Buying A Used Tent Trailer: Pros & Cons


Jason is an adventure travel writer with a passion for exploring the world's most beautiful and remote destinations.

No matter how often you go camping, it’s always tough packing up the car and trying to fit all your gear in. It could be your 100th trip, and you’ll still wonder how you got the tent, gear, and family in the car and on the road last time. 

That’s why so many campers have tent trailers. They are perfect for loading up all your camping gear, and they’re much easier to set up on campsites than regular tents. 

The problem is new tent trailers cost a fortune – and that’s not in everyone’s camping budget. 

Buying a used travel trailer is a great way to get all the benefits of a tent trailer at a much better price. You just have to know what you’re looking for.

Why Should You be Buying A Used Tent Trailer?

A tent trailer is a pull-behind trailer that expands into a tent you can use to go camping. If you’ve never owned one before, they have some great benefits. 

  • Easier and cheaper to tow than a caravan on a camping trip. 
  • Usually accepted on campsites where caravans or RVs aren’t allowed – for example, Great Sand Dunes National Park doesn’t allow RVs in some of its campsites, but a pop up camper would be fine. 
  • Much easier to set up than the equivalent-sized normal tent. 
  • They usually come with proper beds that are off the ground. 
  • They have living space that is also off the floor. 
  • Many allow you to attach an awning to them to give you more living space. 
  • You’ve got plenty of storage space to load most of your camping gear. 

The key benefit of buying a used tent trailer is the price. You’ll save thousands buying a used one over a brand-new one; you just need to know what to look for. 

What To Look For When Buying A Used Tent Trailer

When buying a used tent trailer, don’t be put off by minor damage or issues. These are usually quick and easy to fix and still mean massive savings over a new one. 

However, there are some red flags you should look for when you’re buying a used tent trailer, and these should make you walk away from the deal. 

  • A damaged canvas – these can be expensive to repair or replace
  • A leaking roof – again, roof repairs can get costly. 
  • A damaged lift system – parts are hard to come by, and mechanics are pricey. 
  • A bent frame
  • Spots of fresh paint – this is usually done to disguise rust or damage. 

The last thing you want is to come back to a leaky, damp tent trailer after a romantic hike with your partner

Pros of Buying a New Trailer Tent

a tent trailer in the woods

If you seriously want a new trailer tent, there are some advantages of splurging. 

PRO: Warranty

New trailer tents usually come with a warranty, which means you’re covered if it breaks within the first one to five years. 

PRO: Modern features

Modern trailer tents will have updated awnings, windows, and features you might not find on used, older models. 

PRO: Dealership financing

New trailer tents cost thousands of dollars, but you’ll have the option of taking dealership financing to pay for your new trailer monthly (with a down payment).

PRO: Peace of Mind

There is always the risk of finding a fault or problem when you buy a used tent trailer. Having a new one gives you peace of mind that there aren’t any issues. 

Cons of Buying a New Travel Trailer

It’s not all good news, though; going for a new trailer tent has some disadvantages. 

CON: Cost

New travel trailers cost thousands more than used models, which is a hefty investment. 

CON: Depreciation

Just like any vehicle, a trailer tent will depreciate in value, so it won’t be worth what you paid in a few years’ time. 

Pros of Buying a Used Travel Trailer

There are some great reasons why you shouldn’t discount a used tent trailer if you’re in the market. 

PRO: Cost

The best perk of used travel trailers is the price. You’ll save thousands on a used model, and you’ll have more power to negotiate the price. 

PRO: DIY Friendly

If you’re willing to put some work into fixing up a trailer, you could get one for a steal and do the work yourself to make it exactly how you’d like it. 

PRO: Reduced Depreciation

A used camper trailer will actually hold its value better than a brand-new one. If you decide to sell it in a few years, you’ll likely get your money back on your initial investment. 

Cons of Buying Used

Of course, there are some drawbacks to buying a pre-loved tent trailer. 

CON: Hidden issues

There’s always a risk that the previous owner won’t disclose issues with the trailer, and you won’t spot them until you’re out on the road. A thorough inspection can reduce your risk of buying a faulty travel trailer, but the risk is always there. 

CON: Shorter lifespan

If you’re buying a new tent trailer, you’ll have it for decades. However, a used travel trailer might not get the same mileage. If you buy a trailer in decent condition, you should still get a good five or ten years out of it – but you never know when you’ll run into issues. 

CON: No dealership warranty

You also won’t get a dealership warranty if you go for a private sale. It can be less stressful knowing you’re covered in the event of an issue, so you could look into purchasing an extended factory warranty for a used trailer. 

Where To Find Used Tent Trailers For Sale

a tent trailer with a net curtain

If you get lucky, you might find someone in your neighborhood selling a used tent trailer on Craigslist, but you don’t have to rely on this site to buy one. 

Here are a couple of the top sites for finding used tent trailers for sale online:

Negotiating The Price Of A Used Tent Trailer

You should be able to get a great deal on a used camping trailer, especially compared to the cost of buying a new one. 

But you should always negotiate with the seller to ensure you get a great deal. Most sellers will be willing to take less than their asking price, so don’t be afraid to come in a little lower to give yourself room to negotiate. 

First, make sure the pop up trailer is in the best possible condition – any faults or damage means there’s some room to get the price lowered. 

Depending on the size, a used tent trailer in excellent condition can cost around $6000, but there are also ones in great condition for much less. 

When you find one you like, do some research to find out what they’re priced at when new. This will give you more leverage to haggle a good discount with the seller. 

How To Inspect A Used Tent Trailer

Before making an offer to a private seller, there are some quick inspections you should do to make sure everything is in good condition. 

  • Roof: check for leaks and possible damage. You can ask the seller to run a hose along the roof to test if it’s watertight. If they refuse, that’s a red flag. 
  • Electrical system: test the lights and turn signals by hooking it up to a vehicle. 
  • Tires: check the age of the tires and see if they are worn or due for replacement. 
  • Internal floor: walk around to ensure there are no soft spots or sagging – this could indicate a rotted subfloor. 
  • Lift system: test the system is running properly and inspect the frame to make sure it’s not rusted. 
  • Doors: check these open, close, and lock without issue.
  • Canvas: look for tears or signs of mildew – these can be expensive to rectify. 

Ready to Go Camping?

If you’re an avid camper or plan on taking many camping trips in the future, a tent trailer is a great piece of gear. 

It’s so easy to load all your equipment into a popup camper, and they’re great for sleeping in. Buying a used tent trailer means you get all the advantages of a popup camper for a fraction of the price, so make sure you check the sites mentioned above to see if there are any for sale near you. 

Want to know the best types of camping for your new tent trailer? Head to our next post to read all about the types of camping and the gear you’ll need for each. 

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