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There is confusion over the term camper trailer. So what is a camper trailer? A camper trailer is not a travel trailer or RV. They are compact, lightweight, easily towable camping marvels that are a marriage of a tent and a trailer.

Camper trailer features differ between types, styles, and manufacturers. It may have a pop-up roof, extensions, or tent that folds out like a roof top tent.

These unique trailers are designed to maximize space and efficiency. No space is wasted nor is an amenity overlooked. In the smallest of these trailers, internal space is saved by locating portable showers and camping toilets outside the trailer, and kitchens including a fridge/freezer often expand from compartments on the trailer’s side.

Whether you’re looking to rough it or want every modern amenity of home from hot water to reading lights. You can find a camper trailer that’ll meet your needs.

The Different Types of Camper Trailers

There are two different types: on-road and off-road camper trailers and then there are two different styles: hard-floor and soft-floor.

Let’s check out the differences.

On-Road Camper Trailers

On-road camper trailers are just that. Their best use is on paved surfaces and at campgrounds.

Less powerful vehicles are needed for towing on-road camper trailers due to their low weight. Many family cars are fully capable. Be sure to check your user’s manual and make sure you’re well within the towing guidelines for your vehicle.

General Features of On-Road Camper Trailers:

  • Lower ride height
  • Soft suspension
  • Road tires
  • Lightweight
  • Standard frame
  • Minimal underbody protection
  • Sometimes more aerodynamic than off-road versions
  • Best used at campgrounds, sealed roads, very light off-roading
  • Standard towing hitch

Off-Road Camper Trailers

Off-road camper trailers are best used when camping in remote conditions away from traditional campsites. These rugged campers are designed to confidently go almost anywhere your off-road capable 4×4 will go.

Muddy, rocky, sandy, icy terrain? No problem.

General Features of Off-Road Camper Trailers:

  • Increased ride height
  • Firm suspension
  • Off-road tires
  • Heavier than their on-road counterparts
  • Sturdy frame
  • Increased side, top, and underbody protection
  • Sometimes less aerodynamic
  • Aftermarket articulating hitch (also needed by towing vehicle)

Soft-Floor Camper Trailers

Soft-floor camper trailers fold out like a roof top tent. Being a tent in a trailer, they lack some of the internal amenities that might come in hard-floor versions. Instead, portable showers and camping toilets are located outside the trailer, and kitchens including a fridge/freezer often expand from compartments on the trailer’s side.

General Features of Soft-Floor Camper Trailers:

  • Folds out like a roof top tent
  • Longer setup time compared to hard-floors
  • More internal space than a hard-floor once set up
  • Weighs less than hard-floor models
  • Few internal amenities

Hard-Floor Camper Trailers

Hard-floor camper trailers are pop-up campers. Raise the roof and expand. These campers require less effort to set up than soft-floor campers.

General Features of Hard-Floor Camper Trailers:

  • The roof raises and sides expand out from the trailer
  • Quick to set up
  • Often better than soft-floors in inclement weather
  • Less internal space for bedding and storage
  • Weighs more than soft-floor models
  • Greater options for internal amenities


Camper trailers take up much less space than other campers and RVs making them far easier to store when not in use while their smaller size and light weight provide lower wind resistance and fuel savings when traveling.

While you’ll probably need a 4×4 for towing an off-road version, the on-road version can be pulled by many family cars. Camper trailers are downright convenient!

Speaking of convenience, just like larger campers and RVs you don’t have to unload your gear after each use. It’s there for the next spur-of-the-moment camping adventure.

If you’re looking for a step up from, traditional camping tents. Camper trailers are the way to go.

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Steve Hood

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