normal camper. When it’s a warm day it’s very easy to open up the numerous windows and let the air flow naturally through the trailer space. This has the added bonus of making you feel that much closer to nature and put less of barrier between you and the great outdoors. it’s definitely a win for hybrids.

Durability & Maintenance

A well-maintained hybrid trailer should last years or decades of use with very little in the way of problems. However, the canvas is much weaker than a solid wall, and it can tear, rip, wear away or suffer from mildew or mold if not cared for carefully. This is obviously much less of a problem on a traditional trailer.

Ample Sleeping Space

As we eluded to earlier, hybrids offer a ton of comfortable and dedicated sleeping space. As hybrids can have multiple pop outs, you can quite easily assign each of your family members their own sleeping ‘room’. There is no messing around with converting the dining area into a bed each night, and no arguments as to who gets the bigger bed. Fantastic if you have older kids.

Lighting Control

If you’ve been camping during the summer months before, you’ll no doubt have been woken up by the sun rising at 5 am. The same is true of hybrids, the sunlight can create a very effective if unwanted alarm clock. This is a complete non-issue in a travel trailer due to the solid walls.

If you’re someone that likes to wake up early, then a natural alarm clock might be a good thing.

Families with young children might think otherwise. Convincing a three-year-old that 5 am is too early to get up is difficult when it’s daylight at that time inside the hybrid. Nobody wants to deal with an overtired toddler full of holiday excitement but not enough sleep.

Dealing with Leaks

As well as dealing with condensation, it is possible for hybrids to leak, especially when items are touching the side of the canvas when it’s raining. You’ll want to avoid this as much as possible as over time this can definitely cause problems. Just make sure that nothing is touching the sides and make any repairs as soon as you can.

All trailers can leak, so as long as you’re careful it shouldn’t be an issue. Even if you do have a leak, a bit of airing out when the sun is out should get things dried out nicely.

Final Thoughts

Whether you decide to opt for a hybrid or a traditional travel trailer, it’s down to your personal preferences, and what you’re looking for in a trailer. There is no right or wrong choice.

If you want fast to set up, lot’s of privacy and an easy way of controlling the internal environment, then a traditional hard-sided trailer is a great choice.

If you want additional space, an experience that’s closer to camping and feeling of being close to nature, then a hybrid is a great option.

Whatever you decide, we hope you have years of enjoyment and we’d love you hear your thoughts on Hybrid trailers in the comments below.

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