Camping accounts for nearly one-third of the total number of outdoor activities in North America. This has resulted in an ever-expanding demand for RV Vehicles in the US. More than 500,000 RVs were sold in 2017, an increase of 17% from 2016. The growth in sales has been about 200% since 2009.
People have interest in Aluminum Travel Trailers. Why? The number of people living in RVs full time is approximately 1 million. Here are some more interesting facts about the industry:
- Over 11% of US households own a recreational vehicle.
- The industry supports nearly 600,000 jobs.
- Over 16,000 campgrounds and parking facilities are available for RV camping.
- There are more than 100 RV manufacturers with most of those being in the United States.
- RV Vacations can cost about 60% less than a traditional holiday.
- The Instagram hashtag #vanlife has been used more than 7.7 million times.
- About 472,000 recreational vehicles were manufactured in 2019. This was a slight decrease of 2.1% since 2018.
- Sales have increased by about 200% from 2009 to 2019.
- Almost 85% of the recreational vehicle manufacturing industry in the United States is based in and around Elkhart County, IN.
Future of RV industry in the US
RV shipments in North America are expected to grow in 2020-2023. Consumer demand for lightweight vehicles, with greater technology and other amenities, is growing. Research and development show a direct relationship between fuel efficiency and vehicle weight. It is also notable that 14% of people who never owned any RV are planning in the future. The following facts highlight the future potential of the RV market in the US:
- There are industry growth predictions of more than 500 BPS by 2023 and increase by volume about 7x.
- 46 percent of leisure travelers in a survey conducted in the US and Canada, stated that camping would be the safest type of travel once COVID-19 restrictions are fully lifted, as opposed to 8 percent who saw international air travel as the safest option.
- Aluminum recreational vehicles are expected to see a spurt in growth in the near future.
- Increase in US tariffs on steel and aluminum and a hike in other duties on many Chinese-made RV parts have hit the industry badly.
Prominent RV manufacturers in the US
- Forest River: was established by Peter Liegl in 1996. The company is counted among the top-most manufacturers of RVs in the world. Forest River is currently headquartered in Elkhart, Indiana. In 2005, Berkshire Hathaway acquired the company.
- Oliver Travel Trailers: manufactures and sells high-quality fiberglass travel trailers and is known for making some of the best travel trailers on the market. Oliver Travel Trailers is located in Hohenwald, Tennessee.
- Thor Industries: manufactures and sells RVs through its subsidiaries like Airstream, Heartland RV, Jayco, Livin Lite RV. Thor Industries has manufacturing facilities in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Idaho, and Oregon, with its headquarters in the RV manufacturing hub at Elkhart, IN.
- Coachmen RV: is one of the most recognized RV manufacturers in the world and has been in the game for over 50 years. Coachmen is currently owned by Forest River Inc., and its RV models include the Pursuit, Freelander, Prism, and Leprechaun.
- Airstream: notable for their distinctive rounded shape and aluminum build. The company dates back to the 1920s — making it one of the oldest RV manufacturers in the business. The company is currently under the ownership of Thor Industries.
Traditionally, RVs have been built from a mix of materials like wood, aluminum, fiberglass, and steel.
Aluminum is used extensively in building airplanes, cars, and boats. There has been a marked increase in the use of aluminum to build RV frames in the RV manufacturing industry. Wood frames are heavier when compared to aluminum frames. Lightweight travel trailers, built mainly with aluminum frames, are fast becoming a very popular segment of recreational vehicles.
The reasons for lightweight travel trailers becoming very popular in contrast to average travel trailers are manifold. They can be easily hauled with standard trucks or SUVs, and are cheaper than other comparable RVs in the market. They also do not affect gas mileage as much as other travel trailers do when being towed.
In view of their growing popularity, more RV brands have started making lightweight travel trailers and, hence, the use of aluminum in the industry has grown. The RV manufacturing industry is witnessing an increase in the use of aluminum as compared to wood because aluminum also has the advantage of being stronger and more durable than wood.
10 Best Aluminum Frame Travel Trailers
1. Heartland Wilderness 2475BH
- Dry Weight: 5,470 lbs.
- Length: 28.75 ft.
- Height: 11.33 ft.
Probably the best-in-class aluminum frame travel trailer. It is extremely lightweight and thus, easy on the fuel mileage when it is being towed. One of the coolest things about the Heartland Wilderness aluminum-framed travel trailer is the fact that several exciting floor plans are available. Some of the floor plans are quite exclusive, and some are specifically tailor-made for the west coast. But whichever floor plan you choose, you’ll have ample space and storage available.
It has a fully functional kitchen that is quite spacious, apart from a sizable bathroom. One of the unique features of this travel trailer is an exterior panel that opens up and can be used as an outdoor bar or food preparation area. This leaves more space inside without having to give up on quality and amenities. I was impressed with the number of storage compartments practically designed in such a manner as to remain hidden out of sight. It helps in keeping the trailer clutter-free, especially if you’re traveling with family. It can sleep 8 people easily and is a good choice to travel with family or a group of friends.
2. Airstream Flying Cloud Travel Trailer
- Dry Weight: 4,500 lbs.
- Length: 19 ft.
- Height: 10 ft.
Airstream has been a pioneer in using the light-weight aluminum frame for manufacturing its travel trailers. Airstream’s RVs are renowned to be very lightweight and durable. Since the company has been using aluminum frames for a long time, there is also a substantial demand in the market for old and used Airstream travel trailers, which can be renovated and converted according to the buyer’s tastes.
The Airstream Flying Cloud is a tough, lightweight, and durable travel trailer that can be easily towed by a standard SUV. This aluminum travel trailer comes with a huge variety of floor plans – 18 in all. The layouts are quite versatile and are designed to satisfy specific requirements and tastes. Whichever floor plan you choose depending upon your needs, you can be assured of a good-sized bed, a decent-sized kitchen, bathroom, and sufficient compartments for storage. Another USP of Airstream Travel trailers is that all their models come with big, panoramic windows. So if you want to feel one with nature while being inside your travel trailer, Airstream is the one for you.
3. Livin’ Lite Camplite Travel Trailer
- Dry Weight: 3,684 lbs.
- Length: 20 ft.
- Height: 10 ft.
This one is for the design aficionados! An aluminum frame travel trailer that is sleek, ultra-modern, and avant-garde. It is also lighter than most trailers on this list. It also has a surprisingly compact shape which makes it easier to tow. Camplite is known for its use of aluminum not only in the frame but also in the structure. In spite of being lightweight and compact, it has a remarkable cargo-carrying capacity of 1706 pounds.
It is a good option if you are fond of long trips, or even if you’re thinking of living full-time in it. The coolest thing about this travel trailer is the choices it offers in terms of personalization. There are options galore, in colors and designs. You can customize both the interior décor as well as the exterior appearance. If you are looking for a personalized, sleek, modern travel trailer that is light-weight, compact, and can carry a lot of cargo; this is the one for you.
4. Aluma-Lite Travel Trailer
- Dry Weight: 6,160 lbs.
- Length: 10 ft.
- Height: 8.2 ft.
Aluma-Lite travel trailer is the product of Holiday Rambler Company. The company is known for making exceptionally reliable yet trendy travel trailers for a long time. Their RVs are a perfect mix of nifty interiors, assorted features as well as functional amenities. There are legions of satisfied Holiday Rambler RV users owing to its functionality and durability.
Again, like other aluminum-framed trailers on this list, Aluma-Lite is easy to haul. Its aerodynamic design makes it easy to tow even in strong headwinds. This also ensures savings in fuel by not putting your towing vehicle under too much strain. With a handful of floor plan options, it gives you the freedom to personalize as well. If you are looking for a tried and tested aluminum frame travel trailer that is easy to tow and is well-known for its durability, you should strongly consider this product.
5. Forest River Rockwood Signature Ultra-Lite Travel Trailer
- Dry Weight: 8,781 lbs.
- Length: 35 ft.
- Height: 11 ft.
Forest River is a company that has been around since 1996, the year it was founded by Peter Liegl, and is known for making some of the most compact, trendy, and light-weight RVs.Rockwood Signature Ultra-Lite is one of Forest River’s lightest travel trailers. Its frame and structure are built out of very light but strong aluminum. While it may be one of the heaviest travel trailers on this list, it is probably the most versatile too. The best thing about this travel trailer is that it is available in a variety of forms. It is available as a travel trailer or as a fifth-wheel.
The travel trailer version is available in 8 different layouts, while the fifth-wheel version is available in 4 layouts. It is designed to provide maximum comfort, spacious living spaces, and amenities to ensure you lack nothing while camping or traveling. The main differentiating factor between the fifth-wheels and travel trailers is the design.
The fifth-wheels are designed in a manner that they can only be towed using trucks. On the other hand, travel trailers can be directly hitched and towed using trucks and standard SUVs. The fifth-wheels are also typically bigger than travel trailers. You can decide whether to purchase this Forest River Rockwood Signature Ultra-Lite travel trailer as a travel trailer or as a fifth-wheel, based on how you want to use it.
Another impressive thing I must also mention about this travel trailer is its huge cargo-carrying capacity. It can carry 2,394 pounds of cargo. This is a very significant cargo-carrying capacity. This travel trailer has the capability to carry plenty of equipment, accessories, food, gas, and water. So, if you are looking to go on a long trip for a while, it is the type of RV you should strongly contemplate buying. In short, this is an incredible aluminum frame travel trailer that is suitable for long trips or full-time RV living.
6. Grand Design Imagine 2150RB Travel Trailer
- Dry Weight: 5,195 lbs.
- Length: 27 ft.
- Height: 11 ft.
Amongst all the well-established RV brands, Grand Design is known to make some of the most lavish and sturdy recreational vehicles. The company’s RVs last for generations. If you buy one, you can be sure it will last long enough for you to pass it on to your son or daughter. The Imagine 2150RB travel trailer, like most Grand Design recreational vehicles, is quite upscale and durable. This trailer is very state-of-the-art and nifty inside.
The interior has some spectacular finishes and delightful features. The cabinets are made of dark hardwood and designed aesthetically. The purpose of the design is to make you feel the comforts of home while being in a travel trailer. Even the floor and the walls are double insulated to help maintain the temperature inside the trailer at comfortable levels even when it gets extremely cold outside. Apart from the luxurious features and amenities, the Grand Design travel trailer has all the basic facilities, like a kitchen, a bathroom, and sleeping quarters.
7. Forest River Sonoma 22RBS Travel Trailer
- Dry Weight: 5,709 lbs.
- Length: 27 ft.
- Height: 11 ft.
Forest River has been making some of the most compact, trendy, and light-weight RVs for almost three decades. They are well-known for quality and innovation. The Sonoma 22RBS aluminum frame travel trailer looks and feels very sophisticated. It comes with the option of many floor plans, starting with the basic one which is minimalist. You have the option to upgrade to more comfort and luxury, by paying more.
Like most Forest River recreational vehicles, all Sonoma 22RBS travel trailers come with all the essentials, including a kitchen, a bathroom, a dining area, and sleeping quarters. All the variants of this travel trailer have a fully functional and well-equipped kitchen. To be honest, we haven’t seen a better kitchen fitted inside an RV, than this. This is because it is spacious and comes equipped with high-end appliances.
The dining area is also well-designed in all the variants of this Forest River trailer. However, it is one of the heavier travel trailers, among all the trailers on this list, alongside the Forest River Rockwood Signature Ultra-Lite Travel Trailer. In brief, if you are looking for a lightweight travel trailer that is big on comfort as well as durability, and you are brand-conscious to boot, look no further. Forest River Sonoma is the one for you.
8. Forest River Flagstaff MicroLite Travel Trailer
- Dry Weight: 4,816 lbs.
- Length: 22 ft.
- Height: 10 ft.
Another on the list from Forest River, one of the top manufacturers of travel trailers in the world. Microlite is one of the lightest and most compact aluminum frame travel trailers from Forest River, comparable in quality with any of the other recreational vehicles in this list. Weighing in at less than 5,000 pounds, its length is 22 feet. It is not only lightweight and compact but is also extremely smart and practical. It’s a common fallacy to assume that some essential features and facilities would have to be sacrificed in a ‘lightweight’ trailer.
We must say that presumption would be entirely baseless, especially in this case. Forest River Microlite has all the necessary attributes anyone might expect to find in an RV and more. The RV might seem ordinary on the outside, but don’t let the looks deceive you. It’s every bit trendy and sleek inside. And there are ten-floor plan options available.
Depending on what you can afford, you have the option of the lavish full-featured floor plan with all the luxuries, or one of the more economical minimalist ones. Most of the storage compartments, the kitchen amenities, and the beds in all the Flagstaff MicroLite Travel Trailers are made of aluminum. This makes them extremely durable. Last but not least, the cargo-carrying capability of this travel trailer is nothing less than remarkable at 1,744 pounds. In short, we’d say this is a recreational vehicle that you will be very proud to own and to use.
9. Dutchmen Aerolite
- Dry Weight: 5,665 lbs.
- Length: 28 ft.
- Height: 11 ft.
Dutchmen Aerolite is manufactured by Dutchmen, a recreational vehicle company that is known for making sleek and state-of-the-art recreational vehicles. Dutchmen was the 2nd largest manufacturer of travel trailers and is now owned by Thor Industries. Their in-command system allows you to use your smartphone to control different functions of the trailer including the awning outside.
This Dutchmen recreational vehicle is very trendy, chic, and high-tech, like most of the company’s products. It is classic white on the outside, but the inside can be personalized according to your specific requirements. Each of the ten floor plans available for the Dutchmen Aerolite RV can be fully customized based on your preferences. There’s a whole range of choices available, from the basic to luxurious. Personally, the Dutchmen Aerolite travel trailer, with its queen bed and large bunk beds for children or guests, seems to be one of the best options available in the market.
10. Tanami Hybrid Off-Road Camper
- Dry Weight: Approx. 2,425 lbs.
- Length: 18 ft.
- Height: 8 ft.
Tanami travel trailer is one of the lightest aluminum frame trailers in the market. This high-quality product is made by Tanami, a new kid on the block amongst RV manufacturers. The company is producing extremely edgy but practical recreational vehicles. One of the things that I liked about this camper is the fact that it is designed in such a manner that it is very easy to tow. You will be hard-pressed to find a recreational vehicle like this one. It can be so easily hauled by many types of vehicles. In spite of being the smallest and lightest on the list, this camper has all that you need for your road trip.
Try to learn more about the weight lingo of the RV world. It’s always helpful to know exactly how much you can haul. The demand for aluminum frame travel trailers is growing at a fast pace. Hope this small selection helps you to find the one suitable for your needs. Happy travels! Keep safe.