We’re just going to come right out and say it: Lots of us love tent camping. There’s just something about the challenge of the set-up, cooking on a camp stove and being so close to nature. Would we trade it for a good RV? Heck no … but you can still crave hamburgers when your favorite food is lobster, right? Where were we going with this? Oh yes … that folding trailers are the perfect upgrade if you love tents, but want to rough it a little more smoothly.
Tent trailers, in particular, do a great job of bringing the outdoors in, with cloth walls and plastic windows that can be unzipped to let the sweet breeze blow through. These trailers typically have a roof that cranks up, and beds that deploy from each end like drawers, after which the fabric is pulled over them. They can be a challenge to set up at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll find it gets easier and faster every time.
Folding trailers offer several key advantages over other trailer types. Smaller models are very lightweight, which makes them easy to tow with a small SUV or even a passenger car that doesn’t have a high tow rating. The low travel height means better aerodynamics when towing, and you can load active lifestyle gear like bikes or kayaks on the roof. They’re easy to store, too — if you’ve got a space in your garage or in your driveway, a folding trailer will usually fit right in.
If you want something a little more sturdy and/or weatherproof, hard-sided trailers are also available — from models with interlocking exterior panels to “clamshell” designs with a roof that collapses over the lower half. Early on, most folding trailers were equipped only with beds, a modest kitchen and little else, but today, it’s possible to find fully equipped units with all the comforts of a typical travel trailer, including a toilet and even a shower (yep, it folds, too).
So-called “A-frame” trailers, as the name would suggest, look like an “A” or a triangle when set up. These usually employ spring-loaded roof sections that rise into place, followed by the front/rear panels and entry door. They’re a good choice if you want quick set-up and hard walls, but interior headroom tends to be limited everywhere except for the middle on the more basic models. Newer, larger models, however, are available with panels that pop out of the roof sections, providing more space for your noggin at the front and rear of the trailer.
Clamshell models tend to be the biggest and heaviest of the genre, and really have more in common with travel trailers than other folding units — but they’re a great choice if you want a fully equipped travel trailer that can still fit in your garage or storage unit.