The RV community is growing larger each year. The pandemic has forced millions of companies to allow their employees to work remotely, and we are seeing a huge spike in people who are either working from the road or using their time away from the office to get back into nature. The popularity of lightweight travel trailers has been on the rise because they’re easy to tow, store and are more affordable than a big rig RV. If you already own an SUV, purchasing a lightweight travel trailer makes it easy to hitch up and get on the road for a weekend or even a few months. You’d be surprised at how easy it is to tow some of these new lightweight trailers. When I’m towing my 900lb trailer across the country, there are times I forget it’s even there.
If you’re looking into buying a lightweight travel trailer, it’s important to first find out the towing capacity on your current vehicle. You can do this by reading through the owner’s manual or by doing a quick google search. Reading through forums on your car’s make and model can also be helpful in you finding out if current owners had any issues towing that car in the past. Most smaller SUVs will need to have a trailer hitch installed. U-Haul stores will do this for anywhere from $400 – $700 and dealerships will also install trailer hitches for a higher price. It’s important to wait to get a hitch installed until you know what kind of trailer you’re buying. Some trailers require a 7-pin wiring system for the brake lights and some only require a 4-pin wiring system.
Once you’ve done some research on how much weight your car can tow, it’s time to start looking into travel trailers on the market. Check out our other post, The Ultimate RV Buyers Guide, for more info on buying a used trailer, best time to go to the dealership, and budgeting assistance. This Towing Capacity Guide is another great resource for understanding the acronyms listed in the specs of RVs for sale.
When I first purchased my 900lb Little Guy Silver Shadow, I pulled it with my Honda CRV and went over 9,000 miles in one summer. They’re now engineering these travel trailers to be even more lightweight and portable. Ever since I bought mine in 2016, I’ve been closely following the new lightweight travel trailers that hit the market. I’ve narrowed down the best of the best that you should consider looking into:
Best weekend getaway travel trailer:
Weight: 1500 lbs
These lightweight travel trailers are so incredibly compact, they’re axles can actually be adjusted to be pulled by an ATV. Camp365 folds up into a 6×4 ft pyramid shape, but extends to a 12×8 ft living and sleeping space with the pop-outs extended. It’s great for those with limited storage space as it easily fits into a garage and is built without any wood, canvas or nylon to avoid rotting out. They have tons of cool add-ons that you can install, like kayak racks, bike holders, outdoor cooking equipment and shower attachments. Great for a family weekend getaway if you’re looking for something that can be easily towed and has plenty of space for the whole gang. Rumor has it you can pull this thing with a Prius.
Most reliable travel trailer:
Rockwood hardside popup camper
Weight: 2100 lbs
These have been around for a while and are a fan favorite in the lightweight travel trailer world. This easy-to-pull camper has got a layout that’s stacked with all the amenities, but still folds down to make it easy to store. The hard sided pop-outs will last much longer and keep your interior more insulated than a camper made with soft, canvas walls. There’s plenty of storage space for your gear and the camper itself takes very little time to set up and take down. Forest River makes the Rockwood brand campers and is a trusted name in the RV community.
Best overlanding travel trailer:
Weight: 2000 lbs
I’ve been drooling over these TAXA overlanding trailers since the day I saw them. If you’ve ever pulled any kind of trailer before, you know how difficult it can be to get through rough terrain when you’re towing. With a 14” ground clearance, this trailer can be towed just about anywhere. While it’s lightweight enough to be pulled by any small SUV, I would make sure you have a vehicle with 4WD if you plan on taking this through some serious back-country trails. These trailers were designed without any axles for maximum off-roading performance and stocked with a ton of amenities. With the right equipment, you could live off the grid for days in this trailer.
Best bang for your buck:
Weight: 4995 lbs
The Jay Feather Micro is about as close as you’re going to get to a full-sized RV while still weighing in under 5,000 lbs. With a kitchenette, futon sleeper, outdoor griddle and tons of storage space – this trailer gives you all the convenience and elbowroom you need. Jayco is another trusted name in the RV world and offers a 2-year warranty, which is rare in the RV manufacturing industry. If you’re looking for a trailer that will give you the essentials and some space to move around, the Jay Feather Micro is a great affordable option.
Most luxurious travel trailer:
Weight: 4200 lbs
The Winnebago Hike is the brand’s newest RV that’s meant for overlanding. It comes equipped with off-road tires and ample gear storage. The impressive interior of the Hike will make even the most remote camping trips feel lavish. With a full kitchen packed with a stove, microwave, oven and dining area you’ll have plenty of space to relax after a long day of being on the trail. If you plan on doing extreme off-roading, I would say the TAXA trailer has better build for getting through back country trails. But the Winnebago Hike is definitely a great trailer for those looking for a relaxing way to escape. The overlanding capabilities it offers makes boondocking and back-country camping much more accessible.
Best travel trailer for watersports enthusiasts:
Weight: 3235 lbs
The best part about the newest KZ Escape model is the hatch feature in the back of the trailer. It’s a huge door in the back that opens vertically and allows you to easily load in bulky gear like canoes and bikes. I’ve seen KZ Escape owners put a large screen door over the hatch so when you’re eating or sleeping you can get a ton of fresh air in your RV without the bugs. The E17 Hatch is the most convenient model of this line. With a queen sized bed and pass-through storage underneath, this trailer is great for surfers, kayakers and paddle boarders who need ample storage while on the road.
Best trailer for the solo traveler:
Weight: 760 lbs
The My Pod is essentially a bed on wheels. It’s one of the lightest travel trailers you can buy, but it also comes equipped with more amenities than one might think could fit in this 11×5 ft space. Complete with an entertainment system, pull out dining trays, air conditioning and under the bed storage – the My Pod is a great basecamp for solo travelers. There isn’t room to stand up inside of the trailer, so keep that into consideration when looking at these. Most My Pod owners have a screen shelter or tent that they pop up at camp for room to change or cook outside. Just enough room for your dog, some fishing poles and a supply of clean clothes is sometimes all you need.
Most versatile travel trailer:
Weight: 1200 lbs
The Happier Camper is certainly one of the more aesthetically pleasing travel trailers I’ve seen on the road. It’s retro exterior looks great pulled behind a Jeep and will make your camping pics very instagrammable. The best part about the Happier Campers is that the interior is totally customizable. They designed the inside with moveable, modular blocks so that you can rearrange your space for cooking, sleeping, dining or hauling. This camper is great for those who sell at art markets or weddings but also want a trailer that they can live in while on the road. Happier Camper did a great job making these lightweight trailers multi-functional.
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