A Frame Camper Pros And Cons
If you are thinking of buying an a-frame camper, and you are not so sure if you want a hybrid, a popup camper or any other small travel trailer, I can help you providing you 23 pros and cons of the A-frame camper types.
I want to show you some of the downfalls of it the things you might not like, and the several pros of having an A-frame camper.
No RV type is perfect, you will never find a perfect RV type, but you can find an RV type that is right for you and your family. Anyway, I suggest you rent an a-frame camper before deciding if you want to buy it. Rent it for at least one week, preferably two weeks.
I will go first through the pros and then through the cons.
Pros Of An A Frame Camper
Lightweight And Easy To Tow
Number one reason why you might like an A-frame camper is that when these trailers are folded down, they are really lightweight in general and therefore, very easy to tow.
I think you will like this feature a lot. Even the heavier models, the deluxe models are not much more than 2,000 pounds and that means you can tow them with a wide variety of vehicles, even with low towing capacity.
An Aliner Classic, to name a quite standard model from the product family of Aliner, is only about 1600 pounds. You know it could be a little bit more depending on what we load in it.
Nevertheless, we can tow it with a minivan and that is what we see with my wife in RV parks. With a minivan that has a towing capacity of about 1800 pounds (leave always some buffer), you can tow most of the Aliner models and in general, any a frame camper.
Excellent For Singles And Couples
Reason number two in importance why you may really like an A-frame camper if you are a single person camping or a couple is that there is really plenty of room to be comfortable.
An a-frame camper can be perfect for one person or a couple. And if you have one child or a third person it works out pretty well too because that is how we do it.
I would not say that it is great but it is very workable so there is enough room, you got plenty of headroom perfect size for if you are in that situation.
However, if you are six feet tall, you will have a problem sleeping in the bed. Well below, we will visit the “cons” and the length of the bed is an important one.
Access To Natural Light
Another reason number why you will really like to purchase an a-frame camper is that they are very luminous and you will enjoy plenty of natural light.
Even if ventilation is not good, as we will study below when we refer to the “cons”, you have several windows and skylights.
It Is Foldable And Hard Sided
An a-frame camper is a hard-sided trailer. It is not a hybrid travel trailer, and it is not a pop-up camper. The structure is unfolded to be utilized and it is manufactured with hard materials and no canvas at all.
There are certain campgrounds, RV parks, especially in the west where if the RV is not hard-sided, they will not be admitted. This is because of bears.
With an A-frame camper, you can camp at any campground and it is secure. You can lock it up securely. People cannot just take a knife and then cut into your canvas to gain access and you can leave dogs or pets inside and feel pretty safe about it.
Well, if somebody really wanted and they could get in they would have to do some real damage to the windows. In the Aliner Ascape, they will not be able to break the Lexan windows. To do that and they would make a lot of noise and will require a huge effort: the material of Lexan windows is unbreakable. This would be an issue also in other types of RVs. Overall you have a feeling of security, you can lock the door at night very securely and I think you will like that about it.
Suitable For Boondocking
I am not at all into boondocking and none of my articles is referred to boondocking at all. With that said, I can tell you that an a-frame camper is very suitable for boondocking and dry camping.
It has everything you need. I would suggest setting up double propane tanks, where at least one propane tank comes standard in most configurations with Aliner.
With this strong propane storage capacity, you will preferably enjoy a three-way refrigerator so you can run a fridge off propane, you got a battery power that comes standard, where you can run off DC.
You have enough lights, you got usually DC outlets inside. That makes it easier to keep devices running and you do not run your battery down very fast.
There is a hookup in the outside where you can put your grill on, you can get a rack that comes with it, and you can put both your grill or your stove on the rack to do it that’s really nice.
You have outside outlets too but that is for when you are hooked up so it is a very good RV type for boondocking because in boondocking situations you are going to be outside anyway and you do not want to have devices and apparels that consume too much power.
You also have a hot water tank, that differs from each brand and make, but in an Aliner Classic you have a six-gallon water tank with an additional I think two or three-gallon water heater tank.
As I mentioned above, it is very important that you have electric hookups available. These features make the a-frame camper great for dry camping and boondocking if you are into this.
An advantage of an a-frame camper is that you have a lot of headroom. When you go inside you are not going to feel claustrophobic. Furthermore, you can stand straight up and without any problem.
Nevertheless, as I explain below in one of the “cons”, if you are too tall (six feet or more) you are not going to fit in the bed that has a very short length.
Headroom space is scarce when you are going towards the beds or the dinette when you are going to be sitting down or laying down anyway.
Headroom is an interesting advantage of the a-frame camper that you do not enjoy in all teardrop campers or small RVs.
Easy To Set Up
A reason why you would prefer an a-frame camper more than a hybrid or a popup camper is that it is very easy to set up and take down folding the roof.
It takes about a minute or less to do it. Even older people can do it without a problem. It is very easy to set up, unlike a pop-up camper, which ultimately requires more effort to unfold.
The unfolding and set up process is very streamlined and after this, you just have to set up your stabilizer jacks, where the Aliner Ascape has four already delivered with the standard configuration.
Good Storage Capacity For Its Size
In an A-frame camper, there is a lot of storage capacity for this size of a trailer. All the storage space is down below at the bottom.
There are outside compartments and there are lots of space in a compartment under the bed.
That is fine, but as I explain below in the “cons”, it is not easy to access to the storage locations. You just cannot access it easily. But you can bring a lot of stuff if you are into fishing, backpacking, and hunting or whatever else.
Furthermore, in the Aliner Ascape, the door is in the back, so you can introduce easily a paddleboard. Lots of storage for its size (fine, it is not a toy hauler), but not very easy to access.
Roof Is Resistant And Durable
In an A-frame camper, to be more specific, those of the brand Aliner, the outside of it the roof is much tougher than your traditional molded small trailers.
In general, roof damage is one of the biggest issues you will have with travel trailers if you are going to own them in the long run or any RV type, is the roof.
In the particular case of the Aliner models, there is no sign of roof damage after seven years of being exposed to the elements. Sometimes, you do get leaks around the seals, and we will walk through this issue below when we study the “cons” and I will explain to you about some leaks and gaps that I have noticed and fixed.
But for now, for this paragraph, and regarding the construction of the roof, I am very happy with it.
An A-Frame Camper Encourages You To Remain Outside
It is one of the “pros” and also in the list of “cons”. An a-frame camper, from Aliner or any other make, encourages you to remain outside because it is basically a tent on wheels with conveniences and some amenities.
Being outside is the whole point of camping for many people. For me, I like RVing, and there is also quality time spent inside the RV. For me, this feature is more in the “cons” than in the “pros”.
Cons Of An A-Frame Camper
Not Suitable For Larger Families
Reason number one why you may not want to buy an A-frame camper is that it is not a trailer for larger families. Really the maximum capacity for about any A-frame camper I have ever seen is three people, three adult people.
You could possibly get two smaller children and two adults in a typical A-frame camper, but when they get older because they would have to be sharing a bed that is not going to work out because older children do not like to share the bed.
Likewise, the typical A-frame camper has a bed on each end only. Therefore, you can have a queen size bed all, what is all right for two adults, but the other bed is going to either be a single bed, or a transformed dinette.
Here, you will definitely be better off with a pop-up camper. In many cases, those pop-up campers actually can sleep large families but an a-frame camper is not really for large families.
Some Models Are Not A Solid Construction
Reason number two you may not want to buy any liner is that they are drafty, generally speaking, and not all brands of a-frame camper vehicles. Because they do not have a solid construction: it goes together in pieces or straps in it. There are holes in it. Sometimes there is a gap and you have to cover it with Loctite or even paper towel if it is an emergency. It is not easy then to cool or heat because of these gaps.
These gaps also allow the entrance of undesired bugs and mosquitoes that can get in. These insects will be attracted by the light of the trailer and will enter.
An exception to this is the Aliner Ascape models. They have a solid structure and I have noticed absolutely no gaps there.
The reason number three why you may not want to buy an A-frame camper is condensation. These travel trailers are particularly bad for condensation when you are dealing with colder weather.
The reason is because of the metal brackets on the roof. There is where both roofs connect.
With that said, please notice that you will not see this issue on solidly molded small trailers. These metal brackets in the roof and metal brackets all around is where the roofs are connecting to each other. It is in this surface where the condensation will be retrieved. So condensation is an issue with an a-frame camper. This is something I definitely do not like about it.
Lack of Convenient Shelving Because of The Roof Folds
Now the reason number four. You may not like an A-frame camper because of its insufficient shelving storage. Let´s say that convenient shelving is pretty much non-existent in these a frame camper models because the roof folds down.
Therefore, you cannot have shelving located very high. You do not have the convenient shelving, the convenient storage that you can find in other travel trailers.
You have some shelves near the floor so you have to stoop down to get to these things so it is not comfortable to take them out. All the utensils that you are utilizing every day especially for cooking, are difficult to retrieve. Therefore, in an a-frame camper, shelving is practically non-existent. This issue also happens in the Aliner Ascape models and the reason is the shape of the trailer.
Dinette Beds Are Not Comfortable
Reason number five is that you may not like an A-frame camper is that the dinette beds are not very comfortable at all. You have to actually add foam toppers to make them comfortable.
Of course, that makes it less convenient to be converting them back and forth from a table into a bed. So you know, the less convenience the less you are going to want to use it.
Now the permanent beds, they are in general queen-sized at least and very comfortable. Nevertheless, I would not advise purchasing an a-frame camper with just the dinette beds or even the sofa beds that I have seen sometimes. They are simply not going to be that comfortable unless you put a lot into making them either permanent or putting toppers on them and you will have to take it down and take it apart and put it back up afterward, constantly. You will not like this.
So if you decide to have an A-frame camper, it must have a permanent bed at least because the dinette beds are not comfortable at all for an adult.
Insufficient Ventilation In Some Models
Reason number six is that you may not like an A-frame camper as the ventilation is not great. Even though there are a lot of windows. Without air moving it does not cool itself because of the lack of air circulation.
I am sure that this statement is true for many other small trailers or any teardrop campers you know. Even if the temperature is not high, you will notice the lack of airflow. I would need a Fantastic Fan (that is the brand) going if I wanted to be comfortable in an a-frame camper at all.
You have to keep that in mind: air just does not flow very well without fans or air conditioners. The Aliner Ascape, that I consider the best a-frame camper and I review in this article after renting it for a couple of weeks, has a fan and an embedded RV AC that will completely eliminate this problem.
Problems WIth Seals
Reason number seven is that you may not like an A-frame camper for the following reason.
There are seals throughout the a-frame camper, where the roof is coming together. These seals do not stay in place very well at all. They are constantly coming undone like and this happens quite frequently.
Watch that those screws do not unscrew themselves so there are little things like that on the a-frame camper that seem kind of cheap and do not seem to last very long.
You will not like to constantly deal with the seals and sometimes other little things kind of falling apart because an a-frame camper is simply a portable travel trailer that you have to basically put together every time you use it.
Bad Weather: Some Models Are Made Of Fiberglass
You may not like some a-frame camper models that are built with fiberglass. When you got heavy winds or heavy rain it is loud because the surface is pure fiberglass. Therefore, raindrops sound tinny and it can be really loud when you are in bad weather. Not a big “con” actually, as the structure will resist very well bad weather. It is a problem to sleep when it is rainy outside and the A-frame camper us built with fiberglass.
Not Possible To Have Awnings
The following reason why you may not like in an a-frame camper is that these are not awning friendly. Awnings are really nice to have on trailers to give you not only shade for your windows but also to protect you from the rain. You can put your shoes outside and they do not get wet.
If You Are Tall, You Will Not Fit In The Bed
Another important reason why you may not want to buy a frame camper will affect you if you are six feet tall or more. If you are tall, you do not want to buy an a-frame camper because of the way that the beds are laid out across the width of this trailer.
Therefore, if you are 6 feet tall or over, you would have to sleep diagonally on the bed, which means you could not sleep with a partner.
If you do not sleep diagonally, your head is going to be squashed up against the wall and your feet will be on the wall too. if you are going to be looking at an A-frame camper, and you are 6 foot tall, you better lay down and really seriously consider before renting or buying this model of travel trailers.
Not Electronic Friendly
I have noticed that a frame camper models, and this includes my favorite one, the Aliner Ascape, are not electronic friendly. These, in general, do not have gizmos and gadgets that make it easy to have a TV or to have a USB Drive charging things.
They do not include entertainment systems. You may think that the newer models might have some more gizmos and gadgets, and yes, it is true, but not in the standard configuration.
So, despite some add-ons, you can purchase to the dealership or the RV manufacturer, in general, this is not an electronic friendly type of trailer.
This is for camping outdoors, being in the wilderness, in more isolated campgrounds. It is not a trailer that you want to hang out in and entertain yourself.
It does not have awnings either, as we explained above, so you have to really want to be outside if you are going to be in an a-frame camper.
I am Tony, an RV designer and RV developer. I create bill of materials for RV manufacturers for travel trailers and fifth wheels. I worked as a freelance transportation consultant for Lyft. As an RV development consultant, I create customization trees for RV manufacturers who want to offer a solution to prospective customers to design their custom RV with variant configuration. Apart from this, I sell in Indiana trailer hitches, hitch balls, goosenecks and weight distribution systems where I provide advice to customers who want to know which is their towing capacity, which hitch ball should they utilize and how to deploy a weight distribution system. I do my best to explain all these processes and their installation, here in RV Favorites.