Downsizing the RV Lifestyle: Smaller Trailers for Smaller Vehicles

Lazelle JonesAug 31, 2010
The Manufacturers of towable RVs (solid wall and pop-up trailers) recognize that times are changing. People are buying smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles, so the RV industry is designing lighter-weight travel trailers that are highly functional and more affordable. What this means is that the RV lifestyle is now within easy reach of more folks than ever before. With so many vehicles that have towing capacities (the amount of weight they are designed to tow) between 2500 and 4000 pounds, we went on a mission to identify a few of the many choices that are available.
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Some basic rules and specifications can help you choose the towable RV that's right for you. First, check with the Manufacturer of the vehicle you will be towing with (crossover, SUV, pickup truck) and see exactly how much gross weight your vehicle is designed to tow. This will determine if the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of the trailer--every trailer has a GVWR--is compatible with your vehicle. Next, check with the vehicle Manufacturer and identify the amount of hitch weight your vehicle is rated to handle. Hitch weight is the amount of weight added at the point where the hitch and the tongue of the trailer are connected. Third, check with your state's DOT and see at what GVWR trailer brakes are required. This is typically based on the GVWR of the trailer and can vary by state.
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Depending upon the size of the tow vehicle and the size of the trailer, you may want to consider adding a sway control and/or a load-leveling device, which will provide a more transparent and safer towing experience. Check with your RV dealer for information regarding whether or not sway and/or load-leveling control devices should be added at the hitch/tongue of the trailer and the tow vehicle. As their names imply, sway-control devices keep the trailer from fishtailing or moving from side to side while it's being towed, and load-leveling devices distribute the hitch weight forward to the front axle of the tow vehicle and aft to the axle of the trailer, which yields better steering and braking.
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Towable RVs that work with smaller vehicles fall into two groups: solid-wall camping trailers that are ready to live in when a destination is reached, and folding camping trailers that first require some amount of setup (unfolding, extending, etc.). Folding camping trailers can include the use of tent-type fabrics, solid panels, or some combination of the two. Today's folding camping trailer can also include slideout rooms.
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The following specs are provided for each camping trailer listed below. They include GVWR, hitch weight, sleeping capacity, cargo-carrying capacity, and some standard equipment. All specifications and information are subject to change and need to be verified with the RV Manufacturer.
Flagstaff 425D
Pop-up (solid wall & fabric) camping trailer
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Standard Equipment: Slide-out dinette/bed, three-burner cooktop, galley sink, freestanding table, two beds (60x80-inch, 70x80-inch), power lift system, swing level galley w/storage, outdoor gas grill, electric water pump, hot water package
Specs
GVWR 3303 lb
Hitch Weight 303 lb
Cargo Capacity 838 lb
Exterior Travel Length 17 ft, 11 in
Exterior Setup Length 23 ft, 6 in
Exterior Width 85 in
Interior Height 5 ft, 1 in
Sleeps 6
Manufacturer/ ContactForest River Inc.
574/534-4789
www.forestriverinc.com


r-pod RP-151
Solid wall camping trailer
Photo 7/18
Standard Equipment: Gas/electric DSI water heater, 4.2-cu-ft three-way refrigerator, two-burner range top, 20,000 BTU furnace, 12V water pump, wet bath w/integrated toilet, two-inch coupler, electric brakes, independent torsion suspension system, four stabilizer jacks
Specs
GVWR 3241 lb
Hitch Weight 241 lb (dry)
Cargo Capacity 1304 lb
Exterior Travel Length 16 ft, 4 in
Exterior Setup Length 16 ft, 4 in
Exterior Width 8 ft
Interior Height 8 ft, 7 in
Sleeps 4
Manufacturer/ ContactForest River Inc.
574/534-4789
www.forestriverinc.com
Cobalt
Pop-up trailer
Photo 8/18
Standard Equipment: Two-burner cooktop, Posi-Lock lift system, tubular steel frame with bumper, EZ Lube dxle, breathable Sunbrella 302 tenting, dlear windows with fine mesh screening, one-piece screen door, 25-amp converter/charger, spare tire with tire cover, electric brakes
Specs
GVWR 2300 lb
Hitch Weight 165 lb
Cargo Capacity 1030 lb
Exterior Travel Length 16 ft, 9 in
Exterior Setup Length 12 ft, 10 in
Exterior Width 6 ft, 7 in
Interior Height 8 ft, 4 in
Sleeps 5
Manufacturer/ Contact Coleman Camping Trailer
814/445-9661
www.colemantrailers.com


Yuma
Pop-up trailer
Photo 9/18
Standard Equipment: Posi-Lock lift system, spare tire with cover, slipper leaf spring suspension, EZ Lube Axle, breathable Sunbrella 302 tenting, clear windows with fine mesh screening, one-piece screen door, two-burner cooktop, Combination fan and light, 12-volt water pump
Specs
GVWR 2400 lb
Hitch Weight 165 lb
Cargo Capacity 755 lb
Exterior Travel Length 14 ft, 1 in
Exterior Setup Length 20 ft, 9 in
Exterior Width 7 ft, 5 in
Interior Height 8 ft, 2 in
Sleeps 5
Manufacturer/ Contact Coleman Camping Trailer
814/445-9661
www.colemantrailers.com
Y-4102
Tent camper
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Standard Equipment: 9-foot awning, 25-amp converter with battery charger, entry step, Filon fiberglass one-piece roof, five-piece tent system, 20-lb L.P. bottle and cover, spare tire bracket and cover, torsion independent suspension, easy-lube axle, underfloor water tank, window curtains, and vented bed end curtains
Specs
GVWR 2999 lb
Hitch Weight 152 lb
Cargo Capacity 1046 lb
Exterior Travel Length 15 ft,10 in
Exterior Setup Length 20 ft, 2 in
Exterior Width 7 ft
Interior Height 6 ft, 8 in
Sleeps 8
Manufacturer/ Contact Palomino RV
269/432-3271
www.palominorv.com


Banshee B-3
Tent camper
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Standard Equipment: 11-foot awning, Four B.A.L. jacks with sand pads, 25-amp converter with battery charger, two 20-lb L.P. gas bottles with covers, electric brakes, five-piece tenting system, outside gas grill, spare tire/bracket/cover, torsion independent suspension, easy-lube axle, 23-gal underfloor water tank
Specs
GVWR 3677 lb
Hitch Weight 384 lb
Cargo Capacity 758 lb
Exterior Travel Length 20 ft, 8 in
Exterior Setup Length 23 ft, 10 in
Exterior Width 7 ft
Interior Height 6 ft, 8 in
Sleeps 8
Manufacturer/ Contact Palomino RV
269/432-3271
www.palominorv.com
Coachmen Clipper 108 ST
Folding camping trailer
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Standard Equipment: Refrigerator, 20,000-BTU furnace, three-burner range, awning, spare tire and cover, inside/outside dinette table, Coleman grill stove and stand, Wide Trac spring axle with UltraLube bearings, laminated beds and Dura Tuff four-layer roof, Fantastic fan roof vent
Specs
GVWR 2702 lb
Hitch Weight 202 lb
Cargo Capacity 833 lb
Exterior Travel Length 16 ft, 4 in
Exterior Setup Length 20 ft, 9 in
Exterior Width 7 ft, 1 in
Interior Height 6 ft, 10 in
Sleeps 7
Manufacturer/ Contact Coachmen RV
269/467-6321
www.coachmenrv.com


Viking 2485 SST
Folding camper
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Standard Equipment: Refrigerator, 20,000-BTU furnace, awning, water heater with outside shower, electric brakes, spare tire and cover, Coleman grill stove and stand, Wide Trac torsion axle with UltraLube bearings, laminated beds and Dura Tuff four-layer roof, Fantastic fan roof vent
Specs
GVWR 3508 lb
Hitch Weight 288 lb
Cargo Capacity 888 lb
Exterior Travel Length 18 ft, 5 in
Exterior Setup Length 24 ft, 5 in
Exterior Width 7 ft, 1 in
Interior Height 6 ft, 10 in
Sleeps 8
Manufacturer/ Contact Viking Recreational Vehicles
269/467-6321
www.vikingrv.com
Aliner Classic
Pop-up
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Standard Equipment: Outside shower, fiberglass exterior, four stabilizer jacks, two baggage doors, two skylights with shades, electrical system, two roof vents, refrigerator, microwave, water pump
Specs
GVWR 2000 lb
Hitch Weight 175 lb
Cargo Capacity 358 lb
Exterior Travel Length 15 ft
Exterior Setup Length 15 ft
Exterior Width 6 ft, 6 in
Interior Height 8 ft
Sleeps 2-4
Manufacturer/ Contact Columbia Northwest, Inc.
724/423-7440
www.aliner.com


Aliner Expedition
Pop-up
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Standard Equipment: Outside shower, four stabilizer jacks, spare tire and carrier, electric brakes and breakaway switch, three baggage doors, two skylights with shades, electrical system, refrigerator, microwave, water pump
Specs
GVWR 3500 lb
Hitch Weight 260 lb
Cargo Capacity 1288 lb
Exterior Travel Length 18 ft
Exterior Setup Length 18 ft
Exterior Width 7 ft
Interior Height 8 ft, 5 in
Sleeps 2-4
Manufacturer/ Contact Columbia Northwest, Inc.
724/423-7440
www.aliner.com
Jay Series 806
Pop-up trailer
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Standard Equipment: Screen door, retractable step, outside shower, patio lights, 20-amp converter, booth dinette, electric brakes, carry-out stove, water heater, sink and faucet
Specs
GVWR 2250 lb
Hitch Weight 185 lb
Cargo Capacity 865 lb
Exterior Travel Length 11 ft, 9 in
Exterior Setup Length 16 ft, 2 in
Exterior Width 7 ft, 1 in
Interior Height 7 ft
Sleeps 6
Manufacturer/ Contact Jayco, Inc.
574/825-5861
www.jayco.com


Jay Feather Sport 165
Solid wall camping trailer
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Standard Equipment: Marine toilet, outside grill, oven, furnace, propane bottle, outside shower, water heater, power converter, refrigerator and microwave, three-burner cooktop
Specs
GVWR 3500 lb
Hitch Weight 440 lb
Cargo Capacity 590 lb
Exterior Travel Length 18 ft
Exterior Setup Length 18 ft
Exterior Width 7 ft, 7 in
Interior Height 6 ft, 6 in
Sleeps 3-4
Manufacturer/ Contact Jayco, Inc.
574/825-5861
www.jayco.com
GearWagon 125 Camper
Cargo hauler/pop-up camper
Photo 18/18
Standard Equipment: Tent with vestibule, modular decking, extra level for sleeping or gear, leveler kit, SolarVent solar-powered ventilator, torsion axle, LED lighting, 13-inch wheels, polyethylene walls, stainless-steel pin lock
Specs
GVWR 1550 lb
Hitch Weight 35 lb
Cargo Capacity 1000 lb
Exterior Travel Length 10 ft, 3 in Exterior Setup Length 10 ft, 3 in
Exterior Width 6 ft, 6 in
Interior Height 5 ft, 9 in
Sleeps 2
Manufacturer/ Contact Let's Go Aero, Inc.
877/GO-4-AERO
www.letsgoaero.com

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