Today’s review is of the Rockwood Tent HW296 pop-up travel trailer. Now, before you stop reading, these trailers actually offer a lot of space and are a good use case for a lot of RVers.
In fact, when you think about what we’re all talking about, fuel prices, one of these pop-up trailers makes a tremendous amount of sense. One of the biggest factors in the lousy mileage we get when we go RVing isn’t so much the weight of an RV, it’s the size.
Specifically the frontal area.
At some point I think all humans have put their hand out of the window of a moving vehicle and made different shapes. A flat hand slices through the wind, but when you put your hand up vertically there’s much more resistance.
The larger the surface you’re shoving through the wind, the more energy it takes to overcome that resistance. That’s why you might think a small single-axle trailer wouldn’t have as big an impact on fuel mileage as a big, honking trailer. But then you get almost the same lousy mileage with either one on a relatively flat road.
So, something like this that actually sits below the roofline of whatever is towing it will have a much lesser impact on fuel mileage than would a much taller trailer. Plus, you can also pop this into many garages, eliminating the need for paying for storage.
Highlights of the Rockwood Tent HW296
As far as pop-up trailers in general, this one’s pretty large at almost 22 feet in length when closed. But when you open it up, it really opens up.
On either end there’s a bed that slides out and a tent that goes around that. On one end this bed is an actual king-sized bed at 70” x 80”. At the opposite end is a true queen bed at 60” x 80”. The mattresses on both ends are also heated. Oh, and there’s a fan that hangs from the ceiling, too.
Further, both ends also feature a “hammock” arrangement that’s really more of a night table or place to put stuff while you’re sleeping. But it’s there.
Surprisingly, this trailer features a lot of seating space, too. There’s a couch at one end along with a “U” shaped dinette. This dinette is actually in a slide and, of course, can sleep two. That brings the sleeping capacity up to six campers.
There’s also a folding table for the folks at that couch, but this can also go outside, naturally.
Outside is where you’ll find a portable griddle like the one I have in my own Rockwood, and a metal table. In fact I use my griddle quite a bit.
But there is a full kitchen in this trailer with a three-burner stove with an actual, albeit 16”, oven, a fully plumbed sink and even a three-way refrigerator.
On those three-way fridges, they have the advantage of working on propane, shore power or even battery power. But the battery power is really more about maintaining the temp as you’re rolling down the road rather than cooling the fridge to operating temperature from room temp.
Do you camp on public lands? If so, you may want to get the comprehensive book “Bureau of Land Management Camping,” a guide to 1,142 camping areas managed by the BLM in 11 western states. Learn more or order.
You might be surprised to know that this actually has a shower and a toilet, and that the toilet is plumbed into a black tank.
But here’s where I know I’m going to lose some of you. Remember the sidewalls above the hard walls are all a canvas-like material. That means the bathroom walls are also a canvas-like material, too.
So the reality is, unless you turn the music way, way up, you’re sharing the audio soundtrack of your visit to the potty with your fellow campers. I can imagine if you’re camping with teenagers they probably won’t go to the potty the entire weekend, whereas someone like me would consider this an opportunity to share.
And never ever be invited to camp with the family ever again.
Challenges in the Rockwood Tent HW296
In fact, the necessity of the canvas sidewalls is really where a lot of the disadvantages of something like this come into play. The bathroom walls are canvas, the bedroom walls are canvas.
The countertop has to be no higher than the sidewalls of the trailer in order to fit under the “lid.” So the fridge is smaller, too.
One thing I wish they had done is used a 12-volt cooler-style refrigerator on a sliding tray. The reason I write this is that it would be great to be able to access the cooler from the outside or inside and you wouldn’t have to raise the roof to pack the fridge. As it is now, that’s the only way to get to the fridge, unless you can talk your neighbor’s 10-year-old into crawling in—which they would likely think was fun.
There is a lot of space including seating space in the Rockwood Tent HW296. It opens up to be a pretty large space overall with some incredible headroom. But the canvas sidewalls can be a deal breaker for some.
Further, there are places in bear country that very specifically prohibit trailers with canvas sidewalls. If one of these is a consideration, you should first consider where you’ll be camping and make sure that those planned destinations will allow a trailer of this sort.
The lower overall height is one of the bigger advantages of this style of camper. The weight would certainly enable more different types of vehicles to safely tow this. In fact, the lower height means this trailer would likely be less affected by side winds, as well.
Further, Rockwood (and Flagstaff) utilize a Dexter torsion axle suspension, which is really unusual in this category and results in a better towing experience. Other things I like are the high-performance vent fan, plus this comes with a proper air conditioner, although it is not ducted.
I’ve seen fewer and fewer pop-up trailers on the market only because, when manufacturing capability is constrained, most companies smartly focus on the more profitable units. That leaves this style of trailer on the proverbial cutting room floor.
I think, for the right type of buyer, this makes a lot of sense. As fuel prices continue to choke a lot of campers’ budgets, these are an even more logical decision.
Rockwood has done a good job with a camper that has a pretty robust set of features in a package that’s easy to tow and possible to garage. Not bad.
More from Tony
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.
If you’re RV shopping here are some tips on RV shopping from a former RV salesperson—me!
Tony comes to RVtravel.com having worked at an RV dealership and been a lifelong RV enthusiast. He also has written the syndicated Curbside column about cars. You can find his writing here and at StressLessCamping .
You can also check out his RV podcast with his wife, Peggy.
These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. They are based on information from a single unit and may not reflect your actual experience. Shop your RV and dealership carefully before making a buying decision. 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.
Got an RV we need to look at? Contact us today and let us know in the form below – thank you!