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If you’re considering traveling in an RV but aren’t sure where to begin, a travel trailer might be a good match for you!
However, the biggest unknown when it comes to travel trailers is knowing what you can and can’t tow. But chances are likely that your vehicle can tow something, including certain travel trailers!
Are you looking for a light enough rig to hit the road with? Then this list is for you! Let’s go over some of the best travel trailers under 4000 pounds, and some other extremely helpful information!
What Weight Can I Tow, Really?
If you’re concerned about towing your travel trailer, you should be aware of the many different weights you should know before you hit the road. They matter because an even distribution of weight is key to towing safely and securely. Plus you never want to go beyond what your tow vehicle can handle!
Thankfully these weights and numbers are fairly easy to understand, and manufacturers always include a starting weight of any travel trailer they make, so that you won’t be entirely in the dark about how much your trailer weighs. Even if you buy used, the weights of your rig should be readily available from the manufacturer or elsewhere. If you’re really in a pinch, you can even weigh your travel trailer at home.
Here are some of the terms you should know when it comes to the weight of your rig, and what it means for you when it comes to finally purchase a lightweight travel trailer!
Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)
This is the maximum allowable weight of a fully-loaded trailer, including liquids, passengers, cargo, and the tongue weight of any towed vehicle (most travel trailers can’t tow an additional vehicle). This is the weight you will want to know before departing on your first camping trip with your new travel trailer! It is the most a trailer can weigh in total, as determined by the trailer manufacturer.
Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR)
GCWR is the maximum weight of your vehicle with a trailer attached, as determined by the vehicle manufacturer. This means the weight of both the tow vehicle and the trailer together. It also includes any cargo or load placed in either vehicle.
Dry Weight or Unloaded Vehicle Weight (UVW)
UVW means the weight of an RV as built at the factory, by the manufacturer. It does not include the weight of the cargo, fresh water, propane gas, occupants, etc. It is the weight of the trailer with nothing extra in it, and is the weight you should know when shopping for a new travel trailer!
Tongue Weight or Hitch Weight (HW)
Also known as tongue weight, HW is the amount of weight of the trailer that is carried on the hitch. You will need to know this weight when shopping for a proper hitch. Hitches are rated both by their towing capacity and their tongue weight. You can learn more about tongue weight capacity (and tricks for increasing it) in this article.
Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR)
GAWR is the maximum allowable weight each axle assembly is designed to carry. This is important to know, because it’s possible to be under the GVWR and still exceed an axle rating, depending on how you load the RV with your personal cargo.
This is a lot of information to digest, but once you get more familiar with travel trailers and what it all means, the various weights of your trailer will make a lot more sense! You will come to understand why it is necessary to know these weights, and the importance of staying within certain ranges depending on your tow vehicle.
Pros and Cons of Travel Trailers
So you’ve looked at the various weights necessary for towing a travel trailer. You know your weight limits for your tow vehicle, and you have to keep it under 4000 pounds. Great! There are a lot of options out there for you.
But what else about travel trailers makes them a good choice for you? And what might be the downsides?
Pro: Set and forget
The main perk of travel trailers in my book is their ability to be left at camp. If you’re on traveling to a new place, seeing new sights, the last thing you want is to travel in an overly large motorhome or camper. The best part of a travel trailer is the ability to leave it behind! Once you unhitch your RV from your vehicle, you’re free as a bird!
Con: Towing is stressful
No matter what specific type of travel trailer you look at, you need to be prepared for one very important detail: your trailer must be towed. This might not be what you are hoping for, but there are a lot of positives to towable travel trailers versus motorhomes. However, towing takes a lot of practice and concentration, so you may consider this a con.
Pro: Light doesn’t mean compromising
Another perk of travel trailers is their lightweight design. Motorhomes and coaches guzzle diesel fuel or gasoline, a huge drawback if you are only planning a small budget for your upcoming trip.
Some travel trailers are so light that you can tow them with the smallest of cars, which means you won’t have to worry about renting or borrowing someone’s large truck to tow your new rig!
Con: Small space
No matter what, a travel trailer may feel like fairly tight quarters. If your tow vehicle can only handle the smallest of rigs, you may not find a travel trailer large enough for your travel plans, especially if you’re traveling with a dog or other pet. No matter how long the trip, travel trailers never feel like they have enough space!
However, there’s always the great outdoors if you’re looking for some time and space to reflect, and the travel trailer will be there when you are feeling relaxed and ready to turn in for the night!
Types of Travel Trailers
If the weight limits and pros and cons haven’t changed your mind, the fun research can begin. There are many different types of travel trailers out there! Heck, you can even find travel trailers with two bathrooms in some cases!
All travel trailers are towed behind a vehicle using classic ball hitches. But how else do they vary from one another? Let’s take a look!
Classic Travel Trailers
The most classic travel trailer you can get may be the right fit for you. And that’s because there are so many different fits!
A classic travel trailer is towed behind your vehicle using a ball hitch, and ranges in length from 10-35 feet. These classic trailers often have four tires total, and are the most traditional set up when it comes to the interior (bedroom, bathroom, living area, kitchen). Slide outs are also a popular feature on nearly all newer travel trailers, allowing you more space on a lightweight frame.
Given the range of length, weight, and specifications possible on classic travel trailers, it is recommended that you check out all of the necessary weight requirements before purchasing one. Some trailers require a heavy duty truck for towing, despite their small size. My vintage rig may only be 19 feet long but given its old metal frame, I need a V8 truck to tow it!
A classic travel trailer may give you the space you want, but make sure your vehicle can tow it! You may also consider the durability of travel trailers; if you’re planning to offroad or venture anywhere remote and unpaved, some travel trailers may not be made for that sort of trek.
The classic travel trailers on this list will be under 4000 pounds, but not all of them are created equal. If you are planning to do your own research and shopping, don’t forget to check your weight limits first.
Toy Hauler Trailers
Looking for a home on wheels that will also transport all of your other recreational toys? A toy hauler does exactly what it says in the name, and may be a good choice for you if you have a lot of other fun vehicles!
Toy haulers are towable rigs and some of the largest travel trailers out there. They come with a fold down ramp often at the back end of the trailer, perfect for wheeling out your ATVs, motorcycles, jet skis, and whatever else you can fit back there!
These trailers are designed as half garage, half living space, with various different layouts affecting the style. The sky’s the limit in terms of customizing your toy hauler but at the end of the day, you need a vehicle that can tow it!
Toy haulers are often the heaviest of travel trailers, as they are carrying even more vehicles inside of them! These are the peak of recreational vehicles, allowing you the maximum amount of entertainment possible, but just make sure you can handle the weight!
However, there are some toy haulers on the market that are under 4000 pounds. You may not be able to bring the whole family plus every single recreational item you own, but there are options out there.
Now that you’ve seen the biggest travel trailer options, let’s take a look at the smallest: teardrop trailers! These little guys are amazing for those of you hoping to tow with your small car, as most teardrops weigh less than 1,000 pounds to tow! What a great idea, making a camper so little! This also means it will be easy to store at your home. What’s the catch?
As I’m sure you might’ve guessed, these trailers are tiny. So much so that for the most part, teardrop trailers only have enough space for a mattress inside. A kitchen is often built off the back of the trailer, which means your cooking must be done outside. There are rarely ever bathrooms, which could be a deal breaker for some of you new campers out there.
However, teardrops are amazing little trailers and are so easy to tow! Their kitchens are often high tech and amazing to have while camping, and I can’t think of a better trailer to bring along on short road trips or wonderful weather outings. These little teardrops are great for you adventurers out there looking to off-road it or travel more ruggedly, and they will almost always weigh less than 4000 pounds.
Pop-Up Travel Trailers
Unconcerned about the elements and looking for the best of both worlds when it comes to trailer towing? How about a pop-up travel trailer, which brings the best of towing, size, and budget to you?
Pop-up trailers are inconspicuous at first, residing inside a flat, easily towable frame. When you arrive at camp, the canvas sides can pop up to create your camper, much larger than teardrops and lighter weight than toy haulers or classic travel trailers. It is a perfect combo of RV and tent, and recommended primarily for camping where the weather is nice.
Some pop-ups even have more rigid sides to their tents in order to better your experience if camping in a colder climate. Given the extra interior space, some pop-ups include bathrooms and living spaces, and usually always have a kitchen. This may make pop-ups a good fit for you if you’re worried about the weight of your rig but don’t want to sacrifice space.
The Best Travel Trailers Under 4000 Pounds
While RVing gets more and more popular, the demand for lightweight rigs has skyrocketed. Here’s what you have all been waiting for: the ultimate list of travel trailers under 4000 pounds!
Best Classic Travel Trailer: Sonic Lite by Venture RV
Looking for a classic travel trailer with many floorplan options, all of which are under 4000 pounds? The Sonic Lite may be what you’re looking for. Venture RV’s single axle travel trailer offers solid construction, with floorplans starting out at a fuel-saving 3,000 pounds!
Sonic Lite features the most interior storage in its class. Interiors are surprisingly spacious – there’s ample storage and this rig boasts many features on a more compact scale. This travel trailer is engineered with a one-piece seamless fiberglass roof system. By arching the roof front to back, this system provides a more durable roof. When it rains, the water runs fore and aft, which means your water worries are a thing of the past!
All of the floorplans vary in terms of their offerings, but most all should include a bedroom with overhead storage, full-length shirt closet and StorMore nightstands with 110V outlet and USB charging port. Double bunk floorplans offer Teddy Bear bunk mattresses, and each bunk has its own window. And the bathrooms include porcelain foot-flush toilet, tub or shower surround and skylight.
Sonic optimizes every possible opportunity to offer virtually unlimited storage, which is a huge perk with lightweight RVs. Exterior features include a power awning with LED lights, nitrogen-filled radial tires and slam latch baggage doors with magnetic catches. There are loads more features I haven’t even mentioned, so definitely check them out!
Best Teardrop Trailer: iCamp Elite
Any teardrop trailer should be under 4000 pounds, which means your options are close to endless. However, the iCamp Elite is one of the few teardrops out there with both a shower and a toilet! Not to mention an interior kitchen! These luxuries may seem silly to mention, but finding the perfect teardrop can be tricky. The iCamp might make the process a bit easier for you.
The iCamp Elite is a fully laminated travel trailer. The body is reinforced with aluminum tubing frames. A high gloss fiberglass skin is laminated over structural Styrofoam made by the Dow Chemical Company. The interior walls are covered with wallpaper for luxury and easy care.
The furniture is sandwich structured made with solid wood and high grade plywood and finished with semi-gloss PU paint for style and durability. The furniture is curved with a style and for the most space usage. This teardrop is equipped with the most classic of travel trailer amenities. Best of all, it is equipped with a spacey one piece modular bathroom with shower and toilet.
This may not be the first rig you think of when someone says teardrop travel trailer (don’t worry, there are a couple other more traditional looks on this list!), but it is a great option. Best of all, you can tow it with ease because it weighs less than 2000 pounds! You can learn more about this compact travel trailer here.
Best Pop-Up Travel Trailer: Clipper Camping Trailer 107LS by Coachmen
Get out and explore with this easy to load, set up, tow and store folding pop-up. Coachmen have been a big player in the RV game for some time, and their reliability stretches from their more traditional trailers into their exclusive pop-up! You can have two queen beds, a kitchen, and many additional features- did I mention all of this for under 2000 pounds? It’s all part of the Clipper Camping Trailer!
If you enjoy relaxing outside, the awning offers some protection from the elements, and if you enjoy relaxing inside, the 70″ gauchos will provide that comfort. You can cook meals using the two burner range and wash dishes in the deep bowl acrylic sink, and the residential laminated countertop offers space to place your things.
You might even decide to include the optional Off-Road package, which offers 15″ off-road tires and a spare, plus length stabilizing extended jacks and more for you to explore even further each trip! Each Clipper is built on an E-coated tubular steel frame, with cable supported structured platform bed system, the J-track metal door hook system, and Velcro attached valances. Plus removable curtains and cushions provide a comfortable and flexible RV experience.
Without a proper bathroom, this may not be the best choice for you, but pop-ups pack a lot of features into a lightweight frame! Plus the option to store a pop-up trailer in your garage or elsewhere is an awesome perk.
Best on a Budget: Micro Minnie 1708FB by Winnebago
A mainstay and a family name, Winnebago has been regarded as one of the best in the RV business for quite some time. They aren’t reinventing the travel trailer wheel, but the Micro Minnie 1708FB is a comfortable and lightweight classic for you, all with an affordable price tag!
If the smallest Micro Minnie floor plan isn’t what you’re looking for, there are ten others to choose from, ranging in size from 19 feet to 25 feet. No matter what, these trailers remain lightweight, easy to tow, and comfortable inside! Winnebago has thought about where to place windows for the best cross breezes, as well as keeping the kitchen and living area open.
If you’re hoping to be outside more than in, this little trailer comes standard with patio speakers, a motorized awning, and slick LED lighting at the touch of a button. You will also enjoy endless exterior storage to make packing up a breeze. The Micro Minnie’s dry weight is just over 3,000 pounds, making it lightweight but probably still necessary to own a larger towing vehicle.
The price on this trailer can’t be beat, and is definitely the most budget friendly on this list. If you’re hoping to start your travel trailer journey with tradition and budget in mind, the Micro Minnie is perfect for you and your lightweight trailer goals! It also made our list of the best travel trailers for solo travel if you’re interested in learning more.
Best Toy Hauler: The Quicksilver VRV XTR 614 by Livin’ Lite
I didn’t even know toy haulers could be made so small until I found Livin’ Lite’s designs. The Quicksilver VRV XTR 614 is an impressive travel trailer, as is the entire Livin’ Lite line. They all boast an anti-rust aluminum frame, which means these toy haulers are lightweight and built to last many generations.
The VRV XTR 614 is only 2,300 pounds and can haul two adult ATVs, perfect for the adventurous pair! It may start off a bit spartan in its layout, but Livin’ Lite leaves the specifications up to you, with loads of add ons. Some of these include a dry bath, outdoor entertainment, screened in back ramp, and uniquely designed fold up furniture.
The other great thing about Livin’ Lite’s customizable design is the ability to have many different sleeping options. No matter who you’re planning on traveling with, you have the option to design your trailer with up to two tip out bunks, leaving you with extra space and extra spots to sleep!
Finding a toy hauler at 15 feet long feels like a one of a kind find, and Livin’ Lite is this in a lot of ways. The price tag may be a bit high if you’re hoping to customize a lot, but it may be worth it to you to find something lightweight and one of a kind!
Best Fiberglass Trailer: Escape 19 by Escape Trailers
Given that I currently full-time in a 19-foot vintage rig, I love to keep an eye on comparable models I might want to upgrade to in the future. The Escape 19-foot model has every amenity you (and I) might be looking for in a lightweight and waterproof fiberglass shell, just under 4000 pounds dry!
The Escape 19 includes lots of room for storage and the ability to sleep 5 with an optional cot, all while being able to be towed by an SUV or small truck. This compact and efficient trailer is a best seller, and one of the most regularly personalized trailers at Escape. The solid one-piece fiberglass shell is strong, durable, easy to clean, and completely waterproof. You will have no concerns about structural issues in the future, which means your resale value will also remain high!
This slightly longer model includes a wet bath, optional raised frame, and loads of standard features. Its non-standard features are also impressive, including solar, additional storage hatches, and interior outlets. Every Escape is made to order from the manufacturer, so if you don’t find a used model that suits your needs, a new one can be made exactly how you like it!
Escape trailers also allow you to customize your flooring, countertop, and fabric choices with whatever you’d like; there is a small additional fee for bringing them your own materials but it is rare to have the option to customize to your heart’s content! I’m saving up for an Escape, and if you’re interested you may want to put a deposit down for their lengthy waiting list now…
Best Off-Road Trailer: The Classic Teardrop Trailer by Timberleaf
The name itself can’t be beat when it comes to teardrop trailers, and Timberleaf knows modern teardrops like no other. Their Classic model is everything you may be looking for when it comes to a teardrop trailer, with even more customizable options than you thought possible in such a small space!
Coming in at 1,500 pounds dry, this little guy can be towed by most any standard vehicle. The main perk of ordering a Timberleaf trailer is their attention to suspension. The Classic Teardrop can come in 3 different suspensions, varying depending on your expected level of adventure. There’s a totally off road option for those of you expecting to be off the beaten path!
There’s no bathroom with this teardrop, but there is an amazing kitchen off the back. Fully customizable, the galley is a stunner and you’ll sacrifice nothing in terms of comfort (except of course a dishwasher!). The interior itself is clean and fits a queen bed. It includes tons of storage so that you don’t have to worry about bringing too much.
The best part of the Classic Teardrop has got to be its large skylight over the bed. Bringing the outdoors in, this skylight is the biggest offered in the teardrop industry, and I couldn’t even imagine how beautiful the night sky looks through it. It may be small, but this trailer makes a huge impact!
Most Unique: The Cricket by Taxa Outdoors
I have to start off by saying that this is not your mother’s trailer. In fact, this little guy is the most unique trailer on this list, fulfilling a classic category! The Cricket pop-up travel trailer by Taxa Outdoors is made for adventurers, outdoor enthusiasts, and designers. How can it please all of these types of people? Through one of a kind building and design.
First off, this little guy is tiny: it is only 15 feet long and less than 7 feet across, and weighs 1,700 pounds dry. While there are countless non-standard features, the Cricket comes built out with a full bed, kitchen, and loads of storage for such a small space. It also has an included cafe table, standard entry door, and a back hatch that opens, allowing even more of the outside in.
The roof pops up, as is the way of pop-up travel trailers, allowing you an extra 3 feet of headroom and windows! These little guys can also come with a portable toilet, outdoor shower, and awnings to fully enclose your outdoor needs. There’s also additional roof racks for storage, but these do not come standard.
What else can be said about the Cricket, besides its eye-catching good looks? It may be at the higher end of your budget and be a bit too unique for the average camper, but if you are up for the challenge, this little pop-up might be exactly what you’ve been searching for! It also made the list of our best travel trailers for couples if you’re looking to hit the road with your partner!
Best with a Bathroom: r-pod RP-180 by Forest River
As an Oregon state camp host, I see these little r-pod trailers everywhere. Ranging in size from 17 feet to 20 feet, r-pod trailers are all the rage right now. I can’t help but wonder why, and now I know. Forest River has been in the business a long time, and they know what RVers are looking for, especially when it comes to lightweight camping!
The r-pod RP-180 is the smallest trailer of this model that still comes with a bathroom. I had no idea how lightweight they could be, coming in at under 3,000 pounds dry! 18 feet shouldn’t be too difficult to control on the road, and you’re getting every amenity you need at a weight you can tow. However, there are around 11 different floor plans to choose from, most all very lightweight and easy to tow, but make sure to confirm your weight limits before falling in love.
With a powder coated steel frame that resists corrosion, this trailer requires little to no maintenance. It can also be designed and ordered with many upgrades such as an entertainment system, solar panels, and even a screened in awning.
With an awning, one easy to operate slide out, and boasting tons of interior and exterior storage, you should feel comfortable camping anywhere, anytime. Even if you’re simply camping for the weekend, this r-pod has everything you need to get cozy and enjoy the great outdoors, and all on an affordable luxury budget!
Towing a lightweight travel trailer is easier now than it has ever been before. No matter your specific amenity needs or wants, there’s a model and design out there for you. And all for under 4000 pounds!