From teardrops and pop-ups to expedition-style off-roaders, the 2020 crop of lightweight camping trailers are nimble, adventurous and easy to tow.
With a base price of $48,900, the 15-foot, 11-inch, single-axle Bambi 16RB is the smallest Airstream travel trailer and has the same aluminum structure as its Silver Bullet brethren. “We don’t really use the word ‘entry level’ because we’re a luxury-type of travel trailer, but this is where you start with our entire lineup,” said Lenny Razo, vice president of sales. “The Bambi will get you into a traditional Airstream.”
The 16RB, with a GVWR of 3,500 pounds, may be pint-size, but it has two 5-gallon LP-gas cylinders, the cozy essentials, plenty of interior storage and sleeps up to four people, all of whom can enjoy a panoramic view from wrap-around windows at each end. The main 48-by-78-inch bed is tucked in at the back under overhead cabinets, and a large floor-to-ceiling wardrobe/pantry is nearby. Up front, the dinette table drops down to convert into a 40-by-91-inch bed.
Overhead cabinets keep goods behind steel-looking roll-up doors, and the kitchen’s microwave and 3-cubic-foot refrigerator are housed below the sink and flush-mount two-burner Dometic cooktop with glass cover. The stainless-steel sink with Moen faucet is set in a light-colored laminate counter. Across from the kitchen, the wet bath with a window has a handheld sprayer with a shut-off valve. A manual awning covers the curved entry door.
Aliner introduced A-frame pop-up campers 35 years ago. Now 12 core models are offered with the debut of the 18-foot, 1,850-pound (UVW) Expedition. It’s available in two trims, the Family Expedition, which comes standard with a pullout kitchen, and the Family Scout, with “fewer standard features for a little more economical price point,” said Aliner President Brett Randall.
“The Expedition shows a lot of creative design from our team,” Randall said. “We literally have moved the floorplan around to figure out the best way to allow the necessary space for a family of four or five to have separate sleeping arrangements and be comfortable at night.”
In addition to the increased space and features, both Expeditions offer hard and canvas dormers as standard features to bring in more light and headroom over the 40-by-80-inch front bed and 60-by-80-inch rear bed. The two models also include a microwave, three-way 3-cubic-foot refrigerator, Euro-flush toilet, 11-gallon freshwater tank and outside shower.
Short for “garageable unit,” the GU is the first model introduced by Atia. “It’s always been a dream of mine to start my own company,” said Iva “Nick” Nicholas, president and CEO. Nicholas, spent 22 years with KZ RV before branching out on his own. “Right now, we have six floorplans, running from 14 to 21 feet from bumper to tongue, and all are designed to fit within an average garage.”
The GU147 extends to 15 feet, 8 inches and, with the expandable top down, is just 82 inches tall. The pop-up adds 15 inches to the interior height when open. With a GVWR of 3,200 pounds and a UVW less than 2,000 pounds, the GU147 includes cabinetry built into the top, as well as a sink, 6-gallon water heater, 40-inch bathtub, two-position cooktop, microwave, reversible furniture and 2-cubic-foot three-way refrigerator.
“This particular floorplan comes with a fireplace,” Nicholas said. “It doesn’t have a furnace on purpose because we wanted to eliminate weight and eliminate some costs there.” The GU147, which retails for about $15,000, also features Bluetooth connectivity, he added. “It connects with your cell phone, your iPad, and there’s where you’d have your music. We don’t have radios and TVs because Millennials don’t care about radios and TVs as much — everything is on their cell phones.”
While most RVs today are created using computer-assisted software by experienced designers and engineers, the Camp365 was initially sketched out on a napkin. “Scott Davidson, my uncle, first approached me with an idea for a new camper/fish house,” said AWOL Outdoors CEO Kevin McGregor. “I said, ‘Show me what you’ve got,’ so he laid something out on a napkin. I thought it looked pretty cool and asked him to build a model of it.” Nine years and nine prototypes later, AWOL began selling its unique camper.
During towing, the 15½-foot trailer provides an aerodynamic profile that weighs “between 1,490 and just shy of 1,800 pounds, depending upon what you have in it,” McGregor said. Campside, the aluminum-alloy shell quickly expands to provide 700 cubic feet of interior living and storage space, with a base measuring 11 feet, 8 inches by 8 feet, 5 inches, with a maximum 7½ feet of interior height.
Unfolded, the trailer includes virtually everything needed. Interior access doors reveal a stove, sink and even a cassette toilet. With a base price of $23,400, the Camp365 also includes air conditioning, electric or LP-gas heat, hard-wall composite insulation, six-point leveling system, LED lighting, three 12-volt DC outlets, two 120-volt AC outlets and four USB connections.
The company holds eight patents on the Camp365 (others are pending worldwide), including one for its unique adjustable wheelbase system that creates a stable, 6-foot-wide footprint during on-the-road towing but can collapse to just 4 feet wide for better handling when off-road.
As an off-road tent trailer, the Classic Double offers the ability to sleep six inside a tent that folds down into a compact trailer for towing. When set up, queen-size beds are located on both ends, with 290 square feet of living space in the middle, said Richard Barrios, who does marketing for Black Series.
With a dry weight of 3,968 pounds and a base MSRP of $85,999, the 12-foot trailer offers an outdoor kitchen with a sink and a three-burner stove. The trailer’s chassis is made from galvanized tube steel and includes a tailgate with a swing door and fully enclosed side boxes. The tent is manufactured from closed-weave canvas and double-stitched for extra reinforcement, according to Barrios.
The new Bushwhacker Plus features more standard amenities than Braxton Creek’s original Bushwhacker teardrop trailer, said the company’s president, Jim Jacobs. “This unit has a ton of features for the money customers are going to spend on it,” he explained.
With a starting price of $12,400, the 15-foot trailer comes standard with an air conditioner, furnace, 24-gallon freshwater tank, 18-gallon gray tank and 10-gallon black tank. Other features include a full fiberglass exterior with laminated side walls, a Hudson swivel table, three-way refrigerator, stereo, outside kitchenette with a sink and cooktop, and a tank-monitoring panel.
“We wanted to design a fully loaded unit that hit an aggressive price point in the teardrop segment,” said Jacobs. “With an expected dry weight of under 1,600 pounds, this is something a customer could tow with a midsize SUV.”
Targeting adventure-seekers looking for an easy-to-tow trailer, Coachmen launched the smallest line yet for its eight-year-old Apex brand. Called the Tera, the 7-foot-wide, single-axle trailers will eventually grow to three models.
The I5T checks in at 18 feet, 7 inches, with a 2,900-pound UVW and freshwater-, gray- and black-tank capacities at 50, 30 and 30 gallons, respectively. The floorplan offers plenty of seating with a 60-by-80-inch bed up front that converts to a sofa bench, as well as 30-by-74-inch bunks in the rear, alongside a dry bath with shower. A streetside galley completes the floorplan.
Calling it a “sensible Millennial unit,” Bob Dumm, general manager overseeing the Apex line, said the Tera will retail for about $16,900. “Then you can build up from there,” he explained. “You can add an A/C, you can add the bike rack, and you can add the all-terrain tires and the outfitter-type package.”
“That makes it towable by a lot of vehicles that customers already own — they don’t have to go out and buy a new tow vehicle,” Schade said. “It’s 7 feet wide — slightly wider than our classic R-pod of 6½ feet — and features a full-size Murphy bed, a huge tri-bath in the back, and a galley living space that I think any couple would enjoy.”
The streetside galley includes residential-style Shaker cabinetry, a pantry, two-burner recessed cooktop, three-way refrigerator and deep-bowl sink, all opposite a 30-by-70-inch dinette. There’s additional seating forward, courtesy of a sofa when the Murphy bed is stored.
Built using Lamilux-exterior Azdel fiberglass walls and a one-piece fiberglass roof, the 192 stretches just shy of 20 feet and boasts an interior height of 78 inches, as do all R-pods. Base MSRP is about $20,000.
Coming in at 19 feet long, Gulf Stream’s Ameri-Lite 16RE is designed for customers looking for a smaller trailer that can sleep more than two people, according to Paul Campbell, director of marketing.
The Ameri-Lite 16RE has a UVW under 3,000 pounds, ideal for towing with a suitably equipped SUV, said Campbell, and offers a bathroom, along with a kitchen that features a sink, microwave and oven. Overhead cabinets also offer additional storage. With a starting price near $13,000, the 16RE has a large bed at the rear that can sleep two, and also features an overhead bed that can sleep two more individuals and folds over when not in use.
“This unit is really designed for campers that are just looking to escape for the weekend,” explained Campbell. “There are no slides, and everything is designed with simplicity in mind. It is easy to hitch up and go, and while it isn’t a palace, it is warm and secure.”
Canadian manufacturer Hélio builds molded-fiberglass and gel-coated trailers that are mounted on an epoxy-coated aluminum frame. “They cannot rust and will still look the same in 20 years,” said Jeff Mercier, who is heading up the U.S. sales effort. “We don’t have wood, we don’t have aluminum. It’s all fiberglass in the shell of the trailer and floor.”
The most popular line, according to Mercier, is the 14-foot Hélio O Series, which retails for $17,990 to $23,990. O Series trailers come standard with a built-in two-burner cooktop, two-way refrigerator, microwave, molded shower/toilet room and on-demand LP-gas water heater. They are insulated and solar-ready, with A/C and LP-gas heating as options.
With a 2,000-pound GVWR, the Hélio O2 and O3 models offer a rear dinette that converts to a queen bed and include 13-gallon freshwater and 10-gallon black and gray tanks. The four-person 04 gives up the built-in galley for a king bed.
Robert Doshi and Dario Diaz founded the Sedalia, Colorado, High Altitude Trailer Company in 2018, a rebranding of Altitude Teardrops, which Diaz started in 2015. Diaz started Altitude Teardrops after building his own RV and deciding that it was something he wanted to pursue further.
The company offers the XT50, a small travel trailer designed from a 100 percent composite shell. “It makes it a lightweight trailer that is durable and reliable,” Doshi said. Inside, a five-fold mattress offers sleeping accommodations, but the mattress can also be positioned as a couch. Cabinets offer places for campers to store items.
An outside kitchenette features additional storage, a Dometic refrigerator, Everest stove, Pioneer stereo and speakers, as well as hookups for a solar panel. The XT50 is equipped with an awning, and an optional annex room can be attached to it, according to Doshi.
The 16-foot XT50 has a base MSRP of $18,400 and a UVW of 1,500 pounds.
For more than 35 years, the Stoll family has been building trailers for the agriculture and construction industry. Last year, said Brad Stoll, president of Hoooroo Overland Camping Trailers, the company decided to take a look at the “adventure camping” segment. That led to a growing lineup of trailers that went into production in January.
The 13-foot-long Joey measures 82 inches tall by 72 inches wide and weighs 2,100 pounds dry. It features a three-person rooftop tent, water heater, shower and slide-out kitchen with a stove and sink. MSRP starts at $16,300.
Unlike the Sol Horizon and Sol Dawn, which feature dinettes below the Sol’s distinctive front window, the new 17-foot Eclipse moves the kitchen to the front, providing a better view while cooking or washing dishes, explained Adam Maxwell, owner of inTech RV.
“We recognize that there are campers that like to have a good cooking area, and the kitchens in our other models are fairly small,” he said. “The Eclipse really takes advantage of the panoramic view and gives campers a great place to prepare meals. and even though the dinette is in the back, you can still see out the large front window.”
Colorado, a hotbed of off-road-trailer building, is home to Into the Wild Overland, maker of the XT two-sleeper. For 2020, the five-year-old company is launching its XT12 with a pop-up roof, wet bath and more creature comforts. Inside, a queen bed and convertible dinette provide sleeping space for four. Outside, the galley supplies a stainless-steel sink, three-burner stove and dual-zone portable refrigerator under a right-angle awning that shields the side and rear of the trailer.
Like the smaller XT, the 18-foot XT12 has oversize all-terrain tires, Timbren Axle-Less suspension and 20 inches of ground clearance. On-demand hot water, 220 watts of solar power, a rooftop-fan, forced-air furnace, heated tanks and insulated plumbing lines are among the standards. With a uvw of 3,000 pounds and a gvwr of 5,200 pounds, the fully loaded XT12 retails for $42,500.
“We acquired the teardrop line from Dutchmen in early 2011, and over the course of those years we were staying fairly static with our TAB 320 offering in terms of cabinetry, form and function, color choices and design,” said nüCamp CEO Scott Hubble. “And while there’s a lot to be said for trying to develop something iconic, there is also the other side, which is staying relevant to today’s camper. It was time for a refresh.”
The 15-foot, 4-inch TAB S, which replaces the TAB 320, has a new ABS exterior-trim kit, a redesigned back end, and the spare tire up front is under the A-frame with a diamond-plated storage tub above it. Inside, the bathroom has a forward door, shower and cassette toilet. Kitchen appliances, from the glass-top stove to the 2.3-cubic-foot Isotherm 12-volt DC refrigerator, are stylish and state-of-the-art. Amish-built cabinetry is now offered in Birch or Gray.
“The biggest change to the bed area is, instead of rolling out slats and moving cushions, we now have expandable seats that pull out to convert into the bed,” said Hubble. “Now you can have a single bed setup and still have seating on the other side.” The TAB S has a base retail price around $26,800 and a 2,019-pound GVWR.
A new “adventure camper” making its debut is the OP 15′ overland trailer from Opus Camper. “Some of our off-grid camping customers were complaining that our smaller tent trailers weren’t ready for bear country, so we decided to come out with a hard-sided model that has a pop-up roof and slideout back room,” said Opus’ marketing manager, Payam Asem. “It’s our first hard-sided camper.”
Extending 15 feet, with a 4,960-pound UVW, the OP 15′ comes one way: loaded. There are no options on the sales sheet. The $45,000 retail price includes everything from a bamboo interior, king bed and twin bunks to a Truma heater and hot-water system, built-in 13,500-Btu air conditioner, shower-and-toilet combo, triple 100-amp-hour AGM batteries and 63 gallons of freshwater. It also has a 3-foot rear slideout for added sleeping space.
The diamond-plate-trimmed exterior with plated underbelly features a sliding stainless-steel galley, Dometic CFX 75 12-volt DC refrigerator and loads of storage space. The suspension is independent trailing arm with coil springs and gas shocks, and twin spare off-road tires are mounted on the rear rack.
Two 100-watt solar panels recharge a 100-amp battery, which in turn powers a 2,000-watt inverter with a 55-amp charger that converts 120-volt AC shorepower into 12-volt DC energy, which together power the ProLite 12V’s electrical demands, according to Brad Harvey, sales representative for Canada-based Roulottes ProLite.
With a length of 13 feet and a starting price of $17,990, the 12V has a dry weight of 950 pounds and can be towed by most midsize vehicles, Harvey said. Utilizing an inverter, the 12V can power a microwave, refrigerator, Furrion countertop stove and a small heater. It also features a sofa bed and a dinette that can be folded down into additional seating.
“This unit is totally self-contained. All you have to do is park it, hit a switch and you are good to go,” Harvey explained. “Demand for smaller units like this has been on the rise for a while now. Customers are wanting smaller cars for the better gas mileage, and they are wanting RVs that they can tow with those smaller vehicles.”
The 12-foot Sunray Sport 115 comes standard with off-road tires, an outdoor shower with a curtain and an outside kitchenette, according to Johnny Yoder, part owner of the company. Inside, it has a 12-volt DC refrigerator, along with a microwave and electric fireplace.
“We also have the option to just go with a furnace instead of the fireplace,” Yoder explained. The bed folds up into a couch, and a storage compartment is located inside the floor. The roof has a bike rack and the option to hook up to solar power.
“This unit is designed to help people get off of the beaten path and disconnect from the grid,” he said. With a dry weight of 1,400 pounds, the Sunray Sport 115 has an MSRP between $17,000 and $18,000.
Taxa Outdoors turned a lot of heads in the adventure-trailer market with the uniquely designed NASA-esque off-road trailers a couple of years ago. Garrett Finney, founder and CEO, said the flagship Mantis, a 19-foot pop-up tent-roofed trailer for four, received several upgrades for 2020.
“We’ve made the bunks at the front of the 2,882-pound [UVW] Mantis 2 inches wider, added more drawers, and designed the rear wall to swing up like a hatch to give additional access to the interior. We’ve also added the Truma Combi furnace and hot-water system and Dometic 12-volt [DC] fridge,” said Finney. A nicely equipped Mantis will retail for around $46,000.
It’s no surprise Utah is fast becoming one of the hotbeds of expedition-style trailer building, with all the off-grid camping opportunities throughout the state. Vorsheer knows that area and market well. Formed by a group of enterprising fabricators and craftsmen, the company has begun production of its own off-road trailer, called the Vorsheer XOC for eXtreme Overland Camper.
Vorsheer’s 15-foot flagship is offered in three trim levels: Tier 1, 2 and 3. The Tier 3 XOC provides all the conveniences to be comfortable on multiday camping excursions including an 8-inch-thick queen mattress, on-demand hot-water system, propane furnace, external shower and audio system. The exterior galley features a two-burner stove, stainless-steel sink and dual-zone portable refrigerator-freezer.
Designed for leaving the pavement behind, the XOC has 31-inch off-road tires and an impressive 23 inches of ground clearance. The Tier 3 is set up for both battery and shorepower, with dual deep-cycle batteries part of the package.
Base price for the Tier 1 XOC is $19,999. The well-equipped Tier 3 sells for $37,999, and has an unloaded vehicle weight (uvw) of 2,600 pounds and a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 5,200 pounds.