Changing consumer tastes, economic upheavals and the loss of FTCA - the leading US folding camping trailer manufacturer – all point to a North American camping trailer market that is in terminal decline. However, whilst it’s true that the traditional folding camping trailer has fallen out of favour with RV buyers, it’s not all doom and gloom. On the contrary, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that outdoor leisure enthusiasts actually prefer the new breed of ultra-light camping trailers – especially tent based camping trailers - to their more old fashioned, design challenged, counterparts. Products like the breathtaking Opera, the multi-faceted Sylvan Sport Go, the military grade Conqueror UEV 490, the expedition grade Campa ATT, and the Scarab motorbike trailer (with its inflatable tent) certainly seem to be a far better match for today’s younger, more affluent, outdoor recreation demographic.
Here are some head turning camping trailer designs that are helping to propel this sector of the RV industry into the 21st century. One design that is absent (due to a 2011 business failure) is FTCA’s pioneering Coleman Switchback camping trailer. Whilst FTCA (and the Switchback) is no longer with us, that company's contribution to the folding camping trailer market over the last five decades is most assuredly not forgotten.
1. The YSIN Opera (The Netherlands)
The Dutch-built Opera camping trailer goes straight in at number one. Designed by Your Suite in Nature (YSIN) B.V., in conjunction with Enthoven Associates Design Consultancy in Antwerp, the Opera’s exquisite lines, teak veranda, and high level of amenities - including electrically adjustable beds and an indoor and outdoor kitchen - unquestionably makes this the world’s most luxurious folding camping trailer. The Opera design - reminiscent of the famous Sydney Opera House – has won numerous accolades including the 2010 Wallpaper Design Award. Depending on the level of amenities required this state-of the art - 1,050 kg (2,315lb) - camping trailer will run you between $32,000-38,000. Read more: The Opera folding camping trailer: A 21st century RV design icon or watch the video.
2. The Sylvan Sport Go (USA)
Manufactured right here in the United States by Brevard, North Carolina based Sylvan Sport, this $8000, 800lb RV is hands down the most versatile gear-hauling camping trailer to be found anywhere on the planet, or it was until some mongrels on the Chinese mainland decided to counterfeit the design. The all aluminium frame incorporates a Kelty tent system and a custom self-inflating air mattress from Pacific Outdoor Equipment. Designed by Tom Dempsey, Gregory Mundt, and Thomas Reeder, the SylvanSport Go is a superbly engineered and beautifully crafted product that is probably the most affordable and capable camping trailer included in this list. The unit’s ability to carry, kayaks, bicycles and even ATV’s makes it the perfect camping trailer for the recreation enthusiast. If the development of the Coleman Switchback had been pursued more assiduously by FTCA (prior to its demise) then it might well have given the Go some serious competition. Watch the Sylvan Sport Go video.
3. The Conqueror UEV 490 (South Africa/Australia)
If you’re looking for a touch of luxury in a folding camping trailer but still want a military grade Urban Escape Vehicle then our overlanding friends in South Africa have the answer. The Conqueror UEV 400 – a hybrid caravan cum camping trailer – with a dry weight of just 1350kg (2976lbs) doesn’t look pretty but the modular steel and aluminium frame and the unit’s independent suspension system – with long coil springs and Koni shocks – would be just at home in Canyonlands in Utah as in the African Veldt or the Aussie Outback. With a base MSRP of $43,000 USD this vehicle isn’t cheap but then it’s packed chock full of amenities like 2 double beds, a 74-litre fridge-freezer, quad burner stove, twin sink, DVD player, flat screen TV, a diesel fuelled Webasto heater and an exterior wet bar! Technical Data: Twin 110Ah batteries | 80w or 130w Solar Panel | CTEK 300 Charger | 350w inverter | 160L Water Tank | 12v Water Pump | Watch the Conqueror video.
4. The Campa ATT (USA)
Although there are a number of heavy duty folding camping trailers on the market – including the Jeep Trail Edition Camping Trailer – the pick of the North American crop has to be the 133 inch long and 71 inch wide expedition grade Campa ATT camping trailer. With a stainless steel chassis rated to 2500kg (5500lb) the top of the range unit comes with a stove, sink, fridge, water heater, water pump and lighting system. Accommodation is provided via a roof-top tent (like the Maggiolina Airtop) or optional tent side room. Designed with your survival in mind, the Campa ATT is provided with 40 gallons of water, 5 gallons of fuel and 10lbs of propane just to get you started! Base MSRP is $14,750. Watch the Campa ATT on the rubicon Trail video.
5. The Scarab RV SQ2 (USA)
Michael William Setzer’s Scarab SQ2 is a 300lb, no frills, camping trailer which incorporates a self-inflating queen size tent and an accessory storage compartment. The 84 inch long trailer – which utilizes a welded tubular steel frame, GRP body and independent suspension - is light enough to be towed by a cruising class motorbike. The Scarab - available in white, black, red, and yellow - is offered at a base MSRP of $4,995. Watch the video.