Although cargo trailers and travel trailers have both been around forever, they were only combined to create the “sports utility RV” or “toy hauler” in the last ten years or so. The toy hauler market really took off right around the 2003-2004 model years, and this style of travel trailer is hugely popular among offroad enthusiasts who like to bring their ATVs and other “toys” along when they go camping. There are even toy hauler fifth wheels and motorhomes on the market, allowing just about anyone to get in on the fun. But what about people whose car or truck can’t handle the load of both an ATV and a full-sized travel trailer at the same time? Well, that’s where the pop up toy hauler comes into play.
Pop Up Toy Hauler Vs. Travel Trailer Toy Hauler
Toy haulers are essentially a mashup between travel trailers and cargo trailers. The front half of a toy hauler is typically indistinguishable from other travel trailers in its class, with living quarters, sleeping accommodations, kitchen facilities, a head, and everything else you’d expect out of a travel trailer. The difference is the back part of the rig, which is basically a cargo trailer that you can use as a rolling garage. To that end, the back end of a toy hauler will typically fold out into a ramp that you can use to load an ATV, snow machine, golf cart, or even a small car into the back of the trailer.
Toy hauler designs vary a great deal from one manufacturer to another, since there aren’t any overarching regulations that define exactly what a toy hauler has to be. In some cases, the cargo portion is divided from the travel trailer section by a solid wall (which will often have a door for easy access.) In other cases, there’s a curtain in between the sections, and sometimes there’s nothing at all. In the latter situation, the rear part of the toy hauler will often contain fold-down benches or bunks so that real estate can be reclaimed as livable space after you reach your destination and unload your toys.
While toy haulers are great at what they do, there’s inescapable truth associated with this type of RV: they weigh a lot. And not only do they weigh a lot — they weigh even more when they’re fully loaded. So even if your small truck or crossover has the guts to tow your ATV or a lightweight pop up camper, a fully-loaded toy hauler is probably out of the question.
That’s where a little RV known as the pop up toy hauler comes into play. Unlike traditional toy haulers, the pop up camper toy hauler doesn’t have an enclosed garage space. Instead of being a cross between a travel trailer and an enclosed cargo trailer, these RVs are more like a cross between a pop up camper and an open cargo trailer. In fact, some of them are essentially an open cargo trailer with a specially-designed tent mounted on top.
Weighing the Pop Up Toy Hauler Options
In order to demonstrate the differences between traditional toy haulers and pop up toy haulers, we’ll take a look at some of the rigs in Palamino RV’s current lineup. While there are a lot of RV manufacturers that build toy haulers, and a number of them that build pop up toy haulers, there aren’t a lot that do both. So looking at Palaminos will let us compare apples to apples where weight is concerned. We’ll also throw in a tent-on-trailer unit from Lifetime Products into the mix in the interests of showing how a cargo/tent trailer combo weighs in.
Travel Trailer and Pop Up Camper Toy Haulers
|Model||Type||Length||Dry Weight||Cargo Capacity|
|Palamino 298-FQU||Fifth Wheel||30' 11"||7,629 lbs.||3,433 lbs.|
|Palamino 21-TFB||Travel Trailer||24' 10"||5,257 lbs.||2,516 lbs.|
|Palamino BSV-1||Tent Trailer||17' 0"||2,111 lbs.||1,210 lbs.|
|Lifetime Sahara||Tent-on-Trailer||10' 6"||700 lbs.||1,250 lbs.|
For the purposes of this comparison, we’re looking at Palamino’s shortest fifth wheel toy hauler, shortest travel trailer toy hauler, and their pop up toy hauler with the largest carrying capacity, so there is some variation on both ends of the scale. However, it’s easy to see a handful of things by glancing at these numbers. Fifth wheels are obviously a lot heavier than travel trailers or tent trailers, but you also need a heavy duty truck (with a special hitch) to tow them. Of course, you can also haul a lot more weight in a fifth wheel than in a travel or tent trailer.
Looking at the BSV-1 pop up toy hauler and the 210-TFB travel trailer, you can see that the travel trailer can only handle about half the weight. That means you may be restricted on exactly what you can bring along, but that shouldn’t be an issue if your ATV weighs in at around 500lbs and the pop up toy hauler can handle over 1,200. Of course, the tent trailer also has a dry weight that’s about half of the travel trailer, so you can tow it with a much smaller vehicle.
It’s also worth noting that while the tent trailer in this example is about seven feet shorter than the travel trailer, that’s its “closed” length. When you get to where you’re going and set the BSV-1 up, it closes about half of that gap (the rear bunk adds 54′ of length, while the front 60′ bunk extents over the front storage deck and tongue and doesn’t add any overall length.)
Tent Trailer Toy Haulers
The last pop up toy hauler in our example was Lifetime Products’ Sahara, which is a little bit different from most tent trailers. Instead of having a solid roof with tent canvas walls and pop outs, the Sahara is essentially a cargo trailer that has a pop up tent mounted on the deck. That’s why it has such a low dry weight, even though it can actually carry a little bit more than Palamino’s BSV-1 more traditional pop up toy hauler. If your hauling capacity is on the low end, that might make a world of difference.
Pop Up Toy Hauler Manufacturers
Some of the manufacturers of pop up toy haulers include: