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Lightweight Campers (<1,500lbs) For Light, Nimble Travels

Lightweight Campers (<1,500lbs) For Light, Nimble Travels

RVs come in many shapes, sizes, and designs and each is right for a particular type of traveler/camper. For some, lightweight campers under 1500 lbs hit a sweet spot that allows them to tow their little rig without needing a huge truck while providing all the comforts they desire in a camper.

In today’s post, we’re looking at lightweight travel trailers that are easy to tow. These allow RVers to drive a smaller tow vehicle and get better gas mileage compared with using a large SUV, minivan, or pickup truck.

What Are Some of the Best Lightweight Campers Under 1,500 Pounds?

Small campers can be a cost-effective way to get into RVing. Not only can they be relatively inexpensive to buy, but some are so lightweight that they can even be towed with some passenger cars.

Remember that the advertised weight of most trailers is just the empty weight of the camper itself, with no water or gear on board. So, you’ll need to be careful because when you add your gear and fill the fresh water and propane tanks, you may have a significantly heavier rig.

The key is to take note of the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) which is the maximum allowable total weight of the camper when fully loaded. When you see the dry weight listed (or UVW — Unloaded Vehicle Weight), that’s the weight of the unit as shipped from the manufacturer without cargo, fuel, additional accessories, and, of course, people.

Small travel trailers include everything from pop-ups to teardrop campers to a variety of small towables. Some have room only for a bed and a few personal items, while others have sleeping space for several people, an RV wet bath, and a small galley. Those models qualify as self-contained RVs, meaning they have everything you need to live in them comfortably, if compactly. However, they’re also more likely to require a heavier vehicle to tow them.

Many small-ish travel trailers are still pretty substantial, requiring at least a half-ton truck for towing — like our 2024 GMC Sierra 1500 Duramax Diesel with which we tow our new Outdoors RV Creekside 19MKS — GVWR: 8,250 LBS. But many RV manufacturers offer cool little RVs that are so lightweight they can be towed by a small SUV, a compact or mid-size pickup truck, or even some passenger cars.

These little rigs are so small that many can fit inside a standard garage and can be moved around handily with an adjustable trailer dolly like this one:

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Here are five fun little campers that weigh in under 1,500 pounds:

Aliner Ranger 10

You may have seen our post on Aliner’s range of small, medium, and larger campers. The Ranger 10 falls into the “small” category, which features rigs with 10-foot cabins on 13-foot frames. They’re great for solo campers or couples.

The Aliner Ranger 10

The Aliner Ranger 10 is one of Aliner’s small A-frame campers. (Photo source: Aliner)

The Ranger 10 is 12’8″ long and weighs approximately 1,300 lbs with a 3,000-lb GVWR. The dry tongue/hitch weight is around 175 lbs.

PRO TIP: When your trailer is fully loaded, a safe target tongue weight should be between 10% and 15% of the trailer’s total weight. So, if your loaded trailer weighs 2,000 lbs, the tongue weight should be between 200 and 300 lbs. Adjust cargo as needed to achieve that balance.

Among the Ranger 10’s amenities are 10″ electric brakes, dual propane tanks, a 2-burner stove, an indoor/outdoor 12V refrigerator/freezer, 4 stabilizer jacks, an 11-gallon fresh water tank, and an outside shower. You can even get an off-road package and take your little Aliner off the beaten path with the family SUV (depending on its tow rating and off-road capability). See our full post on a long list of the best SUVs for towing.

Depending on the specs you choose, you’ll pay around $21,500. for a Ranger 10 as of this writing.

Little Guy Trailers MeerKat

Little Guy Trailers brings the MeerKat to the small camper lineup for a rig that’s a big step up from a tent but is small enough and light enough to be towed by many typical family vehicles.

A MeerKat camper

The MeerKat can fit inside a standard garage, but when you’re out camping you can pop the roof to gain extra height. (Photo source: Little Guy Trailers)

The standard MeerKat model sleeps 2 and is 13′ long by 5′ wide, with an interior height of 6’1″. Its dry weight is 1,180 lbs, and its tongue weight is 120 lbs. This little camper is small enough to fit inside a standard garage but has a pop-top roof that gives it extra height when camping.

Standard features include a 12-volt/120 power system, LED lighting, and an ice box or optional refrigerator. You’ll build your MeerKat based on your chosen specs, but the average MSRP is around $30,000.

TAXA TigerMoth

You may have seen our post on TAXA Trailers, the tiny RVs from Texas that are called “habitats” and have just enough interior space to get you out of the elements to rest. If you don’t have enough storage space in a tiny travel trailer like this, you can always mount a storage unit on a roof rack on your tow vehicle.

With standard features, TigerMoth habitats have a 1,310-lb dry weight and a GVWR of 2,200 lbs. With just 40 sq ft of interior space, it has an interior height of 3′ 9″ to 4′ 7″.

A TAXA TigerMoth fully set up with kids in the rooftop tent

The tiny TigerMoth sleeps two inside (but you’d better really like each other), and an optional rooftop tent provides sleeping space for a couple of kids. (Photo source: TAXA Outdoors)

At under 13 feet long, the TigerMoth can sleep two adults, or bring a small guest or two along with the optional rooftop tent. It features an indoor/outdoor design and a slide-out camp kitchen.

You’ll custom order your TigerMoth, which also comes in an Overland version. While the price will vary based on the options you choose, the starting MSRP of a TigerMoth is $19,650 as of today’s writing.

Happier Camper HC1

As we noted in our full post on Happier Campers, they use a modular interior system known as Adaptiv. This clever design uses cubes that are easy to move and reconfigure, allowing you to create a whole new interior on the fly.

You can stack the cubes to create a bed or to hold a countertop for a desk or eating station, and you can buy additional cubes to create more seating or sleeping space. There’s even a cooler cube to keep your food and beverages chilled. The cubes also double as storage and can be used outside.

A Happier Camper HC1 travel trailer

The Happier Camper HC1 travel trailer has a modular interior design for flexibility and customizability. (Photo source: Happier Camper)

The HC1 has a large rear hatch and a wide entry door, as well as big panoramic windows. The floor is a fiberglass grid, allowing for super flexibility with the Adaptiv modular interior components.

The HC1 is Happier Camper’s flagship travel trailer. It has a 100% fiberglass shell and can fit into a regular parking space. Weighing in at 1,100 pounds dry weight, many standard passenger vehicles have the towing capacity to pull this little Happier Camper.

It’s a cool concept, but you will pay a bit more for the innovation as these little rigs start at $39,950. Is it worth the extra money? That’s up to each individual RVer to decide what’s right for their camping style. As my Mom likes to say “That’s why they make vanilla and chocolate!”

Scamp 13′

Scamp’s popular standard 13-foot fiberglass camper tips the scales at 1,500 pounds dry weight — as long as you get the model/floorplan without a bathroom. With a tongue weight of 200 pounds, this little 13-footer is a nimble, durable camper.

Inside you’ll find fiberglass cabinets with a fair amount of storage space and lots of wood, characteristic of Scamp Campers’ cozy, rustic charm. Converting from eating to sleeping configuration and back again swaps between a roomy dinette that seats four people and a full-sized 54” x 76” bed.

As of this writing, you’ll spend about $26,000 for the smallest model with standard features. Here’s a video showcasing the pros and cons of the little Scamp:

A 1,500-pound camper is bound to be compact. But it’s great to know that if you’re looking for a lighter rig to tow behind a small or mid-size SUV, a minivan, or other small vehicle with a more modest tow rating, there are several out there that might fit the bill nicely.

If you’re looking for a somewhat larger rig and you’ve got the vehicle to tow it, check out our posts on Oliver Travel Trailers, hybrid campers, Casita Campers, and off-road RV trailers.

For those looking for another step up, stay tuned for extensive updates on our brand new 2024 Outdoors RV Creekside 19MKS Titanium. We’re currently getting moved in and set up for our first big cross-country road trip. But we’ll be following up soon with details on why we chose this particular brand and floor plan, and how we’re equipping it. If you’re not already receiving our informative newsletters, subscribe now so you don’t miss a thing.

While our new Outdoors RV may not be a lightweight trailer, it's a LOT smaller than the diesel pusher we've been full-timing in for the past 18 years.

While our new Outdoors RV may not be a “lightweight” camper, it’s a LOT smaller and lighter than the diesel pusher we’ve been full-timing in for the past 18 years. Stay tuned to our blog, YouTube channel, and Instagram feed for LOTS of upcoming insights about how and why we chose this new rig after more than 20 years of full-timing.

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