Every day, I search the web for the coolest RVs that people were once able to buy or perhaps could buy now. There are a lot of awesome campers out there, but a lot of them are shockingly expensive. A reader has pointed out an inexpensive option, and honestly, it’s amazing how much you can get for how little you pay. Space Trailers wants to sell you a trailer that can haul your gear, be the base of a camper build, and more for just $4,399.
Earlier this week, my colleague Thomas wrote about a pretty awesome Jeep-branded off-road trailer. Small utility trailers like these have been around for several decades, and allow an off-roader or military to carry extra equipment, gear, and maybe vehicles with them. I’ve not been able to pinpoint exactly when, but these trailers eventually met at an intersection with the roof tent. While roof tents seem like a recent phenomenon, these have actually been around since at least the 1930s. Check out this 1937 issue of Popular Science, which includes an airport that rotates with the wind, and a roof tent that looks not much different than today’s equivalents.
Roof tents are great. You don’t have to haul a trailer with you and you don’t have to worry about the wind blowing your tent away, either. Plus, you’re sitting off of the ground, where a rainstorm cant’ easily flood out your tent and you’re unlikely to wake up face-to-face with a bear However, roof tents aren’t for everyone. Perhaps you’re towing with an open-top vehicle, and thus have no easy place to mount the tent. Or maybe your vehicle’s roof already has a bunch of stuff on it. Or, you want the convenience of being able to drive away from your campsite without taking your tent with you, but you still want the benefits of a roof tent.
That’s where a basecamp or overlanding trailer comes in. These give you some of the benefits of a roof tent and some of the benefits of a camper trailer, but in a small, lightweight form factor. I’ve seen some awesome variations on this idea through the years, including a Chevy S-10 bed turned into a trailer with a massive roof tent.
Trailers like yesterday’s Jeep-branded ADDAX Overland trailer cost $14,995, and that doesn’t even come with a tent. Prices then rise up to $17,995 to get a tent on it and up to $30,995 to get a refrigerator and a kitchen. For less money, Taxa Outdoors will sell you a Wooly Bear for $12,498, or $18,500 for the same trailer with a Timbren axle-less suspension, more ground clearance, and a 360-degree hitch.
But what if I told you that you could get a trailer like this for far cheaper? Or more specifically, what if reader 4moreMazdas told you?
I’ve really enjoyed the coverage on cool camping trailers, but the pricing is always insane to me!
It’s time you ran an article on Space trailers: https://spacetrailers.com/
Mine would be $5k brand new even with recent price increases and weighs in at 560 lbs dry. I pull it with a Mazda5 loaded up with a 17′ canoe, four mountain bikes, and all the camping stuff we need to tent camp very comfortably, and it’s also a great platform to throw a RTT on if we want to in the future. Check out the space trailer fans page on FB to see some really cool uses and mods!
We’ve camped all over with it, used it for hauling wood, helped my mother in law move twice, etc. Worth every penny.
Space Trailers in Red Wing, Minnesota offers an interesting proposition. For $4,399 you can get its 6500 LowRider ST. Or for the same price, you could get the 6500 HighRider ST. These are both the same trailer, with the difference being how high up the box and tongue sits. A LowRider with 13-inch wheels has a tongue height of 14 inches, while a HighRider with 15-inch wheels has a tongue height of 21 inches. You can also combine a LowRider with 15-inch wheels or a HighRider with 13-inch wheels.
Space Trailers says the change in box height does not change how high the axle sits. The difference is in how the leaf springs are mounted. The HighRider places the leaf springs above the axle, while the LowRider places them below the axle. Ground clearance for that axle isn’t published, but there looks to be some decent room under there.
This is a cargo trailer at heart, so, unlike an overlanding trailer, you could use it to move someone out of their house, haul an ATV or a motorcycle, and then take it camping on the weekend. It weighs just 625 pounds empty, so you could tow it with practically any car on the road today. Heck, some motorcycles could tow this. Part of what makes a Space Trailer different is its removable polyethylene canopy.
The company says that this seals off the trailer’s box from the outside world, perfect for hauling stuff in rain, a snowstorm, or through mud. And when you’re all done, the tongue folds up and the trailer stands up on its end, making storage even easier.
But here’s the part that I really like. You can option your Space Trailer to have roof rack bars so you can put stuff on top of the trailer, including a roof tent. It’s good for a payload of 1,000 pounds, or 600 pounds static weight on the bars. I decided to see how much it would cost to turn one of these into a camping rig.
Let’s do a HighRider in yellow with 15-inch steel wheels. The 15s kick the price up by $150 to $4,549. Now we’ll toss in the 80-inch Space Bars, which adds another $400, for $4,949. Adding in a spare tire ($270), front and rear stabilizer jacks ($400), and heavy-duty struts for the canopy ($220) makes this trailer $5,839. Now we’ll toss a well-reviewed roof tent, the $3,395 Roofnest Condor on top. We’re at $9,234.
The cool part is now you already have a tent camping setup, and the whole cargo area of the trailer is open for whatever you want it to be. Let’s toss in a camping stove for $80, and a neat camp kitchen box for $349. And for some power, we’ll toss in the $749 EcoFlow Delta Mini power station. I’ve been using this on camping trips and it’s been fantastic. While we’re at it, why not a portable toilet for about $129? That brings us to about $10,541, and you could save some serious dough by getting a cheaper roof tent.
Basically, this trailer can be your blank slate for whatever you want it to be, and it won’t cost $30,000 or even $18,000.
This all sounds awesome, but there’s one limitation to know. While Space Trailers shows its customers using its trailers off-road, the trailers come with no off-road protection. So if you take it too deep into the sticks, you can damage something. Officially, Space Trailers says “any type of terrain that could potentially damage your trailer is not what a SPACE Trailer is meant for.” Despite that, as our reader says, these are used by a whole community of people, many of which do take them off-road. Basically, don’t expect to take it rock crawling. But for the price and the additional utility, I think that’s a fine compromise.
Thanks to this reader, I learned about a new camper today. So with that in mind, if you happen to know of a cool camper that people should know about, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org! I’d love to see what is hiding right under my nose.
This post includes links to Amazon. If you buy something, The Autopian might get a commission.
I’ve been following all of Mercedes’ posts on these campers, and yes this is a more affordable option but it’s still not “cheap”, especially if you’re only camping a few times a year.
Early in the pandemic I was worried about what we’d do as a family in the summer if things were still crazy. I like to camp but my wife isn’t a fan (but does it for the kids) so I wanted to upgrade from a tent to make it more comfortable for everyone and stop overstuffing our car. My challenge was to find something I could tow with my 4cyl Outback that would hold all our gear, and wouldn’t break the bank.
I stated looking at light motorcycle tent trailers (yes they are a thing!), and came across a 60’s era Apache Eagle tent trailer few miles from my house for $750 that just needed a little TLC to get back on the road.
*Including* the trailer, I’ve spent about $3k all in, and a lot of that was gear I added for fun (three way power, remote control LED lights, USB everywhere, camp kitchen improvements, etc). It’s dead simple to work on, has two full sized beds (sleeps 4), holds all of of our gear, and weighs basically nothing empty. Plus, when it’s open you have a 5’x7’ open floor area with storage and can stand up in it to change. Can’t do that in a roof top tent.
Granted, we’re not overlanding, but for less than the cost of that Roofnest Condor mentioned above I’ve got a full weekend warrior 3 season setup for a family of 4 that will camp on grid or off pretty comfortably.
If you’re on the hunt for something affordable I’d highly recommend you look at one. I’m still amazed at how compact it is for what you get, and that 50 years on it’s still a great camper even though the world has moved on to other designs. Good ones are only $1000-$1500!
Cheap, how is this cheap?!?!? For more money, I can get a trailer that serves totally different needs and is nothing like this one like a box trailer or a teardrop!
Cheap, how is this cheap? I can find 10,000 military trailers in mint condition around me on craigslist every day. Since absolutely everyone has tools, space to work, and knowledge enough to convert a trailer this is a stupid bad deal. Actually, anyone who doesn’t just buy a block of steel and shape every single part by hand is an idiot because they’re wasting money. This thing weighs 650 lbs, make it out of pure steel like a real man and it should only cost $273 given the 42 cent per lb price on steel right now.
So, if you’re going to call something a bad deal you need to show something like it that’s cheaper or better (not just say it exists). The fact that you can build a trailer like this or buy a trailer nothing like this for cheaper doesn’t really matter.
Yes, this is a lot for a small trailer like this but, unless there’s another trailer like it for cheaper its not a “bad deal”. I see a lot of trailers like this one and usually for more money.
North British 1991 30 Year Old Signatory is a $150 bottle of whiskey. Is that a really wild amount to spend on a beverage, sure. Is it significantly cheaper than almost every other bottle of 30 year old whiskey? Yes, absolutely! As a beverage, it may be a bad deal but as a 30 year old whiskey, it is not.
This, like that bottle. May not be a good deal if you’re flexible on the kind of trailer you want but if you somehow must have this kind of trailer and don’t have space, time, or knowledge to build one then it’s not a “bad deal”
OK, so adding all the things makes it about as expensive as a basic teardrop trailer.
I guess it begs the question, what’s wrong with a teardrop trailer? I’ve got a couple friends with teardrop trailers and they LOVE them. One of them only really uses it for state parks, the other takes it everywhere. It seems like getting a teardrop and then renting a trailer from u-haul when you need to haul junk is the better option.
“OK, so adding all the things makes it about as expensive as a basic teardrop trailer 10 years ago.”
FTFY. Teardrops aren’t 10 grand anymore from what I understand.
Also, this includes $3500 for a freaking tent. It seems like there has to be a cheaper option there.
When visiting Denmark a few years ago, I noticed that many houses in the suburbs had small open trailers parked in the driveway, and almost half the cars had tow hitches. Instead of needing a pickup truck, they were just attaching a bed to their car when needed for gardening or DIY duty and then a normal car the rest of the time. It made so much sense.
This is pretty normal in all Nordic countries. You can usually rent a trailer from the nearest gas station in Finland. There’s also an automated 24h van rental service at the shopping center in my neighborhood, funnily enough only about 25 meters from WW1&2 fortifications because those are dug into every rocky hilltop here.
I take it by “cheap” you mean these are not well built, because this sure is not inexpensive.
This would make more sense for less money: https://www.scottreinharttrailers.com/default.asp?page=xInventoryDetail&id=12789320&p=1&vc=cargo&s=Model&d=A&fr=xAllInventory
You don’t have to set up a tent and take it down.
I agree that this trailer isn’t cheap, but the one you linked is even more expensive. I also hear loading bulk materials in an enclosed trailer is a fun experience.
Me, I’d rather spring for an Apogee.
I was comparing price with bars, lid and rooftop tent. The one I linked is also in Canuck bucks.
I’m surprised they were able to get the weight down on that, looks like way more than 650 pounds
In what world is almost $5k cheap?
The world where people are selling small campers similar to this for $35k.
All these new trailers what ever happened to cutting the bed and frame off a pickup written off on a front end crash, weld a tow hitch on it and boom Bobs your uncle. What happened to pop up trailer tents? Seem new worse ideas for way more money. Tge solution is obvious to me and if i remember the answer when i wake up sober tomorrow i will be looking for investors.
Love that you found a used one. But yeah that thing stripped costs as much as all the mods I did to my 300RX. Custom fabricated roof rack for the Baroud RTT. Rewired electrical for the ARB refrigerator (my gods, we are not camping heathens, some wine must be chilled), and I just snagged the Joolca shower/sink combo. Total spent about $5,200. Now add in the Specialized electric bikes and the special bike rack and hitch and voila we can leave the base camp and go for a ride into town for brunch. (bikes $5,000 ouch, but best thing we have bought ever, hitch 350, rack 800 so another 6,150 and we use the bikes a lot other than camping). Also that think is pricier than the very cool Sylvan Sport Trailer, which seems a lot more useful. (I mean there might be a need for something for the kayaks.
“Adding in a spare tire ($270),”
it may include a fancy bracket but yeah that’s pricey
Tires are creeping up to around $150 each these days. Plus about $50 for the rim. That leaves about $70 for the bracketry and installation. The $400 for crossbars seems a bit much though (note, I have never priced them for a car so I have no idea of this is good or bad.
Mmmmm….how do you access the trailer area with the bars installed? The plastic trailer cover pivots from the front wall and there doesn’t appear to have a tailgate.
Nevermine, coffee hadn’t kicked in….just noticed the tailgate! My bad.
“You’re unlikely to wake up face-to-face with a bear”? Actually, a roof tent appears to be just about the perfect height to do just that. SCNR.
Thanks for taking me up on my post recommendation! I’ll add that everyone should click into “view discussion” on the Facebook link to see some of the really cool mods done by owners.
That’s a hellishly expensive box trailer!!! A plain old galvanized steel 6×4 box trailer in Oz can be had for AU$800 and the polyethylene lid is another $800. So AU$1600. What makes the almost exactly the same Space Trailer good value at the equivalent of nearly AU$6,000?!!!
We don’t get those kind of options in the US. It’s either an open utility trailer or something a lot larger. There’s not a lot in between. It wouldn’t be surprising to find an Aussie ex-pat running this company.
I would like a lid like that too, more useful in winter so I don’t have to empty out all the snow, and the trailer has to be 4 feet inside the box to carry sheet goods- I looked at one a few months back that was 46″ from the factory- WHY ???
I have seen many in person. They are nice but that is still crazy money. Modifying an $800 utility trailer is much cheaper.
That’s what I was thinking all the while. Like, this is cool and all, but isn’t it basically a 4×8 utility trailer with a lid?
It’s actually not even as useful as a 4×8 trailer, because it’s only 7ft long. Northern Tool, or Harbor Freight both have great cheap utility trailers that you could get creative with for a fraction of the price. A cheap utility trailer, trailer/ truck bed cross bars (also available from Northern or HF), and plastic totes to keep your gear dry and organized.
I guess where it makes sense is folks who aren’t quite as DIY-friendly? Idk, I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the price of it too. But that really goes for most “overland” camp trailers. If you’re willing to do the work yourself, you can save a sh!t ton of money, even if you’re buying some of the big things like the RTT outright. Northern Tool and Harbor Freight are great for stuff like that.
I’m pretty handy and considered the diy route before buying mine, but I would have approached the $2500 I spent on my used one without having quite as cohesive a package and higher weight, so I’ve been extremely happy with mine.