A quantum leap from hybrids of a decade ago, the Rockwood Roo extends less than 25 feet in travel mode but opens up to provide additional living space
The hybrid travel trailer has always been a logical upgrade for families that own pop-up campers. Also known as tent trailers, pop-ups provide natural light, cool breezes and panoramic views, but many owners end up craving a less complicated setup with more creature comforts. A hybrid allows you to keep some of the best features of a pop-up, like extending beds on the ends of the trailer, while gaining some of the more attractive parts of a conventional travel trailer. Most hybrids have full bathrooms, ample storage and fully functioning kitchens, and they deliver these basics at an affordable price while still being relatively compact and easy to tow.
Forest River’s Rockwood division is betting big that potential hybrid owners want a whole lot more than utilitarian furniture, canvas bed ends and cool summer breezes. It suspects that a more discerning hybrid consumer wants huge TVs, heated theater seating, outdoor kitchens, aluminum-cage construction, frameless windows and options to equip their rigs for boondocking while still being suitable in nice RV parks. Rockwood’s current lineup of Roo hybrids is attempting to carve out and claim an entirely new market. Let’s call it the “luxury hybrid” segment. This phrase might seem like an oxymoron, but after testing a well-equipped 2020 Rockwood Roo 235S, it makes perfect sense to us.
The Roo we tested has an MSRP of $35,888.95 with the included options. While this seems hefty for a hybrid, after putting the trailer through its paces with our three young boys, we found the price to be more than justified for three major reasons. First, the Roo’s impressive list of standard equipment, including its 43-inch LED TV and electric fireplace. Second, the options feel like must-haves, including the heated theater seating and upgraded 15,000-Btu ducted A/C. And third, almost every nook and cranny of this Roo’s storage space has been thoughtfully implemented, inside and out of the RV.
Outside the Box
Have you ever seen a hybrid with an outdoor kitchen? Neither had we. This Roo’s camp kitchen is a game changer for the hybrid segment. It includes a 4-cubic-foot refrigerator, ample cabinet and counter space, a 120-volt AC outlet for additional appliances, and a two-burner stovetop on a swing-out arm that tucks away neatly when disengaged. Hybrid owners who love to cook outside will no longer need to carry out spices, condiments and grill tools. They all fit with room to spare.
We were also pleasantly surprised that this Roo comes standard with a 17-inch griddle as opposed to the typical grill or “RVQ.” It mounts onto a sliding track on the bonded fiberglass side wall, but we would choose to get a dedicated stand for it, protecting the exterior walls. The standard Champagne exterior of this Roo is attractive and understated, so we would keep the bacon grease far away.
Another impressive exterior feature is that the automotive-grade KenCon Roto-Vise bunk latch and lock system was at shoulder level, and opened and closed easily. Many
other hybrids place the locks too high for shorter people. We were also pleased to see an optional electric A-frame jack to help make setup and break down easier. Dexter’s Torflex rubber torsion suspension promises a smoother ride, while the TST tire-pressure monitoring system will alert the driver if tire inflation needs to be adjusted. This system, which surprisingly comes standard with this Roo, does not attach at the valve but instead has internal sensors that wrap around the rim of the wheel.
On the street side, there are windows on all sides of the large 40-inch-deep slideout and an access door to the storage cubby beneath one of the booth dinette’s seats. A black-tank flush and outdoor shower are also located on this side and come standard. The hookups for water, cable and electric were clustered together beneath the rear bed next to another exterior cargo door that is well placed for storing equipment like hoses and a surge protector.
The Great Indoors
After inspecting every inch of this Roo’s exterior, our three boys were clamoring to get inside and check out the aforementioned TV, 5,000-Btu fireplace and heated theater seats with a massage feature. I think all five of us ended up on the entry steps at the same time as we turned the key and headed inside. Thankfully, the foldout StepAbove entry steps by MORryde were sturdy and stable. More commonly found on higher-priced towables, it’s a real bragging point that these steps come standard.
Our boys ended up jumping into the theater seats well before we got there. After a bout of wrestling, they discovered that they could all fit together peacefully. A comfortable bench seat that runs along the edge of the front bed functioned as overflow seating. Our youngest son quickly realized that he could lie down on the front bed and have a perfect view of the TV screen. Overall, there is plenty of comfortable seating for a larger family. One night we all enjoyed watching an X-Men movie together with plenty of room to spare.
At this point it is worth noting that the theater seats are going to cost an extra $1,152.75. But would we check the box and order them if we were purchasing a 235S? For sure. This is supposed to be a luxury hybrid, after all. The recliners are incredibly comfortable (like floating-on-a-cloud comfortable), and the massage and heating features are downright decadent.
A Place for Everything
While the boys tested the TV and fireplace (even though it was 95 degrees outside), we inspected the storage areas and unpacked. Every RV owner with kids knows that finding a place to store shoes is no small matter. We were thrilled to be able to kick off our shoes and store them in a well-placed shoe cubby underneath one of the pantries on the outside wall of the bathroom. A second storage area underneath the rear bed could also function as a shoe cubby. If you buy a 235S, your kids will have no excuse for leaving their shoes on the floor, but they’ll probably do it anyway.
The aforementioned second pantry is smartly designed. The shelves can be removed so the pantry becomes a coat closet. We agreed that we would use it as a second pantry on longer summer trips when space for food is at a premium and as a closet for jackets in the fall when trips are shorter and the weather is cooler.
What We Liked
Game-changing outdoor kitchen in this segment, spacious bathroom, thoughtful interior storage, luxurious for a hybrid
What We’d Like to See
Lock on bathroom door, upgraded toilet, more substantial theater-seating tray tables, Goodyear Endurance trailer tires
As we unpacked, we found other smart storage solutions throughout the trailer. Both beds came with overhead hanging cargo nets that worked perfectly for storing packing cubes, which we use instead of suitcases. There is also access to the middle of the exterior pass-through storage compartment right under the front bed. The center of pass-through storage compartments is often hard to reach from the outside and ends up being underutilized. However, in the 235S the middle of the pass-through compartment can be used for extra blankets, sporting equipment or clothing.
Built for Family Living
After unpacking, it was time for dinner. It was raining lightly, so we deployed the 18-foot power awning and considered making dinner outside. But the Roo’s interior seemed more inviting, so we decided to give the indoor kitchen a try. It was time for Taco Tuesday! The kitchen area of this Roo is not splashy like its entertainment space. Instead it is convenient, well-equipped and practical. The three-burner gas range with glass stovetop cover, 22-inch Suburban gas oven and 8-cubic-foot Dometic refrigerator got the job done just fine. The solid-surface kitchen countertop is durable, and the double sink had room for all our dirty dishes.
The counter space to the right of the sink curves toward the door but still has ample room for a coffee maker and full-size Instant Pot. A 120-volt AC outlet located directly below this section of the counter made plugging in our appliances easy. Too many RVs have poorly placed outlets in the kitchen, so we always breathe a sigh of relief when they are thoughtfully placed. A charging station right below this outlet included two USB ports and a 12-volt DC outlet. Charging devices on the kitchen countertop near the sink is not ideal, but we’ll take USB ports wherever we can get them. The 235S also comes standard with the LTE-ready WiFiRanger Sky4, which serves as a Wi-Fi router and booster. Rockwood has a useful quick-start video on its website for the techno-logically challenged.
All five of us were able to sit comfortably at the Roo’s spacious aluminum-frame booth dinette with a removable tabletop. The theater seats come with two detachable tray tables. However, we found them to be small and unstable, and did not want to risk a spill. When you RV with a family of five, you see way too many of those.
You also see dozens of trips to the bathroom each day. So we were disappointed that the Roo’s bathroom had no lock, particularly because it is almost directly across from the trailer’s entry door. It may seem unlikely that one child would barge into the bathroom while another child was simultaneously opening the entry door, but it happened to us twice. Thankfully, installing a lock is an easy modification that we would take care of right away.
Despite a squeaky toilet seat, the spacious bathroom was comfortable and nicely configured. The large sink has a bit of counter space around it, and we loved the four toothbrush holders on the plastic shelf directly below the medicine cabinet. The three-shelf towel closet was also large and easily accessed. The curved shower with raised skylight had plenty of headroom, and the hanging shower caddy was a nice touch for storing shampoo and conditioner.
Choose Your Own Adventure
We spent our time in the 235S at an RV park with full hookups, but this Roo could easily be equipped for short-term dry camping. The freshwater tank holds 58 gallons, while the black and gray tanks each hold 30 gallons. Fresh water is conserved with the Showermiser system by redirecting the initial blast of cold water back into the freshwater tank instead of sending it down the drain.
The double Maxxair vent-fan covers will keep cool air flowing through the rig at night when air-conditioning service is not available. This Roo is also prewired with Solar on the Side, which makes it compatible with any of Go Power’s affordably priced portable solar kits. These kits would keep the house batteries charged and 12-volt DC lights and plugs functioning when 30-amp service is not available.
Traditionally, the hybrid has occupied a price point somewhere between a pop-up camper and a travel trailer, but that is not really the case with the 235S. It is firmly in the price range of a conventional travel trailer. So why would anyone buy a hybrid like this when they could get something bigger and fully enclosed for the same price? Because not everyone wants to go longer and heavier.
This Roo offers a length of almost 30 feet of living space when opened but is less than 25 feet long in travel mode. With a 6,885-pound gross vehicle weight rating, it is also towable by many pickup trucks and a range of properly equipped SUVs. It is small enough to maneuver in most state and national park campgrounds but luxurious enough to fit in at an elite RV resort. The 235S is fun and flexible, and ready for just about any kind of camping adventure thrown its way.
We were quite impressed by the Roo’s standard features and optional upgrades, but its simplest feature might be the most compelling. Seasoned campers know that nothing beats falling asleep on a cool summer night with the canvas tent ends unzipped and a light breeze blowing through the RV. Though, we must confess, falling asleep in heated massage chairs with an electric fireplace on comes pretty darn close.
2020 Rockwood Roo 235S
Exterior Length/Closed 24′ 10″
Exterior Length/Open 29′ 7″
Exterior Width 8′
Exterior Height with A/C 10′ 10″
Interior Width 7′ 10″
Interior Height 6′ 8″
Construction Steel I-beam frame. Aluminum-frame side walls, floor, roof. R-7/side wall, R-12/floor, R-14/ceiling insulation. Radius roof with interior-mounted ceiling. Vinyl-rubber composite roof membrane.
Freshwater Cap. 58 gal.
Black-Water Cap. 30 gal.
Gray-Water Cap. 30 gal.
LP-Gas Cap 10 gal.
Water-Heater Cap. 6 gal.
Refrigerator 8 cu. ft.
Furnace 35,000 Btu
Air Conditioner 13,000 Btu (15,000 Btu optional)
Batteries (2) 6-volt (dealer installed)
Tires 205/75R14 LRD
Suspension Torsion axles
Weight (freshwater, water heater, LP-gas full;
no cargo) 5,993 lbs.
UVW 5,418 lbs.
Hitch Weight 725 lbs.
GAWR (2) 3,080 lbs.
GVWR 6,885 lbs.
Cargo Carrying Cap. 892 lbs.
MSRP, Base $33,510.95
MSRP, As Tested $35,888.95
Warranty, Basic 1 year
In addition to contributing to Trailer Life, Jeremy and Stephanie Puglisi are podcast hosts and creators of the RV Atlas website. They are also the authors of Idiot’s Guides: RV Vacations. and See You at the Campground. The couple spends as much time as possible exploring the country in a toy-hauler travel trailer with their three very energetic sons and Maggie the Camping Dog.
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