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Hi Lo Campers: The Hard-Sided Pop-up Trailer

Hi Lo Campers: The Hard-Sided Pop-up Trailer

Have you heard of a hard-sided pop-up trailer? Well one very popular model exists and a Hi Lo camper may be just the thing if you looking for one. It’s roomy and easy to tow with a low profile. The camper telescopes up and down while all of your camping gear stays securely inside.

Join us as we take a look at the Hi-Lo and start by looking at the history. 

The History of Hi Lo 

The first Hi Lo camper was built in Don Snyder’s garage in 1956. Its first iteration was basic, with a plywood floor bolted to a steel frame and aluminum sheet sides over wood. Inside, it had two bunk beds and a small folding table with two bench seats. The top of the camper telescoped over the bottom for camping and cranked back down for transportation.

Don made three more and put them in his front yard with a for sale sign in each. By 1958, he had a business. And in 1959, Hi Lo campers were nationally televised. One of the trailers was a prize on “The Price is Right” television show. This was an excellent way to reach the masses and helped grow the business. Hi Lo has continued to grow throughout the decades and has assumed various versions and upgraded innovations. 

Hi Lo ceased operations for a short period starting in 2010 while under the ownership of the Snyder family. But The Kerola Group, a Hi Lo Trailer franchise, acquired Hi Lo in 2014. The Kerola family has continued making new Hi Lo trailers through 2018 and hopes to continue production again.

The Hi-Lo Trailer. Getting a first look.

What Kind of Trailers Does Hi Lo Make?

Hi Lo makes hard-sided pop-up campers. However, they’ve made fifth wheels and travel trailers over the years. They even made a motorhome, the Mohican, in 1985. The motorhome would be called a class C by today’s standards. 

In 2001, they took a shot at producing a toy hauler called The Fun Chaser. It has room for off-road vehicles in the garage, but the top of the trailer can still lower over the bottom. 

Pro Tip: Before you buy a new trailer, this is What You Need to Know About Pop-Up Campers.

Hi-Lo trailer parked at campsite.
If you’re looking for a hard-sided pop-up camper, a hi-lo trailer is perfect for you!

Selling Features of a Hi-Lo Trailer

Pop-up campers aren’t always the first thing that comes to mind when shopping for a trailer. But they can be very convenient and practical. Let’s check out the selling features of a Hi Lo camper.

Packs Down Small

The Hi Lo camper packs down small. With a telescoping hard-sided top, there’s no canvas or potential water to cave in on your gear at the bottom of the trailer. The walls and windows come down around the base with a hydraulic over electric lift system with a manual backup system.

Store your trailer easily with a hi-lo trailer that packs down.

Reduced Wind Resistance

Since the trailer packs down small, it has a low profile when towed to reduce wind resistance and provide a better towing experience. Of course, we still recommend a sway bar when towing any camper, but having a low profile can make a significant difference from a tall travel trailer.

Lightweight & Easy to Tow

The most recent Hi Lo camper models have a dry weight of 2,362 lbs and a cargo-carrying capacity of 870lbs. Because it’s so lightweight, it’s easy to tow, and the aerodynamic structure helps reduce sway. Plus, you can pull the camper with a small truck or SUV. Some full-size sedans might also have the towing capacity of the Hi Lo camper.

Surprising Amount of Storage

Although the Hi Lo campers are small, they have a surprising amount of storage. There’s overhead storage and under-the-bed storage in the trailers. And they have a wardrobe as well as some kitchen storage. There’s even a model that has space for a porta-potty. So while the outdoor storage is limited, the indoor space makes up for it.

Hard-Sided Exterior

A lot of pop-up campers on the market have soft, canvas sides. Hi Lo campers are known for their durable, hard-sided exterior. The side walls are laminated fiberglass on the newest models, which minimizes the risk of any leaks. In addition, it has a one-piece seamless rubber roof.

Girl drinking tea on the steps of a trailer.
A hi-lo camper is perfect for solo travelers and families.

How Much Does a Hi Lo Camper Cost?

Vintage Hi Lo campers are highly sought after. The used campers can cost between $10,000 and $15,000. Whereas, the latest models that were built in 2018 start at $20,999. You can add a couple of features to newer versions, including an awning and a spare tire.

Pro Tip: Keep your budget in order by knowing How Much Does an RV Cost to Own and Maintain?

Trailers parked at camspite.
Stand out at an RV park with a hi-lo trailer.

Are Hi Lo Trailers Easy to Use?

Hi Lo trailers are easy to use and tow. They move up and down with the touch of a switch. The most common problems with the campers are the lift cables getting jammed. While this isn’t a reason to avoid them, it’s something to be aware of especially on older models. 

The Hi-Lo Travel Trailer. From Happiness to Frustration to Finished. Leaving for Louisiana tomorrow.

Is Hi Lo Still Producing Travel Trailers?

Hi Lo has paused production as of 2021. They’re actively looking for new partners to assist with a manufacturing facility. You can find a note from William Kerola on their website regarding the matter.

Searching for a used model can be fun, though. And they can serve as a great option for weekend camping or short trips. While Hi Lo currently doesn’t have any factory-direct campers for sale, you can find used options on RVTrader.com or at any other used RV lot.

If you own a Hi Lo or purchase one, we’d love to hear what you think of it. Drop us a line in the comments below!

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Scott Williams

Sunday 22nd of May 2022

Would love to find out what my vintage hi-low is worth . I believe it is a 68. In great condition . Anybody that has expertise in price would love to hear from you.

Phil

Thursday 30th of December 2021

An interesting article about a very rare travel trailer these days. Unfortunately, half of the pictures you used were not Hi-Lo but Trailmanors. The logo can be clearly seen on the front of the camper in your lead photo. While they fall under the "hard sided popup" category the engineering and design of the Trailmanors is quite different from Hi-Lo. The difference in design allow Trailmanors to be much more comfortable with more storage and greater flexibility of designs. This article continues to perpetuate misconceptions that Hi-Lo and TrailManor are the same company. While TrailManor has gone through some reorganizations they are still being manufactured in South Dakota. I no longer own one but how about a TrailManor article to provide some recognition. Thanks

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