What Is the Difference Between A Folding Camper & A Trailer Tent?

At a quick glance, the difference between a folding camper and a trailer tent isn’t very apparent. The difference comes with the setup of your camp. 

A trailer tent consists of a tent within a trailer that you are able to pull out and peg to the ground, where part of the trailer is used as a bedroom area. A folding camper does not have any part pegged to the ground; but instead, they have a bedroom area that slides out from the trailer part. 

There is a lot more to the difference between the two and knowing which one you might want to add to your camping gear collection. Here are some of the key differences and what to know before purchasing a folding camper or trailer tent.  

What is a Trailer Tent? 

A trailer tent is a tent that is pulled out from a trailer that is towed behind a vehicle, and then it is set up and pegged to the ground for stability. It is pegged and set up in basically the same way that you would put up a frame tent. 

Sometimes it’s difficult to tell whether a trailer tent is actually on a trailer or not. The key way to tell is if you are able to see a trailer hitch on the side of the tent. Usually, the trailer actually works as the bedroom area as it is elevated. 

There is a lot of variety when it comes to trailer tents; there are tons of different trailers, sizes, as well as ranges in the durability of the material being used. Overall, a trailer tent is a great option if you want an easy and relatively fast camping setup. 

What is a Folding Camper? 

A folding camper is essentially a trailer that is towed behind a vehicle, which then you are able to set up into a miniature camper easily. The camper has all of the luxuries of a caravan; however, you are still able to sleep under a canvas for the feeling of being in nature. 

Folding campers usually come with some key necessities that help distinguish them in the camping world. Some of these necessities include: 

• Hob 

• Fridge 

• Oven

• Sink

• Washroom 

Of course, you can get a broad spectrum of additions for your folding camper; it just comes down to how much you want to spend on one. For the nicer models, some even come with outdoor showers and a form of central heating, which in some cases is well worth the extra money. 

What are the Differences Between The Two? 

The difference between a trailer tent and a folding camper is not so evident until you look at the setup process. Aside from that, there are also a lot of differences in the: 

  • Prices 
  • Material durability 
  • Structure, etc. 

Keep reading to learn more about each option.

A Trailer Tent is Pegged, a Folding Camper is Not

This is the biggest and most obvious difference between a trailer tent and a folding camper. It all comes down to the setup and whether or not you have to peg a tent into the ground. The trailer in each of the camping devices just has a bit of a different function, although both are holding your camping station inside. 

In a trailer tent, the trailer itself acts as the bed area platform in most cases. In a folding camper, the trailer acts as basically your entire space, with the bed usually being to the side of the setup. 

With both setups, you have a raised platform space for your bed, and there are additions to have extra space with the use of an awning. While the biggest difference is the setup, there are many other differences as far as what each camping setup can accommodate and what you can get for the price. 

A Trailer Tent Requires More Set Up 

Trailer tents always require more setup time than a folding camper, but it really just depends on your trailer’s style and the additions you may have. In every case, you will have to peg your tent into the ground. However, some trailer tents have options to add awnings, or they even come with one. 

If you choose to have a trailer tent with an awning, then you should expect to plan for a bit more set up time. The plus side to this is that having an awning is a fantastic luxury while camping as you have a separate space free from your bed area. 

While a trailer tent does take more time to set up, it is well worth it, and you can have a free-range as well as customizable space to take with you almost anywhere. 

Folding Campers are Typically More Expensive 

Folding campers are usually more expensive than trailer tents, considering, of course, the add-ons one could choose for their folding camper or trailer tent. There is a good reason for this. Folding campers can offer many more options amenities-wise than a trailer tent. 

A trailer tent is as simple as a large tent most of the time. However, folding campers come with many different amenities that were listed above. Additional amenities such as central heating or an outdoor shower will increase the price of a folding camper. Still, all are well worth it to have a more luxurious camping experience. 

Another reason why folding campers tend to be more expensive is that they are a lot easier to set up. The ease of having something that basically sets itself up is well worth it to many, especially those who may not be in the best physical condition to set up a tent. 

Folding Campers are Overall More Accessible

If you want something that is less work to set up and can be set up anywhere vs. the trailer tent, which needs to be pegged down, folding campers would be a better option. They are more accessible to the majority of both people and places as far as usage goes. 

Wherever you can tow your folding camper is a place where you can set it up and camp. This differs from a trailer tent because you need to find a flat location with an area to be able to peg down a tent. 

Not to say that trailer tents aren’t accessible in many places, but folding campers definitely have their range of mobility. 

Folding Campers Tend to be More Durable

Folding campers tend to be more durable simply because they have a bit sturdier of a setup. This does depend on what type of material is being used and which folding tent you might be comparing it to, but overall, they are more durable and, if kept in good condition, can last a really long time. 

Trailer tents tend still durable. It mainly depends on the durability of the canvas being used. The better the canvas, the longer the trailer tent is going to last. With both trailer tents and folding campers, if you keep them in the best condition possible, they will be better for the long run.  

Budget Considerations

Both trailer tents and folding campers vary greatly in the budget department, so it just depends on what you can do the most with for what you have to spend. Trailer tents are definitely more budget-friendly and typically range from about $3,000 to $7000. 

On the other hand, folding campers have a much larger price range due to everything you can modify and add to them. This has resulted in them ranging in cost from about $5000 to nearly $180,000. This has created a very competitive industry, but this also means there are many really nice options if that’s the route you want to take. 

Which Recreational Vehicle is Better?

There are a ton of pros and cons to both trailer tents and folding campers. To say which is better really depends on what you are looking for, how much you want to spend, and how accessible you want your camping setup to be. 

Both are Easy to Store 

Trailer tents and folding campers’ size-wise are both very compact for camping set up as nice as they are and are easy to store. Also, both of them are relatively easy to tow as they don’t weigh very much in comparison to traditional campers or caravans. 

They both can be easier to pitch than a regular tent and are easier to take down than a normal tent, too. This will depend on how complex of a setup you get and the additions you may choose to have as well. 

Both Have Certain Limitations 

As with towing anything, there are limitations as far as how fast you are able to go and the places you are actually able to take the trailer. Depending on where you live, you most likely will have to go slower than the rest of the traffic when towing. 

Additionally, you will need to make sure that wherever you plan on going will be accessible with a trailer attached to your vehicle. Being a smaller size, trailer tents and folding campers can make it to many places that larger vehicles cannot. 

The good thing about towing this size of a trailer is that many more cars are able to do it vs. larger campers or recreational vehicles that require a larger truck to tow. Many trailer tents and folding campers are actually able to be towed by an SUV in many cases, which is perfect for anyone who doesn’t have a truck. 

Both have Ready Made Beds

Both trailer tents and folding campers have an area that is designated for your bed, which brings a little bit of luxury into your camping experience. Many folding campers have mattresses already built in them, but unfortunately, the same doesn’t always go for trailer tents.  

Trailer tents, while they may not have a bed built-in, usually have a platform where you can put a mattress or bed of some sort. This is nice because you are raised off the ground, and you have a flat surface to set up your bed. 

The Time it Takes to Set-up Camp 

The time it takes for you to set up camp with both trailer tents and folding campers really just depends on the model you have. In general, trailer tents do require a bit more time and energy in order to set up. 

Folding camper setups are usually faster because you don’t have to go through and set up a whole tent. Usually, there is some sort of handle to turn that raises the folding camper’s tent area for you. 

Folding Campers are Easier 

Overall, folding campers are significantly easier to set up and use. However, the takedown depends on the camper itself, as some are more difficult than others. Many folding campers can be put up within a few minutes, and then you are all ready to camp! 

There are some models of folding campers that require more setup than others simply because of amenities, size, and where you are choosing to camp. If set up is something that could potentially be an issue for you, be sure to look into specific camping trailer setups and what they individually require. 

There are still many trailer tent setups that are easy to put up. However, they do require more labor most of the time. While folding campers are generally easier, you can still find relatively simple trailer tents. 

Both Setups Vary in Weight

As both trailer tents and folding campers require a trailer of some sort to tow, this means that both of them could vary greatly in weight which is something to consider when purchasing one of these camping devices. 

It’s important first to check your vehicle’s towing capacity and then compare that to different models of camping trailers and trailer tents. In general, camping trailers do tend to be heavier because of added equipment and amenities. 

A lot of the weight is the trailer itself in a trailer tent because your camping setup is still a tent canvas. In a folding camper, the weight could vary greatly, so it’s very important to make sure that you have a capable vehicle and both a legal weight on the trailer. 

Packing Up Your Camping Set-Up 

Packing up your setup depends on if you have a trailer tent or a folding camper. However, both require you to pay attention to several things before packing up your setup. In order to put them back in the best way, it’s important to try to put them away as nicely as it was packed up beforehand. 

With both setups, but especially trailer tents, you want to make sure that the canvas is free of any moisture as this could result in mildew if stored for too long without being cleaned. This is why it is great to purchase an additional rain cover that you can keep separate from the rest of your setup. 

Packing up both setups is relatively simple, but there are definitely some trailer tents and folding campers that will be easier than others. How to pack up your setup is very important to know before going out in your trailer tent or folding camper, and it is suggested that you practice both setting it up and putting it away before your first trip. 

Folding Campers Tend to Be Better for Off-Grid

Being able to go off-grid with your camping setup is something that is incredibly important for many people. Folding campers are typically better with having many amenities and essentials that you need to go off-grid. 

The convenient thing about folding campers is that you have everything right at your fingertips and in a way that is compact and well set up. Depending on what you want, you can cook, bathe, sleep and relax all from your folding camper. 

This doesn’t mean that trailer tents don’t have the off-grid capacity. However, there is a lot more that you would need to set up with that, such as a separate stove or outdoor shower. This is still very doable, and the equipment to do this can be found at many camping supply stores. 

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