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When you’re looking for a new home on wheels, but you want the best of both tent and RV camping, the best solution is a hybrid camper.
Hybrid campers are all the rage because they offer the comforts of a towable RV while adding additional tent-like sleeping and living areas that easily pop-out when you need them. This type of design helps to keep costs low without sacrificing much in terms of space and lifestyle.
If you’re not sold on a hybrid camper or are digging through research to find your next rig, keep trucking along with this blog post to learn more.
What to Know About Hybrid Campers
Hybrid campers are a great way to travel in a trailer, but there are a few things you need to know before you start your search for a hybrid trailer.
The Benefits of Hybrid Campers
Hybrid campers offer several benefits that most standard campers don’t. Here are a few to get you on the hybrid bandwagon.
Become One with Nature
Traveling in a hybrid camper brings you closer to nature than any traditional rig would. You can wake up to the sounds of birds chirping and breathe in the fresh air instead of rolling over every morning without a view.
Less Expensive Per Square Foot
Hybrid campers, though they offer relatively the same experience when traveling and sleeping, are usually less expensive than traditional campers per square foot. More space for less money is always a huge plus in my book.
Less Weight & More Floor Space
Standard travel trailers also often weigh more than hybrid campers that offer the same amount of space inside. Hybrid campers keep the weight low but often have more floor space than traditional campers because most sleeping areas are located in the pop-out sections instead of occupying that valuable floor space.
Better Use of Floor Space
Overall, most hybrid campers use their floor space more efficiently than traditional travel trailers. Most bed areas are located in the pop-out sections instead of taking up much-needed floor space, so you’re able to make better use of the space inside your camper overall for extra living space or gear storage!
Those are just a few of the benefits that hybrid campers provide, but others include more amenities due to better use of floor space, easy setup and breakdown for most hybrids, and needing less storage space when your camper isn’t being used.
The Tradeoffs of Hybrid Campers
With all things, there are always tradeoffs. Here are a few of the “not so good” things about hybrid campers to balance out the discussion and help you understand if a hybrid camper is the right fit for you and your family.
Noise & Smells
Unlike traditional campers, hybrid campers are more susceptible to the “influences” of their surroundings because you only have a barrier of fabric in those pop-out sections. If you’re a light sleeper and find yourself near other campers at the RV park who party until the break of dawn, you’ll most likely be able to hear more of that party than you’d like.
The same thing goes for smells, so be sure to check your surroundings before deciding to settle in! A sewer hose that is not properly attached at the site next to yours could make for a very unpleasant weekend of camping.
If you love camping off-grid like we do, hybrid campers may not always make the cut for some state or national parks and forests. Some parks and forest areas only allow hard-sided campers in an effort to keep wildlife and travelers safe, which can really put a damper on your agenda if you own a camper with soft sides like a hybrid.
Keeping your hybrid camper warm or cold when camping can be a challenge. The soft-sided pop-outs aren’t insulated like traditional campers and can let airflow in and out of your camper on the days when you need to control that interior climate the most.
One other thing to consider is condensation, and the resulting potential mold or mildew issues, if you camp in humid areas. Since your pop-out sides don’t keep out moisture like traditional camper walls do, you’ll want to look under the beds in pop-out sleeping areas and along the soft-sided walls from time to time to avoid any mold or mildew buildup.
Obviously, this is especially true if you are caught in a downpour also. These rigs will be moisture-resistant but certainly not water-tight.
Now that you know what hybrid campers are about, let’s dive into the best hybrid campers on the market to help you find your next rig and get on with the adventuring!
In this list, you’ll find a good mix of hybrid campers from more rugged, tent-style campers to the luxurious yet expandable trailers. There’s something on this list of best hybrid campers for everyone!
Forest River Rockwood Roo 24WS
The Rockwood Roo 24WS sleeps six and offers two tent-end sleeping areas. This camper features an additional bench for small travelers and a sofa to round out one last sleeping area.
With a full bathroom and linen closet, as well as several storage areas for clothes, gear and various accessories, this hybrid camper feels like a pretty comfy condo from end to end.
Other amenities include a full stove setup, a 30 inch TV, and a dinette area. The camper itself weighs in at 5,384 lbs, offers plenty of headroom, and is nearly 25 feet in length. It’s the perfect size for a family on the go or for long camping trips.
If you have a lot of gear, there are several outside storage compartments to stow away camping equipment also. Some Rockwood Roos come with an external gas grill to add even more bang for your buck.
The Forest River Rockwood Roo is one of the highest-rated hybrid campers out there for all the reasons above, but do the tiny details add up to make it worth the extra cash?
Let’s find out. Here are the specs for the Rockwood Roo:
- Dry Weight: 5,384 lbs
- GVWR: Not specified.
- Hitch Weight (dry): 634 lbs
- Cargo Carrying Capacity: 1,410 lbs
- Exterior Length: 24’ 10”
- Exterior Height: 10’ 10”
- Fresh Water Capacity: 58 gal
- Gray Water Capacity: 30 gal
- Black Water Capacity: 30 gal
Large and mighty, the Rockwood Roo delivers! The important thing to look at is the water tank capacities. With 58 gallons of freshwater capacity and plenty of space in both the gray and black tanks to hold that capacity, you can rest assured that you’ll have plenty of water for a long weekend away or an even longer vacation with regular refills if you are out boondocking.
K-Z Escape E180RBT
The Escape E180RBT is meant to be an ultra-light hybrid camper. With three tent-end sleeping areas and convertible sofa and dinette areas, too, you can fit 10 people inside. (No, I am not kidding.)
Like other hybrid campers, this rig features a bathroom and kitchen area with all the essentials like a shower, stove, refrigerator, and pantry. For only being 21 feet long, this camper offers enough space to live and sleep very comfortably.
Let’s take a look at Escape’s specifications to learn more about what you can expect when you get ready to venture out:
- Dry Weight: 3,260 lbs
- GVWR: 4,500 lbs
- Hitch Weight (dry): 370 lbs
- Cargo Carrying Capacity: 1,240 lbs
- Exterior Length: 21′ 7″
- Exterior Height: 118″
- Fresh Water Capacity: 20 gal
- Gray Water Capacity: 24 gal
- Black Water Capacity: 32 gal
For being one of the smaller campers on this list, the Escape’s cargo carrying capacity is actually pretty decent at 1,240 lbs. This allows you to stow away extra gear and provisions for your adventures and family gatherings.
As for the water tank capacities, you may need to refill your fresh water tank at least once throughout a long weekend on the road. The gray water and black water tank capacities will keep you from having to empty your tanks as frequently, which is helpful if you choose to boondock away from a dumpsite for a few days!
Overall, the Escape is one of my favorite options on the list for couples or small families that want the freedom of the RV lifestyle but don’t want to break the budget!
Forest River Flagstaff Shamrock (19 ft Model)
Like most hybrid campers, the Flagstaff Shamrock comes with two tent-end bedrooms with queen-sized (60” x 80”) beds. Inside, you get the luxuries of a traditional RV including what seems like endless storage in the kitchen, bathroom, and under bed drawers.
Though this model is shorter than others we’ve mentioned above, at over 21 feet, there’s plenty of room to spread out without feeling too cramped. The dinette area, like most other campers, transforms into an additional sleeping space along with the 67-inch sofa that can be used for entertaining or sleeping, too!
So you know the details about the interior. It’s time to figure out if this rig is really a good fit for you. Sure, the bells and whistles are great, but there are a few more things to check off the list before choosing the Flagstaff Shamrock.
Let’s dive into the specifications to learn more:
- Dry Weight: 4,056 lbs
- GVWR: 5,630 lbs
- Hitch Weight (dry): 448 lbs
- Cargo Carrying Capacity: 1,672 lbs
- Exterior Length: 21′ 2″
- Exterior Height: 10′ 5″
- Fresh Water Capacity: 58 gal
- Gray Water Capacity: 30 gal
- Black Water Capacity: 30 gal
The UVW, or unloaded vehicle weight, is roughly 4,056 lbs which makes this camper a little lighter than the Rockwood Roo 24 footer. That said the Flagstaff Shamrock doesn’t skimp on the luxurious feel and amenities despite being a little shorter overall, which makes it a great choice for families and extensive travelers.
Palomino SolAire eXpandable
If you’re looking for luxury, the Palomino SolAire eXpandable camper is just that. (Note: Palomino RV is a division of Forest River, Inc.) The interiors of this rig are not only functional but beautiful! There are three models available varying in floor plans, weight, and length.
All models come with two queen-sized tent-end beds, a dinette, couch, and bathroom. The longest and largest model, at 25 feet in length, has an additional tent-bed area and bar area for additional seating. Even the smallest model, just over 18 feet long, sleeps 7. So it’s safe to say that there’s enough room for everyone to join in on the camping fun!
Now that you know what to expect on the inside, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of what to expect when towing and traveling. Let’s go over the largest camper (SolAire eXpandable 185X) model’s specs:
- Dry Weight: 4,134 lbs
- GVWR: 5,630 lbs
- Hitch Weight (dry): 444 lbs
- Cargo Carrying Capacity: 1,496 lbs
- Exterior Length: 25′ 9″
- Exterior Height: 10′ 1″
- Fresh Water Capacity: 44 gal
- Gray Water Capacity: 38 gal
- Black Water Capacity: 30 gal
By the looks of it, you should have plenty of water and tank capacity in both the black and gray water tanks to get you through a weekend or more of camping without having to refill or dump your waste, which makes it ideal for long road trips or even potentially full-time travel for a single or a couple.
With a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) over 5,600 lbs for the 185X model, you should pay attention to this number when deciding whether or not this camper works for your needs. You may need to get a more powerful towing vehicle or look for a lighter hybrid camper if your vehicle is unable to safely pull and stop this rig.
Jayco Jay Feather X23E
For a little more living space, look to the Jayco Jay Feather X23E. Jayco calls this setup the triple-tent hybrid as it offers three tent-end sleeping areas and an additional hard-sided dinette slide-out.
At 26 feet long, you can expect all the amenities you need in the kitchen and bathroom. With four storage compartments on the outside and several storage areas inside, you can easily bring along extra gear to make every trip an adventure.
Let’s take a look at the specifications to see what travelers should consider this camper:
- Dry Weight: 5,120 lbs
- Cargo Carrying Capacity: 1,030 lbs
- GVWR: 6,150 lbs
- Hitch Weight (dry): 600 lbs
- Exterior Length: 26′ 8″
- Exterior Height: 10′ 10″
- Freshwater Tank Capacity: 42 gal
- Gray Tank Capacity: 22.5 gal
- Black Tank Capacity: 30.5 gal
Just looking at the specs, you can tell that this hybrid is the biggest camper on our list. It’s the longest and second heaviest out of all the choices here, but it’s a great size for a large family who needs more room to live comfortably on the road.
The water tank capacities are right in the sweet spot, keeping you from having to dump your tanks too frequently. With the carrying capacity at just over 1,000 lbs you’ll also be able to pack in a few extra items to make this camper feel more like home.
This rig is ideal for families that travel frequently or who want to full-time in a hybrid camper!
Keystone Bullet Crossfire 2190EX
The more pop-out sections the better inside the Keystone Bullet Crossfire! This camper offers three tent-end beds and a slide-out dinette area for a third sleeping and eating area. Last but not least, the fold-down sofa is not only for entertainment but convenient for a good night’s rest, too.
What’s most surprising is that the bathroom area offers a shower and a small tub which can come in handy when traveling with children or furry friends, like we do! This camper is large and in charge, but it also can carry much more than any of the other campers on our list, which is particularly enticing for those with large families or long-term travelers.
Obviously, there’s a lot going for this hybrid camper, but let’s take a look at just how mighty this camper is:
- Dry Weight: 4,515 lbs.
- Cargo Carrying Capacity: 1,785 lbs.
- GVWR: 6,300 lbs.
- Hitch Weight (dry): 610 lbs.
- Exterior Length: 24’ 11”
- Exterior Height: 10’ 4”
- Freshwater Tank Capacity: 43 gal
- Gray Tank Capacity: 30 gal
- Black Tank Capacity: 30 gal
This beauty is definitely heavier than many others on our list, but it also sleeps up to 10 people at a time. The water tank capacity is definitely doable, but if you’re bringing a full camper to the campground you may need to dump and refill throughout a long weekend of showers, cooking, and dishwashing.
Overall, it’s a well-rounded option that ticks a lot of the boxes. And with the highest cargo capacity in this group, at nearly 1,800 lbs, you’ll have more than enough margin to bring along all the comforts of home you could possibly need. Works for me!
Which Hybrid Camper Will It Be?
There are tons of options out there, but after sifting through endless reviews and YouTube videos these are the top six hybrid campers that made our list.
There are obviously different schools of thought, from mostly soft-sided expandable campers to hard-shells that only offer tent-end sleeping areas. But either way you slice it the hybrid camper brings a new, and more attainable, avenue into comfortable camping, RVing and adventuring.
Are you more of an outdoorsy, tent-style camper or someone who likes to be with nature but with the luxuries and “protections” of home, too? Either way, there’s a hybrid camper out there for you at a price point that will make sense.
Next step? Get yourself to a dealership and get inside some of these beauties to try them on for size! That’s the only way you will truly be able to tell which one is going to make the cut for your family’s needs.
Have fun! And let us know if there’s another hybrid camper that you believe deserves to be on our list. Just comment below and we would be happy to add it as a “bonus”.
Erin Maxson is rooted in South Dakota, but wanders every chance she gets to see the beauty that nature holds. From hiking to climbing, there’s not an adventure she’ll turn down.
After renovating her 1976 Airstream Argosy, Erin knows the ins and outs of living life on the road and trailer maintenance.
Whether she’s on the road with her dog and partner or at home curled up with a good book, Erin is always planning her next adventure because life is meant to be lived outdoors.