When it comes to travel trailers a gross weight rating of 6,000-pounds or less tends to be the breaking point for what a robust mid-size SUV can safely pull at highway speeds.
This makes modest-weight travel trailers a high priority for families that don’t want to take on the additional investment of pickup truck just to tow their favorite travel trailer with them on summer vacations.
Of course, RV manufacturers are keen on the popularity of these models and have been quick to flood the market with a staggering array of options.
This can understandably leave you scratching your head wondering what is the best travel trailer under 6,000-pounds for my family?
Two of the most popular options are the 2021 Winnebago – Hike H172BH and the 2021 Jayco – Jay Feather Micro 166FBS.
Though if you have a larger family, who needs extra sleeping and elbow room then the 2021 Palomino – Puma XLE Lite 22RBC might be the best travel trailer under 6,000-pounds to meet your needs.
It seemed pretty clear to us that it was time to take a deeper dive into this crowded niche to help find the best travel trailers under 6,000-pounds to meet a family’s needs.
This included looking at models that are geared for niche interests like boondocking or keeping you comfortable in cool temperatures.
Important Towing Weight Terms
starts with getting you familiarized with some key terminology to make sure that your tow vehicle can safely pull the travel trailer you fall in love with.
Being mindful of these terms can make all the difference between a safe towing experience and a potentially vacation-ruining accident on the road.
This is the weight that the travel trailer weighs when it is completely empty.
Sometimes referred to as the curb weight, you need to be mindful that a travel trailer with a dry weight under 6,000-pounds, might be loaded with gear that will put it above the safe maximum towing capacity of your intended tow vehicle.
Sometimes referred to as “Cargo Capacity” this is the travel trailer manufacturer’s estimated storage capacity that the frame and suspension can handle.
If you add up the weight of your cookware, clothes, and other camping equipment, it should have a total weight that is less than the rated payload capacity.
This number is then added to the dry weight to assess the final gross weight of the travel trailer before you ever connect the tongue to the hitch of your tow vehicle.
It stands for “Gross Vehicle Weight Rating” which indicates the final weight of the travel trailer when you add the dry weight to the maximum payload capacity.
When it comes to towing safety and handling the gross weight of your travel trailer is the most important figure to compare against your tow vehicle’s towing specifications.
Hitch Or Tongue Weight
This is the amount of weight that the tongue of the travel trailer applies to the hitch and rear suspension system of your tow vehicle.
Maximum Towing Capacity
This is you’re the maximum amount of weight that the manufacturer estimates your vehicle can safely tow.
It is factored in by the chassis, engine, transmission, and suspension system.
Pushing or exceeding this limit can leave you at risk for serious mechanical failure while towing or a dangerous trailer sway accident while driving at unsafe highway speeds.
6 Of The Best Travel Trailers Under 6,000 Pounds
During our selection process, we kept a keen eye out for travel trailers weighing under 6,000 pounds that had a reputation for material build quality, as well as the features that families prioritized.
This included choosing models that are more geared toward certain travel styles and niche interests.
1. The 2021 Prime Time – Avenger 17FQS
The 2021 Prime Time – Avenger 17FQS is a lightweight travel trailer under 6,000-pounds that is geared for a traveling couple or a small family.
With a dry weight of just 3,014-pounds and a gross vehicle weight rating of 3,855-pounds, it is comfortable within range of what most midsize SUVs with a tow package can confidently pull.
When you factor in the 841-pound cargo capacity, and the queen-size master bed in the front, this lightweight travel trailer lets two or three people bring everything they need with them on their RV adventure. All without taxing your tow vehicle.
The interior layout of the 2021 Prime Time – Avenger 17FQS is as thoughtful as it is convenient.
The front queen size bed and the dinette in the slide-out section both have good views of the entertainment center.
While this might not sound like a big deal on paper, it is one of those little things that is annoyingly absent in smaller travel trailers like this that tend to wedge a flatscreen TV into head-scratching places.
2. The 2021 Winnebago – Hike H172BH
The 2021 Winnebago – Hike H172BH tips the scales with a weight of just 4,000-pounds, which is comfortably towable by most mid-size SUVs with a towing package installed.
Translates into a 600-pound payload capacity to bring all your essential camping gear with you, while still enjoying the lightweight towing characteristics of a travel trailer under 6,000-pounds.
The somewhat unique interior layout of the 2021 Winnebago – Hike H172BH is one of the things that helps it save on weight.
The rear has a pair of spacious bunk beds, with a midship bathroom, kitchen, and water storage tanks, which does a great job of balancing the gross weight firmly over the wheels.
In the front of the 2021 Winnebago – Hike H172BH, there is a U-shaped dinette that converts into a full-size bed.
It is perfectly positioned to let everyone in the family watch TV while they eat.
When you also factor in the large bunk beds in the rear it might make this the best travel trailer under 6,000-pounds for a single parent with teenage children.
3. The 2021 Jayco – Jay Feather Micro 166FBS
The Jay Feather platform is one of Jayco’s most successful travel trailer lineups. The 2021 Jayco – Jay Feather Micro 166FBS is a lightweight little brother.
With a gross vehicle weight rating of just under 5,000-pounds, it is still infused with comfort features and the kind of towing statistics that most robust mid-size SUVs can confidently tow.
If your tow vehicle is a little more challenged when it comes to the maximum towing capacity, you could travel from Point A to Point B with the large waste and fresh water storage tanks empty.
If you are staying at an RV park or a campground with access to resources and dump facilities, you can then fill up as needed while still being able to travel light.
When you take a tour of the interior of the 2021 Jayco – Jay Feather Micro 166FBS you find a full-size bed in the front and a jackknife sofa built into the single power slide-out.
This means that the travel trailer can technically sleep up to four people, but a couple with a single child is more likely the real-world limit for this travel trailer under 6,000-pounds.
4. The 2021 Keystone – Outback Ultra-Lite 210URS
The 2021 Keystone – Outback Ultra-Lite 210URS has a dry weight of just 4,670-pounds and an impressive payload capacity of up to 1,830-pounds.
This means that if you pack this trailer to the max and fill the tanks it can tip the scales with a gross weight of up to 6,500-pounds, which might push the limits of what all but the most robust mid-size SUVs and light-duty pickup trucks can safely tow.
If you are mindful about how much gear you load into this travel trailer and you travel with the tanks empty, then it will cruise down the road closer to 5,000 to 5,500-pounds.
When you get to your campground or RV park, you can set up and fill the large 60-gallon fresh water storage tank without worrying about the impact on your tow vehicle’s hitch or suspension system.
What you are treated to on the interior of the 2021 Keystone – Outback Ultra-Lite 210URS is tons of sleeping space and creature comforts that are high on a lot of family’s priority list.
This starts with an expandable king-size bed in the rear, as well as a sofa sleeper, convertible dinette booth, and a pair of flip-down bunk beds in the nose.
This translates into the ability to sleep up to 8 people on pair, or 6 in the real world.
Taking all of the sleeping space, bathroom, and compact, yet functional kitchen into account the 2021 Keystone – Outback Ultra-Lite 210URS might be the best travel trailer under 6,000-pounds for a large family that loves to travel light.
5. The 2021 K-Z – Sportsmen Classic 190BH
With a gross vehicle weight rating of up to 5,000 pounds and tons of storage capacity the 2021 K-Z – Sportsmen Classic 190BH is a great travel trailer under 6,000-pounds for a small family that doesn’t want to invest in a large pickup truck.
You can rest assured that even if you jam-pack the front pass-through storage bay and the interior with up to 1,740-pounds of gear that it still won’t exceed the 5,000-pound mark.
Though part of the tradeoff for this impressive weight rating and massive cargo storage capacity is that the 2021 K-Z – Sportsmen Classic 190BH has relatively small fresh and wastewater storage tanks.
Of course, this is a non-issue if you plan to stay at RV parks and campgrounds with easy access to resources close at hand.
Though you might want to move this lightweight travel trailer down your list if you are thinking about using the “Sportsmen Classic” for something like boondocking at a remote fall hunting base camp on public land.
On the interior of the 2021 K-Z – Sportsmen Classic 190BH you will find a queen-size bed in the front, a convertible dinette in the middle and a pair of tidy bunk beds tucked along with size a complete dry bath in the rear.
With all this in mind the 2021 K-Z – Sportsmen Classic 190BH might be one of the best travel trailers under 6,000-pounds for a family with small children, who love to stay at popular RV parks.
6. The 2021 Palomino – Puma XLE Lite 22RBC
The 2021 Palomino – Puma XLE Lite 22RBC tips the scales with a gross vehicle weight rating of up to 5,800-pounds.
It also has an impressive payload capacity of up to 1,557 pounds, which lets a family take all their essential gear with them, while still keeping the total weight of their travel trailer under 6,000-pounds.
The fresh and wastewater storage tanks in the 2021 Palomino – Puma XLE Lite 22RBC offer a modest volume.
If you want to stay off the grid for a few days, you can still travel with the tanks full and stay under 6,000-pounds. This is somewhat rare in a travel trailer under 26-feet long.
The interior of the 2021 Palomino – Puma XLE Lite 22RBC is compact, yet spacious for a travel trailer without a retractable slide-out section.
On paper, it can sleep up to 8 people though five is more realistic. Especially if you have teenagers.
Though the dual 48” X 76” bunk beds in the back give older children their own personal space and room to spread out.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Can I Safely Tow?
The prevailing wisdom is that you should never attempt to pull more than 80% of your tow vehicle’s rated maximum towing capacity.
This will give you 20% of power in reserve for doing things like merging into highway traffic, passing slow motorists, and pulling the travel trailer up a steep incline.
Does The Cargo Balance Affect Hitch Weight?
Most travel trailers are designed with storage areas that bias the weight toward the front.
This helps keep weight on the essential tongue & hitch connection.
Though it is possible to accidentally overpack too much camping gear in the back of your travel trailer, which can leave it feeling unbalanced when you drive down the road.
If your travel trailer’s gross weight pushes near the 80% safe towing limit of your vehicle, you should be increasingly mindful of a cargo weight distribution that is biased toward the front and directly over the wheel arches.
There are a lot of great travel trailers under 6,000-pounds that are within the reasonable towing statistics of most mid-size to full-size SUVs.
Being mindful of the difference between the unloaded dry weight and the fully-loaded GVWR is essential for making sure you are staying within your vehicle’s rated maximum towing capacity.
Once you have all the numbers in order, the best travel trailer under 6,000-pounds that meets your needs will come down to the size of your family as well as your preferred RV lifestyle.
On the light end of the spectrum, the 2021 Prime Time – Avenger 17FQS might be the best travel trailer under 6,000-pounds for a traveling couple or a small family with an only child.
Its gross weight rating of 3,855 puts it comfortably in the range of what a lot of mid-size SUVs can tow. While still having an interior that provides plenty of elbow room.
If you are a single parent who wants to give your children their own space, but still enjoys family togetherness, then the 2021 Winnebago – Hike H172BH might be the best travel trailer under 6,000-pounds to meet your needs.
It only weighs 4,000-pounds when it’s fully loaded, yet can sleep two teenagers and an adult comfortably.
If you have a robust mid-size SUV with a tow package or a full-size SUV, and you are thoughtful about your packing.
Then the 2021 Keystone – Outback Ultra-Lite 210URS might be the best travel trailer with a dry weight under 6,000-pounds.
Just be mindful that it is possible to overpack this model up to 6,500-pounds, which might mean upping the ante on your tow vehicle.