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Help Choosing the Right Type of Camping Trailer

In theory the perfect camper would be light-weight and have a low-profile for easy towing, have lots of storage and living space, have every possible feature you need, be easy to to maintain, be able to set itself up, and be free. Since no perfect camper exists the following types of campers try to encompass everybody's different camping styles and needs.

Major Camper Types:

Fifth Wheel

fifth-wheel camper line drawing

Fifth-wheels are usually the largest trailers but smaller ones that save on weight while offering fifth-wheel towing stability are available, too.

(There are too many brands to even venture a comprehensive list, but here are Forest River's fifth-wheels:)

Travel Trailer

travel trailer line drawing small travel trailer line drawing

These hard-side trailers have the widest range of sizes and features from Micro-Lite style 10' trailers to large garage-style toy haulers. Here are only 2 (out of lots) of examples:

Hybrid (Expandable)

hybrid trailer line drawing

This is a travel trailer with bunks that expand out of the body of the trailer; the idea is to save on travel length while improving sleeping space and capacity.

Hard-Side Pop-Up

hard-side pop-up trailer line drawing

These look like a tent trailer, only with hard shells where the tent normally goes.

Tent Trailer ("Pop-Up")

deluxe pop-up line drawingpop-up trailer line drawing

This is the standard fold-down trailer with a hard roof and box that opens and expands to roughly double it's starting length.

Soft-top Tent Trailer

soft-top camping trailer line drawing

These are generally lighter than standard pop-ups because they have a soft fabric top instead of a hard roof.

A-Frame (or "tipi" trailer)

A-frame camper line drawing

These are named after, and mimic the shape of, an A-frame cabin. They are very easy to set up but the trade-off is decreased living space in other comparably-sized types.

Teardrop

teardrop trailer line drawing

These are typically the smallest hard-side camping trailers.

These charts compare the different types of camper relative to each other (keep in mind these are generalities and specialty campers within each type may defy common knowledge).

fifth wheel pros/constravel trailer pros/conshybrid pros/conshard-side pop-up pros/cons
tent trailer pros/conssoft-top trailer pros/consA-frame pros/consteardrop trailer pros/cons

Weighing the pros and cons

As the charts illustrate, there will be trade-offs across various aspects of the camper types. The lightest campers will generally have the fewest features. The largest campers usually come with the largest price tag. Campers that require little set-up (i.e. the only set-up is leveling/unhitching/power hook-up/etc. at the campsite and no roof-lifting or other structural set-up) typically also have the highest towing profiles. Finding the balance between all of these features that suits your particular needs is key; ask yourself the following questions to help find that balance:

Some questions to think about

To help narrow down the choices, think about:

If it looks like a fifth wheel, travel trailer, hybrid, teardrop, or soft-top tent trailer is your best option I'm sorry we won't be able to help you. To aid your search all of the brands listed above have links to their respective manufacturers. If it sounds like a fold-down camping trailer or A-frame trailer suits your needs best, please check out our Camping Trailer Buyer's Guide or go to New Sales to find the best model for you.

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