Three nice lightweight contenders!
When shopping for a lightweight travel trailer, these three will likely be on, or should be on, your radar. Jeff Johnston, our Rollin’ On TV host and producer, reviewed the Jayco Hummingbird, Jayco Jay Feather hybrid, and the Forrest River R-Pod. Here we bring those reviews together and hope they help you get introduced to these three lovelies!
As of the date of this review, the Jayco Hummingbird had 3 floor plans and rates at less than 3000 pounds dry. Remember that’s dry weight before adding cargo, propane, water, etc and may not also include some factory or dealer-installed options.. All of these weights need to be factored in when making a safe tow rig and trailer matchup. Still, this is a definite nice lightweight unit that can be pulled by many smaller SUVs, Mini-Vans and lighter trucks.
The Hummingbird has laminated construction plus an optional insulation pack for the ‘underbelly’ which helps extend the camping season. An electric awning is also offered as is the built-in Sway Command package, which is an adjunct to the standard electric brake system designed to help deter trailer sway. As a clever and highly welcome change from RV industry standard protocol, it has ‘one-key’ system for the door and all the compartments.
This floorplan features a front u-shaped dinette which can fit 6 people and turns into another sleeping area. It has a compact refrigerator and microwave/convection oven. Because the sink is in the slide-out it has a lot of depth behind the functionally sized square sink, so the ‘counter space’ is behind rather than on the sides of the sink.
Per common practice, the vehicle system monitors and controls are all clustered in one place and the TV is on a swing-out adjustable mount. A convenient feature is the 2 x 4-foot external table that slides into a slot in the wall. It seems there is never enough table space outside the camper so this is handy.
The small wet bath has a decent size sink and plenty of knee and leg room. The bed has a Simmons mattress. The width of the Hummingbird is 7-feet wide outside so inside, the bed is long enough for a tall person. There are mesh pockets in the bed area which makes a nice spot for glasses, phones, books and the like…
The Hummingbird is an easy tow!
Forrest River R-Pod
The Forest River R-Pod is easy to identify with its colors, graphics and rounded aerodynamic shape. This is the trailer, with its relatively narrow body and wheels and fenders that extend out past the sidewalls, that started a style trend in the industry as witnessed by several remarkably similar trailers from other manufacturers including the Hummingbird discussed above.
Its narrow profile and swoopy aerodynamics improve towability via reduced wind resistance. Placing the tires outside the body means there are no wheelwells inside to adversely affect its interior floorplan design. Jeff reviewed the Hood River Edition with the rear kitchen, side dinette floorplan. This unit also offered 3-inches more of suspension, heavy duty tires and custom wheels. A nice fun package!
It has one outside storage compartment which can hold a toolbox and longer items like fishing poles that are under 6-feet 3-inches long. You won’t be putting folding chairs in here but it’s fairly functional.
The body is about 17-feet long with a great slide-out which gives the unit lots of livability inside. The rear kitchen has a large wall-to-wall counter space that would be the envy of some mugh-larger trailers.. The usual two burner stove, Dometic 3-way refrigerator and a variety of storage spaces are additional kitchen features. The rear-kitchen floorplan doesn’t block traffic into the small trailer.
The dinette can accommodate 4 people and the dinette table is portable so can be taken outside. The folded-down bed is smallish but can take care of a couple of little kids easily enough.
Remember this is one of several floor plans and which you choose depends on your priorities in a compact interior space. In this unit there is a small wet bath with a typically small sink. It’s functional but another model has a larger bathroom, and might be a better choice if that’s more important to you.
The bed is wide, but only 6-feet 3-inches long which is fine for most people and there are windows on both sides. The TV can be adjusted for bed or dinette viewing. There’s handy wardrobe and 3 drawers near the bed.
The unit we reviewed here was a 2016 but the 2017 unit was just coming out. It has a different blue color scheme, an awning option, electric tongue jack and the suspension is also raised a bit.
Jayco Jay Feather Hybrid
The Jay Feather 16XRB weighs in at 3200 pounds dry. ‘Hybrid’ means it is part hard-side and part tent trailer, with a hard-side, full-height body plus end-mounted fold-down tent platforms like a fold-down tent trailer. It’s seriously easy to maneuver and the 16 XRB comes with a 12-foot power awning.
Being a hard-sided travel trailer, the Jay Feather includes the security of a lockable door, bathroom, kitchen, and other standard trailer features. The fold-down tent platforms take just a few minutes to set up and provide far more open sleeping space than available in a typical lightweight. This small trailer can sleep quite a few people when both end tents plus the dinette bed are factored in.
There’s functional storage in the unit but no drawers in the kitchen so you’ll need to get creative about finding a place for your utensils. The dinette table is conveniently portable for use inside or out. There’s a 2 burner stove, vent fan, microwave, Dometic 2-way refrigerator and modest counter space in the galley. It has a manual ignition water heater which requires you turn the pilot light on and ignote it by hand, but it’s a simple process.
The TV mount swivels for viewing but is on a small platform shared with the stereo and the wall unit air conditioner so its manipulation is a bit clumsy and its position semi blocks the cool air from the AC unit.
The bathroom is functional and has a really handy feature that most RVs don’t come with: it has two coat hooks to hang towels or clothes. Most RV companies leave the towel hook or towel bar placement and installation up to the user’s preference. The Jay Feather hook placement seems pretty smart.
The second bed, if you don’t need it for sleeping, serves as a nice flat area to store things while living in the unit.
The 16 XRB hybrid is an interesting variation on the quest to provide maximum living space inside a lightweight trailer package. If you don’t mind setting up the fold-down end bed platforms, a far easier process than with a tent trailer, this rig is worth a second look.
Check them out
There are many lightweight trailers in the market today and you certainly want to do your research before making the investment. Almost every company that manufactures towable RVs has its variations on lightweight or ultra-light trailers. We hope this has given you a bit of insight into these three popular lightweight travel models and perhaps food for thought when you go shopping.