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The Best Small Camping Trailers For Exploring The Open Road

Best Small Camper Trailers 01 Hero
Photo: TAXA Mantis

Vacation can be a pretty vague word when you really start to break it down. Sure, most people probably think of extended breaks from work, airplanes, hotel rooms, and tourist traps. But that’s a very narrow view. You see, a vacation could just be a couple of days off to reset and rest. It could also be a cross-country road trip. And, in this case, it could be something on your own terms that fits somewhere in-between those latter two options.

To paraphrase timeshare salesmen, owning a camping trailer is akin to owning your own vacation. However, unlike timeshares, trailers give you far more freedom — both in regards to when you can use them and where you can take them. Of course, not every trailer suits every person. Some folks are limited by the towing capacity of the vehicle(s) they own, available storage, or some combination therein. If that sounds familiar, you’re not entirely out of luck. In fact, we might have the ideal solution for you and your situation here on our list of the best small camping trailers you can buy right now. So stop making excuses and start exploring your untapped freedom.

Best Small Camper Trailers Breakdown

What Is A Small Camping Trailer?

It’s important to note that “small” is a relative term. For instance, planet Earth is small compared to Jupiter but Jupiter is tiny when compared to the sun. As such, it’s important for us to outline our own expectations when it comes to the size of these camping trailers. The idea here is to present a collection of well-designed and well-built sleeping accommodations that can be towed behind cars that aren’t necessarily designed for hardcore towing usage, giving the average adventurer access to above-ground camping solutions without the need for a full-size pickup truck. With that in mind, the following outlines what, specifically, we were looking for and where we drew the line on size, mass, and more.

What to Look for in a Small Camping Trailer

Dry Weight: Did you know the 2021 Honda Civic is rated to tow up to 2,000 LBS? Well, it is. And while that’s a little bit low for us to draw the line, it did give us a good idea for an acceptable dry weight range for what we would consider a “small” trailer. As such, all of the trailers (at least their base models) on our list offer a dry weight under 2,500 lbs. That means, by and large, you don’t need to go out and buy or rent a cumbersome truck or SUV in order to drag these trailers along — though it isn’t a bad idea to upgrade to something with a bit of extra torque if you’re already in the market.

Length: If you don’t want a trailer that weighs as much as the mythic boulder Sisyphus is charged with pushing uphill for eternity, you probably also don’t want your trailer to be the length of a tour bus either. As such, we’ve limited the length of our small trailers to under 18′ starting. This is beneficial in two ways. First, it makes the actual act of towing easier and more manageable, as users won’t have to go out and get licensed to drive a semi-tractor trailer. And second, it makes storing these trailers a much simpler prospect, as most can fit in a garage or outdoor parking space.

Height: Length and height, to a degree, go hand-in-hand. However, there are other things to think about when looking at heights. For instance, having a tall trailer might make it harder to see behind yourself while in transit but it also means you’ll have more headroom when inside. Our listed heights are in travel configurations, which means some of these trailers have pop-up tents and/or roofs that give them a bit more vertical space, but none of them eclipse 9′ (at the base model) in total. Depending on where you plan to camp and/or store your trailer, this could be a very important factor.

Accommodations: This is probably the trickiest metric for us to tackle, as the accommodations you end up with will depend largely on your budget, personal preferences, needs, etc. That is to say: they’re all unique to the end user. However, we did want to make one thing abundantly clear: most (if not all) of these trailers have a suite of optional add-ons — things like additional sleeping options (like auxiliary tents), kitchen upgrades, alternative configurations, etc. What’s important to remember, however, is that these may alter your overall weight. In essence, you’re going to want to make sure you know how much you can tow versus how much your fully-loaded trailer actually weighs — otherwise you could be headed for disaster, like a broken axle or worse.

GoSun Camp365

GoSun Camp365
  • Tons of solar-powered options
  • Room for 6 inside
  • Very lightweight
  • Not as luxurious as others

Best Budget Camper: Camping trailers can be quite pricey, and while the most wallet-friendly option on this list will still put a dent in your checkbook, it’s around five grand cheaper than the next lowest unit. Despite its price, GoSun’s collaboration with Camp365 is nothing to sneeze at. This more-than-capable pop-up trailer is incredibly low-profile on the road and can open up in just 10 minutes when performed by a single person. Once opened, the inside stretches to 7ft tall and has enough room for 6 adults to hang out comfortably. Since GoSun is known for its solar-powered camping solutions, the unit comes with plenty of the brand’s amenities. Not to mention, it weighs just 1,800lbs, which will save you a lot on gas.

Dry Weight: 1,800 LBS
Length: 15.5′
Height: 10′
Sleeps: 2-4

Aliner Evolution A-Frame Camper

Aliner Evolution A Frame Camper
  • Versatile
  • Fairly lightweight
  • Lots of useful amenities and high-end materials
  • Can fit into garage
  • Fits two queen beds
  • Setup can be challenging at first

Best Overall: When balancing price, amenities, and size, the legendary Evolution A-Frame from Aliner is really the best option. Sure, it may not have the traditional retro style of some picks, nor the off-roading ability of others (although it performs just fine in that regard too). However, if you simply want a unit that can do a lot of everything, check out this 2,300-pound camper from a brand that’s been around since the 1970s. Capable of fitting into a standard garage, the 18-foot house can be a mobile office, a mini apartment, or a vacation sleeper. Amenities include a large shower, 185-watt Sunflare solar panel, high-end materials, and two queen-sized beds that fold down once you’re ready to camp.

Dry Weight: 2,300 LBS
Length: 18′
Height: 5.5′
Sleeps: 4+

Airstream Basecamp

  • Looks fantastic
  • Great interior amenities
  • Two size options
  • Not the best for off-roading
  • Pricey

Runner-Up: Most of what Airstream has to offer, while absolutely outstanding (and, frankly, the standard by which the trailer industry is judged), isn’t what we’d call “small.” However, they do have one more compact option in their Basecamp, which you can see here. It still has the same iconic styling that the brand is known for, but in a much more compact format while also still being one of the more creature-comfort-laden options on our list. It has a sleeping space that converts into a dining area, an interior kitchenette, and — most importantly — an onboard wet bathroom (yes, complete with a shower). Along with all its standard features, it’s also available in two sizes (a 16′ and 20′) and you can even pick up the X edition, which was made for off-road usage and boasts a beefier suspension system.

Dry Weight: 2,650 to 3,400 LBS
Length: 16.17 to 20.27′
Height: 8.73 to 9.125′
Sleeps: 2-4

Happier Camper HC1 Studio

Happier Camper HC1
Photo: Happier Camper
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Fits in your garage
  • Beautiful styling inside and out
  • Only sleeps 2

Best Retro Camper: Many people who desire to purchase a small camper have their eyes set on one that evokes nostalgia. Last year, Los Angeles-based Happier Camper added to its retro-inspired HC1 lineup with the Studio version, modeled after studio apartments and truly becoming a go-anywhere living space on wheels. The exterior sports the brand’s renowned design language, while the inside, utilizing its Adaptiv modular system, which allows you to customize the layout, features a bathroom, kitchenette, modular rear space, and queen-sized bed. Sleeping two, the 13.4-foot unit can fit inside a standard garage and has a towing weight of just 1,800lbs.

Dry Weight: 1,800 LBS
Length: 13.4′
Height: 7.75′
Sleeps: 2

Ultimate Toys Retro Teardrop Trailer

Ultimate Toys Retro Teardrop Trailer
  • Great design options
  • Features an external grilling station and entertainment center
  • Very big bathroom considering the trailer’s size
  • Not the smallest teardrop around

Best Teardrop Camper: Teardrop trailers have long been a favorite of road trippers for their whimsical design, low profile, and versatility. Whether you’re using them for sleeping or extra cargo, they don’t add much in terms of extra load. One brand that has fun with its teardrop designs is Ultimate Toys, imbuing its range with some retro styling in the process. If you’re looking for something to bring along camping or to the beach, this unit has a full internal kitchen and external grilling station, along with an entertainment center outside. Sleeping two in its queen-sized bed, the 2,900-pound trailer also has one of the biggest bathrooms amongst its contemporaries.

Dry Weight: 2,900 LBS
Length: 15.3′
Height: 7.67′
Sleeps: 2

Winnebago Micro Minnie

Winnebago Micro Minnie
  • Tons of size options
  • Can fit 5+ adults with certain packages
  • Big kitchen and bathroom
  • Exterior awning
  • Windows aren’t frameless

Best for Families: If you’re traveling with your family, it’s admittedly difficult to find the perfect trailer that will have everything you need. Luckily, one of the most legendary brands in the space has something that will work. At around 20ft long, Winnebago’s Micro Minnie is the largest on this list, but still much smaller than the brand’s other options. With several versions to choose from, the camper boasts a 6’4″ interior height and can sleep anywhere from 3 to 5 adults, which means even more if you’re traveling with small kids. There’s heating and cooling, a full bathroom, an impressively-sized kitchen, and a JBL media center. The exterior awning is great for camping, while the plethora of add-ons lets you customize this to fit your own family’s needs.

Dry Weight: 3,324 to 4,651 LBS
Length: 19.5 to 25.5′
Height: 10.5′
Sleeps: 3-5 adults

TAXA Outdoors Mantis Overland

Taxa Mantis
  • Great off-road ability
  • Tons of storage options
  • Sleeps 4+ adults
  • Pop-up roof good for ventilation and extra space
  • Expensive

Best for Overlanding: While we’re not sure we’d go so far as to call the TAXA Outdoors Mantis the small trailer by which we judged the rest of our options, we wouldn’t argue with anyone that made such a claim. After all, this towable is pretty exceptional from tip to tail. Not exactly as “small” as most others, this overlanding camper is unparalleled in how relatively compact it is. Sleeping at least 4 adults inside, the customizable unit may stretch 19ft in length but inside fits a full-sized kitchen, toilet, and tons of storage. There’s even a pop-up roof for ventilation and a few pass-through windows. And that’s not to mention how well this thing performs off-road, boasting axle-less 4-inch suspension and all-terrain tires.

Dry Weight: 3,486 LBS
Length: 19′
Height: 7′
Sleeps: 4+

Opus Camper OP Lite Trailer

  • Great all-terrain capability
  • Tent sets up in 90 seconds
  • Can sustain itself for at least 2 days off-grid
  • Features a pull-out kitchen
  • Soft-sided tent may not be for everyone
  • Not a true camper

Best Trailer for Storage: Even amongst these small camping trailers, there are those that store much better than their contemporaries — namely the Opus Camper OP Lite you see here. You see, this towable utilizes an automated, patented inflation technology in order to self-expand from its collapsed, travel- and storage-friendly format into a fully-featured camper in just 90 seconds. Of course, that’s just one of the many great things it can do. It was also designed to be good for a full two days of off-grid living — meaning you can disappear for a weekend without any need to refuel or recharge — which pairs beautifully with its all-terrain suspension setup. And it has its own pull-out kitchen. Of course, there are also a plethora of other optional additions to ensure this trailer is suited perfectly to you and your usage.

Dry Weight: 2,380 LBS
Length: 17.17′
Height: 4.45′
Sleeps: 2-3

Polydrops P17A Camper Trailer

  • Has a cool futuristic look
  • Fully electric solar power system
  • Insulation is about 15x more efficient than others
  • Super roomy inside
  • Very lightweight
  • Can’t do off-roading well

Best for Electric Vehicles: If you think the Polydrops P17A camper trailer looks an awful lot like the Tesla Cybertruck, you’d be right on the money; it was modeled after the EV’s angular design. However, the similarities don’t stop there — this small trailer was actually made specifically to pair with electric vehicles, evidenced by its fully electric solar power system — which can charge its onboard battery to power its onboard lighting, A/C system, heater, and whatever else you want to plug in during your adventures. It also has insulation that’s up to 15 times more efficient than competitors, it has a roomy interior with a full mattress and kitchenette, and the list just keeps going and going.

Dry Weight: 1,200 LBS
Length: 13.58′
Height: 5.25′
Sleeps: 2-3

Bruder EXP-4 Camping Trailer

  • Super strong fiberglass exterior
  • Spacious sleeping area
  • You can add a rooftop tent for extra sleeping space
  • Features a rear-accessible kitchenette
  • Expensive
  • Not a lot of headroom inside

Best Off-Road Sleeper Cabin: Most trailers can handle pavement with little issue. But if you like to head off the beaten path over rockier terrain, you’re going to want to get something made to deal with unforgiving pathways, like the Bruder EXP-4 you see here. This Aussie-made off-road trailer has an outstanding all-terrain suspension, a super-strong chassis, and a fiberglass exterior that is capable of handling up to 10 times its own weight. It also has a spacious sleeping area, works with most rooftop tents (for expanding your sleeping area), a rear-accessible kitchenette, and more. For those with an uncompromising taste for off-road adventure and creature comforts, this may just be the mid-range small camping trailer for you.

Dry Weight: 2,094 LBS
Length: 13.21′
Height: 6.82′
Sleeps: 2-3

The Best Off-Road Camper Trailers For The Money

Photo: Schutt Industries XVENTURE XV-3

If trailers are your thing but want to see what kind of adventuring they’re capable of, then check out the picks from our guide to the best off-road camper trailers you can buy.