Friday, August 16, 2019

Five Bellringer Tiny (or at Least Small) Trailers

Riverside Retro 155XL, recommended by RVingPlanet. 
I recently read the online article "Top 5 Best Travel Trailers Under 2,000 lbs" at RVingPlanet, enjoying the article yet finding myself thinking, "I would have compiled a different list."

Nate Morse, the author of the article, it seemed to me, was too ambitious (or unfocused) in the article, compiling too many possibilities in one list. Here is his listed criteria for creating his list:
"What puts an RV on the list: It’s always a task to make a top 5 list since there are so many good choices, even when you narrow the list down to something very specific such as ones that are under 2,000 pounds. The ones that made it have a good build quality, critic reviews, user reviews and are the latest variants available so you get the state-of-the-art features along with good support!"
However, the five trailers on the list actually included a spectrum of an entire line. Let me provide an example, using the first off the article's list, the Riverside Retro travel trailer. The trailer options have 18 floorplans, running from 1,937-6,100 lbs, sleeping 2-6, and having a length of 13-32 feet. Photos include several floorplans, and the video is for a teardrop/back-galley tiny trailer. I did really like the Riverside Retro 155XL, which is just under 16 feet (at about $19,000). My question is "Which is the best of the Riverside options?" Good trailers and brands were included, but the article adopts a more a shotgun approach. I get it--some folks think 16-17 feet is tiny rather than small. One of the article's choices will also appear on my list, the Geo Pro. In all fairness, I think it's important that, even though not listed as a criterion, price was also a factor in determining Morse's final list.

Although I liked some of the five (actually about 30) trailers chosen, such as the Riverside Retro 155XL, my list will be compiled taking into account communication I've had with trailer owners. They will be more expensive than the trailer I own now, and they will include some shower/toilet and kitchen arrangements inside the trailer. They will be trailers my wife and I have looked at, both online and in person. The 1-5 listing will not be a gradation judgment; rather, I'll list the trailers based on how much interaction I've had with the trailers, companies, owners, and trailer brochures and online material.

TAB 320 from Nucamp

#1. T@B 320

My wife and I looked very hard at the T@B 320 as a possible tiny trailer for us; it is just a bit larger than the trailer we now have. It comes with the option of a shower/toilet (or shoilet!), a kitchen, and is a really nice set-up. Nucamp's 400 model is bigger than we wanted, and I think the larger size lessens the classy look that the 320 has. The 320's length is just under 16 ft and weight just over 1,900 lbs, pricing out at around $20,000 from Nucamp. The deal-breaker for us was that it only slept two; my wife and I want the option for taking our grandchildren every now and then. We still really like the unit, though, and I've interacted online with several happy owners.

* * *

Air Stream Basecamp

#2. Airstream Basecamp

When my wife and I first learned about the existence of the Basecamp, we pretty much flipped at its space age/retro "silver bullet" look. It's one of those designs that just looks so elegant. We spent quite a bit of time researching online, and then I wrote a profile of the Tails of Wanderlust blog Basecamp owner. The base price for the Basecamp is around $37,000, not including the Xtreme version or extras such as solar. It's a hefty price but  . . . ! The length is a little over 16 feet, and the dry weight is 2,635, over 2,000 lbs. There are a lot of particulars to like about the Basecamp, but we especially liked the openness that the windows provide. However, it is built to sleep two, and didn't quite meet our needs. For that price tag, we expect a perfect fit.

* * *

Safari Condo Alto

#3. Safari Condo Alto

The Alto with the retractable roof comes in two models, one with a toilet (R-1713) and one with a shower / toilet (1723). This is a Canadian trailer, made in Quebec. The US dollars price is around $29,000-30,000. The weight for the standard dry version is 1,825-1,867 lbs. The trailer is a little over 17 feet in length. 

Alto, top retracted for travel

When traveling, the top retracts, which reduces wind resistance 76%, according to the builder. It sleeps 3-4 depending on whether one opts for a bunk bed. The toilet/shower utilizes a curtain for the top half, which could be a deal-breaker for some. This trailer fits my wish to have a smaller trailer that we can pull with our SUV and which is not too cumbersome. It fits my wife's desire to be able to take the grandchildren along. It also has that Jetson-yet-retro look to it, which adds swank. Of course, for the price, it should produce more of an OMG reaction than a "that's nice."

* * *

Rockwood Geo Pro G15TB

#4. Rockwood Geo Pro

My wife and I met some new owners of the Rockwood Geo Pro, the 15-foot model, I believe. The G15TB model has an overall length of just short of 16 feet. It's dry weight is 2,483 lbs. The base price is around $25,500. We liked this trailer, although it strongly resembles the mainstream look of larger units, a look we're not enthusiastic about in either large or small versions. The owners were comfortable in it, yet the sleeping capacity was two people. Larger than the T@B 320 yet with fewer windows than the Basecamp or Alto, this is a traditional, smaller American trailer. I'm glad big American travel trailer companies are beginning to manufacture smaller units, and if we decide to buy a trailer with the boxier look American trailers possess, then this would be the first on our list.

* * *

Prolite Cool

#5. Prolite 

Prolite is another Canadian company that sells a line of very light trailers. One tiny trailer owner profile that I wrote about owns a Prolite Cool. He is the administrator of the Facebook group Teardrop Camper Adventures, and travels and lives for long periods in his camper. The Prolite Cool is almost 14 feet in length and sleeps four with front and back beds. It's very light, only 995 lbs. However, it has no toilet or shower or kitchen, making it not much different than our current RTTC Polar Bear, except for the extra length. The owner has added a portable toilet and propane stove. It's a nice rig, but not that different than what I already own. Although I'm not familiar with Prolite's Plus S model, it does have a kitchen, outside shower option, and cassette toilet. It's fifteen feet in length and weighs 1,390 lbs. The Cool costs in USD about $17,000 and the Plus S averages around $21,500 among distributors.

I'm glad I read RVingPlanet's article on what it considers the top 5 small trailers, mostly because I'm glad some of the mass RV builders are beginning to consider and are building smaller rigs--compared to what they have been building. However, there are other builders out there that are mid-level builders, not family businesses but not yet the massive companies. These builders are constructing some wonderful products--some expensive, some less so. I'm sure there are other good small trailers out there they I'm not acquainted with. Leave a comment on this blog post if you know one that builds a small trailer with a shower/toilet and kitchen that sleeps 3-4.

If my wife and I choose to buy a small trailer rather than a tiny trailer, we want it to be a jaw-dropper that fits our needs perfectly. If the trailer just mostly fits our needs, then why buy it? We have a trailer that we paid $7,000 for that now meets quite a few of our needs. After careful consideration, we may spring for a more expensive trailer . . . or a much more expensive trailer. Time will tell. We'll keep you posted. In the meantime, we're enjoying the process.

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  1. thank you for the post. I am researching the tiny campers at this time and your information was very helpful. With the auto I have (Honda Element) to tow with my max is 1500lbs.

    1. Most likely with the Honda Element, you will have to go with the smallest trailers. The trailers in this article are too heavy for the Element. Good luck in your search!