Hi-Lo: High Towability Combines With Low Profile
Appearing in some ways similar to popup camping trailers, Hi-Lo Trailer Co.’s Classic and Towlite telescoping hard-sided travel trailers are much more than that.
“Hi-Lo trailers appeal to people on many different levels,” said Larry Mills, vice president of sales and marketing for the Belleville, Ohio company. “If you asked 100 people why they buy Hi-Los, you’d get 50 answers. No. 1 is that it tows safely because of the low profile. And there is the fuel savings economy, and the Hi-Lo has a high resale value. We have a reputation for very high quality and attention to detail.”
The company was founded in 1955 as Snyder’s Hi-Lo Trailer Co. by the late Don Snyder, the brother of Hi-Lo’s semiretired president, Jim Snyder.
Don Snyder engineered Hi-Lo’s basic design because he wanted a popuplike trailer that was safer to tow and had hard sides so it could be used in the winter. “The only thing available at that time was popups with canvass sides,” Mills said.
New Zealand native Wade F.B. Thompson, current chairman and CEO of Thor Industries Inc., Jackson Center, Ohio, acquired an interest in Hi-Lo several years before purchasing Thor and subsequently taking it public.
Hi-Lo employs a push-button hydraulic system to automatically raise, lower and lock the top that fits over the lower portion of the trailer when in the travel mode.
Interior furniture, including cabinets and an “Expand-A-Room” tiltout option, are designed to fit together when the top is lowered so as not to interfere with each other.
“It takes you 15 seconds and you’re ready to sleep in your trailer,” Mills said.
Hi-Lo’s top-of-the-line Classic is a 100-inch widebody with an interior height of 78 inches compared to 94 inches and a 75 1/2-inch ceiling in Towlite lineup.
The top-end Classic and Towlite are constructed with laminated fiberglass sidewalls on an aluminum frame.
The Classic, available in 27-foot and 29-foot floorplans with base prices of $24,995 and $28,295 respectively, is nicer inside than Towlite, with solid-oak raised-panel cabinet doors, upgraded fabrics, larger windows, ABS skirts and fiberglass end caps.
The midpriced Towlite, in four floorplans and lengths from 17 to 27 feet, retails for $11,999-$18,495, and is equipped with a one-piece rubber roof and ABS end caps.
Hi-Lo trailers do not feature a typical slideout, but rather an “Expand-A-Room” hinged tipout feature that holds a living-room couch that lies on the floor when the top is lowered for travel.
Mills said Hi-Lo’s mileage is 77% better than a conventional trailer because of its low profile towability. “It takes 25% less horsepower to tow our trailer when it is down than when it is up,” Mills told RV Business. “Our trailers are made to go, not to take to a campsite and leave it there for 10 years. They are made to be on the road and not fall apart.”
Hi-Lo’s most popular unit is the Towlite, which debuted in the early 1990s as the product of a stand-alone spin-off company that ultimately merged back into Hi-Lo in 1999. Hi-Lo once experimented with soft-sided hybrid bunk extensions, but abandoned the concept in the 2002 model year.
“Since our inception, we’ve manufactured hard-sided trailers,” Mills said. “We are an alternative to tent campers, and soft extensions were a step backward. We found their popularity wasn’t high.”