What Are Micro Campers?
Micro campers are small bare-bones trailers built to be inexpensive and accessible to people with limited budgets and even more limited towing capacities. They are not big on amenities, but rather serve as a vessel to either explore the world or at the very least, sleep comfortably at a campsite. There isn’t a hard-line definition.
However, as loose as the definition of a micro camper is, there are some general traits that most have in common. Not all micro campers fit into the following characterization.
- Short: They are under 20-Feet long.
- Lightweight: The manufactured variety is usually between 1,000 and 3,000 pounds. There are also several DIY micro camper designs that typically weigh between 400 and 1,000 pounds. Either type can be towed by most vehicles.
- Bare-bones: You only get the basics, and the basics that you get are often less functional. Tradeoffs are made to limit taking up valuable space.
- Cheap: The combination of short, lightweight, and bare-bones makes these very inexpensive to produce.
What are the Benefits of Micro Campers?
Aside from being the most budget-friendly trailer option, these cozy campers are a nice upgrade from your average tent.
- Mattress: These campers are designed to hold a bed, usually a queen bed. With one of these campers, it will no longer be necessary to sleep on the soil or to pump up an air mattress.
- Electricity: Most of these designs have limited battery power, but they can be plugged into an electrical box at a campsite to keep the power running. Of course, space is a very limiting factor, so you’ll need to pick what devices are most important to you.
- Toilet/Shower/Bathroom: Sometimes there is enough room to tuck away a cassette toilet or even an entire wet bath. It isn’t the most comfortable space, but it can work in some designs.
- Limited Kitchen: While you won’t have an oven or much counter space, many of these trailers are equipped with a small fridge, a stove, sink, pantry space, and occasionally a microwave.
- Additional Storage: Instead of taking up everyone’s leg-room with various camping supplies, you can throw all of that gear into the camper during transport. It
- Low-Hassle: These are easy to set up and easy to take down. In most cases, it is basically a plug and play.
- Easy to Store: When you own a larger RV, you are often required to rent storage for it. City ordinances do not allow you to park them right outside your front door. They often need to be out of sight. These micro campers are so tiny that you can often store them at your house.
What Are the Disadvantages of Micro Campers?
Most of the problems stem from the same issue, the size. If you are upgrading from a tent, most of these disadvantages probably won’t seem like problems. If you are downgrading from a larger trailer, then you will have to give up a few things.
- No Privacy: The cramped quarters will not do anyone’s claustrophobia any favors. In all of these units, couples will constantly side-shuffle there way around each other. If there is a toilet, there’s a good chance that it won’t be in a bathroom.
- Uncomfortable Mattresses: Much of the time, the mattresses will double as your dinette. When they do, the mattresses are multiple cushions rather than a single spring mattress. they are not usually great for people with back problems.
- Limited Boondocking: The water tanks are limited, and you can’t store many supplies. It can be fun for a weekend, but longer trips into the wilderness are more difficult. They aren’t impossible. These units just aren’t typically built for it.
- Limited Power: Unless you do some aftermarket work, the ability to generate and store power is usually very limited. Solar power isn’t usually equipped, and we’ve never seen a generator installed on one of these micro campers. We don’t expect to see one either.
Our Favorite Micro Campers on the Market
- Taxa Cricket
- Airstream Nest 16U
- Hiker Trailer Mid-Range 5×9
- Sunray 129
A clever design by an architect with an impressive background. Garrett Finney, the Chief Designer and CEO once developed NASA’s human habitats, and his skill in making functional compact units is quite evident.
At only 15 Feet long, it is incredible that it can sleep 2 adults and two kids. Not only that, but it accomplishes this without taking over the floor plan. The beds for the kids hang from the raised ceiling and are rated to hold 130 pounds. Everyone can be laying in their beds while the kitchen remains functional. It feels surprisingly spacious thanks to the raisable roof that reaches a 6’4” height at its sloped peak.
Truma Combo Furnace and Water Heater System
The Cricket is equipped with a Truma water heater. These systems are installed on top of the line RV units. As the name implies, they will also heat up the RV. Being a micro camper, this isn’t too difficult of a task
When the roof is raised, you will have access to nine windows; four regular and five mesh. If you open the side door and pop open the back hatch, you have a combination that allows for some fantastic airflow. Good airflow is a must when you pack four people into a micro trailer.
Underneath the bed, you will find more storage than you might expect from a trailer of this size. It’s pretty massive. At the Galley, you have several cubby spaces and holding places for utensils and various supplies.
There is an optional 5,000 BTU air conditioner. It’s a necessity in warmer climates. Days don’t always bring breezes, and temperatures can rise very quickly in small quarters.
While you will essentially be pooping in the kitchen, it might be a better alternative than pooping next to a tree. You will not have any privacy against anyone inside the trailer. However, anyone outside won’t see you. The glass windows are equipped with black-out shades, and the mesh windows can be zip-covered in canvas.
We almost consider this to be a must. The best foods often spoil quickly, and this will extend their shelf lives. If you want to camp well and eat well, get the fridge. It runs off of both electricity and propane. Since the fridge is small and the trailer can hold 2 twenty pound propane tanks, it will last you quite a while.
- Outdoor Shower
- Stabilizer Jacks
- Bed Converts to Dinette
- Birch Cabinetry
- Water Tanks
- Sleeps: 2 Adults, 2 Kids
- Fresh: 15 Gallons
- Grey: 16 Gallons
- Dry Weight: 1,732 lbs
- GVWR: 2,500 lbs
- Length: 15 Feet
- Width: 6 Feet, 7 Inches
Scamp Trailers: Scamp 13, Deluxe, Layout 2 w/ Front Bath Package
The Scamp Trailers Company specializes in micro trailers, and they are highly customizable. They offer three sizes: 13’, 16’, and 19.’ They come in both standard and deluxe versions, and each of those versions comes in multiple layouts. All of those trailers have roughly 40 options, so you can piece together the perfect micro camper.
We are only going to look at one of the Scamp RVs, the Scamp 13. As with all of the Scamp trailers, they are pretty basic until you customize them with the available options. Here are some of the components that come standard and with the Front Bath Package.
Wet Bath and Closet (Shower and Toilet Package)
It’s amazing that they pulled it off. They managed to put a wet bath into a 13’ trailer. The cassette toilet isn’t going to be comfortable. The cramped space offers little room, and tall individuals will not be able to stand straight.
Gas Hot Water Heater (Shower and Toilet Package)
This comes with the Bath Package for obvious reasons. Most people will not want to hop into an unheated shower. You only get a 12-gallon water tank. This won’t be a problem if you are hooked up at a campsite. However, if you are boondocking, you will want to keep those showers very short.
The counter space is nearly non-existent unless you use a cover for the kitchen sink. Below are two mid-sized drawers, a small cupboard, and a 1.9 cubic foot refrigerator. When you Include the cabinets above the sink, there is enough storage to hold the basic kitchen supplies.
Storage Is Minimal
Yes, it’s exactly what you expect from a 13-foot micro trailer. You can increase your storage space above the bed through one of the upgrades. However, it still won’t provide the storage that you will want for anything longer than a camping trip.
Since Scamp trailers are built to be customized, we would like to present the list of upgrades available to this 13-foot micro camper.
Scamp Notable Features
- Water Tanks
- Fresh: 12 Gallon
- Grey: N/A
- Dry Weight: 1,200 to 1,500 lbs
- GVWR: 3,500
- Length: 13 Feet
- Width: 6 Feet 8 Inches
Airstream: Nest 16U
Everybody knows airstream. They’re classic designs stretch all the way back to before World War 2. While their trailers are amazing, they have done very little to renovate their designs. The Airstream Nest is a bit of a departure. Airstream purchased the Nest company in 2016, and now sell this micro camper at $46,000. Yikes! Yes, while it might be spendy, it might also be the loveliest micro camper on the market.
The Nests interior design is on point. The Ultraleather cushions are comfortable and well-padded, the color schemes are perfectly coordinated, and the windows let in a substantial amount of light.
This is one of the best galleys built into the interior of a micro camper. Normally, you don’t get a fridge with 3.2 cubic feet of storage or such a large stainless steel sink. You also get very polished looking appliances; a two-burner stove with a cover and a microwave.
Storage is Great
Perfectly planned storage compartments can be found all over this micro camper. There are storage spaces under benches, behind cushions, large wall compartments, and enough drawers to fulfill your storage needs for a weekend getaway.
Overall, this is a fantastic wet bath, but there is one problem in the design. As noted by Senior Editor of Engadget, Roberto Baldwin, the shower drain could use a redesign. The Ill-placed drain isn’t centered, and some water is usually left behind. In the video, Roberto noted getting up in the middle of the night and stepping into a puddle in the shower pan. Not fun. In the end, it isn’t really a huge issue because you can solve this with a quick application of a superhydrophobic spray
Other than that, it is a great bathroom. The bathroom is covered in fiberglass which is a good material for moisture-prone areas. The foot flush toilet is made of porcelain, and there is a small watertight compartment for your toiletries.
One-Piece Fiberglass Exterior
If it’s all a single piece then the water has very few cracks to infiltrate. It’s great for combating moisture damage.
- Power Awning with LEDs
- Black Tank Flush
- Gravity Fill
- Stabilizer Jacks
- Water Tanks
- Fresh: 12 Gallon
- Grey & Black Combo: 30 Gallons
- Dry Weight: 3,300 lbs
- GVWR: 4,000 lbs
- Length: 16 Feet 7 Inches
- Width: 7 Feet 1 Inch
Hiker Trailer: Mid-Range 5×9
If you look at the stock model pictures on the official website, these might look a bit bland. However, If you choose the charcoal paint and diamond plates, it improves the look tremendously. It takes on a respectably rugged appearance that is eye-catching in an aesthetically pleasing way.
Like Scamp trailers, Hiker trailers are meant to be customized. You choose the base model, the size, and then you add on all the features that you need. As you can see from the pricing chart below, the basic micro campers are inexpensive.
|Size||Highway Basic||Highway Delux||Mid-Range||Extreme Off-Road Deluxe|
Even fully upgraded, these micro trailers will not offer the same variety of accommodations as some other trailers on this list. There is no bathroom and there is no galley. Although, there are optional upgrades that provide an outdoor cooking space: mounted table, mounted propane tank, and a selection of large awnings.
Here’s a quick rundown of the choices available to you. There are more features. These are just some of the more notable features for these for models.
|Highway Basic||Highway Deluxe||Mid-Range Deluxe||Extreme Off-Road Deluxe|
|205 Tires||205 Trailer tires||29″ Radical Tires||33″ Tires|
|2000 lb Axle||2000 lb Axle||3500 lb Axle (Derated)||3500 lb Axle|
|Two Rear Shelves||Rear Cabinets w/face||Rear cabinets w/face||x|
|One Front Shelf||One front cabinet w/face||One front cabinet w/face||Integrated Front Storage rack|
|Two operable windows w/Screens||Two side windows||Two side windows||Two windows|
|Manual roof vent||Manual roof vent||Manual roof vent||Manual roof vent|
|All aluminum exterior||All aluminum exterior||All aluminum exterior||All aluminum exterior|
|x||Galley pass-through door||Galley pass-through door||Large Rear side opening galley door|
|x||Small rear galley door||Large Rear side opening galley door||x|
|x||x||Rear stabilizer jacks||Front Jacks|
|x||x||x||Black Front Storage Box|
|x||x||x||2×3 Steel Off-Road Frame|
|x||x||x||Long soft Ride Leaf Springs w/ Shocks|
As far as the interior goes, it mostly serves as a place to watch a movie, read a book, or go to sleep. It’s a bed with storage. It’s not a bad thing if that is all you need. You can’t expect 5-star accommodations for the price of a 3-star motel.
At the back of the trailer, you will find a large storage space that is large enough to serve the needs of two people. It’s a fairly large space that can be accessed from the inside of the trailer through a connecting hatch in the wall.
SunRay is another company that specializes in micro trailers. Some have toilets and some don’t. The micro trailer that we will be looking at today is 15’5” long. If you want something smaller, they do have units as short as 12’.
All of their campers have kitchens; yes, even the 12-footer. They are decent ones too. The camper that we will be focusing on is the SunRay 129. It’s tall and open design helps to counter the claustrophobic feelings that are commonly felt in micro campers.
A sufficiently equipped kitchen is inset into the side of the trailer. It has a 6 cu ft refrigerator that provides ample space for groceries for two. There’s a high-rise sink, a two-burner stove, and a microwave to do all of your cooking. While there isn’t any counter space outside, there is plenty inside the micro camper. There is sufficient storage in the outer kitchen for the basic dishes and silverware. Finally, the very large awning-like door provides protection from the elements
Comfortable in Hot and Cold Weather
This particular micro camper is equipped with a 16,000 BTU furnace and a 13,500 BTU air conditioner. We are having difficulty finding the details on the insulation, but this combination of climate control devices are pretty effective in such small spaces.
Toilet with Blackwater Tank
A toilet with a black water tank is an uncommon feature for a trailer this size, but it is definitely a welcome one. While it doesn’t have its own separate room, it is contained in a hidden compartment within the dinette seating. Simply remove the cushion, lift the wooden lid, and you have access to the toilet.
Hot and Cold Outdoor Shower
Obviously, it’s not ideal to have the shower outside, but it is definitely better than not having one at all. The major plus side is that this trailer comes equipped with a water heater. You might be outside, but at least you’ll have hot water to keep you warm.
- ATV Rack
- Plenty of Storage
- Huge Dinette
- Awning: 8 Feet, 6 Inches
- Dinette Bed: 54 x 80 (4’6” x 6’8”)
- Water Tanks
- Fresh: 21 Gallons
- Black: 24 Gallons
- Dry Weight: 1,840 lbs
- GVWR: 3,500 lbs
- Length: 15 Feet 5 Inches
- Width: 8 Feet 6 Inches