Which camper trailer suits you? Camper trailer buying tips

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So you’ve thought about the caravan vs camper trailer and decided to buy a camper trailer. It’s a big decision – but there are other things you still need to think about. Here’s our guide to the key things you should consider when you’re choosing a camper trailer.

Camper trailer tyres

There are three key types of camper trailer:

  • Swing-out, soft floor – a trailer with a foldout tent, usually in two or three sections with the possibility of a manually erected annex. The trailer provides storage while mobile and converts to a combination of storage, bench and appliance space once you’ve set up camp. Soft floors often provide the most floor space.
  • Swing-out, hard floor – as above, except the trailer has a foldout floor section that forms part of the living space. The trailer space is often devoted to a double bed, while the fold-out section can be used for either bedding or living space, depending on the trailer’s configuration.
  • Windup – the bottom half resembles a traditional caravan layout with a hard roof. Tent-like walls are formed when the roof is wound up either manually or with powered actuation. Some offer slide-out beds at either end. Windups are close in form and function to a regular caravan but their tent-like walls offer considerably more intimacy with the outdoors. However, they may be heavier or more expensive than typical swing-out camper trailers.

Convenience set-up and take-down

Swing-out campers (both soft and hard floor) might require a bit more setting up/taking down than the typical windup.

While newer swing-outs are relatively efficient and can take mere minutes to fold out, you still need to peg and tie everything down then pull it all up every time you camp, particularly with a soft floor camper.

Off-road capability

For many owners, part of the attraction of camper trailers is getting to places that caravans can’t reach. This often means choosing a camper with off-road and semi-off-road capabilities.

Off-road campers are always going to be more expensive, heavier and bulkier than on-road models. They feature heavier duty construction and running gear including suspension, brakes, wheels/tyres and couplings, to name a few.

Towing capacity

Don’t be fooled by the trailer’s slight form-factor. While they’re usually lighter than caravans, camper trailers can comprise a lot of mass for their size. Make sure you understand the towing capacity of your vehicle before you buy.


Like towing capacity, don’t underestimate campers when it comes to cost. In addition to off-road capability, options such a foldout stainless steel kitchen, portable toilet and shower, 240-volt and solar power, tent construction and materials, stone guards and annexes, to name a few, can push a camper’s price well into the tens of thousands – which is caravan territory.

Regardless of which camper and options you go with, one thing is certain – you’re buying a way of life that few get to enjoy.

Here’s what you need to know once you’re ready to hit the road.

Image: Brett Goldsmith


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