Tent trailers are a lot like travel trailers, except they collapse for easier storage and transportation. Most of these units have solid sides and roofs, but the roof is split from the sides so that it can “pop up.” That’s why they’re referred to as “tent trailers,” since tent canvas is used to enclose these campers after they’ve been unfolded, or popped up.
In addition to “popping up,” tent trailers often “pop out” as well. The most common configuration involves two fold-out sections, one in the front and one in the rear, that are covered by tent canvas and serve as beds. That frees up the rest of the interior space for living area, and provides a greatly expanded sleeping capacity. Some of the larger tent trailers, which are often just as long as traditional travel trailers, also include slide-outs.
- Lengths (closed) ~8′ – 30′
- Lengths (opened) ~10′ – 35′
- Heights (closed) ~3′ – 6′
- Widths ~6’5″ – 7′
- Weights ~300 lbs – 3,000+ lbs
- Price range (new) ~$2,500 – $15,000+
- Sleeps 2-6
Tent Trailers Come in All Sizes
Pop up tent trailers run the gamut from tiny units that can be towed by passenger cars to behemoths that can only be hauled by a large truck. On the smaller end of the scale, you’ll find true “tent trailers” that are essentially cargo trailers that have tents mounted to them. These tent trailers can double as cargo trailers when they’re folded down, which provides a lot of extra storage space for your gear when you hit the road. However, they typically aren’t the lightest option. While the tent portion typically weighs under 30 lbs, the cargo trailer itself may weigh upwards of 700 lbs.
The lightest pop up tent trailers weigh in at about 200-300 lbs, though some of the most popular, lightest weight models are no longer made. The Coleman Colorado was one particularly popular model that you’ll have to stalk Craigslist, RV Trader, and your local classifieds if you want to get a hold of one. However, there are still a number of featherweights in production that can be towed by passenger cars. Otherwise, you can check out our comparison chart to see the difference between lightweight pop up campers and more traditional travel trailers.
On the other end of the scale, you’ll find tent trailers that rival bigger travel trailers in size. Some “high wall” tent trailers can be nearly 30′ in length when collapsed, and they spread out to well over 30′ in length when opened. These big tent trailers can also be as much as 6′ in height when all closed up. That’s significantly bulkier than the little guys, but these units are still a lot easier to tow and store than similarly sized travel trailers. While 6′ might seem tall, it’s a lot easier to see over and around a big tent trailer than a regular travel trailer when you’re on the road.
While you can build your own tent-on-trailer by mounting a piece of plywood and a tent to your cargo trailer of choice, there are a handful of popular manufacturers that build these units, and they are conveniently available at stores like Kmart and Costco. Some manufacturers that make tent-on-trailers include:
Pop Up Tent Trailer Manufacturers
Some of the best manufacturers are no longer in the game, but there are still a lot of great tent trailer builders out there. Some of the more popular tent trailer manufacturers include: