By Tony Barthel
The readers of RV Travel are an incredible bunch. (Yes, that’s you!) Talking about little trailers, someone asked me if I had seen the Helio trailers and, in fact, I hadn’t. The Hélio is one of those trailers that will appeal to a very specific market – those who want or need the absolute lightest trailer possible. And there are a lot of you out there for whom this fits.
Hélio HE3 Series
The Helio trailer is an unusual, very light, very small bedroom on wheels, essentially. There’s not a lot to say about what comes inside this trailer because what’s inside is, effectively, a bed. In fact unlike some of the other trailers in this class, there really isn’t anything more than that – unless you choose a model with an air conditioner.
Now, I can hear some of you asking what the point of this is. But, for some travelers, it’s really a big, big step up from a tent. For example, if you travel in bear country, a lot of campgrounds simply will not allow you to camp in a tent. Also, there are a ton of people who have smaller cars or SUVs who just want a weekender camper. Those are two prominent use-case scenarios.
One of the things that does set this trailer apart is how it’s made. You’ve clearly discerned that this is a wedge-shaped trailer, of course.
Essentially, the entire top of the trailer is a single piece of fiberglass, so there is virtually no possibility of water intrusion. The underside, too, is a fiberglass piece, and there are aluminum ribs on the underside to give it strength.
The windows are the frameless all-glass jalousie-style windows – which I have in my own trailer and really like. They essentially require zero maintenance to maintain the seals. Frankly, I worry about the competing Lexan models and whether or not they’ll be all scratched up over time.
Suspension is a torsion axle type, so the specifications on the few parts there are in this trailer are better components. There’s also an optional high-performance fan in the ceiling of the trailer. I wonder just how strong the breeze feels when that’s on a higher setting. I know in my own 19’ trailer that same fan can create quite a breeze. So it ought to blow at gale force here when you crank it to full blast.
Options in the Hélio HE3
Like several other similar models, entry to this trailer is gained from the rear door. This is a fairly wide door encompassing about half the width of the trailer. There is a screen door.
Let’s face it, though. The challenge of trailers like this is that you can’t stand up in them. Also, there’s no kitchen and no bathroom whatsoever. Chances are you’ll be seeking out a developed campground – which isn’t a bad thing, necessarily.
However, another option is to just set up a tent at the back door as your living room/dining room/bathroom. This means you can stuff the tent and your gear and maybe a 12-volt cooler into the trailer and then set up camp when you get there.
Challenges in the Hélio HE3
While build quality on this is pretty good, there are some definite challenges with this design. One of those is that the entire interior mirrors the exterior and is fiberglass. That’s great for longevity, but you’ll want to get that optional vent fan for the condensation. If you don’t, it’ll feel like a sauna in there.
Also, there are no shelves whatsoever. So that second room comprised of a tent is almost more of a necessity than an option, really.
Lastly, the space for cushions inside for sleeping is 6’ 2 1/2 inches. If you’re a taller person, this isn’t going to work for you.
The Hélio HE3 Series is a slick little trailer that may really work out for some buyers. The build quality and thinking are there – and I’m betting that it’ll last a very long time. It’s also very small and very light – which are prerequisites to having something this tiny.
But now others have invaded this space, including the MyPod, which has wood in the interior and is a bit larger but also significantly heavier. There’s also the really futuristic PolyDrop P17A, which sort of looks like the forthcoming Tesla Truck. And my favorite in this category is the Earth Traveler, which is also the lightest competitor.
But if you’re camping in bear country and need to be fully enclosed at night, this might be a better choice than the Earth Traveler, even though that thing is just an incredible piece of design.
The best thing about all this is that there actually are worthwhile choices in the super-lightweight travel trailer realm.
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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