Joshua Schukman
by Joshua Schukman
Posted December 17, 2021

RVs and campers are often thought of as super-heavy rigs that require beastly trucks to tow them. When we see a dual-wheel truck come roaring down the road with a towering fifth-wheel camper behind it, it’s little wonder that image might get seared into our memory as the only way to tow. 

But the fact is, there are many travel trailers under 5,000lbs. that can be towed by your everyday pickup truck or SUV. Campers under 5,000 lbs have come a long way over the years and feature many of the same amenities — like onboard bathrooms — as their much larger cousins.

In this article, we’ll unpack the pros and cons of RVs under 5,000 lbs. And share our list of the 8 best RV campers under 5,000 lbs. 

Pros and cons of travel trailers under 5,000 lbs

As with anything in life, it’s important to understand the give and take of camping in an RV that weighs under 5,000 lbs.

Here is what you’ll want to consider with ultra-light campers under 5,000 pounds.

Pros

  • Towable by smaller vehicles — You don’t need a massive truck to tow a 5,000 pound RV trailer. Instead, these rigs can be well-handled by a half-ton pickup or SUV. 
  • More campsite options — 5,000 pound campers are also usually shorter campers. This means that ultra-light campers can tuck into the tight spaces usually found in national/state parks, public lands, and even some smaller RV parks.
  • Less weight = less gas money
  • More maneuverable — If you miss a turn in a massive RVs, you usually have to drive around for 10 minutes to find a road large enough to get back on track. Smaller campers are more nimble, making RV travel less stressful.

Cons

  • Fewer amenitiesWhile 5,000lb. trailers have come a long way, they still can lack amenities like outdoor kitchens, extra bathrooms, and extra sleeping space that larger rigs have.
  • Fewer slide-outs
  • Less storage space
  • Very few options for ultra-light fifth-wheel campers — But there are less heavy fifth-wheel trailers that can be towed by beefy half-ton trucks.
  • Smaller tank sizes —  Freshwater, gray water, and black water tanks can all be smaller in these rigs, limiting your dry camping duration. 

How we selected the 8 best RV campers under 5000 lbs

In order to make our list, these ultra-light travel trailers had to fit several criteria:

  1. Rated under 5,000 pounds gross — The weight of an RV is always rated in two ways: dry/unloaded weight and gross/loaded weight. All the RVs on our list are rated under 5,000 lbs when loaded. This is known as the GVWR or Gross Vehicle Weight Rating.
  2. Good combination of features, amenities, and options for its size.
  3. Quality of build/reputation of the manufacturer
  4. Value — Not necessarily the cheapest, but the most bang for your buck. 

The 8 best RV campers under 5000 lbs

1. Forest River R-Pod 193

Starting price: $25,998

Image source: forestriverinc.com

The R-Pod by Forest River is one of the most popular travel trailers under 5,000 pounds for sale because of the way it packs features into a nimble package.

R-Pods are designed to reach parts unknown with ease while still providing you with all the comforts of home. The R-Pod 193 features a unique kitchen design with a spacious pantry, dual bunk setup, a murphy queen bed, and even a central vacuum to keep the camper clean!

Key features:

  • Murphy queen bed for maximum versatility
  • Outdoor kitchen – rare for a rig this size
  • One slide-out
  • Black tank: 30 gallons
  • Grey tank: 30 gallons
  • Fresh water tank: 30 gallons

2. Airstream “Bambi” Sport 22FB

Starting price: $63,950

best travel trailer under 5000 lbs
Image source: airstream.com

Airstream floorplans haven’t changed much over the years because they haven’t had to. Ever since the first Airstream rolled off the line in 1936, these rigs have been the epitome of maximizing the use of tiny spaces.

The Sport is an Airstream under 5,000 pounds that manages to fit ample storage, cutting-edge amenities, and incredible comfort into a small, shiny camper.

Key features:

  • Spacious bed for two
  • Large rear bathroom
  • Full kitchenette
  • Dinette converts to a bed to sleep two more people 
  • JVC stereo system
  • Ample interior/exterior storage for its size
  • Black tank: 18 gallons
  • Grey tank: 24 gallons
  • Fresh water tank: 20 gallons

3. Winnebago Hike H171DB

Starting price: $38,485

Image source: winnebago.com

As one of the longest-running names in the RV industry, it’s little surprise that Winnebago created The Hike. This lightweight travel trailer under 5,000 pounds is the outdoorsy person’s dream.

That’s because The Hike features off-road tires and fenders, multi-use gear storage, a rigid exoskeleton for attaching bikes, kayaks, etc. — all while offering ultra-modern interior fixings. 

Key features:

  • Off-road ready
  • U-shaped dinette
  • Queen bed at front
  • One slide-out
  • Black tank: 25 gallons
  • Gray tank: 25 gallons
  • Fresh water tank: 31 gallons

4. Oliver Legacy Elite

Starting price: $39,995

best travel trailers under 5,000 lbs
Image source: olivertraveltrailers

Oliver specializes in ultra-lite trailers under 5,000 pounds. They are also masters at double-hulled fiberglass camper construction — meaning all their trailers are four-season ready and tough as nails.

Oliver trailers have a cult-like following for good reason. Simply put, they are one of the highest quality and longest-lasting campers on the market. Olivers come loaded with high-quality finishings, cutting-edge tech, and dry camping amenities like built-in solar.

Key features:

  • Large wet bath
  • Full surround overhead lighted storage cabinets
  • 2 burner stove and 3-way refrigerator 
  • Outside wash station
  • Three-point power stabilizing system
  • Black tank: 15 gallons
  • Grey tank: 32 gallons
  • Fresh water tank: 32 gallons

5. Jayco Hummingbird

Starting price: $39,995

campers under 5000 lbs
Image source: jayco.com

The Hummingbird is an ultra-light camper under 5,000 pounds that packs a lot of punch in a very small trailer. The Hummingbird 10RK, for example, has a GVWR of only 2,000 pounds!

No matter which Hummingbird you choose, you’ll get a camper that weighs under 5,000 pounds and features amenities for camping in style.

Key features:

  • Wet and dry bath options
  • Kitchenette or full kitchen options, depending on the floor plan
  • Baja package off-road option
  • Black tank: 25 gallons (except the 10RK floor plan)
  • Grey tank: 25 gallons (except the 10RK floor plan)
  • Fresh water tank: 31 gallons (25 gallons in the 10RK)

6. Gulf Stream Vista Cruiser

Starting price: $24,199

travel trailers under 4,500 lbs
Image source: gulfstreamcoach.com

The Vista Cruiser is a full lineup of travel trailers under 4,500 pounds. Gulf Stream is a well-known and family-owned RV manufacturer that blazed a trail with the Vista Cruiser by designing these trailers specifically for SUVs or trucks with lower tow ratings.

But that doesn’t mean they skimped on features — Vista Cruisers have many of the same options you’d find in larger campers.

Key features:

  • Dry bath in any floorplan
  • One piece fiberglass roof
  • Ample storage throughout 
  • Optional bumper mount grill
  • Black tank: 33 gallons 
  • Grey tank: 33 gallons
  • Fresh water tank: 27 gallons

7. Starcraft Super Lite Maxx

Starting price: $31,493

Image source: starcraftrv.com

This slick-looking line of campers under 5,000 pounds represents the cutting edge of technology and comfort. Starcraft designed the Lite Maxx line specifically so you can take longer camping trips in a nimble and easy-to-tow package.

Key features:

  • Dry bath in any floorplan
  • Molded fiberglass front cap and low-maintenance PVC roof membrane
  • Optional slide-out
  • Sleeps up to 8
  • Black tank: 33 gallons 
  • Grey tank: 33 gallons
  • Fresh water tank: 27 gallons

8. Scamp Lite 19 Deluxe Fifth-Wheel Trailer

Starting price: $23,695

fifth wheel trailer under 5000 lbs

When it comes to RVs under 5,000 pounds, options for fifth-wheel trailers are virtually non-existent except for this creative rig from Scamp.

As the only fifth-wheel trailer on our list, this camper can be easily towed by a midsize truck such as a Ford Ranger, Chevy Colorado, Nissan Frontier, Toyota Tundra, etc. By extending part of the camper over the truck bed, the Scamp Deluxe creates maximum space in an ultra-light trailer.

Key features:

  • Wet bath
  • Fold down dinette for extra sleeping space
  • 2 burner stove and large fridge/freezer
  • Under stair storage
  • Black tank: 9 gallons 
  • Grey tank: 12 gallons
  • Fresh water tank: 12 gallons

Bigger isn’t always better

Campers under 5,000 pounds are increasing in popularity because it is highly convenient to be able to tow a travel trailer with a car that can double as a daily driver. While large fifth-wheels towed by big dually trucks might be appealing for some, many of us would rather camp in something that can be handled nimbly through urban habitats and close-quartered national parks. This list of RVs under 5,000 pounds will help you do just that.

Are you looking to rent a camper that weighs less than 5,000 pounds? Check out RVs for rent on Outdoorsy. Or do you have a travel trailer that weighs less than 5,000 pounds you’d like to make extra money with? You can list it for rent on Outdoorsy right here.

Happy camping!

Joshua Schukman

 

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