Tiny, telescoping Hitch Hotel camper gets its own trailer wheels
Why would a company that made a big splash with a wheel-less, hitch-mounted camper pull a complete about-face and add wheels? Because it turns out that while some modest vehicles are prepared to carry a cargo/living module on their hitch receivers, others are not. So Hitch Hotel is reaching out to a broader demographic with its second model, an expandable, two+ person camping trailer designed around smaller, more efficient cars. The new Hitch Hotel Traveler tows down the road as a tiny, versatile trailer and transforms into a cozy wilderness shelter at camp.
The original Hitch Hotel (now called the Classic) was one of the truly unexpected debuts in a 2018 filled with innovative and off-the wall camper designs. At just 240 lb (109 kg), the compact, watertight fiberglass box was designed to make the vehicle camping experience easier and simpler than a trailer and more solid and stable than a tent. The problem for some of the small vehicles for which the Hitch Hotel was designed is that they can't support the Class 3 or higher hitch receiver needed to carry the Hitch Hotel. The California-based team behind the design found this problem particularly prevalent in visiting global markets where small cars, not big, All-American pickup trucks, are the norm.
So to resolve that incongruity between product and targeted buyer, Hitch Hotel reversed course and designed a wheeled trailer, replacing the Classic's lift-support frame with an underbody powder-coated frame with 10-in wheels. The radial tires are rated at speeds up to 80 mph (129 km/h). At camp, the Traveler is still the same as the Classic, expanding out the back to accommodate two to three campers. It relies on legs to fold out and support the extended structure and small wheels to make maneuvering easier, at least on smooth, level ground.
Not quite as unique as a hitch-top camping box, the Traveler is still quite unlike the typical trailer. First off, it measures a mere 71 in (180 cm) from back to tongue tip, its packed body occupying around 39 in (99 cm) of that. After some development since we last saw it, the Classic now weighs 280 lb (127 kg) and swapping in the underbody wheeled trailer frame for the hitch frame brings the total weight up to around 450 lb (204 kg), making the Traveler a super-light, tiny trailer by any measure. It offers 550 lb (249 kg) of payload so owners can carry plenty of camping and sports gear along for the trip. Tongue weight is 100 lb (45 kg).
On the downside, the Traveler's tall, vertical body is not optimized for aerodynamics at all, its broad, flat face staring at the rushing air as it towers above the car. The high center of gravity won't be ideal, either. Looking at it, we just want to fold it 90 degrees so that it ducks down as low as possible. You can certainly tell it was redesigned into a trailer and not built from the ground up that way.
Hitch Hotel co-founder Gil Goren tells us that the Traveler works with any Class 1 hitch in the world, making it compatible with a much wider range of vehicles than the Classic. Buyers can also choose to add longer tow bars for tongue storage.
While Hitch Hotel is pushing forward at full speed now, things haven't gone entirely as planned since it closed out a successful $171,000 Kickstarter campaign back in 2018. The company experienced some prototyping delays that quickly burned through capital. That's why it's back to crowdfunding now, advertising the two versions of the Hitch Hotel to drum up broader interest. The company has been keeping the original Kickstarter backers up to date on its progress, and Goren says it has offered refunds and is in the process of paying them out to backers who chose that route.
Instead of going back to Kickstarter with the Traveler, Hitch Hotel has turned to StartEngine, where interested investors can buy shares of the company. Each Hitch Hotel share is valued at $5, and the minimum investment is $235. This type of investing comes with a different set of risks from the product-based crowdfunding we see more often in relation to new product launches. Instead of putting money toward a product that may or may not ever come to fruition, you're putting it into a startup that may or may not get off the ground and make money in the long run.
Hitch Hotel currently intends to start delivery of the $4,999 Classic to its original Kickstarter backers within the next two months. The $5,699 Traveler is still in the final prototype stages, but plans call for availability by mid-summer. Goren doesn't expect any of the development delays that hampered the Classic to affect the Traveler because the new design is essentially the Classic on wheels. However, as its past experience and the experience of other delayed Kickstarters shows, there are no hard delivery dates until the product is on your doorstep.
Source: Hitch Hotel