Camping is a fun and affordable way to enjoy the outdoors, but not everyone has the budget or space for a large RV. That’s where cargo trailer campers come in. These versatile campers offer all the essentials in a compact, towable package. In this guide, we’ll explore the benefits of cargo trailer campers and provide tips for finding the perfect model for your needs.
What is a Cargo Trailer Camper?
A cargo trailer camper is a lightweight camper built within an enclosed cargo trailer frame. They range from basic models with minimal amenities to fully-outfitted tiny homes on wheels. All cargo trailer campers share these key characteristics:
- Towed behind a vehicle using a standard trailer hitch
- Compact size for easy storage and maneuverability
- Durable all-weather construction for year-round use
- Self-contained with sleeping space, kitchen, bathroom basics
- Affordable compared to larger RVs and park models
Their small size makes cargo trailer campers perfect for tight campsites, weekend getaways, and full-time living on the road.
Benefits of Cargo Trailer Campers
Here are some of the top advantages that make cargo trailer campers a popular camping option:
- Low cost of ownership – Trailers are cheaper than RVs to purchase and maintain.
- Easy to tow – Most vehicles can handle the light weight of a cargo trailer.
- Compact storage – Store your camper at home when not in use.
- Personalized design – Customize the interior layout to suit your needs.
- Off-grid capable – Solar power and water systems allow boondocking.
- Versatile uses – Double as a utility trailer when not camping.
Their small size is also ideal for tight campsites not accessible by larger RVs. Cargo trailer campers truly offer the best of both worlds.
Types of Cargo Trailer Campers
Within the cargo trailer camper category, there are a few main styles to choose from:
Roof raises up for additional headroom. Budget-friendly but smaller interior space.
Fully enclosed camper with no raising roof. More spacious but less towable.
Iconic aerodynamic design great for two. Lack of slide-outs limits floorplan options.
Highly customized interiors but higher initial cost. Unique layouts not found in production models.
Build your own to your exact specs. Requires construction skills and can take months.
Consider your needs and budget when choosing the right cargo trailer camper type.
Floorplans and Amenities
Cargo trailer campers come in a variety of floorplans to suit different group sizes and budgets. Common amenities include:
- Sleeping space (bed, dinette bed, bunks)
- Kitchen (sink, stove, fridge)
- Fresh water tank and connections
- Gray/black water tanks
- Electric system (solar, battery, outlets)
- Furnishings (table, chairs, storage)
- Roof AC/heat (optional)
- Exterior shower (optional)
Higher-end models add features like full bathrooms, slide-outs, and off-grid packages.
When towing a cargo trailer camper, be sure your vehicle is rated to handle the weight. Other factors include:
- Trailer weight – Dry and loaded. Stay within your vehicle’s limits.
- Tongue weight – Properly distribute for stability and braking.
- Hitch class – Match or exceed trailer’s needs for safety.
- Braking system – Electric or surge for different terrain.
- Towing mirrors – Extend side views for visibility and safety.
- Trailer maintenance – Inspect brakes, lights and tires regularly.
Consider trailer weight distribution accessories and sway control devices for larger models too.
Purchasing Your Cargo Trailer Camper
Now that you know what to look for, here are some tips for finding the perfect cargo trailer camper:
- Research brands and floorplans online first.
- Attend RV shows to compare models in person.
- Check used marketplaces like craigslist or Facebook.
- Consider a DIY kit for full customization.
- Get pre-approved for financing if needed.
- Inspect thoroughly and negotiate the best price.
- Allow time for delivery, set up and testing.
Take your time to find a well-built camper at a fair price point within your budget.
Customizing and Personalizing Your Camper
Even pre-built cargo trailer campers offer opportunities for customization. Consider these popular upgrades:
- Off-grid solar, wind or generator power systems
- Exterior additions like awnings, outdoor kitchens or storage
- Interior décor, cabinetry, flooring and lighting changes
- Appliance upgrades like larger fridge or 3-way fridge
- Fresh and gray water system additions
- Roof-mounted or freestanding air conditioners
- Entertainment systems and smart home features
Customizing lets you put your own unique stamp on your cargo trailer camper.
Maintenance and Storage Considerations
Proper ongoing maintenance is key to your cargo trailer camper’s long-term performance. Be sure to:
- Winterize systems if camping in cold climates
- Clean and inspect regularly, especially after each trip
- Lubricate moving parts like doors and windows
- Replace consumables like batteries annually
- Repair leaks, rust or damage immediately
- Store indoors or covered when not in use
- Support and level the trailer during storage
With care, your cargo trailer camper can provide many years of camping enjoyment.
Get Outdoors in Style With a Cargo Trailer Camper
Whether you’re an avid camper or just starting out, a cargo trailer camper offers the perfect balance of amenities, affordability and convenience. Their versatile design allows you to customize your camping experience. Follow these tips to find, set up and care for your new camper for many trips to come.