Imagine the freedom of exploring the great outdoors, waking up to breathtaking views, and enjoying the comfort of your own cozy shelter on wheels. Super lightweight RV’s have gained popularity in recent years, offering a more convenient and budget-friendly alternative to traditional RV or tent camping. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the essentials of car camping, help you choose the perfect car campers, and provide tips for enhancing your car camping experience. So buckle up and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!
- Check out 10 affordable options including teardrop trailers & pop-up campers
- Choose the right car camper for your vehicle, lifestyle and budget
- Enhance your camping experience with solar panels, showers & more!
Car Camping Essentials: What You Need to Know
Car camping can be as simple as catching some zzz’s in your vehicle during a road trip or as elaborate as outfitting your car with a rooftop tent, outdoor showers, and a mini kitchen. Regardless of your setup, there are a few essentials to keep in mind. First and foremost, make sure your tow vehicle’s towing capacity is rated at least 1,000 lbs above the dry weight of your chosen camper. Full-size trucks or mid-size SUVs are ideal for towing small campers and trailers, but some lightweight travel trailers, like the MeerKat Small Travel Trailer, can be towed by just about any car.
The type of car camper you choose will also impact your camping experience. Options range from:
- Compact teardrop trailers
- Lightweight pop-up campers
- Versatile modular campers
Each type offers different features, amenities, and design elements. As you explore these options, consider factors like your vehicle’s towing capacity, your personal preferences, and your lifestyle.
Top 10 Affordable Car Campers
Understanding these factors to consider when selecting a car camper, let’s move on to review the top 10 affordable car campers available in the market. These include:
- Compact teardrop trailers like the Hatchling Small Camper
- Lightweight pop-up campers such as the Runaway CoolCamp
- Versatile modular campers like the American Safari JXL Conversion
Each of these options offers unique features, designs, and amenities tailored to different car camping enthusiasts’ preferences and needs.
Compact Teardrop Trailers
Compact teardrop trailers are an ideal choice for car camping enthusiasts with smaller vehicles, thanks to their small size, lightweight design, and ease of towing. These campers typically offer a sleeping space, storage, and a rear galley for cooking, making them a great alternative to tent camping.
Some popular models of small camper trailers include the Timberleaf Kestrel which features fine wood, enamel-baked aluminum siding, and a queen-size bed, and the NuCamp TAB 320 S Teardrop Camper, which boasts a full bed or dual twin beds, a wet bath, and a 12-volt refrigerator. These teardrop trailer options provide a comfortable and stylish small camper experience for those who love the outdoors.
- Weight: 800 l6bs
- Length: 11.5′
- Price: $8750
The Kestrel is builta as a minimalist camping trailer. There is no kitchen, built in power, or skylight. Pretty much a bed on wheels. 2 doors, 2 windows, a rooof vent and a 6 inch mattress are all included.
Little Guy Shadow
- Weight: 1750 lbs
- Length: 14′ 4″
- Price: @ $28,000
The Little Guy Shadow is a 1940s retro style teardrop with all the modern amenities. 2 doors, skylight, outdoor wet kitchen, TV, stereo, and A/C. This is a very small “glampers” rig.
Tiny Camper Classic Sleeper
- Weight: 820
- Length: 12′
- Price: $7000
The Classic sleeper is designed to be just that- a sleeper. It really is designed to be very basic and low cost. It does h9owever have room for upgrades like electric power and is ducted for AC if you choose to add a unit.
- Weight: 500 lbs
- Length: 10’2″
- Price: $6000
The Kleox Shelter is as basic as it gets- a tent with hard walls. The mattress is not even included. This is a fiberglass shell with a large hatch in the back that opens up. Then there is a tent wall that can be put in the opening if you wish to be more out in nature.
Compact teardrop trailers are perfect for those who want a simple, cozy, and easy-to-tow option for their car camping adventures.
Tiny Travel Trailers
Flagstaff E-Pro E12RK
- Weight: 1903lbs
- Price: @ $17,000 with discounts
The Flagstaff E-Pro series are nicely appointed with off road tires, solar power, and a kitchen on the outside.
NuCamp Tab 320
- Weight: 2000lbs
- Length: 15’3″
- Price: @10,000
“This camper incorporates the nostalgic look of a teardrop camper with modern European design. The TAB S is equipped with a galley kitchen, a wet bath, and a U-shaped dinette that converts into a comfortable sleeping area.” -NuCamp
Taxa Tiger Moth
- Weight: 1310 lbs
- Length: 12′ 10″
- Price: $29,000 base model
The Tiger Moth is an aggreesive little RV with pull out kitchen drawer, portable stove and room for 2. There are tons of options such as a rooftop tent, window AC and propane system.
InTech Flyer Chase
- Weight: 1280lbs
- Length: 12’4″
- Price: @ $12,000
The Chase model from InTeck is a very rugged base model with tons of add ons to create your own personal design. Off road tires, roof AC/ heat, add-a-room tent, and 270 degree awning can all be added to your kit among others.
Lightweight Pop-Up Campers
Lightweight pop-up campers offer more space and amenities than teardrop trailers while still being easy to tow and set up. These campers usually come with a kitchenette, sleeping area, and storage space, and some models even include a bathroom.
Unlike teardrop trailers, pop-up campers expand when set up, providing additional living and sleeping space. Examples of lightweight pop-up campers include the Sportsmobile Classic 4×4 and the Winnebago Revel.
ALiner Ranger 10
- Weight: 1300lbs
- Length: 12’8″
The original “A Frame” campers, Aliners design adds a ton of headspace. The trailers come in 3 sizes with nice appointments for each. Kitchenettes, beds, sofas make the interior quite comfortable. Onboard water and electric.
Forest River Rockwood
- Weight: 1500lbs
- Length: 11’9″
- Price: @ $12,000
Beds that pop out on both ends, a kitchenette with a portable range that can be hooked up outside, and a 7′ awning make this entry level pop up a great choice.
Sylvan Sport Go
- Weight: 840lbs
- Length: 11’8″
- Price: $14,500
This crazy cool tent pop up has a hard top that is lifted into position, then the huge tent with beds on each side, folds down. Very cool design.
The LittleGiant TreeHaus Camper
- Weight: 595
- Length: 10’1″
- Price: $6100
The LittleGiant TreeHaus Camper is a 595 lb trailer with pop up tent topper that creates a treehouse like feel. Easy to pull just about anywhere and starting at just under $6100
These campers are an excellent choice for car campers who need more room and amenities without sacrificing ease of towing and setup.
Versatile Modular Campers
Versatile modular campers are popular among car camping enthusiasts who want a customizable and flexible camping solution. These campers can be tailored to suit individual needs and preferences, with various floor plans, interior and exterior features, and accessories available.
Some modular campers are even designed for off-road adventures, allowing you to explore remote locations and rugged terrain. Examples of versatile modular campers include the ModVan, and Colorado Campworks Nomadic System One.
If you value customization and flexibility in your car camping experience, consider a versatile modular camper.
Choosing the Right Car Camper for Your Vehicle
While the task of choosing a perfect car camper might be overwhelming, a few key considerations can guide you towards the ideal camper that suits both your needs and vehicle. Some crucial aspects to keep in mind include towing capacity, vehicle compatibility, and your personal preferences and lifestyle.
Delving into these factors will assist in pinpointing the right car camper for your specific situation.
Towing Capacity and Vehicle Compatibility
When choosing a car camper, the towing capacity and vehicle compatibility are paramount as they dictate the type and size of camper that your tow vehicle can tow safely. To find your vehicle’s towing capacity, consult the owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer.
Ensure your chosen camper’s hitch weight, exterior width, and other details are compatible with your vehicle. For example, the Basecamp Small Travel Trailer is suitable for towing with a small car or SUV, thanks to its 7’ width and manageable hitch weight of 410 pounds with full propane tanks and batteries onboard. Consider using a max coupler articulating hitch for enhanced towing stability and flexibility.
Personal Preferences and Lifestyle
Your personal preferences and lifestyle play a significant role in choosing the right car camper, as different campers offer various amenities, designs, and levels of comfort. For instance, the Easy Rider Camper has a 6’3.5′′ interior height for easy maneuverability, while the CoolCamp features a more simplistic design with a 5,000 BTU air-conditioner, a 110V power strip with six outlets, two windows, and a bed.
The cost of the camper is also a factor to consider, with prices ranging from $5,995 for the Runaway CoolCamp to $21,000 or more for the Little Guy MyPod.
In the end, finding a camper that aligns with your tastes, needs, and budget is the key.
Roof Rack Solutions for Car Camping
Roof rack solutions can significantly enhance your car camping experience by providing additional storage space and the option to mount a rooftop tent. A well-designed roof rack allows you to:
- Carry camping gear
- Carry bikes using a bike rack
- Carry kayaks
- Carry other equipment securely on top of your vehicle, freeing up valuable interior space.
There are various types of roof racks available, including:
- Naked/bare roofs
- Side rails (flush & raised)
- Factory track & fixed point
- Rain gutter racks
- Truck canopy & camper tops
- Custom track
- Clamp mounts
- Flush rail mounts
- Raised rails mounts
- Fixed point mounts
- Gutter mounts
- Track mounts
- Permanent mounts
When selecting a roof rack for your vehicle, consider your vehicle type, the weight of what you’ll be carrying, and the type of rack that will work best for you. With a roof rack in place, you’ll have more room for your camping essentials and the option to mount a rooftop tent for added comfort and convenience.
Enhancing Your Car Camping Experience
To optimize your car camping adventures, it’s worth investing in a range of accessories and upgrades that can enrich your experience. Solar panels, for instance, can power lights, fans, and other electronics during your trip. Portable showers provide hot water for washing dishes, taking showers, and other activities while car camping.
Outdoor cooking equipment, such as camp stoves, grills, and Dutch ovens, can elevate your meals and make cooking more enjoyable. By incorporating these accessories and upgrades into your car camping setup, you can ensure a more comfortable, convenient, and enjoyable experience in the great outdoors.
Off-Road Adventures with Car Campers
Car campers offer a gateway to off-road adventures, allowing exploration of remote locations and rugged terrains. Embarking on this journey requires an apt combination of camper and vehicle. Towing capacity, vehicle compatibility, and personal preferences play a significant role in determining the best off-road car camper for your needs.
Some top off-road car campers include:
- Sportsmobile Classic 4×4
- Winnebago Revel
- American Safari JXL Conversion
- EarthRoamer LTi
With the right off-road car camper, you can venture off the beaten path and create unforgettable memories in the wild.
Safety Tips for Towing a Car Camper
Ensuring safe towing is fundamental to a pleasant car camping experience. Before hitting the road, make sure to check your vehicle’s towing capacity, as exceeding this limit can lead to dangerous situations and potential damage to your vehicle. Ensure your hitch is installed correctly and can handle the weight of your camper; consulting a professional is recommended for proper hitch installation.
Regularly inspect your camper’s tires, brakes, and lights to ensure they are in good condition and functioning properly. By taking these safety precautions, you can ensure a smooth and worry-free car camping adventure.
Renting vs. Buying a Car Camper
The decision to rent or buy a car camper depends on factors such as budget, frequency of use, and personal preferences. Renting a car camper offers flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and the opportunity to try before you buy. However, renting may not always be available, and you may face some restrictions and additional costs.
On the other hand, owning a car camper allows for customization, no rental fees, and no restrictions. The drawbacks of owning a car camper include the initial cost, maintenance, and storage responsibilities.
In conclusion, whether to rent or buy a car camper is a decision that hinges on your specific needs, budget, and how frequently you plan to use it.
Car camping offers the freedom to explore the great outdoors and enjoy the comfort of your own mobile shelter. With a variety of car camper options available, from compact teardrop trailers and lightweight pop-up campers to versatile modular campers, there’s a perfect fit for every car camping enthusiast. By considering factors such as towing capacity, vehicle compatibility, personal preferences, and lifestyle, you can choose the right car camper to suit your needs. So, gear up, hit the road, and embark on the car camping adventure of a lifetime!
Frequently Asked Questions
Campers that can be pulled by a car?
These five lightweight campers can all be towed with a car, from the Happier Camper HC1 to The TigerMoth to Pika by Timberleaf Trailers and more. So if you’re looking for an easy way to explore the great outdoors, these small campers are perfect for car-pulling adventurers!
What factors should I consider when choosing a car camper?
When choosing a car camper, take into account your vehicle’s towing capacity, the compatibility with your car, your own preferences, and how you’ll be using it. This will help you make the right choice for your needs.
What are some examples of affordable car campers?
If you’re looking for an affordable car camper, consider the Hatchling Small Camper, Runaway CoolCamp, or American Safari JXL Conversion – all of which offer great value without sacrificing quality.
How can I enhance my car camping experience?
Upgrade your camping experience with solar panels, portable showers, and outdoor cooking equipment for a truly memorable experience.
Is off-road car camping possible?
Yes, off-road car camping is possible with the right equipment, allowing you to explore and camp in remote and rugged terrain.
Frank is the Head Hubby, Daddy, and Fix-It Guy of the Roving Foleys clan. He ia an avid traveler and has spent over 5 years traveling full time with his family. he loves helping others learn about the RV life. He has also traveled in Europe, Asia, and Australia with his wife Grainne.