Airstream was once the only game in town for sleek, well-built travel trailers, and buyers paid handsomely for the “privilege” of owning one. In the last few years, however, more manufacturers have jumped into the game with niche solutions for every type of traveler: Weekender, overlander, gear hauler, road tripper, etc. Here are the best ultra-light travel trailers on the market today, no matter what kind of adventure you have planned.
For the Retro-Cool Rambler: Happier Camper HC1
The pint-sized Happier Camper HC1 offers an ingenious solution for travelers looking to take only the most essential elements of home along for the ride. While the retro-modern shell oozes vintage cool, it’s what’s on the inside that’ll interest most road trippers. The clever Adaptiv interior features Lego-esque cubes that are infinitely configurable to suit almost any traveler’s style. The sleeping space, kitchen, and work areas can all be repurposed to however large or small you need them to be. It’s the closest thing to a mobile Swiss Army knife we’ve seen on the travel trailer market.
- Bonus: The company offers rentals for anyone looking to try before they buy.
- Pricing: Starts at $24,950
For the Jack of All Trades: Taxa Outdoors Cricket
TaxaOutdoors’ Cricket is arguably the most love-it-or-hate-it design of any travel trailer on the market. The asymmetrical shell may seem strange, but there’s a method to the company’s madness. Every interior space offers only as much space as is necessary and, even by RV standards, the company crams a boatload of intelligent storage solutions into a tiny package. Perhaps the best part is its diminutive size (15 feet long by 6 feet, 11 inches tall) and weight (just 1,732 pounds unloaded), ensuring it can easily be towed by most four-cylinder vehicles.
- Bonus: A panoramic, 32-inch by 20-inch rear window ensures the cabin is awash in natural light
- Pricing: Starts at around $33,317
For the Design Enthusiast: Polydrop Limited Edition Travel Trailer
For decades, travel trailers from every manufacturer seemed to share the same, boring aesthetic. California-based Polydrops looks to turn tradition on its head with the radical Polydrop Limited Edition Trailer. The angular, asymmetrical shell looks like a Blade-Runner-esque space capsule on wheels. But, it’s more than just a pretty face. Twin gullwing doors open to reveal surprisingly spacious and airy sleeping quarters with built-in shelving, LED lighting, a high-tech climate control system, and plenty of charging ports. Around back, the Polydrop trailer boasts a full-featured kitchenette with copious shelving and storage, plus slide-out stovetops and a drawer refrigerator.
- Bonus: At barely 1,000 pounds in any configuration, it’s towable by almost any car on the road today.
- Pricing: Starts at $14,495 for the K-17 FRP Sliding Base model
For the Euro Aficionado: Carapate Teardrop Trailer
Like the Polydrop, the French-built Carapate teardrop trailer demands to be noticed. The trapezoidal, blue and natural wood shell recalls mid-20th-century yacht design. It’s a playful and unique aesthetic that would feel perfectly at home in any Wes Anderson flick. A large side hatch and oversized windows help bring the outside in. The interior features all the essentials one would expect in a midsize travel trailer. There’s a slide-out kitchenette with a stove, sink, and two-way refrigerator — all of which can be used outside or inside the trailer. Tech-friendly features include LED lighting, multiple USB ports, and an optional solar kit for staying off-grid as long as you like. The Carapate teardrop trailer is currently only for sale overseas. So, American buyers will either need to plan an extended road trip around Europe or figure out how to ship it home.
- Bonus: Instead of one fixed mattress, the interior features three single-sized mattresses that can be reconfigured as a large bed, a front-facing sofa, or a lounge-like, L-shaped couch.
- Pricing: Starts around $16,200
For the Off-Road Adventurer: Hiker Trailer
The aptly named Hiker Trailer company has one goal: Create serious, affordable, off-road-capable travel trailers. Like most teardrop trailers, every model is purely utilitarian and features only the most essential amenities, all packed into the smallest space possible. Basic models offer little more than a durable, bare-bones aluminum shell that’s intended to be buyer-customized. Deluxe models feature legit off-road-worthy upgrades like beastly 33-inch tires, 3,500-pound axles, and 2-by-3-inch steel off-road frames. Their lightest model weighs just 640 pounds, meaning it’s (almost) towable by anything stronger than a bicycle.
- Bonus: Hiker Trailer offers so many custom options you can truly build the camper for your budget.
- Pricing: Starts at $2,895 for the basic 4-by-8-foot model
For the Modern Gear Hauler: Airstream Basecamp
With an all-in price tag of nearly $40,000, Airstream’s gear-hauling Basecamp is pricey. At roughly 2,600 pounds, it’s towable by most midsize SUVs, but hardly qualifies as “ultra-light.” Still, there’s nothing else quite like it. It’s designed to live up to its namesake as a “basecamp” for your wide-open-space adventures. It boasts all the essentials today’s outdoorsmen expect in a modern camping experience, including a bare-bones sleep space, a workable kitchenette, a bathroom with a shower and toilet, and a sizable cargo area for hauling your outdoor toys. Plus, the taut aluminum exterior is sleek, handsome, and unmistakably Airstream.
- Bonus: Clever, off-road-centric design features — including an aggressive departure angle and large tires and wheels — allow you to get far, far off the beaten path.
- Pricing: Starts at $37,900
For the Minimalist Trekker: Timberleaf Teardrop Trailer
The teardrop travel trailer market has exploded in recent years, thanks to their being towable by just about any vehicle (in some cases even a motorcycle). The Timberleaf is minimal and functional with just the right amount of charm. The company’s woodworking skills are evident in the beautiful craftsmanship throughout. Inside, the cabin features a massive skylight, making for perfect stargazing, and ample shelving guarantees plenty of space for your camping essentials. Round back, the hatch reveals a beautifully designed birch galley with a cooktop and pull-out drawer.
- Bonus: An optional custom-built cooler provides ice retention for days and leather grab handles add a dash of sophistication to your campfire cooking escapades.
- Pricing: Starts at $21,500 for the Classic Teardrop’s base package
For the Outdoor Transformer: Safari Condo Alto R Series
Teardrop trailers are great for efficiency and portability, but, by design, they’re thin on amenities. The Alto R Series by Safari Condo aims to remedy that problem. While towing, it features a traditional, streamlined teardrop trailer design that the company claims reduces drag by up to 75%. Once at your campsite, however, an electric switch raises the Alufiber (an aluminum/fiberglass composite) roof to reveal a spacious, full-featured interior with panoramic windows. It manages to pack a surprising number of amenities into a tiny space. A king-sized bed, two-burner cooktop, mini-fridge, fixed-flush toilet, and shower are all standard.
- Bonus: The kitchen, beds, storage, and toilet are all still usable even with the roof lowered.
- Pricing: Starts at around $30,000
To enjoy all the road-tripping joy of sleeping in a travel trailer without the responsibility of ownership, check out these four “hotels” that are actually restored vintage travel trailers.
Article originally published August 10, 2016. Last updated to include more trailer options and the latest pricing info.
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