What people want in a camper that will fit their needs and wants covers a broad range of features. This article focuses on campers, not motorhomes. Recreation Vehicle, or RV, covers all terms including motorhomes, camper trailers, popups, etc. RV is used to describe all of these vehicles. A camper trailer is a trailer pulled behind a vehicle on a hitch.
New campers can cost $20,000 to $30,000, and much more depending on size and features. Used campers cost much less. But used camper buyers may not find hidden problems until they actually begin using them. Buying a new camper is the best option for people who have never owned one before and provides a much better experience. The RV industry describes the types of RV campers as travel trailers, fifth wheel, lightweight trailers, and toy haulers.
A travel trailer employs a hitch secured to the frame of your tow vehicle along with specialized hardware to make towing safe and easy. They are 13 to 40-feet in length.
Lightweight RVs can be towed with light-duty trucks, SUVs, crossovers, and cars. They are made from lighter materials and aerodynamically shaped. Lightweights are designed to keep towing weight down, sometimes reducing it by thousands of pounds. They are usually about 20 to 24-feet long. Some people call this style of camper a “bumper-pull” to distinguish it from a fifth wheel RV.
The “fifth wheel” in the name refers to the U-shaped coupling mounted onto the cargo bed of the tow truck. A pin-box on the front of the fifth wheel camping trailer locks onto the fifth wheel coupling on the truck. It is similar to the device found on over-the-road tractors hauling commercial semi-trailers. They are 25 to 40-feet long.
A toy hauler can be a travel trailer, fifth wheel, or motorhome possessing some of the attributes of each, and include a mini garage for your motorcycles, ATVs, etc. in the back of the toy hauler, plus a huge ramp door for easy loading and unloading. The front of a toy hauler is the sleeping/living area. They are 21 to 40 feet long.
Best Selling Campers
What most people do not know is that Thor Industries owns some of the best selling camper brands. The name of the company comes from the names of the founders, Wade Thompson and Peter Orthwein. They used the first two letters of their names together. ‘TH’ from Thompson and ‘OR’ from Orthwein. Thor Industries owns some of the best selling brands in the RV industry, like Airstream, Heartland RV, Hymer, Dutchmen, Jayco, Keystone RV, and Thor Motor Coach.
Of these brands, the Jayco Flight series are the best selling campers since 2005, when Jayco began manufacturing the series. Over 171,000 Americans are Jayco Flight owners as of 2021. Jayco Flight’s solid construction practices, weatherproofing design, and extensive warranty help to make this company an industry leader.
Best Travel Trailers Under 5,000 Pounds
There are many destinations when you get into the wilds with a camper where there is a load limit on roads and bridges. At Lakehub.com, we run across numerous camping destinations where the operating entity warns that there is a 5,000 lb load limit.
However, there are pros and cons that can affect your camping experience in these smaller, lightweight campers. The RV industry rates RV weight in two ways: dry/unloaded weight and gross/loaded weight. When you think of your camper weight, you need to add the weight of everything you put in your camper plus the weight of the people who are traveling in it so you know your load limit.
What’s good about light-weight campers?
- Towable by smaller vehicles: You don’t need a massive truck to tow a 5,000- pound RV trailer. Instead, these rigs can be well-handled by a half-ton pickup, SUV, or car.
- More campsite options: 5,000 pound campers are also usually shorter campers. This means that ultra-light campers can tuck into the tight spaces usually found in national/state parks, public lands, and even some smaller RV parks.
- Less weight = less gas money
- More maneuverable: If you miss a turn in massive RVs, you usually have to drive around for 10 minutes to find a road large enough to get back on track. Smaller campers are more negotiable, making RV travel less stressful.
What’s bad about light-weight campers?
- Fewer amenities: While 5,000 lb. trailers have come a long way, they lack amenities like the outdoor kitchens, extra bathrooms, and extra sleeping space that larger rigs have.
- Fewer or no slide-outs
- Less storage space
- Very few options for ultra-light fifth-wheel campers.
- Smaller tank sizes: Freshwater, gray water, and black water tanks are smaller in these camper, which limit your dry camping duration.
It is difficult to research the “best of” anything these days because so many websites are paid to promote products or earn affiliate income. We researched the “best travel trailers under 5,000 pounds” websites and looked the brands that showed up on each website. These models showed up on most of the numerous “best campers under 5,000 pounds” websites.
- Airstream “Bambi” Sport 22FB
- Airstream Sport Travel Trailer
- Forest River R-Pod 193
- Forest River Wolf Pup 18TO
- Gulf Stream Vista Cruiser
- Jayco Hummingbird 17RB
- Jayco Jay Flight SLX 224BH
- Winnebago HIKE
Best Travel Trailers for the Money
When it comes to this topic, the best campers for your money include lightweight and larger campers. These models showed up consistently as the best buys for your money in campers.
Forest River is a large company that has a big selection of RVs. Of all of their models, the Cherokee Alpha Wolf 26DBH-L is one of their most popular trailers. It’s not the cheapest model on the market, but you’ll get a wonderful value for your money. The Forest River No Boundaries line is a rugged travel trailer series under $25,000 MSRP.
Jayco offers several affordable options, including some that are priced below $10,000. This is an exceptionally low price for a new RV, but you’d never know that from the quality, which is exceptional in its own right. They are available in sizes ranging from 16 to 36 feet, and the Jay Flight SLX is one of Jayco’s most sought-after budget models.
The Coachmen Freedom Express is a broad collection of travel trailers, including a variety of floor plans and options. For example, you can modify some of them to include a hide-a-bed and extra storage options. This camper has everything you might need while on camping, even in its basic form. The expandable panel and the bedroom curtain offer you privacy, comfort, and versatility. Their average cost is $26,000 to $39,000, depending on model, floor plan, and year.
If you’re thinking about buying a used pop-up camper, don’t miss out on this video: