By Tony Barthel
Folding trailers have come a long way and the Rockwood-Flagstaff hard-sided pop-ups are a prime example of this progress. They still fold down to fit into a garage, are still ultra-light starting at around 2000 lbs., but the A-frame pop-ups are all hard-sided, very easy to set up and fold down, and have features like dormers for added interior space.
The Rockwood A213HW, for example, features things like a MaxxAir fan for great off-grid breezes inside, a dormer above the dinette for additional headroom and two twin beds – perfect for that camping getaway with a friend. Even in this 2670 lb. trailer, there is actually a cartridge toilet, fridge, air conditioner and an outside grill.
In the past there were really only two choices of folding trailers: pop-up tent trailers and then the Hi-Lo trailers. Unfortunately with tent-style pop-up trailers, there are campgrounds that won’t allow these for a variety of reasons including being too easy for animals to get into. The complicated mechanisms to raise and lower traditional pop-up trailer roofs, too, are a deterrent for some.
And some just don’t want a canvas trailer.
But the advantage of folding trailers is that they can fit into a garage. Another benefit is that they tow behind a wider variety of vehicles and, since they’re no taller than the roof of any normal vehicle, they don’t cause a huge aerodynamic drag on the tow vehicle.
When I was selling RVs one of the reasons people gave for not wanting a folding/convertible trailer was that they perceived that the converting process was difficult. After showing them the process, including letting customers do it themselves, that objection was gone. Many of these can be optioned with a power lift mechanism so raising or lowering it is that much easier.
There are a surprising number of features on these owing to the fact that Rockwood and Flagstaff tend to be higher-end in their category. Among these include the WiFiRanger, which will boost Wi-Fi signal and can also be upgraded to be an LTE booster and secure router making your Internet browsing experience more secure.
This unit is also available with what amounts to a window air conditioner under the bed. Combined with the heater and hard walls all around this can be used almost year ‘round. There is no gray tank so no worrying about that freezing, though there is a fresh water tank and the kitchen features a sink that drains to the outside.
If you’re sleeping with someone you’d like to cozy up to, the twin beds can be converted to a king-sized bed with a piece that drops into place between the beds along with a cushion to place on top of that piece. During the day the twin beds can also be used as benches and there is some storage under the beds.
Speaking of storage, there is a large trunk up front with a big sliding drawer. With the sleeping configuration, this is a great choice for a couple of fishing enthusiasts and the front trunk with the plastic drawer would be a great place for poles. Heck, the same could be written about hunting.
The fridge on this is a three-way model so you can leave it in 12-volt mode as you ramble down the road without worry about a flame burning.
Of course, the downside of these is that they’re essentially not usable until the tops are popped – so roadside lunch breaks will take a bit more effort. Also, there is a cartridge toilet – which is a huge plus, but that toilet is right at the edge of the dinette. Yes, you could sit at the table and take care of both intake and outgo – but this may be more than most fellow diners would appreciate. Perhaps hanging the privacy curtain would be advisable.
Slim Potatohead, a YouTuber, lived full time in an A-frame trailer for a while so I guess these could be used for those who camp a lot. But I see them more as an ideal choice for those who camp only a few times a year or don’t have a full-sized pickup. The fully laminated walls mean they’re much better in a variety of weather, and the dormers make it possible to spend more time inside if the weather goes south.
You have to really see one of these in person to experience how easy it is to raise and lower the roof. Overall this is a choice that a lot of RVers might enjoy but wouldn’t necessarily look at because of preconceived notions of top-folding challenges.