A travel trailer is a great way to start enjoying the great outdoors. Among the most important considerations for travel trailers are capacity and weight. Heavier options can be great, but they need a car with tons of pulling power.
For more typical family cars, a lightweight travel trailer is usually your best bet. For this article, we’ve researched some of the most popular options out there to help you get started with picking a trailer that works best for you.
We’ll be sure to outline what makes them great and what could be the potential drawbacks for each model.
Why Choose Lightweight Travel Trailers in the First Place?
Perhaps you’re wondering why an article on the best lightweight travel trailers is even necessary. This section briefly touches on why many people prefer to go with a lighter option.
They’re Easy to Tow
Most family vehicles, from sedans to small trucks, can tow a lightweight trailer no problem. Once you start spending more on travel trailers that pack in luxury features, you’ll need a much more capable car to actually get it anywhere.
The fuel savings alone with lighter options are enough to convince some people.
They Take up Less Space
Not everyone has the yard space to store a heavy trailer on their property. Lighter units, especially models from companies like Scamp, take up a comparatively tiny amount of space. A trailer you can store is much better than one that doesn’t fit.
Of course, this isn’t universally true, but lightweight travel trailers tend to cost a fair bit less than many of their larger counterparts. If you’re a family of four looking for something that can make their camping trips a bit more comfortable, the cheaper option is a no-brainer.
Things to Consider When Buying Lightweight Travel Trailers
There’s a fair bit to keep in mind when picking out a trailer that works for you. It’s worth getting clued up to avoid disappointment later on.
One thing to keep in mind, especially when considering lightweight travel models, is that trailer companies may advertise two different weights for their products:
- Dry weight
- Gross weight
Your typical travel trailer will contain multiple tanks for things like freshwater and waste. Along with your gear, this can add a considerable load to your travel trailer. The advertised weight of a trailer that doesn’t include the weight of your gear and tanks is called the dry weight.
Dry weight is probably the number to focus on, as gross weight can be less predictable and varies greatly from person to person.
Another term you’re likely to encounter is “unloaded vehicle weight”. This is the weight of a vehicle when manufactured at a factory. It’s another figure to look out for when considering what to buy.
Your requirements here will depend on who you are and what you expect from your travel trailer. Think about how much space you’ll need and how often you plan on using your new trailer. Everyone has a different comfort zone and budget, so plan accordingly.
What level of luxury, or lack thereof, are you willing to tolerate? The spectrum of travel trailers starts at the absolute basics and moves all the way up to luxury portable homes. Your budget and preferences combined will determine the option that’s best for you.
Even a lightweight travel trailer can cost quite a lot of money. Consider how often you’re likely to use your trailer and make a decision that fits your budget. Buying lightly used models can be a good way to save money.
Another great approach is to pit dealerships against each other. Find two comparable models at separate dealerships. Get quotes from each and take the lower figure to the other dealer and see if you can negotiate the price down. This can save thousands of dollars when successful.
Most trailer dealerships or manufacturers will offer some form of warranty on their trailers. What you should watch out for, though, is what your specific warranty actually covers. The brochure for a model in question might proudly boast about a 10-year warranty that actually only covers one aspect of the trailer.
Check to see if any warranties you’re looking at are for the whole trailer, or just one part of it. It’s better to do the research now to avoid getting burned later on.
Best Lightweight Travel Trailers – Our Top Picks
From what we’ve found online, these are some of the best lightweight travel trailers money can buy. We’ve tried to find options that suit a broad range of requirements. We touch on luxury, budget, and everything in between.
1. Forest River R Pod
The Forest River R Pod range is lightweight, comparatively affordable and comes with built-in versatility. One thing we love about this option is the wide variety of different floor plans they have on offer. Your sleeping space, storage and partitions can all be tweaked to suit your needs.
The range of Forest River R Pod products is frequently refreshed and comes with a number of new updates for 2021. These include:
- A central vacuum system
- A pre-configured solar panel and backup camera
- Soho seamless countertops
- Enclosed tanks for drinking water and black water
- New Azdel composite panels
Going with frequently updated travel trailer models is a great way to improve the life and durability of your product over the years.
Azdel Composite Panels
While it sounds like a boring detail at first glance, the Azdel composite panels used on new Forest River R Pod models come with a number of key benefits. Chief among these are their sound muffling properties. Your noise is less likely to disturb others, and the outside is less likely to bother you as well.
This type of composite panel protects very well from moisture. The inside of your travel trailer will always be as dry as you left it. It’s also a very lightweight material, making these travel trailers some of the lightest around.
Largest Refrigerator In Class
After dealing with sleeping space, a refrigeration unit is perhaps the next most important feature of a lightweight travel trailer for most people. In this class of trailer, the River R Pod offers the biggest refrigerator on the market.
30 Gallon Tanks
The amount of storage space for water that comes with a travel trailer like this is fairly unique. You’ll have three 30 gallon tanks available for drinking water, gray water and black water. For a lightweight product, this is pretty rare.
- Tons of water capacity and different floor plans
- Durable, “ultra lite” composite material
- Best-in-class refrigeration
- Available bathroom space is comparatively tiny
2. KZ Escape
The KZ Escape travel trailers are built for economical outdoor fun. They’re ultra lightweight and come with a number of flexible features that make camping and travel a breeze. The construction of these trailer models keeps them light enough that most family cars can tow them without breaking a sweat.
Both the screen wall and rear hatch of these lightweight travel trailers can be opened and rolled down for an open plan once you’re at your location. This gives you plenty of extra room and visibility for your summer vacations and short stays.
If you opt for one of the “Off-Grid” models, you’ll get a travel trailer fitted with a 100W roof-mounted solar panel and a 1000V inverter that can power outlets at 110V. Not only will you be able to charge your mobile devices, you’ll also have a Bluetooth audio player and flashlight at your disposal.
For easy to tow convenience out in the wilderness, this is a great option.
Convertible Dinette Space
One notable innovation with these ultra-lite trailers is a clever space-saving solution. The rear dinette space can be transformed into a sleeping area when not in use. This clever design crams more standard features into a smaller footprint for increased weight savings.
The roof membrane used for this line of trailers is built with durability in mind. For added security, it also comes with a 12-year limited warranty. Even in the unlikely event that something goes wrong with your roof membrane, your warranty should have your back.
- Innovative space-saving features
- Off-grid solar options
- 12-year roof membrane warranty
- The space savers might be too cramped for some
3. Jay Sport Camping Trailer
This one is a little odd at a first glance, but it weighs well under 3,000 pounds and is remarkably portable. This trailer travels in a compact state and expands into a tent trailer once you’ve arrived. As a 2019 model, it’s available from many reputable dealerships across the United States.
With some clever rolling screens and and extendable outdoor space, you might be surprised by quite how roomy this Jay Sport can feel. If you need a sub-3000 pounds trailer that guarantees portability, this is definitely an option that’s worth considering.
The floor, roof, tents, sleeping area and lifter system are all backed by a 5-year warranty with this model. When buying a “lite” travel trailer, things like warranties can mean the difference between a sale and a loss.
Knowing that practically every aspect of your travel trailer is protected for the future is one of the things that makes this option so great.
Flexible Outdoor Space
If your main reason for finding a sub-3,000-pounds trailer is to enjoy the great outdoors, then this model may appeal to you. The flexible outdoor space that comes with the Jay Sport Camping Trailer adds a considerable amount of space to the unit.
It also comes with protective screens with privacy options if you need some time to yourself.
The soft tent sections of this easy to tow trailer are made from a trademarked “DuraTek” material. This protects your unit from damp, mildew and the elements in general, keeping your trailer in good working order for longer.
- Ultra portable and lightweight trailer
- The 5-year warranty covers more than you might expect
- Protective DuraTek material
- Considerably less storage space than other models
- Lacks some trailer conveniences like a wet bath or air conditioner
4. Flagstaff E-Pro
This lightweight travel trailer ticks a lot of boxes. This is especially true when it comes to convenience, versatility and storage space. The Flagstaff E-Pro contains most of the features that campers have come to expect from their trailer.
The floor plan has more than enough sleeping capacity for a couple thanks to its intelligent murphy/sofa bed design.
A 3D model of this trailer can be explored here.
This is one of those travel trailers that we can easily see ourselves spending a few nights in. The living space has most of the amenities you could hope for. A 32″ dinette, micro fridge, wet bath, cooking space and much more are all ready and waiting.
Many trailers of this size come with a two burner cooktop. The Flagstaff E-Pro goes one step further and uses a three burner stove. Other conveniences include a flatscreen tv, linen closet and pass thru storage.
Stellar Storage Solutions
Not only does this travel trailer come with a dry weight of just over 3,000 pounds, it does this without butchering your storage options. The pass thru storage goes a long way in making the Flagstaff E-Pro a trailer you might actually use.
You’ll also have access to two external storage boxes with plenty of space for your extra camping gear.
Visibility for Days
One compromise that customers often deal with when buying a lightweight travel trailer is the size of the windows. Some models use side windows that are criminally small and make it difficult to see where you’re even camping.
The windows on the Flagstaff E-Pro are surprisingly spacious for a unit of this size. This makes spending time in the trailer much more enjoyable.
- The bathroom area is especially spacious for this class of travel trailer
- Lovely large windows
- Decent storage solutions
- A sofa bed setup isn’t uncommon but it might put some people off
5. Scamp 13′ Deluxe Travel Trailers
Maybe it’s just us, but we think there’s something pretty charming about the Scamp line of lightweight travel trailers. The name is pretty apt, too. These are small, cozy camping trailers that pack a whole lot of convenience into a comparatively tiny space.
There’s actually a fair number of models to choose from in this product line, including larger trailers. If lightweight camping is a must for you, we recommend checking out one of the 13′ Deluxe models.
It’s Up to You
There’s plenty to choose from with the Scamp 13′ Deluxe. Your options for floor plan, paneling and material colors are comparatively varied. Each person’s needs will vary depending on what they expect out of their camping trips.
The options to double down on storage or opt to replace a shower and toilet with extra seating are great to see. Going with a lightweight option doesn’t always mean you have to give up on choice.
One thing that really stands out to us with this travel trailer is the iconic design. It feels like its been lifted right out of the late 50s, in a good way. This oldschool aesthetic doesn’t mean you’ll be stuck in the past.
Modern conveniences like a 30 amp power converter, 2 burner propane stove and mounted rear stabilizer jacks do a great job of balancing style with substance.
The good news is that Scamp Trailers can deliver your new camper to anywhere in the continental United States. If you’re in the area, it’s also possible to pick it up from their Minnesota factory to save some money.
If you do choose delivery, you should expect more affordable fees when compared to common carrier freight rates.
- Charming compact design
- Plenty of choice for layout and materials
- Very easy to tow
- If you’re a large group, you’ll probably want to opt for a bigger model
- Van conversion companies
- How to buy a towable RV for less than $5000
- Pop up campers with bathrooms
- 5th wheel for living in an RV
There’s no better feeling than exploring the great outdoors. Finding the right trailer for you and your family is an excellent way to make your camping trips more comfortable. Fortunately, there’s tons of choice when it comes to lightweight trailers that won’t break the bank.
We think that the five options on this page are an excellent choice. That said, they’re not the only ones out there. Some key companies to look out for include Jayco, Forest River Inc and Scamp.
Whichever trailer you go with, make sure you take the time to consider what you need it to achieve for you. The clearer you are about your camping and trailer requirements, the easier it will be to find a product that suits your needs.