Trailer tent buying guide - The Camping and Caravanning Club
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Trailer Tent Buying Guide

There are a number of ways and places you can buy a new or used trailer tent or folding camper.

Don't buy without a try

Whether you are buying new or second hand always get the seller to erect the trailer tent or folding camper for you. Then get him to take it down and let you have a go. If the seller isn’t keen, find another one. You really do need to make sure you are happy putting the unit up and taking it down because you’ll need to do that every time you take it camping.

Brakes or no brakes?

Small trailer tents may have no brakes whereas bigger units must have brakes fitted. The law says that a trailer tent must be fitted with brakes if its maximum permitted weight exceeds 750kg or the kerbweight of the car is less than twice the loaded weight of the trailer. On heavier models, brakes will be fitted as standard but on small models they may well be available as an optional extra. We would always recommend having brakes. You can find out more about the trailer you can legally tow on our What can I tow? page.

Saving space in store

Many trailer tents can be stored on their side. Manufacturers can supply skids or sometimes castors which make moving them relatively easy. You’ll probably need a couple of adults to tip one on to its side but once tipped it takes up a lot less room and can be stored beside a car in a garage or against the wall, perhaps beside your house.

Everything including the kitchen sink

Some trailer tents have a kitchen as standard, others offer it as an extra. Some kitchens can be used without unfolding any part of the tent. With these you can use the kitchen to make tea if you stop for a break on your journey. Trailer tent kitchens can be carried at the front of the unit, or at the back or even inside the trailer. Remember, a kitchen will add weight. Make sure it doesn’t overload your towing ability. On site, once the tent has been erected, the kitchen can be moved inside as long as there's a suitably ventilated place for it to stand, away from any fabric that could catch fire. Some larger kitchens can take two adults to carry them. Kitchens often contain storage for gas cylinders, removing these will make the unit lighter to carry.

It doesn't have to be new

There are lots of second-hand trailer tents on the market. Here’s a list of things to check out before you buy.

  • Check the bodywork for rust, water leaks or damage
  • Check doors, lids and catches for wear and look at the main body hinges and frame poles, particularly where they fit on to the body of the tent
  • Check tyres carefully. Make sure there are no bulges, splits or cracking. It’s best to do this with the wheels off, that way you can also check the wheel bearings
  • Look at the canvas. If you spot mildew, walk away. Is there wear where the canvas rubs on frame or bodywork?  
  • Check the seams for fraying and look out for water stains 
  • Are the zips working well? 
  • Are the mudwalls (the extra flaps at the bottom of the canvas that stop mud splashing on to the main fabric) in good condition? Though not all units have them
  • Windows should be clear. Look out for crazing, bad discolouration or splits
  • If there’s a cooker, light the burners. You should be looking for a healthy blue flame 
  • Connect the trailer to your car and make sure the road lamps work properly
  • While you’re connected, make sure things like water pumps and interior lights work
  • If there’s a mains electricity installation, has it been certified by an electrician?

On the next page we'll talk about towing your trailer tent and the law

Club Care Insurance

Thinking of buying a trailer tent? Club Care's comprehensive trailer tent insurance policy gives you insurance cover on the move.

Trailer Tent Insurance