The travel trailer market is large, competitive, and well established. This makes deciding on a brand to go with, or a model to select from amidst the sea of options a daunting task. This post hopes to cut through the thick and highlight five popular and reputable travel trailer brands which you can select based on your individual needs, preferences, and budget. As such, this top five follows no particular order – hoping instead to provide a compelling account of what makes each brand exceptional.
Winnebago is perhaps the single most recognizable brand in the North American travel trailer industry and is sure to appear in any recommendation lists surrounding the topic. Like brands such as Kleenex, Band-Aid, etc. Winnebago is sufficiently recognizable in some communities to be used interchangeably with categorical names like RV or travel trailer. On the whole Winnebago is a more upscale trailer brand, though certainly not in such a manner that it competes with Airstream or Living Vehicle. Rather, Winnebago's closest competition is something like Coachman. Nevertheless, both brands occupy this list because they emphasize different lifestyles and feature sets.
Winnebago's are decisively sports-utility vehicles. Not SUVs of course – they are travel trailers – but vehicles which are kitted out for adventure and wilderness. They are rugged and have amenities suited to camping, mountain-biking, etc. rather than luxury, or feeling like you're staying at a hotel while parked in a trailer park. Certainly, they are not lacking in comfort! But, with names like 'Hike' and 'Voyage', Winnebago know who they are trying to be.
While Airstream focuses on producing travel trailers like the rest of the brands you see presented here, that brand (as well as Living Vehicle) end up with a substantially different trailer than the others seen here. The best way to frame this difference might be along the lines of the term 'recreation' which you see used often to describe RVs and trailers designed by Winnebago or Coachman. It is fair to say that, simply put, once you start looking at Airstream's travel trailers, you've left the realm of recreation – these are towable homes!
This change in emphasis is reflected in the price of Airstream travel trailers. As expensive as some beginner homes, Airstream trailers are built to last for generations, and have been proven to do so, having been around since the first half of the twentieth century. Airstream trailers boast an iconic all metal exterior with a classy modernist form factor. These trailers are bound to stand out, and the quality of the product is spoken for by their legacy.
Jayco is another big name in the travel trailer market. Jayco is remarkable for its accessibility and budget friendliness. In many instances Jayco travel trailers knock several thousand dollars (USD) off the price of comparable trailers from Coachman or Winnebago. Moreover, these savings come without compromise in terms of quality or expected longevity. Jayco is simply more spartan when it comes to accessories and non-essential amenities, meaning you can get just what you need to camp and road trip, no more no less.
In terms of 2022 offerings, Jayco has introduced an update to their best-selling Jay Flight model, one of the most popular family-oriented travel trailers in the market. For first time travel trailer owners looking to conserve their cash, Jayco offers the two most affordable trailers sold by a brand on this list, the Jay Feather Micro and Jay Flight SLX 7. These models come in at a palatable ~20 and ~22 thousand respectively.
Forest River / Coachman
While Forest River RVs may themselves occupy only a modest chunk of the travel trailer market, the absence of their name from many trailer parks disguises a secret ubiquity. Forest River RV is only one label operated by the larger Forest River Inc., which owns and operates other major names like Coachman, East to West, and Shasta. Taken as a whole Forest River actually cuts the largest piece of the RV market pie.
While each brand / label regularly sees its own unique models put into production, Coachman and Forest River RV have the most the most attention, especially in the travel trailer market, and Coachman in particular regularly innovates within the market. The new Apex Ultra-Lite, for instance, was awarded best new model by RV Pro, demonstrating outstanding improvements in travel trailer efficiency, managing to put a larger trailer behind vehicles with lighter tow capacities.
Living Vehicle is a relative newcomer to the travel trailer space and they are making big, big moves. Like Airstream, Living Vehicle transitions travel trailers from the recreation market to the aspiration of living on the road – or off it. While all metal exterior betrays a debt and inspiration from Airstream, Living Vehicle augments the possibilities, and the price, even further. For instance, Living Vehicle has trailers equipped with solar panels that allow you to live completely off the grid for extended periods of time. Whereas Airstream's price comes more strictly from the needs of long-term, durable mobile living, Living Vehicle amps up the luxury and feature set to the Nth degree. If you're looking for the absolute cutting edge of travel trailers, Living Vehicle is without question the industry leader.
Overall, 2022 is a great year to buy a travel trailer. With decades of competition buffing the market to a shine, there are great options at every price point, and exciting new developments being made. This list outlines all the major players, price points, and feature sets that make up the market.
Fortunately, in 2022 we're seeing some return to normal in the production of travel trailers. Prior years saw a shortage, for obvious reasons, and while you can expect a bit of a wait getting something like a Living Vehicle, it should be getting easier to get a trailer from other industry leaders. This wait may have been for the better – new models and updates being put out by the brands listed here are receiving heaps of praise.