8 Small Travel Trailers Under 4000 lbs – Pros And Cons From REAL Owners!

PublishedJune 16, 2020

You've read those articles 'teaching' you about small camper trailers.

The ones where many different small campers are listed with 'pros and cons' listed for them without any real experience behind them from the author.

That is a flawed concept. How could you possibly learn the REAL pros and cons of these small camping trailers from that?

I wanted you to hear from REAL PEOPLE who owned small campers.

Lindsey and Adam in front Casita small trailer

Photo by Adam Nubern

Therefore, I reached out to my friends that DO have small campers! 

They happily coughed up the advantages and downsides of their little small campers. These are REAL OWNERS on having way smaller floorpans, cooking areas, workspace, bathrooms, and more in their compact campers.

Choices for floorplans and amenities can seem limitless in pretty much any small camper. But what is is like to have such a small floor plan and area?

Keep reading below and you'll find out.

(All photos in this article were provided by the owners of the small campers unless otherwise noted.)

Little Guy Off-Road Max

Janine sitting in entrance to her small camper

Owner: Janine Pettit

Janine is the founder of GirlCamper.com and uses her trailer recreationally and LOVES camping. I love her spirit and enthusiasm when it comes to supporting women who camp!

We finally met in January of 2020. Here's what she does/doesn't like about her Max- she's got one of the best interior decorated teardrop small campers out there!

Note: It's the heaviest/longest trailer in this list.

Little Guy Max travel trailer floor plan

Website: Go Little Guy

Dry Weight: 3450 lbs

Length: 21'

Towed With: Ford F-150

# People Using: 1

FT/Recreational: Recreational

# Years Owned: 2

Bought New Or Used? New

Janines Max small camping trailer

What Are Your Three Favorite Things About This Teardrop Trailer?

  1. Interior storage.
  2. Build quality.
  3. HUGE windows.

Three Least Favorite About Your Tiny Camping Experience?

  1. I don't love the awning.
  2. Exterior storage doors are too small.
  3. Everywhere you go, people want to ask you about it and get a tour of the bells and whistles.

Did The Small Living Space Benefit You? If So, How?

I think it is the perfect size for a solo traveler using it recreationally. I am generally not on the road for longer than six weeks so this small camper is fine for me. If I traveled for months at a time I would probably want a small trailer toy hauler.

Max small camp trailer interior looking aft

Was Interior Storage Ample Or Problematic?

This was the big solution to storage RV. MY past two RV’s had such little storage that I was always going without things I really wanted or tripping over the things I wanted but didn’t have a designated storage place for. The Max has an astounding 57 square feet of interior storage which is huge for a 3,500 pound RV.

How Would You Rate The Quality Of the Materials In The Trailer 1-10?

I say nine because of a few key build ingredients.

1) The European windows with the built in shades and screens. I love this feature. They are the highest quality window manufacturers make and they are a game changer. I would never choose a small camper model again without these windows.

2) The cabinetry in my Max is custom made and solid wood with dovetailed joints. They build their cabinets on site.

3) The exterior is Azdel and cleans up beautifully. The framing is welded aluminum. I gave it a nine instead of a ten because the exterior storage doors are chintzy and always hard to open and close and because the sewer hose opening is not big enough for a hose with the end caps attached to it.

Max small camping trailer kitchen

What Would You Change About This Small Camper Trailer If You Could?

I would change the locking components on the cabinetry. The durability of the existing ones. They are a constant FAIL and are always being repaired or replaced. I wish the pantry had factory built slide-out trays.

That’s a DIY I don’t want to tackle.  The cabinets are so deep you can’t get to the stuff in the back. That convenience is lacking. Two televisions are overkill. I took my bed one out and put a fireplace in its place, giving it more of a cabin feel.

Was It Worth The Money?

Yes. Every penny.

What Would You Advise Someone Looking To Buy This Small Camper Trailer?

Do it! It’s the best in show for its category and has so much interior storage space. It is the third small camper I have owned (new, that is. I’ve owned several vintage) and it is my favorite by far.

Max small camp trailer dinette

Would You Buy This Model Again?

In a heartbeat. In fact, it is my second one. I upgraded from the original to an off-road model.

Summary:

I think it is a great travel trailer for what I use it for - short recreational solo travel and the occasional couple trip. The interior space is so bright because of the huge windows and there is plenty of storage space.

Because of all the storage the RV always feels clean because there is a place to put everything. I do not like how loud the air conditioner system is. I almost never use it in high temperatures because of how loud it is.

Max small camp trailer bedroom

The wet bath is a good trade off for me. I don’t mind not having a three piece bath because I really love the smaller length and lighter weight that I pick up because of that.

Although it is a wet bath, there is still plenty of room to turn around in it and use it without bumping your elbows. I am not a fan of the glass door equipment on the wet bath in this small camper trailer.

Scamp Trailer

Rick in front of Scamp small RV

Owner: Rick Oberreuter

Rick is a full-time RVing friend of mine who just recently got his 1982 Scamp small camper trailer after having a Class C for a good while.

He travels with his dog, Mazzie, and is pretty much a full-time boondocker. He's loving his new-to-him Scamp. Ask Rick about awnings.  🙂

13' Scamp travel trailer floor plan

Website: Scamp Trailers

Dry Weight: 1200-1500 lbs

Length: 13'

Towed With: 2002 Jeep Liberty 4x4

Number Using: 1

FT/Recreational: Full-time

# Years Owned: 7 months

Did You Buy New Or Used? Used

Rick's Scamp small trailer at camp

What Are Your Three Favorite Things About Scamp Fiberglass Trailers?

  1. Everything about the Scamp is simple! It's easy to hook up and tow.
  2. It's a lightweight small camper trailer.
  3. There is not much to go wrong or that needs fixing.

What Are Your Three Least Favorite?

  1. Its small!!
  2. There is not a ton of room for storage.
  3. The refrigerator is SMALL!! The freezer is basically a a small ice box.
Scamp small camper interior out the door

Did The Small Size Benefit You? If So, How?

My old rig was an old 27ft C-Class, it had a lot of issues (breakdowns) and travel days were stressful. My dog was not a fan when we moved from the noise and how it moved. So going with a small camper eliminated all that. She likes the Jeep much better.

Was Interior Storage Ample Or Problematic?

That's a frame of mind, it was tough getting rid of some things, and from time to time I wish I had a thing or two I have stored, but its good to get rid of things I really don't need. I also coverted half the back of my Jeep Liberty into storage and it works great!

How Would You Rate The Quality Of the Materials In The Trailer?

9- It's a 1982 model with mostly all original parts, I have only had it a short time but everything is holding up well. The fiberglass shell is a huge plus.

Scamp small camper interior looking back

What Would You Change About This Small Camper If You Could?

Maybe a couple more feet of flooring! Everything else I feel has a solution.

Was It Worth The Money?

I think so, I got good deal when I bought it in AZ, I could easily sell it for more than I spent on it, rare for an RV!

What Would You Advise Someone Looking To Buy This Trailer?

Mine does not have a bathroom! It's the standard model without the bathroom option. You CAN get a bathroom with the standard option, as well as with the deluxe option. I like to have the bench seat to work and have a place to relax besides the bed. My customization solution for no bathroom was to get a composting toilet which has worked out so far. Be sure you know if you can live without a bathroom or not.

Rick's Scamp small trailer camp setup

Would You Buy This Small Camper Model Again?

I would buy another Scamp for sure.

Summary:

I bought the Scamp for a couple reasons. It was time for my old rig to go, I wanted to travel small for my Baja Mexico adventures and I just bought my Jeep and wanted to find something I could tow with that.

I traveled from Washington State to Arizona to look at and buy the Scamp, and after I bought it I was sitting in its tiny floorplan and said “What the hell did I just do?” Haha…I was a little stressed about space and if my dog would like it.

I told myself I would travel in it for the winter and maybe get something bigger. Now as I sit here I really love it, I created a space thats good for me and I have all the room I need most of the time.

I bought a small Clam tent I use from time to time for more space and I've been doing little improvements to make it more homey.

Most of the shortfalls can be solved. I added upgrades -a 12v fridge I use in addition to my onboard propane fridge, the storage in my Jeep, the compost toilet, and I even bought a projector and screen to watch movies like a big screen!

Airstream Bambi

Shawna and Ray in front of Airstream Bambi small camper

Owners: Shawna Matsunaga and Ray Marshall

Shawna and Ray are newer RVers, only having been on the road full-time 6 months. She and Ray dig their Airstream, but it's a touch small for them and their two dogs for full-time. Other couples may do fine in it.

They went smaller because they wanted their Jeep to be able to tow the small camper. Take heed if you are in the market to buy a trailer! Switching out your tow vehicle to a heavier-duty truck might be a better idea.

Airstream Bambi travel trailer floor plan

Website: Airstream

Dry Weight: Around 2,900 lbs

Length: 16'

Towed With: Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

Number Using: 2 Humans, 2 doggies!

FT/Recreational: Full-time

# Years Owned: 6 months

Did You Buy New Or Used? New

Ray sitting at Airstream Bambi small RV trailer dinette

What Are Your Three Favorite Things About This Small Camper?

  1.  Easy to tow/small.
  2. Good quality.
  3. Sleek and sexy- nice aesthetic!

What Are Your Three Least Favorite?

  1. No separate areas for shower and toilet. It's a double function combo shower/toilet area.
  2. Bed area can feel small, like a bunk.
  3. Tank (combo black/gray) is small for boondocking, but then again it’s a small trailer.
Airstream Bambi small travel trailer kitchen

Did The Small Size Benefit You? If So, How?

It definitely did benefit us with ease of travel! The small size is very to tow and maneuver. However, we do prefer to live in something a little bigger for comfort. We may upgrade to a little bigger size in the future.

Was Interior Storage Ample Or Problematic?

We wouldn’t say it was a “big” problem, but it is definitely a problem, haha. We don’t have many belongings, yet we have to store a lot of stuff in our Jeep.

How Would You Rate The Quality Of the Materials In The Trailer?

8.5

Airstream Bambi small trailer bedroom

What Would You Change About This Trailer If You Could?

We would love the option to have a bigger holding tank since we boondock a lot.

Was It Worth The Money?

Yes

What Would You Advise Someone Looking To Buy This Trailer?

It’s really a great little trailer! Feels like a tiny rocket ship, haha. Ideal for weekend getaways, vacations, or a solo full time traveler. If you are planning to live full-time in this trailer and have more than one person, we would recommend going up to a bigger floorplan, to the 19 or 20 foot size.

Airstream Bambi small RV trailer bathroom

Would You Buy This Model Again?

No, because our next rig will have bigger tank space for boondocking and a bigger bed.

Summary:

In our opinion, if you are full time, you will want to go for the slightly bigger size (19 or 20ft Bambi). It’s definitely doable to live full time in the 16ft Bambi, but you’ll probably want a little more space for amenities.

The 16' size was the only thing we felt would be ok to tow with the Jeep without straining it. Also, just be aware of the shower/toilet combo in the 16' model. It can feel crammed in there while showering. The 19' model layouts have a separate toilet and shower space, and the tanks are a little bigger 🙂

If you are into fitness or yoga, you will be limited on exercises you can do inside. We like to be active and spend time outside, but when the weather is snowy or rainy, want to be able to do some yoga or workouts inside. This is why we are leaning towards upgrading to other configurations.

Overall, we love the Airstream look, and feel the quality is great!

Aliner Classic

Keri in front of Aliner small RV trailer

Owner: Keri 

Keri (@keepupwithkeri) and I met at an Xscapers New Years gathering. She's super intelligent and I dug her right away. She and her dog Keith lived in her 2018 pop-up Aliner for about a year. Finally, the dream of trying to full-time in this small camper trailer, one step up from tent camping, saw many a downside for her. It took too much energy to set up/take down so Keri sold it.

She now lives in her self-converted Sprinter van, as the Aliner was too much work and effort in one package than she preferred. This may be more of a good weekender camper. At least it wasn't great for this full-time solo female.

Aliner trailer floor plan

Website: Aliner Campers

Dry Weight: 1590 lbs

Length: 15'

Towed With: 2013 Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Number Using: Me and my doberman, Keith!

FT/Recreational: Full-time

# Years Owned: 18 months

Did You Buy New Or Used? New

Aliner small camp trailer

What Are Your Three Favorite Things About This Small Camper?

  1. Easy to heat and cool.
  2. Beautiful views from windows and dormer pop-out windows.
  3. Simple systems were easy to modify and work on.

What Are Your Three Least Favorite?

  1. Constant set up and take down (especially for average sized woman- top was particularly heavy) for full-time boondocker.
  2. Complete lack of overhead storage space and very inaccessible lower storage spaces.
  3. Nine pieces came together for every set up and take down, which feels like a big jig saw puzzle and commitment at times.
Aliner small RV trailer kitchen and seating

Did The Small Size Benefit You? If So, How?

I ended up selling it and getting a van. For one woman and a dog, the size was about perfect. I love the way the van is more nimble and has far less effort in set up / take down.

Was Interior Storage Ample Or Problematic?

Inside storage, yes. Parking it? Not so much. It was 15' from bumper to tongue, so it fit into almost any spot and on any terrain.

How Would You Rate The Quality Of the Materials In The Trailer?

7

What Would You Change About This Trailer If You Could?

Make the manufacturer provide wind-protection safety features standard for all Aliner models. Almost all members of the Aliner community buy additional after-market mods ('wind cheetah') for more advanced wind protection.

Aliner small camper interior

Was It Worth The Money?

Used, yes. I recouped most of the value when I sold it.

What Would You Advise Someone Looking To Buy This Small Camper?

I'd highly recommend it for weekend warrior families. It can be towed by almost anything owing to the very lightweight construction.

It did not fare well in gusting winds, such as those common in the winter in the desert Southwest; it's a 3D jigsaw puzzle made of 9 independent parts, which means gaps, rattles, and farts make a lot of noise.

I did worry that I might end up like Dorothy with my trailer getting picked up in the wind and ending up in Oz (or Joshua Tree, when I was camped in Borrego Springs).

Would You Buy This Model Again?

Yes, if I were to limit my travel to a few days or I planned to spend weeks in a place. My decision is I'd definitely buy it with the soft dormers. Totally worth it!

Aliner small camper dinette

Summary:

I've hit 20 national parks in the last year. I love traveling fast and far and it was easy to do in this small camper.

I work full-time, so the inconvenience of set-up / moving and lack of structured storage space ate up a lot of my day and added a lot of unnecessary stress with this type and style unit.

Airstream Basecamp

Cass and Airstream Basecamp

Owner: Cass Beach

I've known Cass since we met at the RV Nomads premiere in 2018. There, she told me she  didn't think she had large enough tanks to boondock full-time. Well,  I laughed when she told me how large they were! (They rivaled mine.) If I could do it, she sure could too!

Cass now mostly full-time stays out boondocking like I do, tee-tee-hee. She travels around full-time in her 2018 Basecamp with her two pets.

Airstream Basecamp travel trailer floor plan

Website: Airstream Basecamp

Dry Weight: 2585 lbs

Length: 16' 3"

Towed With: 2018 Toyota 4Runner

Number Using: 1, sometimes more with friends visiting

FT/Recreational: Full-time

# Years Owned: 2 years

Did You Buy New Or Used? New

Basecamp small travel trailer kitchen

What Are Your Three Favorite Things About This Small Travel Trailer?

  1. The kitchen, which offers panoramic views through all of the front and side windows as well as more counter space than I've seen in most small to medium sized RVs.
  2. The short trailer size makes for easy towing and maneuvering.  I can do a u-turn in a 4 lane street, and have done so many times!
  3. I love the two doors which both have screens, allowing for a ton of ventilation and giving the entire RV a feeling of something much larger than it actually is.

What Are Your Three Least Favorite?

  1. The bed (or lack thereof). The cushions are quite firm, requiring additional padding or bedding, which you then must roll up and down every single day if you want to use the tables.
  2. The bed rests directly against the aluminum interior walls, which are very easily scratched by the dog's claws when he sleeps.
  3. A wet bath means if you go to the bathroom right before you shower you either have to A) stand outside the bathroom and let the fan run for a few minutes or B) shower in all the joys of toilet smells.

Did The Small Size Benefit You? If So, How?

I went with the small size because it could be towed by the vehicle I already owned, my Toyota 4Runner. That really appealed to me. I love the maneuverability of the small size and it has taught me to how to truly live tiny, completely downsize my life, and focus on non-material things.

On the really long work days, something bigger would be nice. But for the towing, adventuring and boondocking, I love the small camper size I have.

Basecamp small trailer interior

Was Interior Storage Ample Or Problematic?

The Basecamp offers a good amount of interior storage. One of the entire benches is storage, it has three cabinets in the kitchen, and ceiling cargo nets.

I carry everything I need to live as well as all of my backpacking gear for the mountains right in the Basecamp.

How Would You Rate The Quality Of the Materials In The Trailer?

Depending on the part of the RV, from a 6-10.

The material on the cushions and my floor have seen quite a lot of use, but still no signs of wear: 10.

The counters are a lightweight material that have dented under the slightest drop of a kitchen utensil: 6.

I would rank everything else from an 8 to a 9.

What Would You Change About This Tiny Trailer If You Could?

My recommendations would be to make the cushions that come with the trailer out of a much more comfortable memory foam, so they can be used to sleep on without additional cushioning.

I would also love to see more exterior storage, as there is very little offered.

Basecamp small camper trailer at camp

Was This Small Camper Worth The Money?

This is the cheapest Airstream they sell, but still at an Airstream luxury price. To me, as a full-time home, it was absolutely worth the money.

It had all of the features I wanted in just 16', offered a modern look and feel, and depreciates slower than most other RVs. The construction also feels extremely solid, and the insulation seems good. I have stayed cozy in there during wind storms of over 40mph, and winter temps down to -15.

If I had been someone who was only going to be camping a few times a year, I would have purchased something smaller and cheaper (teardrop trailer!). For less frequent use, you can find some great quality travel trailers at cheaper prices.

What Would You Advise Someone Looking To Buy This Trailer?

It's an amazing layout, offering tons of interior storage (for the size), a "big" kitchen, and an almost king sized bed in just 16'.

I think it's a great utilitarian trailer for boondocking or extensive travel where you are driving miles upon miles, all while offering some modern accessories, touches, and comforts giving it the Airstream feel.

Just remember, it's still an RV, and it's still going to require repairs, maintenance, and have those fun little quirks that all the RV brands will have.

Would You Buy This Model Again?

When I purchased the Basecamp I had no idea if full-time RV living would work for me and I was nervous about towing something large.

Under those circumstances I would absolutely buy the Basecamp again, as I love the size, layout and feel of the unit. As it turns out, I ended up absolutely loving this lifestyle and met my boyfriend who comes to visit me in the RV quite often.

If I had known what I know now, I would have gone with a 20-25' model from the dealership. (Instead, now he's just looking at small campers to buy his own so I can keep my Basecamp)

Basecamp RV trailer bed looking aft

Summary:

As a general tip, make a list of your needs and wants before starting to shop for small travel trailers. My list included items such as enough room for the cat litter, a big bed (at least a queen size bed) to fit the dog, cat and I, a comfortable kitchen space to cook in, tons of windows, etc.

I sat down with that list during my RV search for small pull behind campers, and it significantly narrowed the results, making the search much easier. Also, knowing the size of larger items you need to fit is critical. For example, when I first showed up to tour the Basecamp, I brought a measuring tape and specifically scoped out an area to put the litter box.

I also stood in the shower for over 5 minutes to make sure the shower felt big enough, all while the salesman sat awkwardly on the bench (and yes, even after 2 years, it is a very comfortable wet bath). For any RV you look at, compare it to your list of needs and also take all the time you need to sit or move around in the small campers you check out to make sure they may fit you and your lifestyle.

For the Basecamp in particular, I would recommend it for someone who likes to cook, loves natural lighting and air flow, doesn't want the typical brown RV interior and is okay with having to move the bed and dining space around every day. It also offers 12V tank heaters and a Truma heater, which are a great combination for cooler weather camping.

Basecamp small RV trailer in snow

Towing is a breeze with my SUV, and I forget the Basecamp is back there most of the time. It has a very unique body, so you will be stopped by strangers asking tons of questions, which as a solo traveler, I personally enjoy as it's a great way to start up a conversation.

You can also get a solar panel as an option, and it comes standard with a Zamp plug, making it very easy to add plug-in solar panels and be boondocking ready right off the lot. Overall, I absolutely love my Basecamp and find it extremely cozy and comfortable compared to other small campers.

A little advice: If you are taller or like to entertain guests, there are a few items to consider. First, the bed is almost a "king" size in terms of dimensions, but the rear of the RV is curved. Therefore, you only get the full width and length in the middle of the RV before it starts curving in.

Alone, this is completely fine. However, I'm 5'7" and my boyfriend is 6', so when he comes to visit we must sleep at an angle in order to be comfortable. I'd definitely recommend figuring out your sleeping sizes and configuration before buying.

Second, I love to cook for others, but have no seating to host any guests. To me this isn't a big deal as we just sit outside, where I would prefer to be anyway.

If you are considering a Basecamp, I would recommend joining one of the Airstream Basecamp Facebook groups. The Basecamp offers an amazing community of owners, and these groups offer some great tips, tricks as well as the common repairs/issues and how to address them.

Happier Camper HC1

Happier Camper small RV exterior

Owner: Darcy

Darcy volunteered to show her Happier Camper off when I was searching for people with small travel trailers. Boy, was I excited to hear from someone with a Happier Camper! They are so unique in their look and in the interior build.

Here's what it's like to have a cute bubble of a small camping trailer that is modular.

Happier Camper HC1 trailer floor plan

Website: Happier Camper

Dry Weight: 1,100 lbs

Length: 13'

Towed With: Honda Element

Number Using: One + 2 dogs

FT/Recreational: Recreational

# Years Owned: 3 years

Did You Buy New Or Used? New

Happier Camper small pull behind trailer interior

What Are Your Three Favorite Things About This Small Camper Trailer?

  1. I love that I can take everything out and clean it; no carpet or wood.
  2. I love the airyness, with all the windows and back hatch.
  3. I love that I can hitch it up to the car in just a few minutes.

What Are Your Three Least Favorite?

  1. The back hatch lock is not sealed and water gets into it.
  2.  As a newish product, it is constantly morphing, and I feel that some of its design was put out on the market before it was really perfected.
  3. The awning is pretty wimpy, and now they offer a better one. I know that currently one of the main complaints is the wait time.
Happier Camper small trailer camper exterior rear

Does The Size Of Small Campers Benefit You? If So, How?

I bought this size because I did not want to purchase a bigger car to tow it with. Its size and simplicity suit me well.

Was Interior Storage Ample Or Problematic?

There is ample storage.

How Would You Rate The Quality Of the Materials In The Trailer?

8

Happier Camper small camping trailer sleeping area

What Would You Change About This Trailer If You Could?

Since it is modular, everything about it can be changed as my needs change. I suppose I wish the door handles/locks were better, and that there was a gutter over the door (I think new models have this).

Was It Worth The Money?

Because the resale value is so high, yes.

What Would You Advise Someone Looking To Buy This Trailer?

It is perfect for me in its simplicity, and I think the newer models offer better design. Be prepared to wait longer than the company tells you. Also be prepared to have very curious people constantly telling you how cute your trailer is!

Happier Camper small trailer camper on road

Would You Buy This Model Again?

If I were to purchase a car with greater towing capacity I might look at other options.

Summary:

I first heard about the HC1 in 2015, the first year of production, and saved for two years before I purchased one. I fell in love with the ability to change the layout, and to really clean all parts out and avoid rot and mildew as I have serious allergies.

I have several setups I use, depending on if I am traveling alone,  with my dogs, or with my partner. I might choose to use a different layout if I am camping for an academic class or for a vacation time.

If I am camping when there is rain and I am inside, I make a cozy nest, but if I am going to be outdoors all the time I might leave the sink behind and just set the kitchen up outdoors. I can shoulder it into place if I need to because it is so light, and the windows and back hatch enhance my connection with my location.

Happier Camper is a quirky company, and many of the improvements in design have come at the dissatisfaction of owners, who have been the test drivers of their small campers.

Group of Happier Camper RV trailers at campground

They have made many modifications since I purchased mine three years ago and hopefully they have stabilized a bit. Wait times are a year or more, and that is frustrating to some people.

The Happier Camper community on FB is so supportive of owners, and we have had super fun meetups in the spring and fall in California.

Rpod RP-180

Jim in front of Rpod small camper trailer

Owners: Patti and Jim Poston

Jim happily volunteered to talk about his 2016 Rpod when I asked in an Rpod owner forum if they would be willing to participate.

We really wanted to have an Rpod represented in this post as they are so popular on the road, so we are very appreciative that he jumped in to show and tell!

R-Pod RP-180 RV floor plan

Website: Rpod Trailers

Dry Weight: 2950 lbs

Length: 20'

Towed With: 2015 Nissan Xterra Pro-4X

Number Using: 2, usually!

FT/Recreational: Recreational user, "full-timed" for 2 months and 10,000 miles

# Years Owned: 2 years

Did You Buy New Or Used? Used

Interior of Jim's Rpod small trailer

What Are Your Three Favorite Things About This Small Camper Trailer?

  1. It's easily towable, relatively lightweight and narrow - no need for tow mirrors; it's a joy to see around the trailer when towing.
  2. It's very amenable to customization to better fit your lifestyle. Many floor plans  of these small campers have camper slides that give larger living space while keeping the narrow tow configuration.
  3. I love that it's pre-wired for solar, so I can just plug my suitcase solar panels in.

What Are Your Three Least Favorite?

  1. Not a lot of bad things, but build quality is not the best.
  2. Non-Hood River Editions have horrible ground clearance, but Forest River offers 3" axle risers as a retrofit.
  3. For us, the refrigerator is a bit small.
Rpod 180 small trailer interior

Stock photo of Rpod 180 interior so you can view the other end

Did The Small Size Benefit You? If So, How?

The small size is why we have an r•pod. It's perfect for the two of us, and with the R-dome (tent that attaches to the r•pod), we can accommodate more. For us, this small camper is roomy because we moved up from tent camping.

Was Interior Storage Ample Or Problematic?

We have more storage than we need, even on our 2-month trip, although we pack light.

How Would You Rate The Quality Of the Materials In This Small Trailer?

6

Rpod connected to Xterra at Lake Michigan

What Would You Change About This Trailer If You Could?

We added an inverter for limited AC electricity when boondocking. I would really like to have pass-through basement storage.

Was It Worth The Money?

The used market was a little pricey in our area, not a lot lower than MSRP new (what is my RV worth?), but with hindsight, it was worth it and all the new trailer bugs were worked out.

What Would You Advise Someone Looking To Buy This Tiny Trailer?

Check the sewer connection to the bottom of trailer - notorious weak point of the r•pod. Many Podders have reported the original WFCO converter failed, probably due to vibrations affecting the circuit board. We had to replace ours while on our 2-month long journey.

And although it's light, please consider loaded weight and your towing capacity and specifications. A Prius, among other cars, won't tow it.

Rpod small camper trailer rear

These trailers are narrow enough to not need tow mirrors.

Would You Buy This Model Again?

Yes

Summary:

We upgraded from tent camping, so this is glamping for us. We wanted to have a tow vehicle that was relatively small and maneuverable, so we needed a camper that could be pulled by a small vehicle.

We also do a lot of boondocking, and wanted our vehicle to be able to negotiate rough terrain, not just dirt roads (when unhooked; the r•pod's not really suited for rugged offroading). With the r•pod's short length added to our tow vehicle's length, we can still park in a normal double head-to-head parking stall.

We are pretty conservative on the "stuff" we bring with us, so the r•pod has plenty of storage. We took a 2-month, 10,000 mile trip in the Pod, and we never wished for more camper storage. We're not sure if we really "full time" in it though.

The r•pod allows pretty much full-featured camping with very little stress over the actual driving to get where we're going. And it has a unique look - we constantly get comments about how someone loves our small camper! Definitely a conversation starter!

Rpod small trailer hooked up to Xterra

Casita Spirit Deluxe

Lindsey and Adam in front Casita small trailer

Owners: Lindsey and Adam Nubern

Adam and Lindsey full-timed in their Casita for two years before having a baby. Then they became a part-time roaming trio. It's amazing to see two people live in such a small space.

How did they do it? They don't even mention it being too small for them below. These two are really good at living tiny. Read on...

Casita Spirit Deluxe RV floor plan

Website: Casita Trailers

Dry Weight: 2800 lbs

Length: 17'

Towed With: Ford Explorer

Number Using: 3

FT/Recreational: We were full-time for two years with two people, now we're part time as a family of three.

# Years Owned: 5 years

Did You Buy New Or Used? Used

Casista small travel trailer interior looking forward

What Are Your Three Favorite Things About This Trailer?

  1. It's lightweight for towing.
  2. It's small so you can access all parks, campgrounds, and boondocking places.
  3. The tininess keeps you accountable to live minimally and stay clean and organized in the trailer.

What Are Your Three Least Favorite?

  1. The cooking area of the sink and stove is small.
  2. The bathroom is a wet bathroom where the shower and toilet are in the same space, so after a shower, the toilet's wet.
  3. The bed only has one side accessible to it. So, if there's two people sleeping in the bed, one person has to climb over the other in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.
Casista small travel trailer interior looking aft

Did The Small Size Benefit You? If So, How?

We love the small size of the Casita Travel Trailer to access any park, campsite, or boondocking spot. And we also like how the small space keeps us accountable to live minimally and stay clean and organized.

Was Interior Storage Ample Or Problematic?

There is minimal storage in the Casita Travel Trailer. For us, that was okay. We had lived out of backpacks traveling the world before living in the Casita, so we had enough space for our things.

A good mantra to have with the Casita is "Having less is more." Living full-time with two people in the trailer, we only carried one pot, one pan, a moka pot for coffee, and two of cups, plates, forks, knives, and spoons.

When we lived in the Casita full-time, we also used our Explorer's back seat and trunk area as our "garage" for tools, bikes, and other things we didn't need access to in the trailer.

How Would You Rate The Quality Of the Materials In The Trailer?

7, everything works and does its job.

Casista small trailer dinette

What Would You Change About This Small Trailer If You Could?

  1. Lift the axle. We lifted ours 3 inches and it helps us get out of our driveway and handle dips in the road at campsites better.
  2. Install a propane heater. We ended up installing one so we could boondock with heat.
  3. Not have carpet on the wall and floor. It's hard to keep all the carpet clean. We cover our floor carpet with area rugs.

Was It Worth The Money?

Yes! Totally worth the money! Used Casitas are a little more expensive than other trailers their size and ours was a bit above what we wanted to spend.

However, we decided to spend more with a Casita Travel Trailer because they hold their value and we decided that if it didn't work well for us, we could probably sell it for what we bought it for. Five years later, we're still loving her!

What Would You Advise Someone Looking To Buy This Trailer?

Make sure that everyone can fit in the bed and can stand up straight in the trailer. We're 5'7 and 5'1 with a baby and it's perfect for us, but some taller friends that visit can't stand up straight and are too long for the bed space.

So, before you make the big investment, make sure you can stand and lay down in it okay.

Would You Buy This Model Again?

Absolutely! We love our Casita.

Casista small travel trailer kitchen

Summary:

We lived in our Casita Travel Trailer as a young married couple for two years living, traveling and working together in the trailer full-time. You can take a tour of ours and see us during the buying process on HGTV's Tiny House Hunters show here.

It is perfect to roam the US and Canada in. Having a small camper helps you have spontaneous travels because you don't have to research everywhere you want to go first to see if you'll fit. Also, it's nice to have a small rig when you're running errands in Walmart and grocery store parking lots.

When considering the Casita, make sure you can stand up in it, sleep well in it, and cook in it comfortably. It is tiny, so it's great when the weather is nice out and you can extend your living space outside. However, we tended to travel with the good weather because when it's cold and rainy for a few days, it does become small inside.

Be prepared to have minimal clothing and gear and kitchen appliances and food. We took out the microwave and use that space as a pantry. Also, to be able to boondock more comfortably, we got a Renogy solar suitcase for more power and we installed a propane heater that didn't come on our model.

These small campers are fun! And, a bonus is, when you have a Casita, you're automatically in a new family. Casita owners have a super friendly and supportive community to help each other. Be ready to make fast friends on the road with other small camper owners! Happy trails from Adam and Lindsey!

Conclusion

Small trailers are amazing camper trailers when it comes to dry weight, height, (sometimes) budget, freedom, and even easy parking (storage) in your garage with some of the smallest camping trailers.

Either go small and have a choice of larger variety of spots you can visit, or go bigger and have more headache with more that can go wrong and less places you can get to. If your destination is always a campground, this won't matter to you much.

But if you can handle living in such a small place, especially if it's only for short camping trips, then your preferences might lean towards these types of small trailers. There are so many different styles and different floor plans, you're sure to find a cute tiny camper to your liking.

Pack up your family into your easy to tow travel trailer, potentially complete with a gas stove, dinette, beds, LED lights, tv, microwave, and a table for feasting, and you can head pretty much anywhere the road and your travel trailer will take you!

Kelly Headshot

He-llllo. I'm the co-founder of Camp Addict, which my biz partner and I launched in 2017. I frigging love the RVing lifestyle but in December of 2020, I converted to part-time RV life. Heck, I lived in my travel trailer for over 5.5 years, STRICTLY boondocking for pretty much all of it. Boondocking is a GREAT way to live, but it's not easy. Anyway, I'm passionate about animals, can't stand campgrounds, I hardly ever cook, and I love a good dance party. Currently, I can be found plotting and scheming whether or not to start collecting farm animals (or plotting my next RV trip!) at my beautiful new 'ranch' named 'Hotel Kellyfornia', in Southern Arizona. 

Other Articles You Should Read

  • I love the fact that you went directly to “real” small trailer owners for their input and comments. Getting the information directly from the owners mouths is, in my opinion, the best and most trustworthy. This is why your site is so great! The information is from experience. It is real and trustworthy! Keep up the great work.

    • Hi Dan! We sure appreciate your input. And we couldn’t agree more! Those who have been actual owners know better than anyone else possibly can. We thank you for your input on this post. You’re one of the clever ones.

      Cheers!

  • Thanks for another great article. I was hoping to see one of the Nucamp teardrops reviewed here as well. Overall this is really useful to help us decide. I’m leaning towards the Tab clamshell or the Airstream Basecamp 🙂

    • Hi Val,

      Thank YOU for the kind comment! Yeah, I think I looked for someone with the tiny Nucamp trailers to give their testimony, but couldn’t find anyone. We are so happy that this helped you with your search!

      Nothing like hearing an opinion coming from the horse’s mouth…

  • I am glad that I found his article. My wife and I have been tent camping for awhile and now we are looking to get an RV. We don’t know what we want to get. There are many types to choose from.(class A,B,or C motor homes, travel trailers, truck bed campers etc.) Is there a website that I can visit to do an assessment to see what type will be the best fit for us? I have never used or owned any of these campers before. Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.I will be retiring from working full time about 18 months.

    • Hey Marc,

      We are glad you found this article too!

      One of the better ways to figure out what type of RV would fit your full-time RVing lifestyle is to spend A LOT of time going to RV shows or dealerships and seeing what’s available. Spend time in rigs ‘pretending’ you are living. See what they are like with the slide-outs in the travel (in) position to see if you can move around the rig (get to the bathroom when you are traveling, get to the refrigerator for lunch on the road, etc).

      I know that RV shows aren’t exactly happening right now, and with your 18 month timeline, not sure how many you will be able to attend. But RV dealers are definitely up and running.

      The trick is to spend time alone in a rig, without a salesperson breathing down your neck. Be honest with them. You are just looking/researching and you’d appreciate time alone.They should be fine with that. If not, it’s not the dealership for you. It’s hard to get a feel for a rig when you have someone trying to sell the darn thing and won’t keep quiet.

      As far as websites go, well, you’ve discovered what we feel is the best RV education website on the web (nope, not at all biased! 😉 ). If you want to learn more about the different finds of RVs, you can read our overview of RV types which has links to additional posts that further discuss each RV type.

      Also see our post on the best RV for full-time living.

      And of course check out our post on the best RV brands so you get an idea what RV manufacturers are the ones you should be looking at.

  • Really? I didn’t know that. I have a friend who is a former Airstream owner and enthusiast and he indicated that the quality has gone down in the last few years. I’ll have to ask him what he means by that.

    • I’d be curious to know what he means also. Not saying he’s incorrect, but there is a difference between anecdotal ‘evidence’ and actual facts.

      Like I said, plenty of Airstream owners have issues with their rigs (at least in the subset that is my group of friends and acquaintances that have Airstreams – and they are a popular choice of full-timers). But show me an RV manufacturer that produces a perfect RV each and every time and I’ll show you a unicorn. 😉

      I’m in no way, shape, or form defending Airstream. I am not an Airstream fanboy (quite the opposite if you ask people who know me ). I’m just pointing out that Airstream isn’t a horrible brand, and like all brands (even the good ones) they have quality issues, but you will also find many satisfied Airstream owners.

    • I’ve had my 2018 Airstream since 2017.. I’ve lived in it full time. Zero problems. My AC is just now making a funny noise but I’ll get it looked at this week.

      I had a forest river rockwood before that and 6 months in small things were failing. Door hydraulic, fridge door panel fell off. Wood paneling around the counter coming apart. The dam thing was $25k

      I’d rather spend another $25k and have something built to last. Keep in mind RVs have to be able to take a beating! It’s basically in an earthquake when you’re driving.

  • Can you speak about any quality concerns with newer Airstreams? I’ve heard the company changed a few years ago.

    • Hi Shari,

      I’m not sure what you mean by the company changing a few years ago. They’ve been owned by Thor Industries since 1980 (Airstream was actually Thor’s first brand and the acquisition was the reason it was formed).

      Thor isn’t exactly known for producing high quality RVs, but Airstream is an exception. Having said that, plenty of Airstream owners will tell you that they have problems (some small, occasionally the large one) with their rigs.

      However, even the best RV brands will have quality issues. Such is the case when you have a vehicle that is produced via mostly human labor.

      What specifically have you heard about Airstream as of late?

  • Can you please do an article on the differences in quality and value and practicability of the A frame pop up trailers? I’m really interested in the Chalet a frame vs the others, ALL the pros and cons.
    Thank you so much for your consideration!
    Diana G

    • Hi Diana,

      Thanks for writing! We can’t promise that that will happen, but we will keep it under consideration!

      Meantime, I am guessing that there are Facebook groups for a-frame owners and enthusiasts. And/or forums. These may be a great places to find out the information you are looking for from those who have been there.

  • I had a 2017 RPod 179. I would never again buy another one! I had it three months! The door latch broke, the screens popped out! There was condensation between the windows in the front, It had so many warranty issues I took it back and told them to keep it and either give me something different or I was getting a lawyer! I wasn’t waiting 6 months for them to get approval to fix it! Moving on!

    • Oh no! That sucks for sure, Carla. Lemons come from all manufacturers, whether it’s known as a good manufacturer or not.

      What a bummer to get one that keeps having problem after problem. So sorry that that happened to you. ???? Hopefully it didn’t turn you off of all RVs.

      They can be awesome when they DO work! LOL! (And knock on wood, I have been VERY lucky with my Crossroads Slingshot trailer. Had it 5 years now and no real issues that it was ‘born’ with. It’s a Thor product, and they aren’t known for quality. Not by a long shot.????)

  • If you wish to expand on your article about small travel trailers, we have a fiberglass Escape 19’ trailer that we’d be happy to share info about (after owning a 16’ Scamp for 10 years before that). We enjoyed sharing your article.
    Ilse and Greg Hine

    • Hi guys!

      Thank you very much, and thank you for the kind offer! Can I hold you to that offer in the event that I do an article specifically about fiberglass trailers and their owners?

      • Love this article Kelly. We just got our 2020 Casita Liberty Deluxe in December of last year and after a few trips in it, I am now “wishing” for things that cannot be had in it. I love the quality of the unit, but the 17’ just doesn’t provide enough room for what I had hoped would be adequate space. The same cons mentioned by the above Casita owners would be our complaints as well. After checking out the Escape site, we could have gotten a 19’ for slightly more than the 17’ and it would have given us just what we needed. We may eventually go that route, but we love the fiberglass RVs. Hold their value and easy to maintain.

        • Hi Lucy,

          Awe, well I’m sorry to hear that your new Casita isn’t just what you wanted. I bet that killed the excitement a bit!

          Have you checked out the Bigfoot trailers? After getting inside a 17′ Bigfoot, I decided I’d much rather have one of those than the Casita with the seating area. Not sure what kind of room you want but MAN, the straight walls of the Bigfoot combined with a big window at both ends sure opens the thing up!

          Anyway, the good news is that you can probably sell it for very close to just as much as you bought it for! There’s a wait list, right? I’m guessing there are people who don’t want to wait so long to get a new one. Boom- you can give them immediate satisfaction! They are SO in demand!

          So I’m glad you appreciate this article, but sorry you didn’t see it sooner. Maybe it would have changed your mind, maybe not.

          At least you’re in the game! Keep taking trips in it, put a for sale sign on it, and I’m guessing you can sell it quite quickly! If you do, good luck!

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