Why in the world would anyone consider small travel trailers as a purchase option? There are several good reasons many consumers prefer a small 20-foot or less travel trailer than one of the many bigger models that are sold today.
The four main reasons that come to mind are budget, tow-ability, convenience, and personal preference. In this article, we’ll take a brief look at these reasons and then dive into our top 10 picks for small camping trailers.
Considerations to Make When Buying a Small Travel Trailer
Budget – Money is often a factor and influence in our decision to buy a small camper rather than the larger, more spacious models available.
Towing Capacity – Not all of us have a 2-ton pickup that can tow 10,000 lbs. For those of us who have either a small pick-up, an SUV or a car, we are limited to choosing a small camper simply because they are lighter and can be towed with a smaller vehicle. Small pick-ups and SUVs can tow 4-6 thousand pounds, and many small trailers have GVWR around that number.
Cars, however, have even less towing capacity, so your choices for a small camper are very limited but not impossible. The best advice we can give is to know your numbers. Your trailer’s GVWR, the towing capabilities of your vehicle, the weight capacity of your hitch, and other considerations. Seek the advice and guidance of a sales professional where you’ll buy your travel trailer.
Convenience – Some consumers choose to purchase a small camper trailer because for them, it is easier to tow, easier to store, and easier to maintain. This convenience factor, at least for them, far outweighs the advantages you might get from buying a larger travel trailer.
Pure Preference – There are those buyers, and I include myself as one of them, that just prefer a small travel trailer. Personally, I like the intimacy of a small camper trailer and prefer it on certain types of trips over their bigger counterparts. Weekend getaways are a perfect example of when I prefer to use a small travel trailer. I can be packed in under an hour and be on my way with my wife and son.
Ten Favorite Small Travel Trailers
Now that you have a little bit of insight into why consumers buy small travel trailers and pop-up campers, I am going to go over my ten favorite small campers. This is not a review by any means, but rather a list of the ten that are my favorite for one reason or another. When available, I will list the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating and sleeping capacity, as well as any other information I think will be beneficial to you in deciding which one to purchase.
The Happier Camper
We have taken a closer look at the Happier Camper before, and it was chosen as one of the best lightweight travel trailers. We still feel the same way about this little unit. It is both functional and extremely flexible due to its Adaptiv modular design. Having an Adaptiv interior design means that you can do so many configurations to this little camper to suit your needs and preferences. Your imagination’s the limit. And in case you didn’t know, this ultralight camper can actually sleep up to five people.
We love the cool retro look and the shape. We also like the bay window that lends to potentially amazing views. Even though it has that retro look, it is not your grandpa’s small retro travel trailer.
The Happier Camper has lots of modern features such as a solar panel and USB charger. And yes, it can be towed with a car. Now, how cool is that for a small travel trailer?
This company actually offers their campers for rent before you buy them so you can try it out if you like. Here are their basic specs:
- Ultra-Light 1100 Lbs Dry Weight*
- Tow With Most Vehicles
- 100% Double-Hull Insulated Fiberglass
- Adaptiv™ Modular Platform
- Large Rear Hatch Door
- Sleeps To Sleep Up To Five
- 72Sf With 42Sf Of Walkable Floor Space
- Storage Space Throughout
- Panoramic Jalousie Windows
- Solar-Powered With Contoured Panel
- Strong Frame With Built-In Stabilizers
- Standard Electric Brakes
- Torsion Axle / 13” Wheels / Swing Back Tongue
- Advanced Power And Electrical Components
- Fits In A Single Parking Space & Most Garages
American Dream Trailer
The American Dream Trailer is truly a dream. This small travel trailer comfortably sleeps two and also includes a cooking and storage galley in the rear of the trailer. It has an all fiberglass 4×8-foot frame, and it weighs a very light 680 pounds.
So why do we like this small camping trailer? Because it comes with a rowboat. Yes, the top part of this small camper comes off, and it becomes a two-person rowboat.
In addition, this somewhat teardrop trailer can be customized in several different ways. For example, you can choose your own color scheme; either a one-color exterior or two color exterior.
This company was built by a husband-wife tandem based in Portland. It was inspired by the brand Trailerboat in the 1960s. The Trailerboat may not be as successful as its creator has expected, but the inspiration, aka this brand, lives on. Not update has been made to their products in a while, but if you’re young and you’re traveling alone, this might be a good trailer for you. There’s a market for this out there, you just have to look, and we promise you, it’s worth it.
To get more information about this trailer, visit their website.
Winnebago Minnie Drop
The Winnebago Minnie Drop is a classic looking teardrop travel trailer that offers some very nice amenities despite its small stature. The retro-styled design looks very nice and for a travel trailer, it can sleep four. They are surprisingly lightweight and come in at just about 2,780 pounds.
To make it even more attractive to a potential buyer, it has a slide in the kitchen area, a queen-size bed in the rear of the trailer, and a U-shaped dinette that conveniently converts to a bed.
Some additional features of the Minnie Drop camper trailer include a convection oven, an outside shower, 19-inch LCD TV, and a 13.5 BTU low-profile AC. Give this one a look if you are interested in small travel trailers with big amenities.
This small camper trailer starts at $24,212. As of 2019, here are some of their specs:
- Night shades
- Carbon monoxide/LP detector
- AV system with AM/FM/CD/DVD/USB/SD/Bluetooth®
- Hardwood slide-out facia
- Interior LED lighting
- LED TV
- USB charging ports
- Convection microwave (NA 210RBS)
- Two burner cooktop (NA 210RBS)
- Three burner range w/oven (210RBS Only)
- Full extension ball bearing drawer guides
- Direct vent furnace
- 13.5 low profile roof air
- Cable TV hookup
- TV antenna w/booster
- Detachable power cord
- Powered TV antenna
- Solar charger prep
The Forest River R-Pod
The Forest River R-Pod looks a lot like the Minnie Drop listed above. This small travel trailer is the perfect example of form following function. Like many small travel trailers, it has a unique design. According to users, it is also very well-built. It’s one of the first lightest camper trailers to ever be produced that comes with a cheap price. It’s practically made for those who love to constantly be on the move yet would like to have the convenience of their home with them. It’s also made for those who would like to have their own space but can’t afford a house and traveling is just a perk. Maybe you’re newlyweds, and you want to travel in a camper trailer, but you don’t need or maybe can’t afford the big ones. This is the one for you.
It comes in a whopping ten floor plans with many features including a powder-coated steel frame, self-adjusting brakes, wet-bath with integrated toilet and sink, and much more.
This year, though, they have managed to produce one more floor plan; the all new RP-196. It’s basically the same as the RP-195, but instead of a u-shaped dinette, it’s horizontal now, so there’s more space.
Though the manufacturer’s website does not list the GVWR, we think it is under 4,000 pounds. (Check with the dealer before you purchase to make sure.) Overall, this is one of the nicer looking small camper trailers that we would definitely enjoy having. Here’s their site, if you would like to know more.
KZ Spree Escape
We really like the KZ Spree Escape. First off, they have over a dozen different floor plans available to choose from that offer just about any layout you may need or want. They also come with many standard features, including a two-burner stove and a 3-5 cubic foot fridge.
Also, depending on the model, it may also come with a 6-gallon water heater, 5-inch thick dinette seats, Alum-A-Tough roofing that comes with a 12-year limited warranty, and an awning. You can get the KZ Spree Escape with a tent or without and all models have a GVWR of fewer than 4,000 pounds.
K.Z. RVs are a subsidiary of Thor Industries, and if that's not a surefire mark of quality, then we don't know what is. E201RB is the 2019 updated version of the KZ Spree Escape model line and it prices at around $16,000.
Best RV Tips from RVTipOfTheDay.com
Riverside RV Retro
There is something magical and nostalgic when we see retro travel trailers such as this Riverside RV Retro. First off, the colors are awesome, and they certainly give it that retro/vintage look that we love.
The Retro model comes in several different sizes; from a 14-foot 9-inch 155XL model to the 25-foot 6-inch 199FKS. They also come with several different floor plans. These Riverside RV Retros come with many standard features including 16,000 BTU furnace on the single axle models and a 20,000 BTU furnace on the double axel units.
They have outside service lights and pass through storage on the models that can accommodate that. A powder coated chassis and aluminum cage construction adds to the strength and durability of the retro travel trailer while maintaining a reasonable light weight. The 2019 version, 177SE, can sleep 3. Its bed is queen-size with a memory foam mattress, the refrigerator can be ran by electricity or gas, and it comes with the Retro Interior Package.
The interior is very nice looking and comes in Sensational Camel, Hazel, Aqua, Red, and Gray. The exterior of this small travel trailer comes in 10 different color combinations. There are several option packages available for the models which add many excellent features. Customer testimonials lead us to believe that they are very well-made and the company cares about customer service.
Safari Condo Alto Travel Trailer
Safari Condo makes one of the nicest looking and one of the most innovative tear-drop trailers we have ever seen. It is lightweight, which is what we want in a small trailer, and it's also very aerodynamic and durable.
When it comes to towing stability, the Alto excels due to its Flexride suspension and low center of gravity. To keep things light, yet strong, the floor and frame of this small travel trailer are made of aluminum. Electric brakes are standard on this Safari Condo trailer which is a feature not always found as standard equipment on many small travel trailers.
The Safari Condo Alto comes in two series models. The R-series and the F-series. The lettering stands for the type of roof which is either fixed or retractable.
The retractable roof on the R-series Alto allows for additional interior head clearance. The roof is constructed out of a one-piece curved Alufiber/aluminum sandwich panel. Electric actuators open and close the retractable roof. Wind tunnel test shows the Alto to create 75% less aerodynamic drag than a typical trailer. This, along with the light weight makes it easy for the Alto to be towed by most compact cars and SUVs. Visit their site right here.
If you visit every forum, you'll see customers reviewing models dating as far back as 2009 and you can only read praise after praise. They said it's easy to tow, it can be set up in less than 10 minutes, completely weatherproof, and their customer service is extremely user friendly. This brand is so incredible and high quality, that there is an 18 months waiting list when you want to get their newest model. You can really see their commitment in building something worthwhile for their customers. There is only one downside, though: when you use a rental RV, problems and issues may appear, but that issue is inevitable, especially with rentals.
Want to see a video walk-through of the Safari Condo Alto? Check out the video below. We think you'll be impressed by this small travel trailer. It is expensive though, and there is a long waiting list to get one. Those who have them love them so much.
Scamp travel trailers are designed to be very light and easily towed by small cars or SUVs. They are constructed of a hard-shell fiberglass body which makes them light, durable, and aerodynamic.
Scamp trailers make three type of trailers: a 13-foot travel trailer, a 16-foot small travel trailer with a side dinette, and a 19-foot 5th wheel travel trailer with a loft bed. The Scamp family of small travel trailers come with many standard features including 30-amp converter, 12-gallon freshwater tank, two-burner stove with propane, and porch lights.
The 13-foot camper trailer has gotten some cool, but little upgrades for 2019. They installed a new door and door latch (although for users, this one's been about 20 years late), there are 2 porch lights now, all lights are LED (and it comes as a standard), and a furnace is now optional.
The Scamp trailers are built in Minnesota, and you can visit their website to get additional information and even download a brochure.
So-Cal Teardrop camper trailers make a line of on-road and off-road camping trailers that range in length; from 96 inches to 120 inches. They also range in weight from 670 pounds dry weight for the Buzz, to 1,400 pounds dry weight for the XS.
There are dozens of accessories you can buy for these nice-looking teardrop trailers and customization is a breeze as the company can create just about any teardrop trailer you can envision.
Over at the So-Cal Teardrops website, they have a very informative article on teardrop trailers. Not only that, in their customer response page, you can see how fun all their customers are having by using their trailers. They are having the best time and they feel safe and protected from the harsh weather conditions of deserts, mountains, and valleys. Check out their feedback here.
Deseo by Knaus
In Europe, travel trailers are known as caravans. The Deseo is a caravan built by the German company Knaus. The Deseo is a modular built travel trailer that can sleep up to 4 people, has a large rear lid for easy access, and is made to be sturdy and easy to clean.
The Deseo caravan comes in 4 types: the Deseo, Deseo Plus, Transport, and Transport Plus. These travel trailers have a sleek modern design, and the use of space is optimal.
In 2019, this brand has been quiet. 2018 was the latest year that they've updated their camper trailers. But fear not, if you're a fan of this brand, because they are coming back in 2020! They are releasing some cool and new updates and this brand is hoping that you'd be excited to welcome them back. To check out the latest features, layout, floor plans, and amenities of the upcoming 2020 version, click here.
Want to take along your motobike? Well, with the Deseo's large rear door, you can easily load a bike into your travel trailer. Inside, you'll find anti-allergic, breathable fabric that is both durable and easy to clean.
10 Small Travel Trailers We Love
So there you have it. Ten small travel trailers that we like, and we think you'll like them also. If you have any questions about any of these small campers or any questions about travel trailers in general, visit our Ask A Question section. Thanks for visiting and happy travel trailing!