Compact Trailers Remain the RV Adventure Trend for 2011

January 1, 2011/Steve Tackett


Most companies in the Recreational Vehicle industry that manufacture towable RVs have started their own lines of smaller or ultra light trailers because they make sense for today’s market. Translated, that means what’s selling and bringing in cash flow.
Evidence of the upsurge in compact trailer design and introduction was plainly visible at the recent Louisville RV show, the RV’s largest industry-only trade show. Hosted by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, the Louisville show is the largest single gathering of RV manufacturers and suppliers, and they showcase the best and most innovative RV-related vehicles and accessories.
There were a ream of big, new Class A and other motorhomes on display this year, as usual, but in regards to lightweight trailers, Louisville did not disappoint.
From style and content standpoints, the new Element from Evergreen Recreational Vehicles ( was a standout of the show. The Element presents a striking departure from the norm for RV cosmetics with its smooth, highly aerodynamic body, deeply rounded and contrasting-color edge trim and swept-under aft wall. Molded wheel covers and zero RV-style graphics further set this trailer’s image apart.
The Element uses no wood in its construction, instead featuring “green friendly” ComposiTek construction and alternate hybrid cabinetry. Its 4,585-pound Gross Vehicle Weight Rating and 3,300-pound Unloaded Vehicle Weight mean the trailer is towable by many smaller vehicles.
Inside, the Element’s wide-open floorplan with a forward bath and aft lounge/kitchen is visually clean and contemporary.

Compact Trailer

The use of forward-thinking technology and materials gives the designers free reign to plan a vehicle that’s effective, functional and appealing to a buyer with an eye for a modern-looking RV.
Interestingly, the company also points out that its tires are nitrogen-filled and balanced. While the virtues vs. cost of nitrogen for tire inflation are still controversial, balancing those tires is a proven advantage that’s worth promoting.
Over on the more conventional side of things there’s the new Tracer Micro Series from Prime Time Manufacturing ( The Tracer 199RKS illustrates how far ultra light trailer design has progressed. Not only does it feature the typical light weight, tipping the scales at 2,708 pounds dry (empty of fluids and cargo) weight, it includes a slideout room with sofa/bed, forward queen bed and aft-corner wet bath.
It’s no entry-level rig, either. The Tracer features smooth skin, Eternabond laminated construction and aluminum framing. Other standard features include stabilizer jacks, aluminum wheels, an A&E awning, a diamond-plate rock guard up front and solid wood core cabinets. There’s no need to go low-end when choosing an ultra light these days.
The 199RKS includes an unusual but increasingly common feature in that its wheels and tires are fully outside the exterior sidewalls.

Compact trailer side view

External fenders like those on a utility trailer keep wheel spray in check, and this feature means there are no interior wheel wells around which the trailer’s interior designers must work. Given the compact size of a typical ultra light trailer, that’s a valuable bit of space efficiency.
Our friends in the RV factory design departments haven’t forgotten those of us who enjoy retro-style rigs. While some RVs are retro-memorable primarily in name — for example, the new Shasta series uses the name but none of the older styling — units like the new White Water Retro model 130 from Riverside RV (www.campriverside,com) are visually and technically reminiscent of classic RVs of yore.
As for statistics, the model 130 is 14’6″ long, weighs 1,640 pounds dry (empty of the cargo and fluids you’ll be carrying) and its under-7-foot height ensures it can be parked in many garages. Smooth skin is available but corrugated antique-style aluminum skin, aided by moon caps on steel wheels and complementary-color body skin panels, give the trailer a seriously vintage “canned ham” look.
Although the trailer’s low exterior profile, which helps with fuel economy by reducing wind resistance, has cut down on interior headroom, all is not lost for tall RVers. Riverside has added a dropped floor section that makes maneuvering in the trailer somewhat easier. The floorplan is classic retro, with a small dinette/bed up front, a fixed bed in back, small galley streetside and a refrigerator and storage curbside. It’s not a trailer for a full-timer, but for weekending vintage RV fun, it should work great.
The market drives the designers and marketers, and today’s RV buyer interested in a smaller unit is inspiring a wealth of selection. Your local RV dealership should be awash with interesting new RVs for the 2011 model year. Check them out and enjoy some shopping surprises. — Jeff Johnston, Motor Matters

The new Element from Evergreen RVs is an ultra light trailer built with green-friendly materials and processes.
The new Tracer 199RKS takes the ultrahigh trailer concept and bumps it up a notch with quality construction, a functional interior and a ream of standard features.

Copyright, Motor Matters, 2011