We last heard from Hitch Hotel at the exact point the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning to disrupt life as we know it in March 2020. At the time, the California company was raising money to develop a telescoping tiny trailer it called the Traveler. Needless to say, its timing proved less than ideal and made for a difficult slog to market. It has now successfully emerged through to the other side and launched the expandable Traveler. The unique camper packs up in seconds to create one of the tiniest camping trailer footprints out there, growing quickly at camp to sleep two people comfortably. At under US$10K to start, it’s an intriguing micro-camper option.
Before the Traveler, Hitch Hotel burst onto the scene in 2018 with a different style of “trailer,” one that compacted down, mounted directly to the hitch without the need for its own wheels, and stretched out at camp to create enough space for a camping couple. Things went quite well at first – along with the buzz that came with creating something truly different, Hitch Hotel raised over $170,000 in a successful Kickstarter campaign.
But then it ran into a wall. As it worked to ready the hitch-able camper box for market, the design got heavier and heavier, ballooning from 240 lb (109 kg) to over 380 lb (172 kg) and thereby necessitating a Class III hitch. Hitch Hotel found itself with a tiny, lightweight, affordable camper that required a large, expensive SUV or truck as an escort vehicle and simply didn’t see that much of a market for it.
So the Hitch Hotel team worked around the problem by designing the Traveler, putting the telescoping fiberglass box onto a wheeled chassis to create a more conventional trailer. Back in 2020, the company was planning to offer the original wheel-less Hitch Hotel Classic and the wheeled Traveler caravan side by side, but with the added lockdown and supply chain difficulties that immediately followed, it decided to focus solely on the more universal and globally marketable Traveler … at least for now.
While 380 lb is a lot to carry directly on a vehicle hitch, it’s quite lightweight for an entire trailer body. Once specced into fully wheeled trailer form, the Traveler tips the scales at 950 lb (431 kg) empty, joining the subset of sub-1,000-pounders on this year’s rather robust list of small, ultralight camping trailers. Vehicle selection becomes much broader and includes crossovers, small hatchbacks and sedans, and electric cars around the world, not just large American SUVs and trucks.
The Traveler measures a mere 7.8 feet (2.4 m) long when it’s fully extended at camp and its folding tow bar dropped down in hitch position. Once its body is closed up and tow bar folded, it measures just 3.5 feet (107 cm) long, storing away easily in a garage or up against the house. It stands 6 feet (1.8 m) tall and stretches the same 6 feet wide.
The fiberglass trailer comes ready to perform the split role of cargo trailer and hard-sided camping shelter. When traveling to camp, owners can fill it up with all means of regular car camping gear – tables, chairs, stoves, cookware, dishes, etc. – just like a dedicated cargo trailer. The 1,800-lb (816-kg) torsion axle leaves 850 lb (385 kg) of payload for gear, and the removable front cargo box offers added storage space.
At camp, owners unload their gear, stretch the Traveler body out into camper form and sleep inside as a more comfortable, insulated, above-ground alternative to a tent. The process takes only a few minutes and involves dropping the support legs and sliding the expansion segments out. Campers then access the interior via a tall tailgate that lifts open and can be locked from inside or outside.
The fiberglass interior comes lined in marine-grade canvas fitted with padded insulation. A standard 60-Ah battery powers the roof fan, LED light and two USB ports. Along with the bidirectional roof fan, the Traveler’s three locking dual-pane screened windows help keep interior air moving. A mattress is not included in the standard package, so owners will want to pack their own folding, rolling or inflatable sleeping pad(s).
The 2023 Hitch Hotel is available for order now at a base price of $9,800. Optional upgrades include a 100-Ah lithium battery, memory foam mattress, power closing system, battery-powered A/C and diesel heater. Hitch Hotel is also working on adding kitchen, onboard water storage, and portable toilet options.
As for the original concept of a direct-to-hitch camper, Hitch Hotel is still hoping to launch that version in the future, but those hopes are ultimately tied to how well things go with the Traveler.
Source: Hitch Hotel