Back in September, I went to the RV Open House in Indiana to see the coolest campers on sale right now. Somehow, I’m still not done showing you all of the cool stuff, and I have one more for you. The Winnebago Hike 100 is a cute little off-road camper with some good ideas. And it’s perfect for a couple wanting to get out and explore.
When I went to the RV Open House, I found a common theme among the manufacturers at the event. Just about every company wants to sell you a travel trailer with a lift kit and all-terrain tires. These trailers are marketed towards people who want to go camping where there are no RV hookups and where your pool is the river that you park next to. Some of these trailers appeared to be better than others. Something like a Taxa Outdoors trailer or a Mission Overland trailer are specifically designed to get roughed up in the woods. On the other hand, a lifted Little Guy Trailer might have a bad day if you get too far off of the beaten path. Winnebago is also offering customers an off-road travel trailer, and this one sort of mixes the two ideas together. The Hike 100 is bigger and roomier than a typical off-road camper, but not just a regular camper essentially on stilts. Check it out.
The first thing that you’ll notice about the Winnebago Hike 100 is that it’s tiny! This trailer measures in at just one inch under 16 feet. That makes it short enough to be easy to tow, and short enough that you shouldn’t get it hung up on a tree or high-sided while taking it down a trail. It’s also just an inch under 10-feet-tall. While that means you aren’t getting this into your garage, it does mean that you’re getting 6 feet, 5 inches of room in the interior. That will make things cramped for some people, and quite roomy for others.
Before I move inside, we have to talk about this exterior. The body is covered in steel panels with brush guards. Winnebago tells me that this should protect the trailer off-road, provided that you aren’t too crazy. The panels will easily take rocks kicked up from the tow vehicle and even small brushes with nature. And the brush guard tubes can protect the trailer if you make a small oopsie, like turning a corner a touch too sharp. While I haven’t been able to test this trailer, the tubes do seem substantial enough to protect the trailer from light hits; stuff that would normally rip up an unprotected trailer wall.
One of the selling points of the Hike 100 is its exoskeleton. Winnebago’s people tell me that the bars running up the trailer from the tongue to the roof are great for attaching your gear. The company’s targeting the kinds of people who want to plant their stabilizers down then detach gear to go out and have fun. Winnebago expects customers to mount surfboards, bicycles, canoes, and just about anything else that will fit. Each Hike 100 even comes with a two-inch hitch receiver, so you could even carry a small motorcycle with you if you want.
Another trick feature is right under the trailer. If you threw a dart at a wall with pictures of travel trailers on it, chances are your dart will hit a camper equipped with a torsion axle (Dexter’s “Torflex” is shown above as an example). Now, for most trailers torsion axles are just fine! As Ask An RV Engineer writes, torsion axles allow a trailer to have a smooth ride, while offering easy installation and low maintenance. The most of your maintenance with a torsion trailer axle is keeping your bearings in check.
But the folks at BAL RV Products believe that torsion axles have a big flaw. The BAL representative that I spoke with says that off-roading with a torsion axle can get a bit rough. See, not only does a torsion axle impact your actual ground clearance, but a torsion axle can get damaged out in the wilderness. And the repair to a bent or otherwise damaged torsion axle? Replace the whole thing.
BAL believes the solution is a suspension that won’t break in the first place, and thus, it developed a new type of torsion axle suspension that the Hike 100 uses. BAL calls it the Independent Suspension Bridge Axle Mounting System, and the headlining feature is the big red “suspension bridge” mounting point.
Normally a torsion axle travels the length between each side. What BAL did here was cut the torsion axles short to small stubs, then place a heavy steel mount between them. BAL’s representative told me that this suspension setup was torture tested at a proving grounds, where they subjected it to thousands of miles of abuse testing. Even when they threw the axle into a tree stump it wouldn’t break or bend.
BAL says that in addition to additional strength, its axle mounting system allows for a higher ground clearance since there isn’t a big torsion axle hanging low. Another difference you’ll find is that BAL is using external-mounted coil over shock absorbers. The representative told me that BAL’s engineers did this both to keep the trailer level on the trails, but also because it looks cool. Alright, I do love how they look.
Weirdly, despite touting this as an off-road-capable trailer, Winnebago has not published ground clearance. Perhaps foolishly, I expected to find the ground clearance published in the trailer’s information guide, so I didn’t measure it myself. What I can say is that it’s certainly quite tall. Here’s Winnebago’s promotional image showing the Hike 100 being towed, and that one didn’t even have the newer suspension. The closest actually available number is hitch height, which is 28 inches.
Heading inside, the camper’s interior is dominated by bedding. Winnebago sells a few different floorplans, and your end goal sort of determines which one you get.
For example, two floorplans offer sleeping for three with two beds, plus an outside kitchen at the rear. Meanwhile, two other floorplans offer sleeping for four using two beds, but instead of the outside kitchen you get a rear door. And one version gets neither a rear door nor a kitchen, and instead you get a murphy bed just for two.
The rest of the camper consists of a galley kitchen and a small wet bathroom. Honestly, no matter which floorplan you choose, I feel like it is really best for just two people. The interior would get cramped really quickly with three or four people, even if the only time you’re in this trailer is to sleep in it. And that’s fine! I’d love to take a camper like this out on a trip with Sheryl.
As far as storage goes, the Winnebago has a 31-gallon fresh tank, 4.75-gallon black tank, and a 25-gallon gray tank. That black tank does disappoint me a little, as 4.75-gallons could get used up somewhat quickly if one of your campers has, say, an autoimmune disease. But otherwise, this thing looks and most importantly, feels, really solid. Depending on exact configuration, these have a dry weight of 3,000 pounds, too. So you could tow one with countless crossovers on sale today.
Winnebago’s MSRP for the Hike 100 starts at $46,135. That’s a huge amount of money, but I did some searching of RV dealerships and it seems like if you know where to look, you won’t be paying anything near that. I’ve seen new listings for $40k and below. This is another camper that I’d love to try. It seems like the perfect little rig for the couple who just wants to get away.
One time just for shits and giggles, I priced a fairly basic class C plus insurance and fuel for 1000 miles a year and basic maintenance assuming nothing went wrong and gave it an 85% depreciation over 20 years. Then I priced a limo ride 80 miles to the nearest decent airport, 6 plane tickets to Europe and a month cabin rental in the Rockies, a lodge in the Swiss Alps, and a house on the beach in Greece. One of these is slightly cheaper than the other and it’s not the one that is liable to be in the shop for months on end.
6’5.. and able to be trailered…. doesnt sound like much. Kinda reminds me of the Dog in the first Natl Lampoon Movie…
Why is everyone up in arms about the price?
Yes, I wouldn’t pay it either but it’s what these things cost isn’t it? The company’s cheapest model is over 80% as expensive as this one and this is their new product so it’s getting a markup. There’s more demand than before so all campers are marked up.
“A camper isn’t worth it for me” Sure. I feel the same way. Most places I camp don’t let you park where you sleep and if I’m near civilization that’s a lof of nights in hotels for the money.
“this price is CRAZY” I don’t know. Given the market and the other offerings in this segment is it actually?
That price! It’s like getting slapped with a fish! No way there are enough customers to participate in that fish-slapping dance. Feels like this market is headed for bad times, what with high prices and high interest rates.
I was low key interested until I saw the price. $46,000 is Taxa Mantis territory or a smaller Lance trailer. I’ve got a pickup so I’d sooner buy something cheaper and pocket the difference. Besides, it’s a lot easier to put kayaks in the truck bed than 10′ up in the air
So here is a question unrelated to the story here. I have just up voted one of the comments here. And when I did, the count went up by 3 points rather than the 1 (single) up vote I cast…Very interesting. This is a situation that I have noticed ever since this site went live on line…What gives here? If we ran elections this way the entire country would be skewed/screwed. Oh wait a minute, we are screwed…Never mind? So. what is going on here guys?
BTW, this is a ton of money for a trailer that seems to have great design and potential. But still too much of an asking price here.
I assume other people also upvoted the same comment while you were reading so when it refreshed the count to include your vote it also found the others.
“And the repair to a bent or otherwise damaged torsion axle? Replace the whole thing.”
Oh, I feel that. My trailer has a torsion axle built by a company that has been bought twice since my trailer was built, which means that the axle is no longer available anywhere. Even worse, it’s a custom mount so you can’t just find any old torsion axle and throw it on there. You’d need to weld on the mounting plate, and that could mess up the axle since there’s rubber inside that doesn’t necessarily tolerate welding temperatures.
That said, I’m not sure how much this helps. I guess it avoids damage in the center, but if the suspension wears out (which mine is showing signs of) you still have to be able to get a replacement, and this custom setup is only good for that as long as they keep building it. Given the churn in RV suppliers I’m not sure how confident I am in that.
As far as the trailer, that black tank seems excessively small (a five gallon bucket holds about as much) and the price tag seems excessively high. I wonder how much of the cost goes into making this a faux off-roader.
If you can find a trailer place near you, as in a place that deals with them all the time for business, and not for RVs, you can usually score a tech that a) knows about towing and axles and so on at b) a price that is not “RV-level” pricing.
I have one near me (two, actually) and one that was recommended did a whole service/upgrade with repacking the bearings, checking brakes and all that, as well as an axle flip I got from e-trailer.
Of course, I bought the trailer at an auction and am less than $3k into it and have already lugged the little guy around the East Coast.
In short…you should have low cost options available to you…certainly lower cost than $46k.
Yeah, I actually have a place near me that specializes in generic trailers, not RVs. I took it out there for what turned out to be a problem unrelated to the suspension and when he looked at it he was…not impressed. He did seem to think we could make something work, but it did not sound like a straightforward thing at all.
If you’re in the woods, you don’t really need that black tank for #1.
Conversely, #1 doesn’t fill the black tank up much. And having the access to “facilities “ when one is an old Guy/ Gal, at 3:00 am, is appreciated.
Sure, if you’re a dude.
I very much appreciate the tiny bathroom in our trailer, and so does my husband.
At 4.75g, it’s a pretty minimal black tank. Probably designed for a middle of the night bathroom stop when it’s way too cold to go outside.
Aah the American Way. Take something small agile popular that allows you to do something fun and inexpensive. Stretch it, raise it add as many kinds of expensive doodads so it no longer has any of its attributes.
I like it, just not the price. still if you are say using a basic bronco or 4 door jeep to haul it on a basic fire road, then I suppose it is perfect.
Base bronco is just 3340 towing capacity so you’re cutting it close. Base Jeep’s 3500.
Hi, long time listener, first time caller.
OK, so it’s 10 feet tall and 16 feet long. And even the lightest one weighs just under 3000 pounds. and it stats at $46k. So you won’t be towing this with your outback. They do a great job in their materials of not showing the tow vehicle but… it’s gonna be a truck. And the whole point of the wee little teardrop trailers like the little guy trailers is that they’re relatively cheap and you can tow them behind just about anything.
So I guess I’m kinda confused as to who this thing is actually aimed at.
It’s aimed at people with Tacomas or Colorados
Except that they people with Tacomas have already bought a roof top tent and overlandified their trucks…
people that don’t know any better and see their 3k tow rating and go “LOOK MA, IT FITS”
Second bedroom for a Sprinter?
At perfect off-road camper is not going to be a trailer
I agree. Towing a trailer is never the answer off road.
Well, certainly not THAT trailer. How long do you think a stapled interior wall holds up, even on a fire road?