Wheel-less telescoping camping trailer grows to sleep two
Watching the popularity of teardrops and other small trailers grow over the past decade, the folks at Hitch Hotel have come up with a super-simple, cheap alternative that they think will fit the bill for many travelers and adventurers. Part camping trailer, part cargo box, the Hitch Hotel rides on your hitch without the need for its own wheels. It can carry sports gear, camping equipment and other cargo before expanding at camp to sleep two adults.
Hitch Hotel originally conceived its design as a way for downhill mountain bikers to safely carry their bikes to the trail and have an overnight shelter to boot – in essence, a bike box to sleep in. The company quickly realized the idea had appeal well beyond just mountain biking and could work quite well for other activities, including camping in general. The hitch-mount cargo camper strikes a balance between the affordable simplicity of a tent and the hard-sided comfort of a trailer.
When driving, the Hitch Hotel rides behind the bumper as a 68 x 34 x 50-in (173 x 86 x 127 cm) watertight cargo box with 60 cu ft (1,699 L) of space. At just 240 lb (109 kg), it's much lighter than the average full-blown camping trailer. The company says it'll fit up to three full-size bikes, and it can also carry snowboards, luggage, camping gear, or whatever you can stuff within the size and weight limits.
The Hitch Hotel could work as a basic cargo box, simply hauling things to and fro, but it really shines on overnight camping trips. Its fiberglass body slides out to offer 88 in (224 cm) of interior length with a minimum of 58 in (147 cm) of width, creating space for a mattress and two to three people. A set of retractable legs supports the extended cabin.
The company doesn't include the mattress, so you'll have to source your own or purchase the optional mattress it plans to offer as an add-on. Either way, we reckon you'll need a mattress that can fold, roll or deflate so that you can easily store it in the compacted trailer box or the motor vehicle when driving.
A big, hitch-mount box could quickly become a nuisance when you need to open the tailgate and access the vehicle load area. Hitch Hotel has addressed this problem with a built-in slide that allows the box to pull back 18 inches (46 cm) to clear way for trunk access, sure to be a handy feature.
Given that it lacks a kitchen or other features typically found in a camping trailer, the Hitch Hotel might be better thought of as a cargo box and pricier tent alternative with a few key advantages – it slides out in seconds, gets you up off the ground onto a mattress, and encloses you within a sturdier set of fiberglass walls.
Standard Hitch Hotel features include a roof vent, 6061 aluminum frame, two vented windows, a lockable door, a USB port, a 12V light, taillights and a harness to the vehicle. The 240-lb Hitch Hotel falls within the 300-lb (136-lb) limit of a Class II hitch, but Hitch Hotel recommends only using a Class III hitch (600-lb/272-lb limit). The trailer can hold an additional 150 lb (68 kg), so the Class III hitch will ensure it's able to live up to its full potential.
The Hitch Hotel is light for a trailer, but 240 lb is still a lot to lift and position onto a hitch. For this purpose, the company plans to include a proprietary mechanism to raise and lower the box on and off the hitch. Hitch Hotel tells us that one person can get it done in a matter of minutes.
Hitch Hotel developed its first prototypes in 2015 and has refined the design over the past three years, during which time it's also moved manufacturing from China to the United States. It is currently offering its products for pre-order through its website and planning a larger crowdfunding campaign in the coming days.
The "Hitch Hotel Classic" described above is available for a pre-order special of $3,499, which is the same price the company says will serve as the early bird pledge level on the crowdfunder. Estimated retail is $3,899, and Hitch Hotel is also planning future launches for a smaller 200-lb (91-kg) "Lite" model ($3,499 estimated retail) and a non-expanding Cargo box ($1,699 estimated retail).
Hitch Hotel is busy getting its base models up and running now but mentions plans for additional options in the future, including a water tank/sink, solar panel, more robust electrical package and air conditioning.
Source: Hitch Hotel
Update: Hitch Hotel has launched its Kickstarter campaign, where it's offering the first 100 trailers at an even lower pledge level of US$2,999. The model from the campaign has come out a bit larger than indicated on Hitch Hotel's website and a previous email conversation, so we've updated relevant specs in the article to match.