If you’ve got a suitably rated truck or SUV, there’s practically no limit to what travel trailers in the 4,000-plus pound category can offer. What was once a humble RV designed for budget-conscious families has evolved into a broad spectrum of choices, from bunkhouse layouts that can sleep six or more to swanky models that mimic luxury fifth-wheels with slideout rooms, an island kitchen, an electric fireplace, stainless-steel appliances and a king-sized bed.
Everyone loves options, and choice is a great thing — but finding the right travel trailer for your needs and budget should start with the essentials, such as the trailer weight, number of sleeping positions and holding-tank capacities. Beyond that, consider the construction; lower-priced models often have aluminum skin and use wooden framing, while more upscale trailers feature laminated fiberglass side walls and use aluminum framing, which tends to be lighter and stronger. Take a look at the number of exterior storage compartments, and how large they are — especially if you have a family.
How and where you plan to use your trailer can also dictate some equipment choices. For example, if you anticipate long stays in primitive campgrounds with no hookups, you’ll probably want to opt for dual batteries, a solar panel of at least 100 watts to keep them charged, and dual LPG cylinders. If you plan on “four season” camping, you’ll want to seek a trailer that offers a winter package, which may include features like extra insulation, dual-pane windows and heated/enclosed holding tanks. From here, you can start looking at other features that may make your camping experience more fun/comfortable, such as an outdoor kitchen, exterior LPG connection (for your gas grill), power awning with integrated LED lighting and exterior speakers.
Just as important are things that you may not even have considered that will make your trips more convenient. These include a power A-frame jack with light for quicker hitching/unhitching; a black-tank flush port that will speed up time at the dump station; and premium suspension (which could be rubber torsion or leaf springs with shock absorbers). While it’s true no one will be riding in the trailer, this last feature will make your towing experience smoother, help prevent your belongings from bouncing around and can even improve structural life.
Aside from the weight of the trailer, consider its length. More isn’t necessarily better, especially when it comes to maneuvering and parking. If you anticipate a lot of camping in state parks, where roads tend to be tighter and spaces smaller, it’s best to keep the length around 25 feet or less.