What do you need to consider when choosing a trailer?
Beyond choosing your chassi’s layout, there are a lot of factors to consider when shopping for your next camper. Small campers come in a dazzling variety of configurations, layouts, and materials. Trying to find the model that is right for you can be overwhelming. Here are some variables to consider so you can make an informed decision once you hit the dealership.
So why choose a dual-axle trailer?
The price range of small trailers can represent a fairly extreme range. On the most budget-oriented side of things, a new compact travel trailer can be purchased for as little as $15,000. However, small doesn’t always equate to a small price tag. Higher-end models can easily cost four times this amount depending on the brand and options you choose. This is an area where the adage holds: you get what you pay for. While many shoppers choose a compact travel trailer for budgetary reasons, the cost isn’t the only reason to shop small. Rather, many people choose small travel trailers for their simplicity, efficiency, and desire to spend time in nature.
Unfortunately, the lower end of the market can be a showcase for questionable quality. Although we would never suggest someone put themselves in financial hardship, we often suggest that shoppers buy the best trailer they can reasonably afford. Lower-end trailers are more likely to develop issues sooner in life and lead to an overall less enjoyable camping experience. A few extra dollars upfront can make a big difference a few years down the line.
Travel trailers are made using a huge variety of different materials and techniques. On the budget-oriented side of things, many trailers are made using thin wood studs and metal sheeting. These are often called “stick and tin” units. While this construction technique is lightweight and inexpensive, it is generally not very strong. These trailers are often less insulated and are susceptible to creaks, rattles, rotting, and delamination.
Higher-end trailers are often made using solid fiberglass construction. You can typically tell these models apart from the rest due to their distinct egg-like appearance. Different companies use this construction technique, but the process is generally the same. There is a top mold and a bottom mold, and the trailer is constructed of two solid fiberglass pieces. In essence, this is akin to placing an upside-down boat on top of another boat. Because of the lack of seams and wooden components, this technique makes for some of the strongest trailers possible. Fiberglass trailers are incredibly watertight, strong, and generally well insulated. However, this technique is expensive, and the resulting trailers tend to command a more premium price.
Finally, there are various metal-framed trailers available. These can run the gamut from simple steel frames covered in tin siding to fully aluminum models. Depending on the specific materials used, metal-framed trailers are often extremely strong while also being fairly light. Fully aluminum ones are also resistant to corrosion and rotting.
No trailer is perfect for every situation. A trailer that works wonderfully for you may be a terrible choice for another user. When looking for a camper, it’s important to consider how you plan to use it. If your goal is to have a weekend getaway at the local lake a few weekends every summer, you will likely be perfectly happy with a simple stick and tin single-axle camper. Yet, an increasingly large number of RVers are choosing to take their compact campers on extended trips or even live in them full time. If this is the case, you will never regret choosing a higher-quality trailer upfront.
Furthermore, the climate is a huge consideration. Do you intend to camp in extremely hot or cold conditions? If so, the relatively poor insulation of certain trailers may prove to be a detriment.
Perhaps one of the most under-considered factors when shopping for a trailer is resale value. This makes sense, as amidst the excitement of picking out your next adventure vehicle, who wants to think about selling it? However, spending some time considering resale value can make your entire ownership experience a much more pleasant one.
Lower-end trailers may be tempting given their approachable price points. The issue is that these models are hit the most severely by the relentless march of depreciation. A trailer that costs $15,000 new can easily drop to only a few thousand within five years. In comparison, some of the high-end models we will discuss today have remarkable staying power. Airstreams, for example, often retain up to 90% of their value for close to a decade. Thus, even if the upfront cost is higher, the total cost of ownership is quite frequently less when you opt for a more premium product.