Subscribe to the Free

Tent Camper Trailers - Buyer's Guide

A real-world alternative can make RVing fun and affordable for the whole family

Mitchell Sam Rossi
Dec 1, 2008
Photo 2/46   |   Editor's Note: All specs and price information offered in our guide should be used purely as a reference, and is subject to change by the manufacturer without notification. Some trailer stats were not available by press time.
As Bob Dylan so aptly sang 44 years ago, "The Times They Are A-Changin'." Gasoline then was around 27 cents a gallon. The global effects of greenhouse gases and our pollutants were little more than hypothetical conjecture, a theory on the realm of scientific fiction and not yet fact. Oh yes, how times have changed.
Human society will, of course, need to adapt, but that does not mean we must batten down the hatches and lock our doors in the hope that the worst will pass us by. We will continue to enjoy our pastimes and, for many Americans, that includes heading out into the wilderness for one of our most treasured recreations-camping.
Experiencing a night around a crackling campfire-once, twice, a childhood's worth-makes one understand our connection with the outdoors is more than a vacation, it is a necessity. Air, food, water, camping: the four essentials of life.
Whether or not you believe climate change is on the horizon or already here, gas pump shock is a reality, and the continual climb of fuel prices is threatening the traditional RV family camping trip with extinction. There is, however, a class of camping vehicle that offers a cost-effective alternative to larger RVs-the expandable or folding tent trailer.
A huge leap from pitch-a-tent camping, these specially designed trailers can accommodate two to four adults, with some luxury models making room for up to eight happy campers. These rigs come equipped with an array of amenities, including refrigerator units, stoves and dinettes. Some have fully enclosed bathroom/shower combinations, while others offer a commode closet. They incorporate fiberglass tops with canvas sidings to keep weight down while at the same time ensuring their occupants have a warm and dry abode when weather turns foul.
Once considered little more than a stepping-stone into the world of well-appointed travel trailers and full-chassis RVs, many outdoorsmen and their families are discovering pop-up camping trailers are a wonderful compromise between sleeping on the ground and the fuel-thirsty motorhome.
The folding tent trailer is more economical in both initial purchase price and long-term ownership. Their lightweight construction and collapsible design offers low wind resistance and easy towing. This not only increases fuel efficiency but makes for better travel through crosswinds and up steep grades. They are the perfect camping companion for smaller SUVs, light trucks and many midsized hybrid vehicles that are quickly becoming popular.
In our guide, the selection of pop-tent trailers ranges from a pup-tent-on-a-trailer to upper-end versions that offer luxuries similar to those of their full-bodied counterparts. With the off-road rigs, their cost is more a reflection of their ruggedness than their amenities. The advanced suspension and chassis technology of Adventure Trailers, for example, reveals they are specifically designed for the extreme outdoorsman who wants to venture into the remote wilderness.
At the other end of the spectrum, we list the more lavish pop-top trailers, such as Jayco's Select Series, which offers opulent camping with plush interiors, full-amended kitchens and a selection of creature comforts. A few even incorporate slide-out dinettes, increasing the trailer's living space.
We have also chosen several entry-level pop-ups that are easy on the budget and perfect for the first-time trailer owner. These entry-level trailers, such as Forest River's classic Rockwood 1910, however, are by no means stripped-down models. As our guide reveals, they are well-appointed and exceedingly capable of delivering an enjoyable camping experience.
Whether hitched to the family sedan or a new age hybrid vehicle, the pop-up trailer presents many camping luxuries once assumed were only provided by larger, solid-bodied trailers. But most importantly, these compact rigs offer the ability to continue our cherished tradition of vacationing under the stars. Enjoy.
Pop-up Penthouse
While still providing the economy of the classic folding tent trailers, the models here blur the line between cost-conscious and luxury camping. Several of these well-appointed trailers come with three-burner stoves, both bake and microwave ovens, large refrigerators and enclosed bathrooms. A few of the rigs are designed with slide-outs, giving you additional living space.
Options can also include audio systems with indoor/outdoor speakers and electric lifts for unfolding the camper. These pop-up penthouses are the perfect camping trailer for those who want to explore the great outdoors without giving up too many civilized comforts.
Photo 3/46   |   0812rv 02 Tent Camper Trailers Forest River Flagstaff
Forest River
Notables - The luxurious Flagstaff Classic Series offers eight different models. These high-sided trailers come with such amenities as a three-burner range with oven and microwave, a water filtering system, an AM/FM stereo with CD player and TV outlet ready for cable and satellite hookup. They can be ordered up with an array of options, including heated mattresses, a power jack and a tire pressure monitoring system, to mention just a few.
Vehicle Type: Folding/pop-up camping trailer
Model: Flagstaff 625D, Classic Series
Price: Starting at $12,990
Sleeping Capacity: Seven
GVWR (pounds): 3,006
Dry Weight (UVW) (pounds): 2,502
Hitch Weight (pounds): 362
Net Carrying Capacity (pounds): 396
Traveling Length: 17'11"
Campsite Length: 23'6"
Travel Height: 61"
Campsite Height: 6'6"
Exterior Width: 85"
Fresh Water Capacity (gallons): 20
LPG Tank (gallons): 20
Photo 7/46   |   0812rv 06 Tent Camper Trailers Jayco Select
Notables - Jayco's top camping trailer, the Select, is built for the most demanding camper. It is designed with high walls for added storage and convenience. Standard equipment includes both conventional and microwave ovens, a 3-cubic-foot gas/electric refrigerator, tinted windows, and a hard-wall bath/shower with cassette toilet. It has a self-storing step and screen door, comes with a 16,000-Btu furnace and two 20-pound LPG bottles. The model's Customer Value package brings along an awning and audio system with CD player and iPod adapter.
Vehicle Type: Folding/pop-up camping trailer Model: Select 14 HW
Price: Starting at $15,257
Sleeping Capacity: Six to eight
GVWR (pounds): 4,550
Dry Weight (UVW) (pounds): 3,205
Hitch Weight (pounds): 285
Net Carrying Capacity (pounds): 1,345
Traveling Length: 20'1"
Campsite Length: 24'10"
Travel Height: 68"
Campsite Height: 111"
Exterior Width: 85"
Fresh Water Capacity (gallons): 17
LPG Tank (gallons): 2x20
Photo 11/46   |   0812rv 10 Tent Camper Trailers Viking Legend
Viking Recreational Vehicles
Notables - As Viking's upper-end series, the Legend folding tent trailer offers enthusiastic campers the luxury of many smaller travel trailers, including a slide-out dinette for added interior space. Galley amenities incorporate a three-burner stove, stainless steel sink and a hot water system.
The array of options include a cassette toilet, mattress heater and, for those extra chilly nights, a 20,000-Btu furnace. A special and patented feature of the Legend is its front storage locker that slides to either side of the trailer for easy access.
Photo 15/46   |   0812rv 14 Tent Camper Trailers Fleetwood Niagara
Fleetwood Folding Trailers
Notables - With features reminiscent of a full-featured travel trailer, the Niagara, along with the entire Highlander Series, offers a slide-out dinette table, giving campers ample floor space. There is a wall-enclosed, flushable toilet and shower combination.
The galley has a 4.2-cubic-foot, three-way refrigerator with freezer compartment and a three-burner stove. Options include dealer-installed air conditioning, deluxe add-a-room enclosure and self-storing canopy.
Vehicle Type: Folding/pop-up camping trailer
Model: Niagara, Highlander Series
Price: Starting at $17,000
Sleeping Capacity: Six to eight
GVWR (pounds): 3,970
Dry Weight (UVW) (pounds): 3,160
Hitch Weight (pounds): 230
Net Carrying Capacity (pounds): 810
Traveling Length: 19'3"
Campsite Length: 26'10"
Travel Height: 5'4"
Campsite Height: 8'9"
Traveling Width: 7'5"
Campsite Width: 10'6"
Fresh Water Capacity (gallons): 26
Gray Water Capacity (gallons): 20
Black Water Capacity (gallons): 9
LPG Tank (gallons): 2x20
Photo 19/46   |   0812rv 42 Tent Camper Trailers Starcraft Centennial
Starcraft RV
Notables - As Starcraft's upper-end rig, the Centennial comes with an assortment of amenities, such as a three-burner stove, a three-way refrigerator, a double-bowl sink and a 6-gallon water heater.

The rig's shower curtains ensure privacy. The toilet/shower combination is fully enclosed with hard walls. The 3612's design utilizes a slide-out dinette expanding floor space and living room.
Vehicle Type: Folding/pop-up camping trailer
Model: Centennial 3612
Price: Starting at $13,714
Sleeping Capacity: Six
GVWR (pounds): 3,750
Dry Weight (UVW) (pounds): 2,944
Hitch Weight (pounds): 326
Net Carrying Capacity (pounds): 557
Traveling Length: 17'11"
Campsite Length: 26'1"
Travel Height: 5'3"
Campsite Height: 7'3"
Travel Width: 86"
Campsite Width: 104"
Fresh Water Capacity (gallons): 19
LPG Tank (gallons): 40
Sporting Trailers
Several examples in this segment are hearty pop-top trailers ready to carry your gear and your home away from home off the beaten path, while a few others are built for much more. Would-be buyers of these rigs are not just weekend campers, they are outdoorsmen.
Is a 4x4 tow vehicle and a bowie knife on your hip a prerequisite for owning one of these rigs? Certainly not, but they are not the kind of trailer typically attached to a Toyota Prius.
While some are tough, others are extreme. Which is best for your camping needs depends on whether you plan on striking camp along the backroads of the Mojave Desert or on the high plains of Patagonia.
Photo 23/46   |   0812rv 19 Tent Camper Trailers Adventure Trailers Horizon
Adventure Trailers
Notables - Make no mistake, this tent trailer-emphasis on tent-is built for the most adventurous camper. Does it need a 4x4 vehicle to pull it? No, but this rig is certainly designed for that treacherous overland expedition you've been dreaming of.

The stove is an exterior two-burner unit. The fridge is a top-loading unit tucked in the trailer's main storage box. With its airbag/shock absorber suspension, the luxury of this rig is having a trailer that can follow your 4x4 vehicle wherever you dare drive it.
Vehicle Type: Folding/pop-up camping trailer
Model: Horizon
Price: Starting at $8,566
Sleeping Capacity: Two to four
GVWR (pounds): 2,700
Dry Weight (UVW) (pounds): 1,100
Hitch Weight (pounds): 100
Net Carrying Capacity (pounds): 1,600
Total Storage Capacity (cubic feet): 54
Traveling Length: 102"
Campsite Length: 102"
Travel Height: 71.5"
Campsite Height: 119.5" on 35-inch tires
Exterior Width: 68"
Fresh Water Capacity (gallons): 19
LPG Tank (gallons): 11
Photo 26/46   |   0812rv 21 Tent Camper Trailers Jumping Jack 6x8
Jumping Jack Trailers
Notables - This rugged rig is based on a high-wall utility trailer, which when not being used for camping can be used for...well, utility. But for backwoods excursions, the trailer carries a heavy marine canvas tent designed with seven large windows, extra long beds and a swing-up table.

It can be assembled in less than five minutes. With the tent stored, the trailer can carry two ATVs or an array of other wilderness toys for your expedition.
Photo 27/46   |   0812rv 22 Tent Camper Trailers Jumping Jack 6x8 Utility
Vehicle Type: Folding/pop-up camping trailer
Model: 6x8
Price: Starting at $4,995
Sleeping Capacity: Three to five
GVWR (pounds): 2,995
Dry Weight (UVW) (pounds): 1,245
Hitch Weight (pounds): 180
Net Carrying Capacity (pounds): 1,750
Traveling Length: 12'
Campsite Length: 12'
Travel Height: 38"
Campsite Height: 7'
Exterior Width: 92"
Photo 28/46   |   0812rv 24 Tent Camper Trailers Jayco Baja Camping
Notables - Jayco's adventure-oriented camping trailer makes room for your toys with an open storage deck up-front. With a 1,200-pound load capacity, it is perfect for an array of dirt bikes or an ATV.

To ease your outback travels, the Baja comes standard with 15-inch off-road Dunlop Mud Rover tires, mud flaps and diamond-plate walls front and rear. Options include heated beds, furnace and an outside grill.
Vehicle Type: Folding/pop-up camping trailer
Model: Baja 10Y
Price: Starting at $10,000
Sleeping Capacity: Four to six
GVWR (pounds): 4,550
Dry Weight (UVW) (pounds): 2,320
Hitch Weight (pounds): 220
Net Carrying Capacity (pounds): 2,230
Traveling Length: 19'8"
Campsite Length: 20'10"
Travel Height: 66"
Campsite Height: 114"
Exterior Width: 85"
Fresh Water Capacity (gallons): 23
LPG Tank (gallons): 20
Photo 32/46   |   0812rv 28 Tent Camper Trailers Coachmen Clipper Camping
Coachmen RV
Notables - With its extra ground clearance, the Clipper Off-Road trailer allows the sportsman camper to head farther afield than most folding tent trailers. Equipped with a forward storage deck, this trailer has the ability to carry a pair of dirt bikes or an ATV to your favorite outpost.

Standard features include an external utility shelf, three-burner range and a cleverly designed swing galley that easily shifts from a travel- to campsite-ready posi­tion. Options include a cassette toilet, rooftop power lift and mattress heaters.
Vehicle Type: Folding/pop-up camping trailer Model: Clipper Off-Road 1175SC
Price: Starting at $11,960
Sleeping Capacity: Six
GVWR (pounds): 5,458
Dry Weight (UVW) (pounds): 2,779
Hitch Weight (pounds): 378
Net Carrying Capacity (pounds): 2,679
Traveling Length: 21'4"
Campsite Length: 22'2"
Travel Height: 60"
Campsite Height: 6'10"
Exterior Width: 85"
Front Deck Area: 60"x83"
Fresh Water Capacity (gallons): 16
LPG Tank (gallons): 2x20
Photo 36/46   |   0812rv 31 Tent Camper Trailers Sylvansport Go Camping
Notables - The SylvanSport GO is for the active camper, as its design revolves around the acces­sories we take to explore, experience and enjoy the outdoors. The upper rack system can be incorporated with Thule, Yakima or other rack manufacturers to hold mountain bikes, kayaks, skis or a multitude of other adventure gear.

A Control-Tilt cargo bed with hydraulic dampening system allows for transport of an ATV or two dirt motorcycles without the use of a ramp. Up-front, a 9-cubic-foot cargo pod offers weatherproof and lockable storage for gear and accessories. Sleeping arrangements come in the form of a quick-deploying Kelty tent system.
Vehicle Type: Folding/pop-up camping trailer Model: GO
Price: Starting at $7,995
Sleeping Capacity: Two to four
GVWR (pounds): 1,600
Dry Weight (UVW) (pounds): 840
Hitch Weight (pounds): 70
Net Carrying Capacity (pounds): 800
Traveling Length: 11'6"
Campsite Length: 14'
Travel Height: 51"-79" (depending on setup)
Campsite Height: 106"
Traveling Exterior Width: 74"
Campsite: 124"
Budget-Wise Camping
If you've done a fair share of tent camping, these rigs are going to feel like the Ritz-Carlton. Still, most are outfitted with only the basic camping equipment: stove, fridge, beds and storage areas. They use the same canvas and screens as most pitch tents, so they have limited privacy in the campground and, when confronted by rain and windy conditions, are less comfortable than their solid-sided counterparts.
Still, the pop-up folding camping trailer is one of the best introductions into the world of trailer camping. The models in this group are inexpensive, easy to use, simple to tow and more than capable of offering a pleasurable outdoors experience for the entire family.
Photo 40/46   |   0812rv 35 Tent Camper Trailers Compact Camping Explorer Box
Compact Camping Concepts
Notables - As its name suggests, this micro tent trailer is really a rolling camping box topped by a nylon folding tent. Still, its quick setup and simple operation is perfect for campers who have tired of on-the-ground tent camping yet want to maintain a true wilderness experience. It is perfect for towing behind small cars and light SUVs.

For the really adventuresome do-it-yourselfer, the company offers an 85-page, step-by-step manual for those who want to build their own compact camper.
Photo 41/46   |   0812rv 36 Tent Camper Trailers Compact Camping Explorer Box Storage
Vehicle Type: Folding/pop-up camping trailer Model: Explorer Box
Price: Starting at $3,499
Sleeping Capacity: Two
GVWR (pounds): 1,000
Dry Weight (UVW) (pounds): 400
Hitch Weight (pounds): 70-100
Net Carrying Capacity (pounds): 600
Traveling Length: 10'
Campsite Length: 10"
Travel Height: 50"
Campsite Height: 98"
Traveling Exterior Width: 62"
Campsite: 106"
Photo 42/46   |   0812rv 37 Tent Camper Trailers Jayco Jay Series
Notables - As Jayco's entry-level models, the Jay Series comes with a wide range of amenities. These rigs are designed to meet the needs of even the most selective outdoorsmen and their families. They are built with wall-to-wall vinyl floors, brushed nickel hardware and granite-inspired countertops.

Standard equipment includes leveling jacks, privacy curtains, a mildew-resistant aluminum ceiling and a carryout dinette table. The Customer Value package includes a 2-cubic-foot, three-way refrigerator, self-storing awning and a water purification system.
Photo 43/46   |   0812rv 38 Tent Camper Trailers Jayco Jay Series Interior
Vehicle Type: Folding/pop-up camping trailer
Model: Jay Series
Price: Starting at $6,843
Sleeping Capacity: Five to eight (depending on model)
GVWR (pounds): 2,000-2,950
Dry Weight (UVW) (pounds): 1,380-1,885
Hitch Weight (pounds): 165-205
Net Carrying Capacity (pounds): 620-1,065
Traveling Length: 11'10"-16'2"
Campsite Length: 16'2"-23'4"
Travel Height : 53"-56"
Campsite Height: 102"-104"
Exterior Width: 85"
Fresh Water Capacity (gallons): 17
LPG Tank (gallons): 20
Photo 44/46   |   0812rv 39 Tent Camper Trailers Forest River Rockwood
Forest River
Notables - This may be an entry-level pop-up trailer, but it is certainly not one short of amenities; standard equipment includes a three-burner indoor range, large built-in icebox and an easily deployed awning.

Bed mattresses are made of high-density foam, and tinted vinyl windows enhance privacy. For outdoor cooking, the trailer is equipped with an outside gas grill. Options include a forced air furnace, a shower/cassette toilet combination and an overhead kitchen pantry.
Vehicle Type: Folding/pop-up camping trailer Model: Rockwood 1910, Freedom Series
Price: Starting at $8,170
Sleeping Capacity: Six
GVWR (pounds): 2,341
Dry Weight (UVW) (pounds): 1,719
Hitch Weight (pounds): 241
Net Carrying Capacity (pounds): 434
Traveling Length: 15'11"
Campsite Length: 20'2"
Travel Height: 57"
Campsite Height: 6'6"
Exterior Width: 85"
Fresh Water Capacity (gallons): 20
LPG Tank (gallons): 20


Forest River Inc
Elkhart, IN 46516
Middlebury, IN 46540
Viking RV
Centreville, MI 49032
Coleman Trailers
Somerset, PA 15501
Adventure Trailers
Montclair, CA 91763
Jumping Jack Trailers
Clearfield, UT 84016
Coachmen RV
Middlebury, IN 46540
Cedar Mountain, NC 28718
Compact Camping Concepts
Salem, OR 97317
Starcraft RV, Inc.
Topeka, IN 46571


Subscribe Today and Save up to 83%!

Subscribe Truck Trend Magazine

Subscribe to:

Truck Trend

Subscribe Diesel Power Magazine

Subscribe to:

Diesel Power

Subscribe Truckin Magazine

Subscribe to: