They weigh less than 3,500 pounds, yet these nimble camping creations provide comfortable accommodations for those with a free-roaming spirit and a relatively modest tow vehicle
From the contemporary canned-ham look of Forest River’s popular R-pod to the innovative, inflatable Opus, there’s a tiny trailer that suits every RVer’s taste. We’re talking about lightweight trailers that don’t fit into the teardrop or off-road categories but have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 3,500 pounds or less.
- Test: 2018 Forest River R-Pod RP-180 Travel Trailer
- Rough and Ready: Expedition-Style Off-Road Trailers
- Test: 2018 Turtleback Expedition Off-Road Trailer
- New-Era Teardrops: Nostalgic, Streamlined Trailers
Vehicles that have a tow rating compatible with trailers in this category are as numerous and diverse as the RVs. They include many midsize pickups, SUVs, crossovers and minivans that are properly equipped for towing. For those who own one of these vehicles and are shopping for a trailer to tow with it, we’ve highlighted a number of 2018 models from the many currently on the market:
The Aliner Ascape, a fully equipped travel trailer, comes packed with standard features and is built with some of the lightest materials available. Side walls are constructed with a .03-inch exterior aluminum skin and high-tech Azdel composites. The low-profile Ascape features a unique drop-floor design that provides more than 6 feet of interior headroom while keeping the exterior height just under 7½ feet. The trailer was designed with a rear door that allows for a smart, convenient floorplan that couldn’t be achieved with a side entry.
No need to fret about how to tow a boat behind your trailer with the American Dream Classic Retro because an 85-pound fiberglass boat is part of the trailer’s roof. With a 4×8-foot frame, this ultralight fiberglass camping trailer weighs in at just 650 pounds, including the boat. This makes the combo easy to move, store, tow — and row. Five hood-type latches keep the boat secure in transit, and a secondary roof keeps gear dry while you’re fishing. The trailer sleeps two and includes a cooking and storage galley in the rear.
Even at first glance, you can tell by its shape that the Forest River R-pod 171 is designed to maximize interior space while minimizing overall drag. Its narrow body doesn’t require special towing mirrors, and its light weight and low center of gravity make it ideal for pulling behind smaller vehicles. The R-pod is even more impressive inside, with many amenities found in trailers twice its size including a full-size air conditioner and furnace, a refrigerator that can be operated on 120-volt AC or 12-volt DC, and large holding tanks.
When it comes to ultralight trailers, the Happier Camper HC1 elicits a smile. Its fiberglass exterior harks back to the 1960s, and inside it’s packed with modern amenities. The modular furniture system utilizes six base components that can be moved around to reconfigure the layout in minutes to suit any need. It can even be set up to sleep five, and the rear hatch adds to the creative design and utility value.
If you’re looking to bring motorized toys on your next camping trip but want the trailer to remain small and lightweight, check out the inTech Max Flyer Plus. Despite being just 13 feet long, the micro-light toy hauler is large enough to transport a full-size ATV or two motorcycles, and the rear-ramp door makes loading them hassle-free. Features include an optional tip-out bed and a slideout kitchenette with a stove and optional fridge. InTech’s all-aluminum, all-tube welded-cage frame is engineered and built to last.
With many of the luxuries of much larger travel trailers, the 2018 Jayco Hummingbird 16FD is a tiny home away from home, whether you’re dry camping or using full hookups. The front-dinette, rear-bed layout affords excellent open space for the galley, putting a microwave, sink and pantry within easy reach. The Customer Value Package ($2,400) adds a fridge, furnace, sound system, power awning and more. The trailer’s ultralight weight makes it suitable for V-6 and larger vehicles equipped to pull at least 3,500 pounds.
A hot shower while camping is wonderful, as is a galley slideout that leaves plenty of open space to move about. That’s the layout of the KZ Escape Mini 181KS, a well-equipped ultralight travel trailer with a queen bed up front. The trailer has many of the features of its big brothers including a 4-cubic-foot fridge, 6-gallon hot-water tank, 20,000-Btu furnace, full pass-through storage and a 10-foot awning to expand the living space outdoors.
The New Wave Teardrop 4×8 mini-camper is one of the smallest, lightest trailers on the market. Its birch interior is smartly finished with vinyl flooring, a white fiberglass ceiling, outlets for 120-volt AC and 12-volt DC, and LED lighting. The 4×8 has options for air conditioning, a ceiling fan, roof rack, tongue box and additional doors, shelving and windows. Buyers can choose the galley base or the sleeper/hauler base and upgrade to the larger 5×8 model.
There isn’t another folding camping trailer like the Opus Classic with the Air Opus option. The Air Opus ($2,499) opens the trailer using an onboard 12-volt air compressor to inflate the inner ribs, making it ready to occupy in less than two minutes. Inside, an optional leatherette club lounge provides a comfortable retreat with 8-foot ceilings and large skylights. Two queen beds are situated at each end, and the lounge folds down to sleep two more. Options are plentiful.
Family-owned Runaway Campers specializes in affordable 4×8 and 6×8 “sleepers” with a solid structure and simple design, and amenities extend from basic necessities to air conditioning. The Runaway RangeRunner is the larger of the two models and sleeps two comfortably. The interior is ¾-inch birch plywood, with vinyl flooring and 120-volt AC and 12-volt DC wiring. Several options are available, including a rear cargo door, but many owners modify the interiors themselves.
The angular body shape of the Taxa Outdoors Cricket Trek makes it aerodynamic and easily distinguishable, and the pop-up tent system makes it spacious and airy. Storage abounds inside and out, with the rear hatch easing the task of loading and the large galley maximizing available space. The Trek includes a 12-volt refrigerator-freezer, roof rack, awning and shower tent among other niceties and sleeps two adults in the V-berth.
Easily stored in a typical two-car garage and light enough to tow behind properly equipped V-6s, the low-profile TrailManor 2518KS Sport is outfitted with heat, air conditioning and indoor plumbing. The smallest of the company’s hard-sided telescoping trailers, the surprisingly spacious 2518KS Sport takes just a couple of minutes to set up into 25 feet of living space. It has a king-size bed on one end, a slideout dining room on the other and a full galley in between.
From form to function, the Travel Lite Falcon F-22RK doesn’t miss a beat. Functionality comes with the 5-cubic-foot refrigerator, dual LP-gas cylinders, walk-around bed and one of the largest pass-through storage areas available. Brushed-aluminum cabinet trim, high-gloss countertops and stainless-steel appliances give it a residential feel. The Falcon’s wide wheel stance, fat Michelins on 18-inch wheels and optional black exterior add plenty of tiny-trailer swagger.
Smaller models of conventional travel trailers sometimes lack the finer amenities, but not the Venture RV Sonic Lite 149VML. The feature-laden ultralight is nicely appointed so everyone is comfortable. The interior is airy with a 6-foot 10-inch ceiling height. The full galley, big bathroom, heat and air conditioning make it a nice home away from home. And the 3,500-pound GVWR means it can be pulled behind properly equipped midsize pickups and SUVs.
MORE ULTRALIGHT TRAILER MANUFACTURERS
Airstream Nest | 877-596-6111 | www.airstream.com/nest
Armadillo Trailers | 250-838-2615 | www.armadillotrailers.net
Casita Trailers | 800-442-9986 | www.casitatraveltrailers.com
DubBox USA | 503-747-7113 | www.dub-box-usa.com
Eggcamper | 616-437-9255 | www.eggcamper.com
Eureka Campers | 931-381-7370 | www.eurekacamper.com
EZ Life Campers | 850-866-0202 | www.ezlifecampers.com
Hi-Lo Trailer | 724-962-4040 | www.hilotrailer.com
Lil Snoozy | 803-655-5336 | www.lilsnoozy.com
Livin’ Lite | 260-768-4016 | www.livinlite.com
Outback Trillium Trailers | 587-998-3929 | www.trilliumtrailers.com
ParkLiner | 877-545-4897 | www.parkliner.com
Relic Custom Trailers | 503-893-5025 | www.relictrailers.com
Roulottes Prolite | 450-438-3112 | www.roulottesprolite.com
Scamp/Eveland’s | 800-346-4962 | www.scamptrailers.com
Serro Scotty | 877-545-4897 | www.serroscottytrailers.com
Sunset Park RV | 574-327-4982 | www.sunsetrv4u.com
SylvanSport | 828-393-4927 | www.sylvansport.com
Taylor Coach | 905-689-6167 | www.taylorcoach.com
Three Feathers Manufacturing | 541-805-8289 | www.3feathersmfg.com
Weis Craft Trailers | 720-540-4542 | www.weiscrafttrailers.com
Winnebago Industries | 574-825-5250 | www.winnebagoind.com
A respected automotive and RV journalist and longtime Trailer Life contributor, Bruce W. Smith has held numerous editorial titles at automotive and boating magazines, and authored more than 1,000 articles, from tech to trailering. He considers his home state of Oregon a paradise for RVing and outdoor adventure.