There are more lightweight travel trailers than ever before! Gone are the days when small SUV owners were stuck tent camping or pulling a tiny pop up. In fact, in some of the 3,500 lb travel trailers on my list, you’ll find sleeping for 4 or more, generously sized bathrooms, well-equipped kitchens, and even off-road capabilities!
One even has a fireplace! 😲
All of this in an ultra-lite camper that can be pulled by a small SUV and even some crossovers. SWEET!
So whether you want a travel trailer under 3,500 lbs that fits your vehicle or just want to save some gas on longer trips, there’s something on this list for everyone!
Before we dive headfirst into it, here are three super important things you should consider before buying!
Thinking of Buying an Ultra Lite Travel Trailer Under 3,500 lbs?
While deciding on a tiny, sub 3,500-lb travel trailer, keep these 3 things in mind.
- Have Realistic Expectations
- Double Check Your Towing Capacity
- Rent One First!
Have Realistic Expectations
Don’t expect to find 20’+, dual axle campers with multiple slide-outs and space for a few dirtbikes. 3,500 pounds isn’t a lot so don’t expect to have tons of space inside. With more than one person inside, you’re gonna bump some elbows, step on a few toes, and maybe even have to suck in your gut once or twice to get around. 😜
That’s why these 3,500-lb travel trailers are great for couples and families who spend most of their camping time outside. And isn’t that why we go camping anyway…to get outside?!
Double Check Your Towing Capacity
If you’ve never towed with your vehicle before, it’s always a good idea to double-check your vehicle’s towing capacity. Be sure to check the towing capacity for its specific trim level, tow package, and engine size. The max towing capacity of small SUVs and crossovers can vary by 1,000 pounds or more depending on those factors.
Rent a Small Travel Trailer Before Buying
Seeing a lightweight camper’s video tour or checking it out at an RV show is one thing. Camping in it for a few days is another.
That’s why I HIGHLY suggest renting a small RV before buying. RVshare is a really nice option for doing that!
RVshare lets you search for travel trailers by location and even by model. That way you can truly test out a small camper before actually buying it and realizing you should’ve gotten something bigger for your family.
Now let’s dive into this list of the 13 best travel trailers under 3,500 lbs!
13 Best Lightweight Travel Trailers Under 3,500 lbs
Here are 13 awesome campers that all (actually almost all) have a GVWR of 3,500 lbs or less. What the heck is GVWR? Learn more in the towing terminology section after the list.
And please don’t get offended if your favorite isn’t number 1. 😥 These aren’t ranked from best to worst or prettiest to ugliest. Consider the features and then choose the travel trailer that works best for you and your family.
Let’s get started with a mini version of an iconic travel trailer that’s sure to turn some heads, the Airstream Bambi!
All the Airstream coolness, just in a smaller package
Pros: It’s hard to beat an Airstream’s intelligent and high-quality design.
Cons: With an MSRP starting at $52,700, the 2021 Bambi is definitely not the cheapest on my list.
Converse Chuck Taylors, RayBan Wayfarers, Airstream campers. They never go out of style. They always look great! The same is true of the tiny Bambi.
The 16-foot long model has a GVWR of just 3,500 pounds. The RB in the model name stands for “rear bed”. Despite being just 16-feet long, it’s got a full-time rear bed. Plus, there’s a dinette that converts into a bed for two more. They also manage to fit in a kitchen with a stove, sink, microwave, and refrigerator. And it’s also got a wet bath and a hanging wardrobe for extra storage.
See the inside in the official Airstream video tour here.
Lightweight and ready for families.
Pro: The 180BH has a well-thought-out floor plan for families with kids while still coming in at a GVWR of 3,500 pounds.
Con: The lightweight construction and budget-friendly price doesn’t lend itself to long-term durability.
For lightweight space that doesn’t break the bank, check out the KZ Sportsmen Classic Ultra Lightweight line of RVs.
The 180BH is surprisingly large for a travel trailer with a 3,500 pound GVWR. It’s a little over 20-feet long and has a dry bath, bunk beds, a 54”x80” bed, and a dinette that converts to another bed.
And unlike many lightweight travel trailers with virtually zero countertop space and a tiny fridge, this one’s actually got an 8 cubic ft refrigerator (that runs on propane or electric) and enough counter space for your Keurig or espresso maker. YES!
Check out the video tour for the 180BH model.
A little bit of classic, a lot of adventure.
Pros: A great choice for adventurous couples on the go. It’s got some of the classic Airstream stylings with a few changes for going off the beaten path and enjoying the outdoors.
Cons: Only the 16 and 16X have a GVWR of 3,500 lbs. The longer floor plan is heavier.😥
If you’re into boondocking and dispersed camping in out-of-the-way areas, you’ll love the Basecamp and Basecamp X (the X version is a little more rugged). It’s got a huge set of panoramic windows for taking in the view at your favorite spot.
There’s also a rear hatch that provides super easy storage for long gear like skis, bikes, or even a kayak!
And despite its tiny 16-foot length, the Basecamp has everything you need for a few days of off-the-grid exploring—wet bath, kitchenette, and a seating area that converts into a bed. Plus, it comes with a Solar Pre-Wire Kit for those who want to stay away from other people even longer. 😜
Watch the official Basecamp video tour here.
Another lightweight trailer for families!
Pros: Well organized with a queen-size bed, bunk beds, a bathroom with tub, and a dinette that converts to another bed. Plus LED awning lights!
Cons: UVW is 3,075 pounds, but the GVWR is 3,950 pounds. So you have to be careful how much you load in it to not go over 3,500 pounds.
Jayco has really packed a lot into this ultra-lite travel trailer. A queen-size bed! Bunk beds! An actual tub! Awesome! Granted, it’s a small tub…but having a tub is nice for bathing the kiddos or even doing some emergency camp laundry.
The floorplan is actually really similar to the KZ Sportsmen Classic Ultra Lightweight 180 BH. However, this one sacrifices refrigerator space for extra pantry space. And instead of the shower in the KZ Sportsmen, this camper has the tub.
With all those features, this trailer is another great choice for families who need the extra space but aren’t ready to upgrade to a bigger vehicle.
Check out the 2021 Jayco Jay Flight SLX 7 174BH walk through tour.
Speaking of camping families…
Are you a crazy RV camping family? Then you need to check out this CRAZY OUTDOORS camping collection 🤪. Get quirky, off the wall, and inspiring camping apparel, hats, mugs, blankets, stickers and more. Designs you can’t find anywhere else, like…
A lightweight travel trailer for couples.
Pros: Generous dry bath with a mini tub in a 16-foot long trailer with a UVW of less than 2,500 pounds!
Cons: Ceiling height in the tub will feel a little cramped if you’re over 6-feet tall
With a dry weight of just under 2,500 pounds, you could potentially tow this with a base model Subaru Outback (as long as you’re careful what you pack inside). But this floor plan’s still got an actual dry bath (not common on tiny trailers like this), a kitchenette with some extra counter space, and a small wardrobe closet.
Watch the video tour of the 145RB model.
*If you’re looking for small RVs with bathrooms, don’t miss these articles…
- 11 Best Small RVs With a Shower and Toilet (Pics + Floor Plans)
- 9 Best Pop Up Campers With Bathrooms (Video Tours + Floor Plans)
Small. Light. Affordable.
Pros: Even fully-loaded deluxe models with wet baths will only cost around $20,000.
Cons: The interiors on the Standard models are, well…how should I put this🤔…not very elegant. Just think of it as “vintage”. 🤪
Despite their tiny size, Scamp lightweight trailers actually fit a surprising amount inside. It’s not very often that you get a 13-foot travel trailer that weighs less than 3,000 pounds and still has a kitchenette, dinette that converts into a bed, PLUS a sofa that converts into a bunk bed. Imagine that…a 13-foot camper with sleeping space for 4!
Or you can go with one of the other floor plans and forgo the sofa/bunk bed so you can get a wet bath. All in a 13-foot ultra-lite trailer you can pull with most well-equipped crossovers.
Check out the official Scamp Trailer 16 video tour.
Maximum fun in a compact package.
Pros: Despite the ultralight dry weight of just 2,320 pounds, you still get a wet bath, microwave, 5.0 cu. ft. refrigerator, and a stargazer window.
Cons: Great for couples, not kids.
Don’t let the teardrop-inspired shape or the sub 2,400-pound dry weight fool you into thinking there’s little more than a bed inside. This lightweight RV makes really good use of space. That’s how they manage to fit a dinette area that converts into a bed, a kitchenette with a sink, stove, and microwave, and a surprisingly roomy wet bath.
And while some travel trailers under 3,500 pounds can feel dark and claustrophobic inside, the Mini Max has tons of windows (including a cool stargazer window) that let in a lot of natural light.
Watch the Mini Max video tour here.
It’s a teardrop. It’s a pop-up. It’s a travel trailer. It’s a Clipper Express!
Pros: Super light and ready for outdoor enthusiasts.
Cons: No bathroom.
Get ready for a new type of hybrid camper. It’s kind of a cool mix of a pop-up and a teardrop. You’ve got the low profile of a teardrop combined with the pop-up back for some extra headroom in the kitchen area.
The Clipper Express currently comes in three floor plans—9.0TD, 12.0TD XL, and the 12.0TD MAX. The bigger models have a full kitchenette inside (the 9.0 has just a sink inside and a grill outside) plus extra seating.
If your SUV or crossover isn’t equipped to pull 3,500 pounds, these still may work for you. The 9.0 has a UVW of just 1,418 lbs! Even the heaviest 12.0TD MAX has a dry weight of just 2,225 lbs.
Plus, they’re available with an off-road package and cargo racks for hitting rough roads with bikes, kayaks, and other toys.
Check out the Clipper 9.0 video tour here.
Surprisingly lightweight. Surprisingly roomy.
Pros: A lightweight option for couples with smaller vehicles
Cons: Technically more of a pop-up than a real “travel trailer”
Although some might not consider the Aliner LXE to be a real travel trailer, it deserves a spot on this list. With a dry weight of just 1,795 pounds, it comes well under the 3,500 pound towing capacity of many small SUVs.
And don’t be fooled by pictures of the tiny floor plan. Thanks to the tall ceiling height and big windows, it actually feels a lot bigger than it actually is.
Also, despite the small size, you still get a wet bath, a 6-gallon water heater, and an 11-gallon freshwater tank.
*Think a pop-up camper might be the right choice for you? Check out my article…
16 feet long and under 2,000 pounds! Yes!
Pros: A real travel trailer that weighs less than a lot of pop-ups.
Cons: If you’re over 6-feet tall, get ready to bump your head.
If you’re looking for a camper that’s well under 3,500 lbs but don’t want to settle for a pop-up or a teardrop, check out the Rove Lite Ultra Lightweight trailers. These lightweight RVs only weigh a little more than the tiny Scamp trailers. But with their extra length, they feel a lot more spacious inside.
Watch the Rove Lite trailer video tour here.
This isn’t your normal lightweight travel trailer.
Pros: A nice basecamp trailer for days exploring off-the-grid areas.
Cons: If you’re looking for a “normal” trailer with tons of space and comforts, this isn’t for you. Also, there’s no bathroom.
The Taxa Cricket is sure to turn some heads with its Nasa inspired design. But don’t let its funky shape turn you off. It has a super practical and utilitarian design that’s at home on dirt roads and boondocking campsites.
It’s actually a hybrid trailer with a top that pops up when you need some extra headroom. Plus, there are some available options that expand its capabilities even further like THULE roof bars, a portable toilet, and a 5000 BTU window air conditioner.
And with a dry weight of just 1,753 lbs, it comes well under the 3,500 towing capacity of vehicles like the Subaru Outback (with the turbo engine).
Check out the Cricket video tour.
A sub 3,500 lb teardrop with a toilet and fireplace! What?!!😲😲😲
Pros: Really cool optional features for such a small travel trailer.
Cons: It’s still technically a teardrop, so you can’t stand up inside.
The InTech Luna is really cool, to say the least. Yes, I know…it’s not a full-size trailer with tons of space and a normal ceiling height. But with a GVWR of just 2,200 pounds and some really unique features, this deserves a spot on this list of travel trailers under 3,500 pounds.
I mean…a fireplace in a teardrop. Doesn’t that sound like ridiculously cozy? 🔥 The LED lights inside and out really help to set the mood as well.
Plus it’s got a super nice kitchen in the back under the pop-up hood. The stainless steel farmhouse sink and faucet look more like ones you’d have at home and not in an RV (let alone a teardrop). Plus, you can also get an integrated cassette toilet, a microwave, TV, futon, and more!
Get the whole scoop with the InTech Luna video tour.
If you like the Luna, but need a little extra space.
Pros: It’s hard to find such luxurious features in a travel trailer under 3,500 pounds!
Cons: No fireplace like the little Luna 😥
The InTech Sol Eclipse has luxurious features like the Luna, but in a larger package. It’s got a huge panorama window that lets in tons of light. And the kitchen makes you feel like you’re at home with a farmhouse sink, industrial style faucet, and generous countertop space.
Plus, the Sol Eclipse has a spacious wet bath with a porcelain toilet and a door that completely seals it off. That means you don’t have to hassle with a shower curtain!
Watch the InTech Sol Eclipse walkthrough tour.
You did it! You made it to the end of the list!
But you still might be wondering…
What Vehicles Can Tow a 3,500 Pound Travel Trailer?
That’s an important question and one—like I mentioned before—that’s worth double-checking before you buy a trailer. First, it’s important to understand some basic towing terms.
3 Basic Towing Terms You Need to Know
UVW: Unloaded Vehicle Weight
Also referred to as the “dry weight”, the UVW or unloaded vehicle weight is the weight of an unloaded travel trailer (without propane, water, accessories, pancake syrup, etc.). Makes sense, right?
So if your vehicle has a tow rating of 3,500 pounds, you should look for a trailer with a UWV of less than 3,500 pounds.
Cargo Carrying Capacity (CCC)
The cargo carrying capacity is the maximum permitted cargo weight your trailer can handle.
GVWR: Gross Vehicle Weight Rating
The gross vehicle weight rating is the maximum permitted weight. Basically, you combine the CCC and the UVW to get the GVWR. This is an important figure to look for. If the trailer’s GVWR is 3,500 pounds and your vehicle’s towing capacity is 3,500 pounds…you’ve got a winner!
So what are some common vehicles that should be able to pull a 3,500 lb camper trailer?
List of a Few Vehicles That Can Pull a 3,500 lb Camper
Here are a few small SUVs, minivans, and crossovers that could potentially tow a lightweight camper.
*Important: Always double-check your vehicle’s trim, engine size, and towing package.
|2021 RAV4 Adventure & TRD Off-Road||3,500 pounds|
|2021 Ford Escape (250 HP 2.0 liter Ecoboost)||3,500 pounds|
|2020 Jeep Cherokee (271 HP 3.2 liter V6)||4,500 pounds|
|2020 Chevrolet Equinox (252 HP 2.0 liter Turbo)||3,500 pounds|
|2021 Subaru Outback (260 HP 2.4 liter Turbo)||3,500 pounds|
|2019 Toyota Sienna (296 HP 3.5 liter V6)||3,500 pounds|
|2019 Chrysler Pacifica (287 HP 3.6 liter V6)||3,600 pounds|
|2020 Honda Pilot (FWD 280 HP 3.5 liter V6)||3,500 pounds (Up to 5,000 with AWD trims)|
|2021 Ford Bronco Sport (W/ Class II Tow Package)||2,000 pounds (Up to 2,200 on highest trims)|
|Hyundai Tucson (181 HP 2.4 liter)||2,000 pounds|
|2020 Ford Ecosport (AWD 166 HP 2.0 liter)||2,000 pounds|
Where ‘Ya Gonna Go With Your New Lightweight Travel Trailer!
Where ‘ya planning on going with your new lightweight camper? Thinking of spending a week relaxing at a campground in the Airstream Bambi? Or maybe you’re gonna boondock your way through rugged areas with the Taxa Cricket?
Whichever you choose, just be sure to get out there and enjoy the outdoors as a family!
And for more RVing tips, tricks and guides, check out my other articles like…
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- 5 Best RV Patio Mats of 2021 (from actual RV owners!)
- 7 Best Portable Composting Toilets for RVs and Camper Vans (+Buying Guide) - September 15, 2021
- Sit on Top Kayak Camping 101 | Packing Your Sit On Top - September 5, 2021
- 10 Best off road camper trailers under $10,000 | Video Tours! - September 5, 2021