Recently we looked at the Aliner “Family” A-frame trailer and, as always, you all came through with some great replies and comments. One of those was a suggestion to look at Rockwood’s competitors to this model.
What might not be apparent to some is that a lot of the smaller and less profit-generating models are being put on hold right now. That’s due to parts shortages and supply chain issues making building anything in the RV space more difficult. There are plenty of times when I look at what has been requested for review only to find the manufacturer’s website listing it as “Dealer Stock Only” or “Temporarily Unavailable,” as is the case with the 2022 Rockwood A213HW.
But I, nonetheless, wanted to address the request by Mark S. to look at these in comparison to the Aliner model.
Hard-side pop-up trailers
One of the more popular choices in the Rockwood “hard-side pop-up” camper line is the Rockwood A213HW. This trailer features an A-frame design where the roof is comprised of two hard sections which fold up like an A-frame cabin. Then the space is filled in by hard-side sections, as well. There is also a dormer on the front of the trailer that sits over the dining area. This makes for even more space inside the unit.
While pop-up tent trailers might be something that some buyers consider, know that these hard-side models may be accepted in more campgrounds simply because certain campgrounds don’t permit canvas-sided trailers in bear country. It’s worth it to call around before you ultimately make a buying decision, though.
One of the concerns we heard the most about this style of trailer centered around actually raising and lowering the top. Several of the Rockwood trailers, including this one, include a power actuator. So raising and lowering the roof is literally as simple as unlatching the catches that hold it in place and then pushing a button.
It is neither heavy nor clumsy. Once the main sections are up you simply go inside and push the sidewall sections up and you’re ready to camp.
Plumbing and water
Rockwood calls these high-wall A-frame trailers, so the counter sidewalls are taller than some of these folding trailers. That translates into the inside two-burner stove and sink being closer to normal height than you might imagine.
In the galley of the Rockwood A213HW you’ll find a two-burner stove and a sink. There is not a gray tank on this unit. However, you can either divert the gray water into a sewer connection if you’re camping in a developed campground, or into something like this if you’re not.
There is a water heater aboard as well as an outdoor shower. Some owners of these do bring those shower tents. Another option would be to get one of those Clam tents, which I’ve seen a single individual set up in just a few moments.
There’s a cartridge toilet in here
Lastly, there’s a toilet in this, as well. It’s a cartridge toilet but, let’s be very honest, this is not a camper to get if you’re shy around your fellow campers. That toilet does have a curtain that goes around it, but it’s right there next to the dining table.
In fact, one of these came in while I was working at the dealership. We had a great time with jokes centered around being able to have dinner and, uh, make room for more in the same seating position.
It’s important to know that there is not a fresh water tank in the Rockwood A213HW, nor is there a water pump. If you’re not camping in a developed campground, you’ll either have to do without or provide for pressurized water. That could be a big deal for some campers.
The Rockwood A213HW is a popular choice
But there’s a reason this floor plan is one of the more popular in the line, and that’s the twin beds at the back of this trailer. This arrangement makes it possible for two friends to go camping and each have their own bed, of course. There’s also a provision to put a platform in the open space and have a single large bed, as well.
Under the bed you’ll find a few storage drawers and cabinets and also a “Cool Cat” air conditioning system which is essentially a heat pump. What this means is that you can air condition the space when it’s hot outside, but this unit can also double as a heater for the space. However, when it’s really cold there’s also a propane furnace.
This is not unlike how many modern home air conditioners work. It makes a lot of sense.
You might wonder about headroom with the A-frame sloped roof over the twin beds in the back, especially if you use these as two couches in the day. But there is a bowed-out skylight back there that actually works to provide headroom when seated on the beds. It also provides additional light in the day, but then there’s a curtain to cover it at night.
Let’s compare the Rockwood A213HW and the Aliner
Comparing this trailer to the Aliner we looked at, there is one very distinct advantage that this has, and that’s the front trunk. Rockwood has a trunk that spans the width of the front of this trailer with a flip-up lid. There’s a pretty decent amount of storage space in there.
There’s also a full-width rotomolded drawer below that. It can be accessed from either side of the camper and, again, provides a lot of storage. I really like this drawer setup.
Another advantage of this camper is the fact that Rockwood includes racks on the top which are capable of carrying up to 150 pounds. So this would be a great place to haul bicycles or kayaks and that sort of thing.
Lastly the power top mechanism is also a plus for some. But I have to say the impression of lifting the counter-weighted roof panels is not such a big deal in the real world. It’s a pretty easy task, to be honest.
Comparing kitchens in the Rockwood A213HW and the Aliner
While the specific Aliner we looked at only had the option of an outdoor kitchen, this one has the indoor galley, as well. Another thing worth pointing out is that the refrigerator on this model is a three-way fridge. That means it cools with propane, 120vac and also 12 volt. Usually the 12-volt functionality is primarily for keeping the food cold on the road as it’s not that effective at cooling the unit down. But this is a much better choice than running propane while driving.
However, a downside is that it’s difficult to get to this fridge when the top is down (not impossible, though). The advantage of the 12-volt cooler-style fridge in the Aliner is that it’s easy to get at in the kitchen drawer slide that’s outside.
If you do want to cook outside, and I like doing so, Rockwood includes a flat-top griddle with this trailer that hangs on a rail outside. I have one of these myself and I really like it.
I think these folding trailers are a really good choice for a lot of campers simply because they don’t extend beyond the roof of the tow vehicle when in tow mode. This means that the list of vehicles that can legitimately tow this is much longer. That’s because of the weight of the trailer plus the lack of aerodynamic drag on the tow vehicle.
These are also relatively affordable, and they fit into a garage easily.
Now, I can see there will be some readers who look at the placement of the toilet and, like we children who worked at the dealership, might question that positioning. These models do sell well. But there is the A214HW that has a full bathroom with a shower that takes advantage of the dormer space in front.
Which would I choose?
So, which would I choose – the Rockwood or the Aliner? Honestly, they both are of comparable build quality that I think it’s more of a personal choice. Aliner does offer the option of the canvas sides. But I think the hard sides offer enough advantages, including being able to camp in more developed campgrounds, that I think hard-side is the way to go.
Also, I do like Rockwood’s front trunk and storage plus the racks on the roof. But I also like Aliner’s slide-out kitchen.
The main way could go wrong …
I think the main way you could go wrong is to just stay home and not go camping.
My thanks to Josh Winters at Haylett RV in Coldwater, Michigan, for use of these photos.
I would love to read your comments and suggestions over on our new forums, where you can weigh in and start or join a discussion about all things RV. Here’s a link to my RV Reviews Forum.
Tony comes to RVTravel having worked at an RV dealership and been a life long RV enthusiast. He also has written the syndicated Curbside column about cars. You can find his writing here and at StressLessCamping where he also has a podcast about the RV life with his wife.
These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. We receive no money or other financial benefits from these reviews. They are intended only as a brief overview of the vehicle, not a comprehensive critique, which would require a thorough inspection and/or test drive.
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