We love our small travel trailers here at Van Clan, but sometimes it’s healthy to take a step back and think about all of choices that we so fortunately have. We love the freedom, the space, the noise of nature, and cooking outdoors underneath the stars with some of our top cooking accessories (everyone loves a good utensil, but they’re not technically gadgets so we don’t feel bad mentioning them) so having the right small travel trailer means a lot to us.
Most of the campervan conversions that we cover cost the earth and are big behemoths or vintage weekend beauties, but thanks to the surge of affordable small travel trailers on the market we can bring you some cheaper alternatives that will allow you to live like an off grid god. These go in no specific order.
1. Cargo Camper
Finally theres a breed of small travel trailers on the market that will get you off grid without draining your bank account of all of that precious gold. If you’re looking for an all out adventure off road teardrop camper then this won’t be for you, but if material things don’t sway your decision in where and how you camp then this could be the solution that you’ve been looking for.
Meet the Cargo Camper, a small off grid home created and built by Texas-based company Cargo Camp. It’s clean, fresh and functional, and the perfect home from home if you’re solely focused on experiencing the world around you. With LED lighting and USB sockets as standard it has the bare minimum that you need to keep yourself going whilst on the trail – minimalistic living is the future!
Once you step inside the shiny aluminium trailer you’re greeted with everything that you need for comfy off grid living. Theres a wooden table with two bench seats that’s big enough for you to eat your dinner at or play some board games in the evening, and when you’re done eating you can take the table down and fix up your bed for the night. It might not be memory foam or four poster, but it would certainly be comfy enough for us to have a good night sleep on – if you’ve been adventuring hard then you should be tired enough to fall asleep standing up! Theres enough storage for you to stick some food and dry clothes, and the plugs are easily accessible and not in hard to reach places. Light comes in from the large entrance door and the two extra windows, so you don’t need to use your batteries until night time.
Speaking of batteries, you can also purchase a solar package to add on and an external generator, and if you want to hook up to the mains then all of the necessary cables and connectors come as standard.
There’s enough space for you cook in the main living area if the bed is down (if you have something like the iKamper EatOut to hand for example), but once the back hatch lifts up theres enough space for outdoor cooking plus storage for your burner and coolbox. You can add a fridge freezer package if you have some extra money to hand, but this article is about owning a budget trailer camper so you’re going to be cooking fresh food and not frozen goods – get creative!
Not many trailers or campers come with an awning, but this budget trailer camper comes with one as standard! It turns out that you actually get a lot for your money, and speaking of money lets get down to how much everything costs!
You better believe it is! The smaller 5′ x 8′ model pictured above weighs in at $6,750, and the larger 5′ x 10′ unit is priced at $7,000. We DEFINITELY think that you should consider buying this budget trailer camper, because when it boils down to facts and figures the word ‘budget’ only applies to the price.
This trailer has lots of the features, fixtures and fittings of campers that cost twice as much as the Cargo Camper, and it’s built well and made to last. It’s a rugged camper that can withstand harsh conditions and is more than capable of reaching those gnarly off grid hot spots.
2. The Timberleaf Pika
When we first read the name of this trailer we couldn’t see any similarities to the little yellow Pokemon that all know and love/hate with a passion. It turns out that Timberleaf haven’t named their custom small travel trailers after an electric mouse; it’s named after a small breed of mountain rabbit called the American Pika, a daring and speedy little species that spend their time traversing rocky terrain and living off the grid. Now it all makes perfect sense!
The Pika off grid trailer might not look soft and fluffy on the outside, but it’s comfortable and cosy in all of the right places and will keep you warm and dry on those dismal days. There’s a 4″ thick double mattress on the inside for those cosy nights in watching the sun go down, and large netting pockets provide you with lots of space to store your gadgets, maps, books and torches. There’s an insulated roof with a a cabin fan if it gets too hot, and seven bright 12v LED’s provide enough light for you to comfortably see at night time. The large tinted polycarbonate skylight lets you look up at the stars whilst you drift off to sleep, and theres also a slide back cover if you want to turn off your alarm and sleep in – even adventurers like a lie in every now and again!
They sure do! The Timberleaf Pika comes with a Power Centre that would make the Death Star look like a wind up toy, and you can use it to manage all of the 110V power, converter and 12V battery power. This small travel trailer comes with a 100 amp-hour deep cell marine battery, which in turn powers six USB power outlets, two 110v GFCI outlets and one general 12v charger. If you’re a digital nomad on the road then theres no need to worry about your devices running out of juice – the Pika lets you work, rest and play all in one day!
Solar panels, lockable storage boxes, roof racks and outdoor top cooking accessories can all be added as optional extras if you have a little bit more money to burn, though it will all depend on how much time you want to spend in your off grid trailer and how often you plan to use your teardrop camper. Gas props lift up a rear hatch if you want to cook out in the open, and the 35L fridge will make sure that your perishables stay ‘un-perished’ until you decide to chow down on them.
These small travel trailers costs $11’750 (£9111.89) which isn’t a great deal more than the Cargo Camper. It’s a steal and a major lightweight alternative to some of the other bulkier trailers on the market, plus it’s a very viable option if you don’t like the faff of putting up pop up campers. We would definitely recommend spending the extra money on solar panels so that you can stay off grid for a lot longer, but if you’re just after a little weekend getaway camper then the base model should be perfect – weekend warriors and small travel trailers are a great combination!
Like what you see? Check out the Timberleaf Trailers website for more information on the Pika!
There’s a whole range of colours to chose from, and if you’re like me and sit near the top of the tall-o-meter then you can even get the pop top version for that extra head height! And it gets better; you can also upgrade the interior to your exact specification too, adding in a super retro looking kitchenette, a four-berth bed (that’s including the pop top) or a full dining room with a built in kitchen including a fridge and cooker! If you’re a VW lover then we’re guessing you’re bursting with happiness right now…(we know this because we totally are too!)
These small travel trailers is designed to be as smooth and as lightweight as possible, so you won’t have a hard time towing it down those rough country lanes. The range of choice in flooring, blinds, upholstery, cupboards and even worktops ensures each Dub Box is as individual as their owners, so you can make your own Dinky Dub Camper as weird and as wonderful as you!
We’ve already said that one of our pet peeves is not being able to stand up in a camper van or trailer, so we’re super stoked that this Taxa Mantis Trailer has a pop top for extra headroom and extra light. It makes a huge difference when you’re away for a long stint living off grid, and the bright orange fabric means that you won’t miss your small travel trailer in a crowd!
There’s a queen-sized bed for two adults which can be converted into a couch, as well as two adult-sized bunk beds at the front. Other bits and bobs that might interest you are the integrated plumbing and electrical system, a wet bath to keep clean on the go, a fully-equipped kitchen with all of the equipment you might need to whip up a proper meal, plenty of storage space, and a Thule cargo deck and rack on the roof for those bulky items that you don’t want stuck in your living area.
The wet room is a pretty cool addition, and it all stores neatly away in this waist height box so it’s out of view during the day. You’ve got your toilet and shower area all in one small space that’s totally wide enough for you to go about your business but doesn’t take up too much space – it’s as wide as the kitchen unit to give you a general idea. Plus the flip down lid probably turns into a space rocket or a triple decker bunk bed – the Mantis Trailer really does make the most of every inch of space.
It’s clean, it’s as rugged as Tom Sellick’s moustache, and its as light as a trailer sized feather. All in all it’s an awesome bit of kit. We managed to track down one of these small travel trailers online for £24k, which considering how much space you have and the amenities include inside is pretty good value.
The price might be starting to creep up as we get through this article, but we’re starting to see more and more additions and off grid extras that make alternative living a lot easier. Without further ado, let’s check out a teardrop trailer that was purpose built to conquer any terrain.
The company has two flagship models.The Trail Hawk (such a cool name!) from Bear Teardrop Trailers can accommodate two full sized adults or one adult and a small pack of dogs, or a large bear and a small hawk (ok that last one was made up…or was it?) The beauty of these small travel trailers lies in the simplicity of the design; it’s built on a powder coated steel frame with Timbren Axle-Less suspension so it’s extremely durable and made to work well under stress.
These small travel trailers have ample storage and a battery compartment to keep your gadgets geared up when you’re out on the trail. This teardrop is so light that you won’t even notice that you’re towing it behind you, meaning that you could easily pull it behind a small day vehicle like your every day commuter car or something like the Ford Transit Camper.
The major limiting factor for most teardrops is their off-road capabilities, with the campsite usually being the best place for you to pitch up in rather than the deep depths of a mountain forest. Both Bear Teardrop Trailer models come with great clearance, all-terrain tires and are made to handle well on highways and adventure courses alike.The second version of their small travel trailer is called the Apache, and it’s the largest model from Bear Teardrop Trailers. Combine it with one of our best camper vans and you’re suddenly looking at a serious off-road adventure rig that knows now boundaries! The Apache comes with a roof-top tent option that can take the total party up to 4-5 adults, and it’s perfect for small groups or families.
The Apache can carry even more gear by using the built-in storage and roof rack. It comes pre-equipped with propane gas and has all of the necessary connectors to hook up to power if you’re in one place for a long time. The interior has shelving storage and an electrical panel, and the awning makes for the ultimate off grid outdoor party spot!
All of the Bear Teardrop Trailer models come with roof fans to keep you cool and to ventilate the living areas. They are also fitted with porch lights, a 4″ memory foam mattress and are ready for whatever upgrades you might want to throw their way. Choose from sun showers, heaters, rear hitches and awnings to turn your small travel trailers into luxury forest castles. The nice thing about the trailers is that they are ready to camp immediately; there’s not setting up or constructing to do once you arrive at your destination.
7. Sherpa Trailer
First lets take a look at the gadgets outside the sherpa. You’ll find a pop up Alucab roof tent on each of these small travel trailers, making The Sherpa an avid competitor in our top pop up campers list (not only is it a transformer, it’s a hybrid too!) The tent can give you an extra space to store some of your gear and provides an extra sleeping area for friends, family, children, or maybe your spouse if you’ve had a holiday argument. This pop top comes equipped with mosquito proof netting, resilient outlining and three windows, one with a rain stopper that opens to let you experience the full force of all the elements when you please.There’s also an extendable gazebo that pulls out and then wraps around half of the Sherpa trailer (we told you it was a transformer!) giving you 180 degrees of cover in sunny or rainy conditions. Towards the front you have a large window that allows you to gaze into the stars when camping and two entry doors that look a little like large mechanical ears; sorry if you’re listening, Sherpa.In our opinion the back of the Sherpa is where the real magic happens, and by magic we mean where the tasty food is made! These small travel trailers open up at the back to create an incredible off grid living kitchen area. The Sherpa offers ample fridge space with two 30l dometic fridges which will keep your snacks and chilled goods cool and fresh on the go. There’s a two burner hob that also folds out when you need it, a sink (bad news for the people that hate washing up) and oodles of storage space for your pots, pans, spices and sauces. The Sherpa also has an un-clipable outdoor shower curtain that drops down and covers your gems whilst you’re getting wild in the wild, because nobody wants to see those in the cold, and a bear might mistake them for…well you get the message. All you need to do is power up the diesel water heater and this will pump out of a handheld shower head so you can clean yourself, the kids, and your surfboards (and the bears if they’re still watching).
We’ll just like the other small travel trailers that we’re covered there isn’t much on the inside. There’s a 21″ LED TV for you to watch a bit of Netflix on the go, and a double bed for you and another camping buddy to slob out on and watch the day go by.There’s two easy to reach power outlets inside plus plenty of space for you to do your work on the go and hustle for a living. You can hook up with this small travel trailer, but an external solar panel could also keep you charged up on the go.
Apart from being one of the most crazy looking small travel trailers in our list, the Sherpa is one of the only trailers that can turn into a space age-gazebo toting-campground on wheels, and you know that we love anything that looks out of this world (we mention Star Wars often enough after all!) Unfortunately BS Off Road are keeping the price under wraps and only revealing it to customers who are interested, meaning it’s most likely a very large price, but once we know we’ll be sure to pass it on to you!
9. Airstream Basecamp
Feast your eyes upon the upgraded Airstream Basecamp Trailer, which is now super charged with even more exciting and surprising add-ons that you wouldn’t think could fit inside such top eco campers. Airstream are on a mission to prove that good things come in small packages, and their message is certainly getting through!
Some of the features that you’ll find in the standard Airstream Basecamp Trailer are a pre-wired solar kit so that you can save on those energy bills, a plethora (we love that word) of cleverly made storage solutions to hide all of your adventure gear out of sight, easy to reach USB charging points and a clickable technology dock, hot running water and cabin heating for cleansing showers and those cosy nights in, plus some seriously strong stabilising stacks to make sure that you don’t roll down a hill or flop over in a strong wind.
When someone says the word ‘Airstream’ you know that you’re going to be in for a comfortable ride. There’s tonnes of seating room in this towable tiny house, which means that you can really relax and spread out after you’ve got back off the trail, and theres ample air conditioning for those hot summer days and an eco heating system for those chilly winter nights.
The Airstream Basecamp Trailer is one of the only small travel trailers that has a bathroom with a toilet and shower, plus it also has a clothes line so that you can dry your washing on the go (you might need the scrubba wash bag too!). The Basecamp comes with some ultra useful blackout curtains in the bedroom and galley too, and it also has a 2 burner hob in the kitchen so that you can whip up some tasty treats using your top cooking accessories.
The Basecamp Trailer can also be equipped with an an awning and extra roof top tents and accessories, plus with 126″ of useful storage space available inside the main cargo depth of these tiny travel trailers you’ll have no troubles getting to things that you’ve hidden out of site for a rainy day or items that are too bulky to stay in your living area 24/7.
This smaller and slighter sister to the iconic Airstream Trailer will cost you $39’600, and that includes all of the standard accessories that we’ve mentioned above. If you still feel like it’s missing something then you can add additional extras to the interior and exterior of these small travel trailers, but if you’re happy with the look and have your heart set on a mighty camper that can hold it’s own with the Volkswagen California XXL‘s and EarthRoamer‘s of this world then the Airstream Basecamp Trailer is definitely one of the small travel trailers that should be on your list. The price might be low and the camper might be light, but this trailer packs a serious punch!
10. Conqueror Overland Adventure Trailer
You know those tiny houses that seem to just have hidden rooms everywhere and seem to go on for ever? Well the Conqueror Overland Adventure Trailer series of small travel trailers are all just like that, only you can take them anywhere you go and they’re built to be on the front line of the most epic van life stories
This trailer has everything including the kitchen sink. Are you the kind of thrill seeker that needs an outdoor kitchen and a wine holder? You’ve got it! The Conqueror Overland Adventure Trailer series has everything that you could need to have a luxurious and action packed off grid adventure.
These small travel trailers have been tested in the outback and on safari for over 25 years, subjected to the harsh and unforgiving African and Australian wilderness. To cut a long story short they’re rugged, built to last and made to get a beating.
Unlike some of the budget and smaller trailers that we’ve covered there’s no sign of any wood in this camper at all. Conqueror specifically avoid putting wood into their builds because they don’t want their small travel trailers to get damp and then rot. The main construction of the chassis is made out of bent steel instead, with other critical pieces made from thicker sheets that have been laser cut for extra precision.
The inside living area might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but it’s built for comfort and functionality. There’s a double bed up in the pop top sleeping area and a TV for those that like to really feel at home on the road. The interior of these small travel trailers definitely have a strong military theme, but if you’re going to be conquering the wild then it’s probably good to have a strong attitude like a general anyway!
You’ll never be in a situation where you don’t have any power in the Conqueror Overland Adventure Trailer. These small travel trailers come equipped with a Neutron 12 Intelligent Power Management system with Smart Phone apps-110v (which sounds like something that you’d find in the depths of the Starship Enterprise!) There’s 3 LED lights fitted inside, 2 Hella Plugs and 2 battery boxes with circuit breakers for extra safety. You can also add some solar panels to harness the power of the sun! With an onboard 130l water tank too you’re gonna have plenty of H2O for cooking and showering.
You can park the Conqueror Overland Adventure Trailer anywhere and everything is ready to roll. It’s easy to operate and set up, but it would be a little but inconvenient in wet and windy weather. It’s ok saying it’s been tried and tested in Africa and Australia, i.e two hot countries, but I’d like to see this do a stint in the Yorkshire Dales in the middle of the harsh UK winter to see how it holds up.
The whole build is outdoors orientated and it makes you want to be out in the open a lot more. If you’re in a hot environment then everything that you could possibly need is there for you to live the nomadic lifestyle. If you like sitting by a toasty coal fire then this might not be for you, but if you’re already in the market for gnarly small travel trailers then you can’t go wrong with the Megatron of all off road trailers.
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