Campers always seem like a pipe dream, don’t they? They allow for epic weekend getaways and large-scale family road trips for family’s who don’t want to get soggy under a tent. But, they’re not practical — or so you thought.
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Turns out, you don’t have to cash in your kid’s 529 Plan, take a second mortgage, or own a Ford 150 to buy a really cool travel trailer. And a new trailer, at that. There are a surprising number of lightweight, family-friendly tow-behinds on the market that can be pulled by a four-cylinder car and that cost under $18,000; one base model actually starts as low as $3,000. Some sleep up to five people, all come equipped with a galley, and one even converts into a boat. It’s pretty crazy.
And while, sure, $18,000 is still not, like, cheap cheap, when you think about how expensive campers, RVs, and trailers run, it is almost reasonable enough to consider calling the bank about a loan. Especially when the kids start complaining about how they never want to go camping again.
Happier Camper HC1
There’s plenty about this retro-styled fiberglass beauty to make you happy ⏤ including solar power, a rooftop A/C, and full-sized rear hatch ⏤ but the coolest feature has to be the Lego-like modular interior. Using stackable cubes, many of which double as storage, you can easily configure the trailer’s inside to fit the occasion, be it a camping trip, hauling wood, or housing guests in your back yard. The HC1 travel trailer sleeps up to five people with a 6’8″ bed, has a removable galley, and rocks large panoramic vending windows that flip up so you can pass dinner to someone outside as if you were serving them at a food truck. It’s available in seven colors.
Sealander Amphibious Trailer
The Sealander Amphibious Trailer goes full Inspector Gadget when you roll it into a lake, transforming from tow-behind camper into calm-water cruiser complete with a 5HP electric outboard motor and fold-down stainless-steel swimming ladder. The six-person (13-foot by 5.25-foot) travel trailer is made of a single piece of fiberglass-reinforced plastic, weighs around 1,100 pounds, and can be towed by most vehicles. It boasts a convertible roll-up roof, large picture windows for plenty of light, and two bench seats that convert into a bed. Table, toilet, and shower are optional, as are a fridge/stove, electricity, and LEDs ⏤ it just depends on how much cash you want to drop.
For the record, the smallest base model Hiker Trailer starts at only $2,895 – and that’s not a misprint. The company’s goal is to build “lightweight, affordable trailers to help people experience the outdoors.” While the travel trailer is custom made, buyers begin by choosing from one of four default sizes (4’x8′ to 5’x10″) and two styles (either basic or deluxe). Also, a pick-up location: Indianapolis or Denver. Their most basic teardrop rocks an aluminum skinned body, 14-inch wheels, dual windows, and 12-volt interior lights. From there you can trick it out with everything from a memory foam queen mattress, A/C, and solar panels, to a roof rack, television, and dual awnings.
The 13-foot MeerKat weighs in at a mere 900 pounds, and it can pretty much be towed by a dude riding a bicycle eating a PowerBar. Well, almost. Any four-cylinder travel trailer should do the trick. It sleeps two comfortably, has wrap-around seating (with storage underneath), and comes loaded with amenties like a galley, hanging closet, Porta potty, and ice box. Also, there’s a pop-up roof so tall people won’t hit their heads that much. Even better, it fits in the garage when you’re not out exploring the countryside.
Vistabule Teardrop Trailer
Admittedly, the interior of the Vistabule Teardrop isn’t huge; it’s only as big as the queen-sized bed inside. So while it sleeps two-to-four people, it’s obviously better if two of those four are not big. That said, thanks to a large front vista window (with a pleated privacy shade), extra-wide doors, and a bed that converts into a couch, the trailer feels much larger than it seems. The travel trailer is also equipped with space-saving amenities like built-in floor storage, drop-down nightstands, and a collapsible table for a rousing post campfire game of Pie Face. Plus, the kitchenette ⏤ which features a pull out two-burner stove, space for a cooler, and a sink with running water (a nine-gallon water tank is built in) ⏤ is on the outside, and there’s a convenient pass-through into the cab for handing in plates full of hot dogs and baked beans.
Little Guy MyPod
The smallest in Ohio-based Little Guy Trailers trifecta of handsome tow-behinds, the MyPod weighs only 630 pounds and can be hauled by any standard four-cylinder vehicle. It’s made entirely of molded fiberglass, sits on an ultra-lightweight aluminum frame and alloy wheels, and runs 11.5 feet in length from hitch to fender (it can be expanded by attaching a 5’x7′ screen room tent, sold separately, to the back door). Most of the travel trailer’s length, by the way, is taken up by the full-sized mattress, which measures 52-inches by 76-inches and can sleep two adults with a small child. And while there’s not a ton of move-around room inside the MyPod ⏤ the bed takes up most of the interior ⏤ the space is both well-lit thanks to three big windows (shades included) and well cooled, compliments of a three-speed fan and full A/C unit. It’s also well entertained, courtesy of to 12v/110V power (with a solar upgrade option), a large flat-screen panel, and a built-in entertainment system. So rainy days can involve more than just playing cards or board games.