Hi-Lo campers have been around since 1956, and they have some distinct advantages over other campers.
This being said, this doesn’t mean the Hi-Lo camper is without problems.
Here are some of the most common problems with Hi-Lo camper trailers that you might want to consider:
1. Hi-Lo Campers Get Noticed
Hi-Lo campers are unique campers, and they get noticed.
Instead of enjoying the solitude of his or her campsite, this person will have to give tours of their Hi-Lo camper to their neighbors.
Some owners even have this trouble while on the road. They end up getting caught up in conversations in parking lots, gas stations, and even out in front of their own homes.
2. It May Be Difficult To Get A Used Model
Hi-Lo campers went through a hiatus for over five years.
This means there is a gap of time where you will not find used models.
On top of this, many of the older models are still in high demand. This is good for resale values, but it isn’t good when you’re trying to buy a used Hi-Lo camper.
You’ll find that prices are high and that the camper sells quickly.
As a result, you’ll have to make a fast decision, and you’ll end up paying a premium price for doing so.
3. They Cost More Than Other Campers
An 18’ Hi-Lo camper can end up costing you twice as much as a standard travel trailer of the same size.
They’ll also cost much more than a standard canvas pop-up camper.
Comparatively speaking, the only campers that will cost a lot more are the higher end campers. A camper from Airstream or Bowlus will almost certainly cost you a lot more than a Hi-Lo camper.
4. They Aren’t Lightweight
Hi-Lo campers are more aerodynamic than standard campers, but they don’t weigh any less.
In fact, they often end up weighing more than a standard camper. One reason for this is that the actuators that lift the camper up and down also add weight to the camper.
It can often be heavier than other campers because it’s built with fiberglass panels around a frame.
While the fiberglass helps lighten the load, the frame ensures that it will not reach the low weights of traditional fiberglass molded campers like Casita and Scamp.
5. Not Much Variety
Hi-Lo only has one current model.
This model is an 18’ camper known as the Wanderer, and it comes in two different floor plans:
- The first-floor plan has a queen bed with an area for a portable toilet.
- This model also has a small table that folds down near the kitchen.
- The second-floor plan has a queen bed as well as a dinette that turns into a bed.
- It also has a small kitchen as well as a small wardrobe.
6. Internal Clearances Are Low
The Hi-Lo telescopes down, which makes it great for towing.
The downside is that the owner has to make sure that all items are positioned low enough to be crushed when it does telescope down.
Another drawback to this fact is that Hi-Lo campers can’t have floor to ceiling drawers or shelves. Everything must be built so that the top can telescope down.
While you’ll have this same issue with other popup campers, you won’t have it with other traditional campers.
7. Lift Cables Can Become Jammed
Some Hi-Lo Camper owners have complained about their lift cables becoming stuck.
This stops the camper from raising and can quickly ruin a camping trip.
Fortunately, this isn’t something that happens regularly, and there are steps that owners can take to avoid this. Also, dealership support is strong, so you shouldn’t have trouble getting your Hi-Lo camper fixed if you need to.
8. New Hi-Lo Campers Don’t Have Full Bathrooms
While some of the old Hi-Lo campers had toilets and showers, the newer models do not.
This means people who want a fully contained system may have to look into getting an older Hi-Lo camper.
General Pros and Cons for the Hi-Lo Camper:
1. Easier To Tow
Hi-Lo campers telescope down below the roofline of most vehicles.
This reduces wind drag and makes the Hi-Lo camper easier to tow.
Additionally, Hi-Lo campers have a lower center of gravity compared to most campers. The lower center of gravity of a Hi-Lo camper offers more stability while towing.
2. Hi-Lo Campers Set Up Quicker Than Other Pop-up Campers
A Hi-Lo camper is easier to set up than a canvas or folding popup camper.
To set these campers up, the owner has to push a button. This button can later be used to telescope the camper back down.
3. Easier To Store
Hi-Lo campers can fit in most garages.
This is important for people who live in neighborhoods that don’t allow them to keep trailers in their yards or driveways.
Hi-Lo campers are easier to store because these campers fit in standard sized garages.
A person will be able to store their camper in a storage garage meant to hold a vehicle.
4. They Have Hard Sides
Most popup campers consist of canvas materials or walls that fold up.
The canvas tends to rip and leak over time, and the folding campers often leak right from the start. With a Hi-Lo camper, you don’t have to worry about either of these issues.
You also don’t have to worry about making expensive repairs to the canvas on the popups. This makes the long term costs of owning a Hi-Lo camper less than the long term costs of owning a canvas popup camper.
Another advantage that the hard sides bring to the table is noise control. A Hi-Lo camper doesn’t let as much sound into the camper as a canvas popup camper does.
5. They’re Climate Controlled
Most canvas popup campers have air conditioning and heat these days.
The issue is that these canvas popup campers don’t hold the heat or cold in very well.
Because Hi-Lo campers have hard walls, it’s easier to keep the heat and cold in.
This makes it much easier to control the climate inside of a Hi-Lo camper versus popup campers.
6. Queen Size Beds
Many camper models claim to have queen size beds, but they are actually the length of a full-sized bed with the width of a queen.
This is great for taller people who can’t comfortably sleep in a bed that is only 75” long.
7. Standing Height
Hi-Lo campers are only 6’2” tall when raised.
Fortunately, this is tall enough for most Americans to stand up in comfortably.
On the other hand, if you’re a tall camper, you may find that the Hi-Lo is a bit too short for you to be comfortable walking around in.
Instead, you might want a canvas popup camper as they generally have close to 7 feet of standing room inside of them.
We discussed these earlier, but here is a list of the cons of Hi-Lo campers:
- Hi-Lo Campers Get Noticed
- It May Be Difficult To Get A Used Model
- They Cost More Than Other Campers
- They Aren’t Lightweight
- Not A Lot to Choose From
- Internal Clearances Are Low
- Lift Cables Can Become Stuck
- New Campers Don’t Have Full Bathrooms
What Do The Reviews Say?
“We have been traveling and camping in this unit for a few weeks and love the way it tows. We also love the quick setup.”[Source: RVInsider.com]
“The only bad thing I’ve heard about these campers is that they are heavy.”[Source: FiberGlassRV.com]
The pros and cons of earlier tend to support these two positions.
With a Hi-Lo camper, you’ll get a trailer that is easy to tow and easy to store, but you’ll still need a substantial tow vehicle to do all of this.
Hi-Lo campers were in production from 1956 until 2010.
In 2014, one of their previous franchise owners acquired the rights and the plans to the Hi-Lo camper, and they are now making them again. They currently make an 18’ model.
Unfortunately, I could not find any used Hi-Lo campers selling on RVTrader.com or any other large previously owned trailer websites.
As a result, the chart below will only compare and contrast new Hi-Lo campers versus campers from about ten years ago.
The Hi-Lo camper is a unique camper that you can’t find anywhere else.
If you can benefit from their unique advantages, I’d highly recommend that you look into them.
Morten is the founder of GoDownsize. He has filmed and interviewed people living in tiny houses and RVs since 2011. He grew up on the coast where his dad took him boating from a young age. He has completely rebuilt two RVs in which he travels with his family for months at the time. Read more about Morten here.