Canadian's Ultimate Buying Guide for Lightweight Travel Trailers in 2020
Did you know that the RV industry celebrated eight consecutive years of sales growth from 2009 to 2017? Or, that during this period, sales for recreational vehicles increased by a whopping 200 percent?
While Americans remain the largest segment of this market, the Canadian RV market sees $7 billion in retail sales annually.
With 90 percent of industry exports migrating north each year, Canada also represents the number one importer of recreational vehicles. This makes sense with all of the amazing outdoor landscapes our nation boasts.
What should you look for when it comes to buying the perfect lightweight camping trailers, ultra-light campers, or small camping trailers?
Because there are so many choices, it's important to understand what's available so that you can purchase the best vehicle for your travel needs. Keep reading for our ultimate buying guide for lightweight travel.
Welcome to the RV Lifestyle!
Travel trailers represent the most affordable and convenient path into the RV lifestyle. Because of their smaller size and ease of towing, they're less expensive than a full-size Class A motorhome.
Besides being less expensive, they also prove easier to maneuver and drive and can get pulled by a wide range of tow vehicles, from SUVs to trucks, and more.
In fact, there's even a travel trailer that can be towed by an electric bike! Although the verdict's still out on how practical this option actually is.
Anyway, small travel trailers come in a variety of lengths, widths, sizes, and cool designs. So, you can find the perfect one to suit your practical needs and personality. And they require very little setup.
But you'll need to make sure that you carefully research the right make and model. As you do this, create a list of your must-have features and amenities. That way, you'll know where to start when it's time to negotiate.
Besides this, you should have a thorough understanding of which size trailer you need. Think about how many travelers you plan on having with you and plan for an extra just in case. Here are some more tips to help you find the ideal small camper.
Why Campers Love Travel Trailers
Small travel trailers boast better fuel economy. And they come with greater flexibility for heading into the backcountry for off-the-beaten-path exploration.
There's also the appeal of knowing you can easily unhitch your trailer and leave it in place while going to run errands or check out a new destination. In other words, you'll never again have to pack everything up and give up your campsite.
This also means you can use your tow vehicle year-round, even when the trailer's been winterized.
Having a tow vehicle also allows families to travel safely. After all, you can't properly install car seats in many of the chairs passengers utilize in full-sized RVs. But in your truck or SUV, this will never be a problem.
Pop-Up or Folding Trailers
Pop-up trailers sit just about four feet tall when they're being towed. But once you arrive at your destination, you can raise the tent-like trailer sides either electrically or by using a hand crank.
Pop-up travel trailers range from eight to 20 feet long. They weigh between 1,000 and 4,000 pounds, and they can sleep between two and eight individuals. They range in price from $8,000 to $20,000.
Rockwood carries a wide selection of pop-up trailer layouts that provide campers with spacious accommodations. Yet, you won't get stuck hauling around a massive trailer or need a dually truck with extra horsepower to get around.
Whether you opt for the Freedom Series, Premier Series, or High Wall Series, you'll enjoy plenty of trailer space with the pop-outs extended. What's more, these trailers work well for active families who want to economize.
Ready to find out more about pop-up trailers? Check out our full selection of Rockwood options to find the right trailer for you.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Pop-up Trailers
What are the advantages of pop-ups? They prove less expensive than other trailers of comparable size, and they are lightweight, too. The smallest ones can even be towed behind a car.
Now, how's that for convenience?
Because of their low aerodynamic profiles, they prove more fuel-efficient. Yet, their pull-out extensions still result in spacious accommodations and large sleeping spaces in a relatively short trailer.
While they lack the luxuries of larger trailers, such as a private bathroom, they are a great option for couples and families. But the thin tent walls mean less protection from the elements and more noise intrusion.
The cloth also requires extra maintenance.
Travel trailers come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They range from eight to 40 feet long and weigh anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 pounds. They can sleep from two to eight people and run in the $11,000 to $35,000 range.
You may be most familiar with iconic, vintage "teardrop" trailers. These are more or fewer beds on wheels.
In terms of smaller trailers, they usually have a single axle whereas larger ones may have two or three. While more axles translate into increased stability, they also come with higher tire replacement costs.
Of course, as you increase the size and axles on a trailer, you'll need to ramp up the towing capacity of the vehicle that you use. That said, for smaller trailers, you can pull them with little more than a midsized SUV.
Each travel trailer has a tongue that puts direct downward pressure on the hitch. This is known as the payload. You'll need to factor in the weight of the entire trailer (after it's packed) to make sure your vehicle can pull the given payload.
When it comes to trucks and SUVs, many come with transmission coolers. These help to ease the strain the drivetrain endures as a result of towing a trailer.
To make your ride more stable and smooth, consider adding anti-sway bars. Or, you can go with a load-leveling kit specifically designed for a travel trailer. These are advised even for smaller travel trailers.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Travel Trailers
Unlike pop-up trailers, travel trailers boast rigid walls. These provide extra protection against the elements and noise.
They require very little setup and come in a wide selection, which means you can purchase the perfect one for your unique outdoor needs.
Because travel trailers can't be broken down like pop-up trailers, you'll have to learn a new set of skills to get around. Towing requires plenty of practice and education as well as driving skills unique to these setups.
Larger trailers don't fit nicely around the campfire, and you'll need to make sure you've got the right vehicle to meet your towing needs. Remember, all of the weight that you pack in the trailer counts.
Expandable or Hybrid Trailers
Expandable or hybrid trailers offer the best of both worlds. They have expansive sleeping spaces without the necessity of purchasing a bigger trailer.
They combine the extra insulation and protection of a travel trailer with the pullout extensions of a pop-up.
There's also a class of hybrids worth considering. The average in length from eight to 26 feet, and they weigh in at between 2,500 and 5,550 pounds.
They can sleep between two and eight people, and they range in price from $10,000 to $40,000.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Expandable or Hybrid Trailers
Although hybrid trailers prove bigger and more difficult to park than regular travel trailers, they provide plenty of extra sleeping room without added weight or length.
Like pop-ups, the tent-like structure of hybrid models means regular maintenance. This could include a full fabric replacement in the future.
They also take more time to set up than a travel trailer, and they don't block out noise nearly as well.
Choosing the Right Lightweight Travel Trailer Option for You and Your Family
Whether you're interested in an airy, spacious pop-up trailer or a traditional hard-sided travel trailer, you'll fall in love with the lightweight travel lifestyle. The benefits of travel trailers abound and make an affordable entree into the RV life.
But you'll want to think carefully about the amenities that you require. For example, if you're a light sleeper or easily get cold, then a pop-up may not be right for you.
If you get sweaty palms just thinking about towing around a massive travel trailer, then explore the great variety of pop-up trailers on the market. Just make sure you take enough time making a decision.
Get online and read reviews. Find out what people have to say about the affordability of a trailer. Or, how easy it was to assemble at camp.
Ready for Your Own Lightweight Travel Adventure?
Not sure where to start when it comes to stepping into the RV lifestyle? We can help.
At Sherwood RV, Inc., we carry a wide selection of lightweight travel trailers and fifth wheels. We also sell larger vehicles including full-size RVs and can help you find the ideal recreational vehicles for your unique needs.
Read on for more things you should consider when buying a fifth-wheel camper or trailer.