Trailer Tent - Pros and Cons

There's something very special about sleeping under canvas but for many sleeping on the floor is a compromise too far. Many trailer tents when erected resemble a large frame tent but they come in all shapes and sizes. The main benefits over an ordinary tent are:

  • Comfortable beds off the ground always made up ready for use.
  • The tent and bedding are all stored and carried in a purpose built trailer.
  • In most models there is a daytime seating and eating area in the trailer.
  • Although more expensive than a tent they are often much cheaper than a folding camper.
  • A proper kitchen unit is provided. On site this may be removed from the trailer and set up in the tent area.
  • If you get yourself organised you can hitch up and go from home in a few minutes.

Trailer tent beds

Camplet on site - easily errected

The trailer may be fitted with brakes as standard or, depending on the weight, it may be un braked. They are almost always under 750kgs MAM (maximum authorised mass), which means that they are able to be towed by relatively small cars and by all drivers on a full UK licence, even those who passed their driving test after 1st January 1997 are permitted to tow one as long as their car insurance covers towing a trailer. It is easy to find a trailer tent that is under the 85% of the kerb weight of your car as advised by all of the main caravan clubs for braked trailers and 50% for un braked trailers.

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Note: Since 1 January 1997 all drivers who passed their driving test after this date and hold category C or D entitlement have been limited to trailers up to 750kgs MAM.

Trailer tent

A trailer tent takes longer to erect than a folding camper and most models are best suited to a stay of at least a few days on a site. It can take up to 2 hours to erect and properly set up camp but once it is up you have massive space and comfortable beds off the floor.

A trailer tent is perfect for summer use in the UK and abroad. Ask your caravanning friends and they will tell you that they spend most of their time on summer holidays in the awning. You have all awning and great space for relaxing in the sun. The trailer of a trailer tent is relatively small and shares all of the advantages that a folding camper has over a caravan.

  • Lower weight and less drag than a caravan. Therefore you use less fuel and can tow one with a smaller car.
  • They have a lower centre of gravity than a caravan therefore less likely to have an accident.
  • Easier to manoeuvre than a caravan at home and on site.
  • Small size means that you can access some sites that caravans can't get to.
  • Compared to a 4 berth caravan they are cheaper to take on a ferry or through the Channel Tunnel.
  • Easy to store at home in a garage or garden. Caravan storage sites are between £250 and £350 a year.
  • Less expensive to buy than a caravan.

The rate of theft of trailer tents is very low and as a result insurance premiums are relatively low. In fact as long as your car insurance covers you to tow a trailer there is no legal requirement to have any additional insurance but you are then liable yourself, for example, if it is damaged or stolen, or if something happens on site that causes another person to make a claim against you. Some sites require you to have liability insurance.

A good well maintained trailer tent can provide you with cheap holidays for years to come in the UK or abroad. Children love them and they are a really good investment for the young family.

Camplet Trailer Tent

Disadvantages

There are two main disadvantage with a trailer tent:

1. What do you do if you have to leave and your tent is wet.

2. The effort involved in putting up and taking down the tent.

1. If it is raining when you leave your site you have to take special precautions to make sure things inside the trailer such as beds and bedding don't get wet when you pack up. When you get home you need to take steps to make sure that you thoroughly dry out your tent before you pack it up for long term storage. Mould and mildew can form very quickly and your lovely trailer tent can become ruined in a few days with very little hope of getting it back into a good state again. No insurer will cover you for this type of damage, it is up to you to make sure that you take good care of your trailer tent.

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Have a plan for how you are going to deal with your wet tent and do it as soon as you get home. Time is off the essence so don’t put it off, open it up and get some air to it so that it can dry straight away. If you have a big enough garden open it out and wait for it to dry. If you can part open it in the garage do that and try to get air flowing over it. Don’t leave damp areas touching. It is common sense really but if you learn to deal with this issue your trailer tent ownership will be more likely to be a happy experience.

2. The first time you put up and take down your trailer tent can be a bit daunting and a bit stressful but no more so than a frame tent. A trailer tent is often better planned than an ordinary tent and so despite its size can actually be easier. Once you have done it a few times you and the family will be working as a team and will have it up in a reasonable time. There is an investment in time putting up the tent and you will find yourself planning to be on one site for your holiday. Some trailer tents such as the Camplet Concorde pictured here are closer to a folding camper than tent and can be erected in 20 minutes. Less well designed units can take up to 2 hours.

Thanks to Jonathan Stafford for permission to use his © 2009 images