Trailer tents are a lighter and less expensive alternative for those who are new to camping, allowing you to tow a load that is less than a caravan but still has everything you need for a camping trip.
Trailer tents essentially fold out of a trailer that you tow behind your car, and are assembled in much the same way as a tent, using poles and pegs to erect your shelter for the duration of your holiday.
What Types Of Trailer Tents Are There?
There are a number of different designs of trailer tent, all of which can be towed easily behind a car or RV:
- Trailer Tent
Basic trailer tents are constructed of canvas, which can be folded out of the trailer and assembled much like you would in a tent. Often, they are driven to a campsite and erected on a pitch so that the outside can look like a huge tent.
Varying in size, trailer tents can be simple like a tent or have additional compartments for separate sleeping spaces inside, as well as external awnings for additional covered space for outside, perfect for when you need to dash inside if it starts raining.
- Flip-top trailer tent
Flip-top trailers are quick and easy to set up once you get to the campsite, folding out from the trailer and providing shelter almost instantly with little need for pegging, and the trailer itself folds outwards to become part of the floor of the tent.
Extras such as awnings are available to provide more room should you need additional space during your trip.
- Folding camper
Folding campers offer more facilities than a basic trailer tent, extending from a base unit that contains sleeping space, cooking facilities and a washroom with toilet – much like the base of a caravan.
The difference is that the unit will often be constructed of canvas, with awnings and extensions that open out to provide more internal space with no need for additional pegging.
So after deciding what kind of trailer tent will suit you, the next part before you set off on a journey is to make sure you and your vehicle are legal to tow the trailer en route to the campsite.
Checking You And Your Vehicle Is Legal To Tow
The first thing to check before you set off is whether you are allowed to tow the vehicle on your current licence, and the year you passed your test can affect your entitlement to be allowed to tow.
The combination of the weight of the vehicle and the weight of the trailer and its contents is known as the Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM) and is used to calculate the weight of that you’ll be travelling with as a unit.
If you passed your test before the 1st January 1997, you would automatically have C1 status on your driving licence. C1 classification allows you to drive a vehicle/trailer combination of up to 8.25 tonnes.
If you’ve passed your licence after the 1st January 1997, you’ll have B + B1 classification on your driving licence. This allows you to tow a trailer of more than 750kg, provided your MAM is less than 3.5 tonnes. If you want to tow heavier loads, you’ll have to pass an additional test to achieve C1 status on your licence.
Brakes Or No Brakes?
When selecting a trailer, there are two types to think about, those with brakes and those without. Whichever type you pick can affect not just the movement of the trailer, but also the risk factor when it comes to making your journey.
By law, trailers without brakes must not be loaded to more than half of the unladen weight of the trailer and must be driven with a degree of care. It is advisable to try not to exceed more than 85% of your total kerb weight when loading your car and trailer for a journey.
Check Your Weight
Check your vehicles’ kerb weight or ‘gross train weight’ by looking in your owners’ manual or logbook, alternatively, you can look for your vehicles’ VIN.
Look for the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) plate on your vehicle, usually found under the bonnet or on the inside of one of the door panels. This will give you an idea of vehicle weight and the MAM of the vehicle, allowing you to work out how much you’re able to tow.
Kerb weight, or unladen weight, is essentially the weight of the vehicle when it’s not carrying passengers or goods – including oil, coolant and a full tank of petrol.
By ensuring you’re not overloading your trailer when you travel you can ensure a safer journey for yourself and your fellow road users.
Securing Your Trailer Tent
Because of their basic nature and build materials, trailer tents are seemingly less secure than caravans and motorhomes, putting users more at risk of theft and damage from weather conditions.
Taking out some trailer tent insurance is a useful way of ensuring that, should the worst happen, your tent and equipment will be covered.
Additional security features such as hitch locks and wheel clamps can help to deter thieves by keeping your trailer tent secure while pitched.
If you’re looking to drive your trailer tent to a campsite within the EU, you must ensure you have prepared not only your trailer but also your documents for the journey. Compulsory documents include:
- Driving licence with relevant classification for towing a trailer
- Vehicle documentation – including MOT certificates, road tax documents and log book
- Vehicle and trailer tent insurance documentation
- Travel insurance and European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
Much like travelling with a caravan or motorhome, the following bits of equipment are needed to drive within the EU legally:
- GB stickers or a GB number plate
- Extending mirrors
- Headlight stickers or adjusted headlight beams – fit these on the ferry
- Warning triangles and high-visibility jackets
- First Aid Kit and Travel Pack
- Fire extinguisher
- Spare bulbs
If you’re stopping at campsites in Europe, be sure to look into membership to services such as Camping Key Europe, which will offer discounted pitch prices at campsites throughout the EU, including at high season.
By taking the time to check all aspects of your vehicle, your trailer and your documentation before you embark on your holiday, you can ensure a safe journey to and from the campsite, which will lead to a happy holiday for you and your family.