Lightweight travel trailers are all the rage these days. They are easy to tow with almost any vehicle and offer optimal gas mileage. But modern light weight travel trailers are not the stripped-down and sub-standard versions of previous years. Today, they are well built, attractive, functional, comfortable, and loaded with great features and amenities.
In this article, we will learn what a lightweight travel trailer is, discuss what makes it an excellent choice, go through some pros and cons, and finally discover the best lightweight trailers for your next adventure.
Definition: The world of lightweight travel trailers is vast and expansive. This guide covers everything you need to know about modern lightweight trailers, plus we’ve compiled a few great campers for your 2022 travels.
What is Considered a Lightweight Travel Trailer?
Basically, a lightweight travel trailer is a trailer that weighs no more than 6000 pounds fully loaded. They’re designed with lighter materials and shaped more aerodynamically without sacrificing comfort, amenities, and durability.
These types of campers are marketed towards RVers who don’t necessarily have a heavy-duty tow truck as they can be pulled by small trucks, SUVs, minivans, and even a passenger car.
What’s the Difference Between Lightweight Travel Trailers and Ultra Light Trailers?
One common term you’ll come across when shopping or looking to rent a lightweight camper is ultra light/ ultra-lite trailer. So, what’s the difference between these two? Put simply, there is no clear difference between the two, so it’s safe to say that ultra light travel trailers are the same as lightweight campers. However, some people consider ultra-lite campers to be an even lighter version of the lightweight trailers.
A Note About Travel Trailer Weights
When hunting for a lightweight travel trailer, you need to be aware of the following weight definitions.
- GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) – This is the maximum allowed weight of the trailer, when fully loaded, including people, gear, and fluids
- Dry Weight or UVW (Unloaded Vehicle Weight) – It’s the weight of the unit as shipped from the manufacturer without passengers, cargo, fuel, or accessories.
- Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) – It’s the combined weight of the trailer’s dry weight plus the weight of the load.
Note that the advertised weight of most trailers is the weight of the camper itself with no water or gear. So, watch out as a rig may be hyped as lightweight, but once you add your stuff and fill the water tanks, it becomes quite heavy.
What is a Good Lightweight Camper?
There are a few things you need to consider when selecting a lightweight travel trailer.
- Matches Your Tow Vehicle – Buying a new tow vehicle isn’t cheap, so you’ll want to get a rig that you can tow with almost any car or small SUV. Make sure the trailer‘s GVWR is within your car’s maximum tow rating.
- Amenity-Rich – It should offer all or most of the features present in heavier units, including a bath, galley kitchen, dedicated sleeping area, living space, and storage.
- Innovative Materials – It should be constructed with innovative materials that are lighter, yet as strong and durable as conventional ones.
- Aerodynamic Shape – The rig should have an aerodynamic design that allows it to cut through the wind easier and improve towing gas mileage.
- Spacious – Lightweight doesn’t necessarily mean the RV has to be smaller. The camper can be quite sizable and spacious inside, yet super light.
- Functional Floorplan – Sure, brands and models matter. But just like choosing any other type of RV, the floorplan is equally important. Look for a layout that matches your travel needs.
- Better Insulation – A good lightweight camper should have an excellent insulation value.
Pros and Cons of Lightweight Travel Trailers
What makes lightweight travel trailers so appealing, and what are their main shortcomings? Read on to discover.
Benefits of a Lightweight Travel Trailer
- Depending on the trailer you pick, you don’t have to invest in an expensive heavy-duty truck. You can use your daily driver to tow the trailer.
- Light and ultralight trailers often cost less than a passenger car, and they’re also inexpensive RV rentals.
- Since you’re towing a super light trailer, your tow vehicle will get better gas mileage. This is great news considering the recent rise in fuel costs.
- Lightweight travel trailers are good for the planet as many manufacturers are increasingly making them with sustainable materials, plus they require less energy to tow.
- Many are small and can fit inside your garage or backyard, meaning you don’t have to budget for storage facilities.
- Parking, driving, and backing up isn’t a challenge, plus they fit in most parking and camping spots.
- Their compact nature and maneuverability makes them great for accessing off-grid camping locations.
Disadvantages of a Lightweight Travel Trailer
- May limit how much gear you can bring.
- If you go for a small version, it will have less living space compared to other RVs.
- Most don’t provide large water tanks, making dry camping for lengthy periods more difficult.
- To save weight and space, some come with fewer amenities, like a limited number of beds, smaller bath, and a kitchen with fewer appliances.
- Many lightweight travel trailers are still made with thin walls, which affect insulation.
- Since it weighs less, a lighter trailer is more susceptible to sway while being towed, especially in windy conditions.
What are Some of the Lightest Travel Trailers?
If you are a weight-conscious RVer, there are many light campers available in the market today. Here, we’ve focused on trailers that have a dry weight of between 1,000 and 5000 pounds. These rigs also include nearly all of the features of a larger travel trailer, and, in some cases, some new and innovative features.
Best Ultra-Lite Travel Trailers Under 5,000 lbs
If you’re looking for a travel trailer that’s easy to tow, compact, and affordable, the Coachmen Clipper Ultra-Lite 17CBH is a great option. It has a dry weight of 3,883 lbs, measures 20 ft long, hauls almost 1,000 lbs, sleeps five, and has a bathroom. For storage, you’ll find an overhead cabinet and pantry. It has plenty of cool features like an aerodynamic profile, oversize power awning, and bathroom skylight.
This travel trailer may have a dry weight of 4888 lbs, but it offers a lot of the features found in 30 ft + trailers. Unlike most lightweight campers, this rig can comfortably sleep up to 8, making it ideal for large families. On top of that, it features a full bathroom with a sink, toilet, and a full shower with a tub. Furthermore, it has a kitchen equipped with modern appliances and a dining area that seats four.
Best Ultra-Lite Travel Trailers Under 3,500 lbs
Winnebago, one of the biggest names in the RV industry, built this 3,260-lbs travel trailer to cater to RVers looking to adventure off the beaten track. Its exterior design is what makes it perfect for exploring outdoors. It allows you to secure your large adventure gear on its rugged frame, and it’s off-road-ready. Inside, it sleeps three and comes with an ultra-modern interior that’s stylish and cozy.
If you’re scouting for a lightweight travel trailer with the vintage aluminum design, get the Airstream Sport 16. Just 2,900 pounds, it’s the smaller of two light models, but it still packs a punch in terms of features. Its sleek design and homely layout makes it a favorite for many RVers. Some of the standout features include a dedicated sleeping space, convertible dinette, a well-equipped kitchenette, panoramic front windows, and retractable awning. It’s also one of the best small travel trailers with bathroom.
Best Ultra-Lite Travel Trailers Under 2,000 lbs
With a dry weight of 1,970 and measuring 16 feet long, this Casita Spirit travel trailer is one of the lightest and most versatile rigs you can buy. It boasts a functional layout and excellent craftsmanship. It has a steel frame for extended durability and insulation, and many of its components are made of fiberglass to save weight. Despite its size, it can sleep up to 6, offers a spacious dining area, a bathroom with a ventilation system, as well as a kitchen with a three-burner cooktop, refrigerator, and sink.
Scamp travel trailers are built with lightweight fiberglass and allow easy towing. Their aerodynamic design, vintage exteriors, and high resale value are what make them so popular. This sixteen-foot model weighs 1,750 lbs and has several floor plans that can sleep two to four people. Some notable features include a small shower and toilet, a sofa that converts into two bunk beds, plus an interior kitchen complete with a range, sink, refrigerator, and counter space.
Best Lightweight Travel Trailers Under 1,500 lbs
If you’re wondering what is the lightest travel trailer you can buy, get the pint-sized Happier Camper. It weighs just 1100 lbs, yet it has a flexible living space configuration with all the essential amenities. Their standard features include off-grid capabilities and an adaptive design which allows you to change the interior layout within minutes. Built to last generations, it combines classic design elements with fantastic modern features such as panoramic windows, contoured solar panels, LED lights, and multiple ports.
Coming in at 1,252 lbs and 12 feet long, the Geo Pro 12RK offers the basics for simple camping. In addition, this top-quality trailer is designed and built with care to withstand a lot of beatings by mother Nature. Although this unit has a teardrop shape, it has enough headroom inside. It comes with a 20-gallon freshwater tank, a 6-gallon gray water tank, TV, refrigerator, microwave, outside sink, and a gas griddle.
Rent an Ultra Light, Yet Impressively Outfitted Travel Trailer
Today, lightweight travel trailers are the cool kids on the block. They are flying off the shelves thanks to how easy they are to tow and the fuel savings they offer. Unlike past versions, modern lightweight travel trailers are well-built, attractive, and loaded with clever features.
If you’re looking for a camper that’s light on weight, yet heavy on options, scroll through Outdoorsy to discover the lightest trailers for rent!