Airstream was once the only game in town for sleek, well-built travel trailers and buyers paid handsomely for the “privilege” of owning one. However, in the last few years, a number of manufacturers have jumped into the game to offer niche solutions for every type of traveler: weekender, hardcore explorer, gear hauler, road tripper, etc. Here are the best ultra-light travel trailers on the market today.
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.
Jack of All Trades
TaxaOutdoors’ Cricket Camper 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. Both of the Cricket flavors — Camp and Trek —are purpose-built for a particular type of back-country traveler. Perhaps the best part is its diminutive size (15 feet long by 6 feet, 9 inches tall) and weight (just 1,460 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.
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, barebones 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: The entry-level Highway Basic 4-by-8-foot model is priced at less than USD $3,000.
Modern Gear Hauler
At roughly 2,600 pounds, the Airstream Basecamp barely qualifies as a “light” travel trailer. No matter, because it’s still easily towable by most midsize SUVs. It’s designed to live up to its namesake: as a “basecamp” for your wide-open-space adventures. It boasts all the features today’s outdoorsmen expect in a modern camping experience, including a workable kitchen, a bathroom with a shower and toilet, and a sizable cargo area for hauling your essential gear. The sleek, taut aluminum exterior is beautiful and unmistakably Airstream. Unfortunately, with the name-brand cache comes a sky-high price tag of USD $36,400 (plus any additional options). Here’s our full review.
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.
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.
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 percent. 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.
And if these ultra light travel trailers are still too heavy for you, check out Widepath’s bicycle-drawn camper. Or, if you’re not a landlubber, you can opt for the Sealander camper-boat combo or a one-man seaplane.
Article originally published August 10, 2016. Last updated January 2019.
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