Trailer Tent or Folding Camper: Which Is Best?

Choosing between a folding camper and trailer tent is tough, because both have massive advantages. Owners of folding campers and trailer tents alike talk about why their unit is better than the other, so choosing the right one for you is tough!

There’s no definitive answer to whether a trailer tent or folding camper is best. It’s purely based on your opinion. In my opinion, a folding camper is best because folding campers tend to be easier to put up and they also have more features. However, trailer tents also have notable advantages over folding campers, so I’ve written this blog post to compare the two.

Keep on reading to see my definitive comparison of trailer tents and folding campers which will help you to decide which is best for you.


Starting off with one of the most important considerations when deciding between a folding camper and a trailer tent: price. Folding campers tend to cost more than trailer tents, both second hand and brand new.

To demonstrate the difference in price between folding campers and trailer tents, I have selected a popular trailer tent and folding camper to compare.

The Camp-let Dream trailer tent is a popular addition to the Isabella Camp-let range, a brand new model released in 2019.

The Camp-let Dream with awning attached. © Isabella

The Camp-let Dream has many of the features that most folding campers do. It has a lovely kitchen, which you use in the awning, as well as one double bed with a seating area that can be converted into an additional double bed. At Camperlands UK, the Camp-let Dream is available for £6,199 at the time of writing.

The Pennine Fiesta made a welcome return in 2020. As you may know, Pennine is one of the major folding camper manufacturers and the Fiesta is one of the smaller, more cost-effective models in the Pennine range.

The inside of a Pennine Fiesta 2020 showing kitchen and one double bed. © Pennine Outdoor Leisure

As you can see in the picture above, the Pennine Fiesta features a fully-integrated kitchen, as well as two comfortable double beds. There’s plenty of space in the Fiesta for relaxing and the Fiesta also comes with a full awning offering extra room where needed. The Fiesta also comes with a cassette toilet as standard, so you really have everything that you need.

The 2020 Pennine Fiesta is available for £13,695 from Pennine Outdoor Leisure at the time of writing. This means a price difference of £7,496 between a brand new Camp-let Dream and a Pennine Fiesta. This difference is pretty significant if you’re choosing which unit to buy based on price.

On the second-hand market, pricing isn’t as drastically different. As I’ve said before, folding camper owners often don’t realise the value of their unit. This means you can get a real bargain, particularly if you’re hunting for a folding camper or trailer tent out of season.

Brand new trailer tents are usually much cheaper than folding campers. As seen above, the price difference between a new trailer tent and a folding camper of similar specifications can be significant.


Another important consideration is the features and facilities that you will find in trailer tents and folding campers. Generally, folding campers will have many more features and facilities than you’ll find in the average trailer tent.

Folding campers contain all the facilities that you’ll find in a caravan, other than a shower (although some of the latest folding campers have an external shower point). Facilities and features obviously differ depending on the model you choose. However, in most folding campers, you will find all of the following:

  • Fridge
  • Wardrobes
  • Cupboards
  • Washroom with cassette toilet
  • Hobs
  • Grill
  • Full oven
  • Sink
  • Settees
  • Dining table
Inside a Pennine Pathfinder 2020. Image shows full oven, washroom compartment and storage space. ©  Pennine Outdoor Leisure Ltd

In most trailer tents, you’ll miss out on the majority of the features and facilities I’ve detailed above. Particularly in the older trailer tents, you won’t have much more than beds, a small seating area and a kitchen of some sort. This isn’t very important if you’re stopping on campsites that have toilets and showering facilities. However, it is nice to have facilities such as a washroom inside your unit so you don’t have to go to communal toilets in the cold and rain!

Suffice to say, trailer tents aren’t as luxurious as folding campers. Folding campers tend to have many more features and facilities, even in the older, cheaper models.

Ease of Setup

The time it takes to put up a unit is an important factor when it comes to picking the right one for you. If the unit is hard to put up or it takes too long, you’re less likely to make the most of it.

Folding campers are easy to put up, and the main unit can be erected in around 15 – 20 minutes. This includes the time that it takes to sort out everything inside the unit as well as actually putting it up. The difference in time between putting up a large folding camper, such as a Pathfinder, and a smaller folding camper, such as a Fiesta, isn’t too noticeable.

If you are using the awning with your folding camper, setup time is longer and more complicated. In my experience, putting up the awning is tough and requires more than one person as it’s rather difficult. Putting up a large awning can take anywhere between 15 – 30 minutes, which significantly increases the time you need to set up your unit fully.

The time it takes to set up a trailer tent will vary based on your experience and the number of people setting it up. However, it takes around an hour to fully erect an average trailer tent. Erecting the main unit doesn’t take long at all, although pegging the canvas into the ground can take a long time. The vast majority of that 1 hour setup timing is putting up the awning. On larger trailer tents, the awning alone can take 45 minutes to set up. Remember, you can’t really use a trailer tent without the awning. You need to set up the awning so that you have space for your kitchen, portable toilet and so on.

Erecting a folding camper is easier and quicker than setting up a trailer tent. You must use the awning with a trailer tent, which can take around 45 minutes or more to put up. Furthermore, you have to peg the unit into the ground which can be time-consuming. Leveling when setting up a trailer tent can also take up a lot of time, so the folding camper’s the best option here if you want a unit that’s easy to put up.


Wondering which unit is easiest to tow and which is the most fuel-conservative? If you’re not a fan of towing or you don’t have much experience, how easy it is to tow your unit makes a big difference.

The average trailer tent is very easy to tow, even if you do not have any experience towing or you’re lacking in confidence. There are several reasons that trailer tents are so easy to tow, including:

  • Trailer tents are light
  • Trailer tents tend to be small
  • Trailer tents can be towed by virtually any car

Trailer tents are usually even lighter than folding campers, with unit weights ranging from under 150kg up to 500kg. In comparison with folding campers, your car will be more fuel-conservative when towing a trailer tent. Furthermore, you’re towing less weight, meaning that towing is naturally easier even for those without much experience.

Trailer tents tend to be small, so visibility is greater than with a folding camper when towing. One of the worst things about towing anything is the reduced visibility. I don’t know about you, but it makes me nervous and it’s seriously off-putting! With most trailer tents, visibility is so good you probably won’t even need towing mirrors.

Folding campers tend to be bigger and heavier than trailer tents. The average weight of a folding camper is 600kg, with weights usually falling between 600kg and 1,000kg.

Since folding campers are heavier, your fuel consumption will be comparatively higher than when towing a trailer tent. The difference won’t be too significant, but it’s something to keep in mind. Furthermore, visibility can be poor with a folding camper, although towing mirrors obviously help here. Depending on the model of folding camper that you choose, you might be unable to see around it or out of your car’s back window when towing it. You’ll have to make sure you use the appropriate equipment, such as towing mirrors, when towing a folding camper.

Towing a trailer tent is easier and cheaper than towing a folding camper. Through personal experience, I’ve found the difference isn’t too significant. However, if you’re not fond of towing, this could be a deciding factor when it comes to choosing the best unit for you.


Storage is yet another important consideration when you’re choosing between a trailer tent and a folding camper. You need to know that you can easily store everything in your unit that you want to take on holiday with you.

Despite their relatively small size, you can store an awful lot in a folding camper. Not only do you have plenty of cupboard space for food and so on, but there’s also plenty of room in your unit for everything you want to take on holiday with you. For example, you can easily store electronics, toys, folding chairs, windbreaks and a portable toilet in your unit. This means no more cramming everything into the car with you so you’re uncomfortable for your entire journey.

The way that you can store your belongings in a trailer tent is very similar. Although you won’t have as much storage as you would have with a folding camper, you can still store plenty in a trailer tent such as your clothing and a folding chair or two. Again, this means you get to avoid cramming everything into the car with you like you would otherwise!

In terms of storage once the unit is erected, the folding camper has much more storage than a trailer tent. Folding campers have plenty of cupboard space in general as well as regularly having some form of ‘hidden’ storage, such as under the settee in some models.

A trailer tent is just that: a tent. This means that you’re not going to have cupboards or any kind of hidden storage. While you can store your belongings in the tent or in the awning, you’re not going to have as much storage space as you would have with a folding camper.

A folding camper is larger, so you can store much more in the unit when travelling to and from your destination. Once a folding camper is erected, you also have plenty of cupboard space as well as hidden storage. You don’t have this in a trailer tent, so that’s why a folding camper is so much better in terms of storage space.

Deciding Between A Folding Camper And A Trailer Tent

As you can see from the comparison above, it’s hard to say which unit is best. While I would always go for a folding camper over a trailer tent, a trailer tent is better in some respects, since it’s easier to store and your car will use less fuel when towing one.

Deciding between a folding camper and a trailer tent is as simple as looking at a comparison such as the one above and knowing which factors are most important to you.

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