Trailer tent types
At the top end of the market a trailer tent or folding camper can cost as much as a car or caravan but inexpensive units are available too. What they all offer is an accommodation unit that you tow behind your car (or even, in a few cases, behind your motorbike).
All have proper beds and in all of them at least some of the occupants can sleep off the ground. Some need pegging out, others can be unfolded and used without any pegging at all, so they can be used on hardstanding as well as on grassy pitches.
Many people use this to differentiate between a trailer tent and folding camper, saying a trailer tent must always be pegged out while a folding camper can be used without pegs.
Generally, this term is applied to models where most of the walls are made of canvas. The tent fabric is folded out from the trailer and pegged out in the same way you would erect a frame tent.
Indeed, on site it’s often difficult to tell what you’re looking at. Is it a trailer tent or a large frame tent? Sometimes the only clue is the tow bar protruding from the side of the tent. Trailer tents offer off-the-ground beds that usually fold out from the main trailer body. Sometimes you can install a cabin underneath for an extra, cosy sleeping area. In larger units you'll find further inner tents in the awning - for yet more sleeping space.
A big advantage with trailer tents is that you can generally have an awning and sun awning to more than double the space offered by the trailer tent itself.
Jamet (available through Camperlands Ltd)
Flip-top trailer tents
Another kind of trailer tent is the flip-top trailer. In this case the trailer lid unfolds to become part of the floor of the camping unit. Canvas, arranged like a giant pram hood, unfolds to provide the weatherproof covering.
These flip-tops are amazingly quick to erect, often taking just a few minutes from arriving on site to being ready for use.
The basic units rarely need pegging, although again manufacturers will offer awnings and sunshades which dramatically increase the amount of undercover camping space.
Many of the trailer tent manufacturers above also make flip-top trailer tents. You’ll find more at:
Folding campers usually have a base unit that looks like the bottom half of a caravan complete with cooker, sink, fridge and a washroom with toilet.
On site the beds slide out to overhang the trailer at each end and a canvas cover protects all from the weather. Because the entire tent is supported on the trailer, no pegging is necessary. Inside these can be just as luxurious as a caravan and even offer more space.
Just like trailer tents however, many owners will use optional awnings to increase the camping area. These have conventional frames and are pegged in the same way as large tents.
Large folding campers have long been popular on the US market and over the years many have been imported to Britain.
These rugged units last a long time so it’s not unusual to find them on the second hand market. Look for names such as Starcraft, Jayco, Bonair and Coleman.
Some will have been imported by British dealers who will have made the necessary adjustments to make them road legal in Britain. Some will be personal imports which have not been modified.
Unusual chassis and braking arrangements as well as American domestic equipment can make spares and repairs difficult, but many enthusiasts are willing to make that trade-off to get the benefits of these large and luxurious transatlantic camping units.
Go to the next page to get some advice on buying a trailer tent or folding camper
Club Care Insurance
Club Care’s comprehensive trailer tent insurance policy is competitively priced and gives you insurance cover on the move
Trailer Tent Insurance