Bunkhouse travel trailers that weigh under 5,000 pounds are often a top priority for families with multiple children who still want to travel light.
Weighing under 5,000-pounds also means that you can tow the travel trailer with a robust family-size SUV, without necessarily having to update to a gas-guzzling full-size pickup truck with limited interior legroom.
Of course, this also means that a lot of RV manufacturers are happy to flood the market with models to meet every conceivable family size and travel style.
Some of which might not be in line with how your family loves to answer the call of the open road. This might leave you wondering, what are some of the best bunkhouse travel trailers that weigh under 5,000 pounds?
Two of the top options include the K-Z – Escape E191BHK and the Jayco – Jay Feather Micro 171BH. Though they are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to a high-quality bunkhouse travel trailer that still weighs under 5,000 pounds.
We decided it was high time to get the low down on this arguably crowded segment. So, we dove in headfirst to explore some of the best bunkhouse travel trailers under 5,000 pounds with a keen eye toward quality and the kind of features that families tend to prioritize on an RV adventure.
The Difference Between Dry Weight, GVWR & Towing Capacity
It helps to know a few important terms before we dive deep into the review process. Especially when it comes to the difference between Dry Weight, GVWR, and your tow vehicle’s maximum towing capacity.
This is the weight of the unladen trailer when it is completely empty and devoid of camping gear.
Stands for Gross Vehicle Weight Rating, and this is the maximum weight that the travel trailer can be, based on the frame, suspension, axle, and other structural considerations.
This is the weight or “Cargo” camping equipment and personal items that the manufacturer estimates can be safely loaded into the trailer. When you add dry weight and maximum payload capacity together you get the maximum GVWR for the travel trailer.
Taken in this light it is possible for a travel trailer with a dry weight of less than 5,000-pounds can be overloaded with cargo to the point where it has a real-world gross weight of over 5,000-pounds.
Maximum Towing Capacity
This is the maximum amount that the tow vehicle’s manufacturer estimates that the vehicle can tow. It is calculated based on the frame & chassis tolerances, as well as the strength of the suspension system, the power of the engine, and the gearing of the transmission.
When it comes to determining if your intended tow vehicle can safely pull your preferred travel trailer, you need to compare the rated maximum towing capacity for your make, model, and trim level to the real-world gross weight of the travel trailer.
This is the dry weight plus the weight of the camping gear and equipment you load into it.
6 Great Bunkhouse Travel Trailers Under 5,000 Pounds You Need to See in 2023
While reviewing the best bunkhouse travel trailers under 5,000 pounds, we made sure to keep build quality and long-term value as top priorities.
We also tried to factor in models to meet different family sizes and travel styles, all while keeping niche interests on our radar.
1. Jayco Jay Feather Micro 171BH
The Jay Feather is one of Jayco’s most popular travel trailer platforms. Though most of its traditional floorplans still weigh 5,000 pounds or more.
So, they went back to the drawing board to create the Jayco – Jay Feather Micro 171BH, which has a dry weight of just 3,930 pounds, which is well within the towing capacity of most midsize SUVs like the popular Ford Explorer.
Though there is still a potential weight problem with the Jayco – Jay Feather Micro 171BH in that it has a payload capacity of up to 1,065 pounds.
This means if you absolutely stuff this travel trailer to the gills it can carry a gross weight of up to 4,995-pounds, which pushes the limits of what a vehicle with a 5,000-pound towing capacity can safely pull.
Though in the real world, unless you have an obsessive hoarding problem, I think you would be challenged to come up with over a thousand pounds worth of “Essential” camping gear.
Assuming you can keep your packing within reason and you are willing to travel most of the journey to your campground with dry water storage tanks, you will be treated to a bunkhouse travel trailer for a family that wants to travel light.
It has a queen bed in the front, a pair of bunk beds in the back, and a midship kitchen with everything you need to cook a family meal. There is even a complete bathroom in the back with a shower basin that is deep enough to bathe a small child.
2. Lance TT 2185
Here again, the Lance – TT 2185 is another bunkhouse travel trailer that pushes the limits of what it means to tow a 5,000-pound RV. It has a dry weight of 4,565-pounds, which is still in the range of most robust midsize SUVs.
Though the staggeringly high 2,435 pounds of payload capacity invite an almost abusive amount of cargo, that can push the real-world gross weight way over 5,000 pounds.
Ultimately, it means that if you need to stay under 5,000-pounds of gross weight to meet the safe towing capacity of your intended tow vehicle, then you need to load the Lance – TT 2185 sparingly.
Then make it a point to travel with the fresh and wastewaters storage tanks empty.
Assuming you can keep the Lance – TT 2185 within a reasonable towing range, you will be treated to a premium bunkhouse travel trailer. The interior decor feels more like what you would expect to see in a destination travel trailer of a large motorhome.
There’s a master bed in the front and bunk beds in the back. Each sleeping area has its own wardrobe closet space to keep everyone’s things separates, which is a big deal when you are traveling with the whole family.
One of the things that drives up the dry weight of the Lance – TT 2185 is the mechanical components of the power slide-out section. Though it houses a U-shaped dinette with enough room to let two parents and two children all eat together at the same time.
3. Palomino PaloMini 189BHS
If the Palomino – PaloMini 189BHS is another one of the models we reviewed with a gross vehicle weight rating that pushes right up to the 5,000-pound mark without going over it. This is even taking into account the relatively large capacity water storage tanks and the bodacious 1,096-pound cargo capacity.
This means that with some reasonable packing, and traveling with the fresh and wastewater storage tanks empty, you could easily tow this with a lot of midsize SUVs. A case in point is the popular Ford Explorer, which has a 5,000-pound towing capacity with the manufacturer’s tow package equipped.
The interior of the Palomino – PaloMini 189BHS does a great job of maximizing the available living space in a bunkhouse travel trailer under 5,000 pounds.
This starts with a murphy bed in the front that is a comfortable couch by day and a queen size bed at night.
The single power slide-out section houses a large dinette that is big enough to let the whole family dine together. The rear of the travel trailer pairs two bunk beds with a complete dry bath.
4. K-Z Escape E191BHK
If you are looking for lightweight towing statistics and the kind of conveniences you expect in a large travel trailer, all in one compact package, then you are going to love the K-Z – Escape E191BHK.
For starters, you get a 22 foot-long bunkhouse travel trailer that has an impressively light dry weight of just 3,350 pounds. Yet is still has a maximum payload capacity of nearly 900 pounds.
This means you can bring tons of camping gear and personal items for the whole family, yet still end up with a gross vehicle weight rating of just 4,245-pounds.
This is comfortably within the range of a lot of popular midsize SUVs and most full-size SUVs. What you are treated to is a bunkhouse travel trailer under 5,000 pounds with a lot of the creature comforts of home.
The queen-size bed, power slide-out dinette that converts into a bed, and the bunk beds in the rear mean you can comfortably sleep 5 to 6 people.
All while still being able to enjoy a complete kitchen with a microwave and a fully functional dry bath. You’ll also find a lot to love about the exterior of the K-Z – Escape E191BHK.
The front pass-thru storage compartment lets you keep a lot of gear and helps keep the weight of the bunkhouse travel trailer biased toward the tongue, which is where you want it when towing at highway speeds or reversing into a tight camping spot. There’s also a 10-foot awning to give the family a place to sit in the shade.
Though the “Grill Master” in your family is sure to love the exterior kitchen with a refrigerator and a pullout gas griddle in the rear hatch compartment.
All this in a bunkhouse travel trailer under 5,000 pounds and an MSRP of less than $30,000.
5. Keystone Hideout 176BH
The Keystone – Hideout 176BH is one of the more popular bunkhouse travel trailers on the road today.
It has everything a family needs to travel comfortably, while still only tipping the scales with a dry weight of 3,706 pounds, and modest water storage tanks.
When you add the 3,706-pound dry weight of the Keystone – Hideout 176BH and the 794-pound payload capacity together, you end up with a comfortable GVWR of just 4,500-pounds.
It also has a hitch weight of up to 520-pounds. These numbers push on the maximum towing capacity of some popular midsize SUVs like the Ford Explorer but are still in the range of more robust midsize SUVs like the Dodge Durango. One could complain that the Keystone – Hideout 176BH doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles.
It has the front pass-thru storage compartment, front queen bed, and the bunk beds that you find with a lot of competitor models, and not a lot of other fancy features.
Though, you also see that reflected in the incredibly friendly MSRP of just $20,000, which makes it one of the best budget bunkhouse travel trailers under 5,000 pounds.
6. Coachmen Clipper Ultra-Lite 17BHS
The Coachmen – Clipper Ultra-Lite 17BHS is a lightweight bunkhouse travel trailer that is geared to let families travel in comfort. The 3,437-pound dry weight is comfortably within the range of what most midsize SUVs with a towing package can pull at highway speeds.
Yet even when you load the 988 -pound payload capacity to the max, it still only tips the scales at 4,425 pounds. The high payload capacity of this bunkhouse travel trailer is thanks in part to a large cargo storage bay in the front.
When you are about to hit the road, you can load it up with your essential camping gear, which will help keep the weight biased toward the front, which is what you want for a nimble, secure relationship between the travel trailers tongue and the tow vehicle’s hitch.
When you get to camp, you can set up and then use the exterior cargo hatch to keep shoes and other dirty outdoor items, which helps keep the interior of your camper clean.
There is a minor tradeoff to the lightweight characteristics of the Coachmen – Clipper Ultra-Lite 17BHS, in that the fresh and wastewater storage tanks are a little on the small side.
If you are camping off the grid with your family, they won’t be able to support you for more than perhaps a day or two. Though if you are the type of family that prefers to stay connected to an RV park’s resources, this is a non-factor.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Can I Safely Tow?
The prevailing wisdom is that you should not tow more than 80% of your vehicle’s rated maximum towing capacity.
Let’s say that you have a 2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD which has a maximum towing capacity of 6,800 pounds. 80% of this is 5,440-pounds.
Keeping the real-world gross weight of your bunkhouse travel trailer under 5,000 pounds will give you plenty of power in reserve for doing things like accelerating up to highway speed, towing the travel trailer over loose surfaces, or pulling it up a steep incline.
How Much Weight Does A Slide-Out Section Add To A Travel Trailer?
A power slide-out section can add 300 to 600-pounds to an RV under 25-feet long. Though they are a great way to add the kind of interior living space that a lot of families prioritize.
A lot of RV manufacturers offer their popular models with nearly identical floorplans. Except one floor plan will have a slide-out section and another won’t, just to save some weight.
If you are concerned about the gross weight then, you might want to look for a bunkhouse travel trailer that weighs under 5,000 pounds without a slide-out.
There are a lot of great bunkhouse travel trailers under 5,000-pounds. Ultimately, the one that is best for your family will come down to your travel style.
It can also be influenced by the maximum towing capacity of your vehicle, as well as how heavily you want to pack it with camping gear.
If you are looking for a truly lightweight model that is impossible to overpack, then the K-Z – Escape E191BHK might be the best bunkhouse travel trailer under 5,000-pounds. Not only does it have a gross vehicle weight rating of 4,245 when fully loaded, but it even comes with an exterior kitchen and grill station!
If you are looking for the best budget bunkhouse travel trailer under 5,000-pounds, then you might want to move the Keystone – Hideout 176BH up your list. It has the bunks you want to sleep the whole family and a tidy real-world gross weight at an MSRP that will be easy on your budget.