Travel Trailer Types 101: A complete guide to the different styles

If you’re thinking about buying a travel trailer, there are a lot of different options to explore. Travel trailers are versatile campers and they come in a wide range of sizes, weights, and formats. Because of all these options, almost every kind of car can tow at least one type of travel trailer. This has made them popular choices in the RV community.

The different types of travel trailers are:

  • Classic Travel Trailers
  • Toy Haulers
  • Teardrop Trailers
  • Stand-up Trailers
  • Pop-up Trailers (aka Camper Trailers)
  • Airstreams

Each of these individual types come with different amenities, floor plans, layouts, and dimensions. There are so many different companies and manufacturers as well, and this can make the exploration overwhelming. Below we’ll look at each type of travel trailer and see what you can expect from them.

Classic Travel Trailers

The title of “travel trailer” can apply to a lot of different campers. There are different qualities that separate one type from another, but let’s start by defining what a classic travel trailer is.

Generally speaking, a travel trailer is a camper than is pulled behind a car. They require standard ball hitches, or weight distribution hitches if they are particularly long or heavy models. Classic travel trailers are tall enough for people to fully stand up in, and generally consist of a mobile living space on the inside. They have firm exterior shells and are between 10 feet to 35 feet long.

Specifics vary from one model to another, but many classic travel trailers include a bedroom, a bathroom, a kitchen/ dining area, an entertainment center, and storage spaces built into the walls.

To increase their square footage, many classic travel trailers include slide-outs. These are sections that are designed to extend outward when the trailer is parked. Large furniture and kitchen appliances are often built into these slide-outs so that they are out of the way when passengers want to move around the space.

Classic travel trailers have a wide range of sizes, but they are generally the type that will include the largest and most luxurious models. While these trailers can be pulled by any car with a high enough towing capacity, usually only heavy-duty trucks can pull the largest travel trailers. If you’re interested in a classic travel trailer, you need to make sure that your tow vehicle can handle the weight before you commit.

Below, I’ve picked out a few examples of classic travel trailers for you to check out. This will give you an idea of what these trailers can offer, as well as an idea of what to expect as you explore further.

EVO 208RD

  • Unladen Vehicle Weight: 4,273 lbs.
  • Hitch Weight: 565 lbs.
  • Cargo Carrying Capacity: 3,292 lbs.

For more information on this trailer, including other floor plans and more detailed specifications, feel free to visit their website here.

Heritage Glen Hyper-LYTE 22RBHL

  • Unladen Vehicle Weight: 5,413 lbs.
  • Hitch Weight: 570 lbs.
  • Cargo Carrying Capacity: 2,157 lbs.

For more information on this trailer, including other floor plans and more detailed specifications, feel free to visit their website here.

Wildcat MAXX 262RGX

  • Unladen Vehicle Weight: 8,847 lbs.
  • Hitch Weight: 1,660 lbs.
  • Cargo Carrying Capacity: 3,013 lbs.

For more information on this trailer, including other floor plans and more detailed specifications, feel free to visit their website here.

Toy Haulers

Toy haulers are travel trailers that are specifically designed to carry large amounts of cargo, camping equipment, or even small recreational vehicles. These 4-wheelers, UTVs, jet skis, and other “toys” are perfect cargo for this type of camper!

Because they need to carry large equipment, toy haulers are often about the same size as classic travel trailers. In some cases, the two of them can actually combine into the single unit!

There are a lot of travel trailers that have garage space in the back, or furniture that can be removed/ stowed away to make room for extra cargo. Layouts like this offer a combination of living space and storage space, which is nice for people who want the best of both worlds.

Almost every toy hauler has a ramp or lift of some sort that leads to the garage. This makes it easier for people to load their heavy equipment into the back. This loading gear can then either retract inward or fold against the back of the trailer.

Toy haulers might be a bit of a compromise for people who want a living space combined with a garage. Your elbow room will be limited a little more than usual due to the large amount of space that a garage requires.

You will also need a fairly hardy tow vehicle to pull a toy hauler. The’re typically pretty heavy as is, and when you add the weight of extra vehicles and heavy cargo, they become hard to move. Trucks are usually the best bet for towing toy haulers, but if you have another kind of strong tow vehicle, you can see if you can find a toy hauler that will fit within its maximum weight limitations.

I’ve picked out a few of my favorite toy haulers below, including models that have combined living space. Check them out and see if they seem like they could be a good fit for you.

Sandstorm T251SLC

  • Unladen Vehicle Weight: 7,499 lbs.
  • Hitch Weight: 1,055 lbs.
  • Cargo Carrying Capacity: 2,500 lbs.

For more information on this trailer, including other floor plans and more detailed specifications, feel free to visit their website here.

Grey Wolf 27RR

  • Unladen Vehicle Weight: 5,960 lbs.
  • Hitch Weight: 934 lbs.
  • Cargo Carrying Capacity: 1,974 lbs.

For more information on this trailer, including other floor plans and more detailed specifications, feel free to visit their website here.

Ozark 2500TH

  • Unladen Vehicle Weight: 4,913 lbs.
  • Hitch Weight: 635 lbs.
  • Cargo Carrying Capacity: 2,722 lbs.

For more information on this trailer, including other floor plans and more detailed specifications, feel free to visit their website here.

Teardrop Trailers

Teardrop trailers are miniature travel trailers that can be towed by pretty much any vehicle. These are designed to be ultra-light and every part of them has been refined to be compact and streamlined. They really make the most of their limited floor plan and manage to include a good amount of comforts and amenities!

Many teardrop trailers weigh less than 1,000 lbs. which makes them attractive to people with small tow vehicles. They’re also quite compact, so they’re easy to park in a garage or store over the winter. No special garage needed here!

Unfortunately, due to their tiny size, teardrop trailers don’t typically include bathrooms. Most of their interior is taken up by a mattress or sofa bed. Some models prioritize living space over sleeping space though and include a table and a good amount of storage.

Almost every teardrop trailer includes a cooking and meal prep station though, so you can bring your cooking on the road with you. In many cases, the back of the teardrop can flip open, revealing a countertop, set of storage drawers, a mini-fridge/cooler, and some other optional kitchen appliances. Outdoor stoves are common in these setups.

Teardrop trailers are perfect additions to camping outings and short-term road trips. They aren’t designed for long treks across the country and can only hold so much cargo after all! All things considered though, they offer a good amount of comfort for such small trailers.

I’ve picked out a few teardrop trailers to talk about below. Each teardrop is unique from the others, so it’s important to thoroughly explore all of your options.

Polydrop Trailer Limited Edition

  • Unladen Vehicle Weight: 760 lbs.
  • Hitch Weight: 80 lbs.
  • Cargo Carrying Capacity: N/A

For more information on this trailer, including other floor plans and more detailed specifications, feel free to visit their website here.

Mean Bean Teardrop Trailer

  • Unladen Vehicle Weight: 1,650 lbs.
  • Hitch Weight: 200 lbs.
  • Cargo Carrying Capacity: N/A

For more information on this trailer, including other floor plans and more detailed specifications, feel free to visit their website here.

Timberleaf Classic Teardrop Trailer

  • Unladen Vehicle Weight: 1,400 lbs.
  • Hitch Weight: 150 lbs.
  • Cargo Carrying Capacity: N/A

For more information on this trailer, including other floor plans and more detailed specifications, feel free to visit their website here.

Stand-up Trailers

Stand-up trailers (sometimes called standys) are similar to teardrop trailers in the sense that they are miniaturized travel trailers that can be towed by a wide variety of vehicles.

They differ from teardrop trailers in their general design and dimensions. While teardrop trailers generally have beds and sleeping space as their main priority, stand-up trailers are more varied in their interior contents. They are also designed to be tall enough for people to comfortably stand up in and are taller than most teardrop trailers for this reason.

Stand-up trailers don’t have a standard design to refer to because every manufacturer makes them differently. Some of them so include full beds, while others might have bathrooms and interior cooking space. Many stand-ups have dining/relaxation areas that can be converted into sleeping space when it’s needed.

Stand-up trailers aren’t quite as common as other types of travel trailers, but they are a good option for any interested buyer to look into. They’re still small enough to be pulled by most types of tow vehicle, but also include a bit more variety than teardrop trailers.

To help you out in your search, I’ve collected a few stand-up trailers for you to check out!

Little Guy MeerKat

  • Unladen Vehicle Weight: 900 lbs.
  • Hitch Weight: 100 lbs.
  • Cargo Carrying Capacity: (approximately) 1,000 lbs.

For more information on this trailer, including other floor plans and more detailed specifications, feel free to visit their website here.

5×8 Standy Teardrop

  • Unladen Vehicle Weight: 998 lbs.
  • Hitch Weight: (approximately) 100 lbs.
  • Cargo Carrying Capacity: N/A

For more information on this trailer, including other floor plans and more detailed specifications, feel free to visit their website here.

ProLite Suite

  • Unladen Vehicle Weight: 590 lbs.
  • Hitch Weight: 55 lbs.
  • Cargo Carrying Capacity: N/A

For more information on this trailer, including other floor plans and more detailed specifications, feel free to visit their website here.

Pop-up Trailers (aka Camper Trailers)

Pop-up trailers are interesting travel trailers that bridge the gap between tents and RVs. During travel, these trailers mostly resemble classic travel trailers. Once they’re parked though, they have sections that extend outward. These fold-outs are usually enclosed by a layer of canvas or other weather-proofed fabric.

The fold-outs on these trailers typically include the main sleeping spaces. Because these fold outwards from the rest of the interior, it frees up more living space once the trailer is parked. This expanding living space is attractive to a lot of camper fans!

There are two main sub-types of pop-up trailers, those being soft-sided and hard-sided trailers. Soft-sided pop-ups have canvas sides and have better airflow. These are great for people who enjoy the open-air feeling of outdoor camping.

On the other hand, hard-sided pop-ups have sections that are stiff and insulated against the elements. These don’t have the canvas coverings, so their interiors are more sheltered. They’re less exposed, but also more enclosed than those with soft sides. Depending on your personal camping preferences, one of these will work better than the other.

Pop-up trailers are meant to function as easy-to-set-up campsites and are formatted for quick and easy access. They usually include cooking attachments, whether inside or outside, and many of them have bathrooms and dining space built into the interior.

If you love the outdoors but still want to enjoy the comforts of home, then a pop-up trailer might be the perfect match for you. They’re usually lighter than most classic travel trailers, but you’ll still need to make sure that you have a tow vehicle that can handle them.

I’ve found a few pop-ups that will be good introductions to this type of trailer. You can check them out below!

Rockwood Tent 1940LTD

  • Unladen Vehicle Weight: 1,608 lbs.
  • Hitch Weight: 195 lbs.
  • Cargo Carrying Capacity: 683 lbs.

For more information on this trailer, including other floor plans and more detailed specifications, feel free to visit their website here.

Flagstaff Hard Side Pop-up T21DMHW

  • Unladen Vehicle Weight: 2,700 lbs.
  • Hitch Weight: 353 lbs.
  • Cargo Carrying Capacity: 653 lbs.

For more information on this trailer, including other floor plans and more detailed specifications, feel free to visit their website here.

Shamrock 233S

  • Unladen Vehicle Weight: 5,063 lbs.
  • Hitch Weight: 708 lbs.
  • Cargo Carrying Capacity: 1,645 lbs.

For more information on this trailer, including other floor plans and more detailed specifications, feel free to visit their website here.

Airstreams

Airstreams are a specific brand of travel trailer that are unique in their appearance and overall design. They come in a range of lengths and weights, but every airstream has rounded ends. Each airstream is also plated with a shiny metallic covering, giving them a distinct appearance that makes them immediately recognizable.

Unlike classic travel trailers, airstreams don’t include any type of slide-outs or floorplan extensions. In spite of this limitation, these trailers still manage to utilize their space very well and create a comfortable living area.

Most airstreams will be able to incorporate a bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, dining area, relaxation area/entertainment center, and a good amount of storage space in their floor plans.

Because of their fairly large sizes, you will usually need a pretty strong tow vehicle to tow one of these travel trailers. There are miniature airstreams on the market, but even these are still relatively heavy, so keep your eye on their weights.

You’ll also need to find a good supplier if you’re interested in buying an airstream. Because it’s a brand, not just a trailer design, you can only buy them from select dealers or second-hand sources. Airstreams are also less popular than other types of trailers, so the market isn’t as open for them. There is still a niche market for those who are interested though, and Airstream is consistently selling and releasing updated models.

I’ve pulled a few airstream models below for you to check out. On the outside, they might look similar, but don’t let that fool you! Their interiors have a lot of variation and great amenities.

Classic 30RB

  • Unladen Vehicle Weight: 7,788 lbs.
  • Hitch Weight: 886 lbs.
  • Cargo Carrying Capacity: 2,212 lbs.

For more information on this trailer, including other floor plans and more detailed specifications, feel free to visit their website here.

Globetrotter 23FB

  • Unladen Vehicle Weight: 5,297 lbs.
  • Hitch Weight: 591 lbs.
  • Cargo Carrying Capacity: 1,003 lbs.

For more information on this trailer, including other floor plans and more detailed specifications, feel free to visit their website here.

Caravel 16RB

  • Unladen Vehicle Weight: 3,500 lbs.
  • Hitch Weight: 490 lbs.
  • Cargo Carrying Capacity: 800 lbs.

For more information on this trailer, including other floor plans and more detailed specifications, feel free to visit their website here.

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