Buying a caravan can be a little overwhelming. Especially if you’re going to be the person driving and towing it along. Some towable caravans look quite large and difficult to manoeuvre.
But don’t worry, if you’re concerned about keeping control of a caravan (or just wondering if your car is going to be up to the challenge of pulling it) then there are plenty of options out there.
Caravans vary greatly in size and weight. If you’re imagining yourself towing the sort of long, heavy static caravan you often see in campsites, don’t fret, that’s not the sort of thing you need to be taking on holiday with you.
Those caravans are static for a reason and they are pretty much always static. Otherwise, you will find yourself taking up most of the motorway.
Size is definitely not an issue when it comes to caravans. There are plenty of options that range from midsize caravans that can comfortably fit a family of four to tiny teardrop caravans that can barely fit more than a mattress.
To help you make the best decision, we have rounded up every kind of small caravan available. Read on for an explanation of each type of small caravan, how much it will likely weigh, how easy it is to manoeuvre, and a general review of what each one can offer you.
You can see my favourite tear drop caravan from the NEC Caravan Camping & motorhome show 2022 – its the TAB L400 Mexican Sunset and I love it!
What Counts as a Small Caravan?
So, what actually is a small caravan? What is the average size and, most importantly, the maximum size and weight?
Caravans are usually accompanied with an MTPLM. This stands for Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass. This is the maximum weight to which the caravan can be loaded.
This can be a useful tool for determining the overall weight and manoeuvrability of a caravan. But it isn’t the best option.
Whilst it’s something to bear in mind, and we will refer to it throughout our guide, we won’t be using it as an exact definition of a “small” caravan. This is because not all small caravans have a low MTPLM.
The MTPLM of a caravan can also be determined by its overall design. If it is a sturdy and compact caravan, then it might be able to load more than a larger caravan that has a thinner and less spread out frame.
So, all of the small caravans included in this guide are only small in stature and are mostly 2 berth. These caravans have a range of MTPLMs. So, while it won’t be the defining feature, it’s an important one to keep in mind.
The Best Small Caravans
Adria Action 316LT
Weight: 985kg (unladen)
Price Range: £17,500+
- Full wash/shower/toilet area.
- Includes a fridge.
- Sloped, curved shape.
This small caravan is a little more expensive than some options. But there are good reasons for this. Primarily, there is a large MTPLM.
With a load weight of up to 1,300kg, this compact caravan can handle a lot. This is ideal if you’re concerned about towing and manoeuvring a caravan.
The unladen weight of this caravan is relatively heavy, especially compared to other small caravans, especially the others included on this list. But that should definitely put you off.
The heaviness of this caravan, although not very heavy, will help with controlling the caravan. It will allow the caravan to remain steady and in place.
This style of caravan is a touring caravan. This is identified by its side door and fixed panel construction. This means that it’s suited for a good deal of travel.
It has a complete shower and wash area. It also features a small fridge.
This caravan is compact and has a sloped shape, similar to the Go-Pod or Teardrop caravans.
This is a very traditional shape, almost retro by today’s standards, but that definitely shouldn’t put you off. The fact that this design has remained so popular over the years is testament to that.
Weight: 720 (unladen)
Price Range: £14,500+
- Separate wash/shower/toilet area
The Caravelair caravan we’re looking at here is specifically the Alba 350. This is one of the smallest caravans that Caravelair has to offer.
These are some pretty unique looking caravans. You likely haven’t seen one before. They have a shape that is compacted and square but still rounded. This isn’t like the traditional small 1970s caravan you might be thinking about. This is much more modern.
The most impressive feature of this caravan is the weight (both unladen and MTPLM) and its cost. This is one of the most affordable caravans on this list. But it is by no means the smallest nor of poor quality.
Caravelair caravans are very high quality and modern, both inside and out. They are furnished to a very high standard.
This is a great caravan if you’re looking for something small and compact, but don’t want to be spending much more than £15,000. This is a lot of money but, for a good quality caravan that will be part of your holidays for years to come, this is a very affordable price.
Eriba Touring Caravans
Price Range: £18,530
- Full cooking area with sink, hob, and easily accessible fridge
- Full washing area
Eriba produces some very small and compact touring caravans. These are primarily made up of a sleeping area, cooking area, dining area, and a small bathroom. Although these caravans have a lot going on, they don’t weigh very much at all.
That said, the example characteristics listed above are relatively standard for most Eriba touring caravans. The high price is primarily due to the high-quality finish. The MTPLM is not as high as other, more affordable, options on this list.
But this isn’t a problem if you are concerned about weight. If you want something compact and lightweight, then this caravan is ideal.
The outside of these caravans might look very old-fashioned and traditional. Especially if you choose the silver metal option.
But the inside is luxurious. The style will vary depending on your choice of caravan, but they are predominantly made from polished wood and plush furnishings. These are some very beautiful caravans. But they are also very practical. These caravans have all you need but finished to a very high standard.
Despite the small size, there is an excellent use of space within this caravan. There is a huge amount of storage space. The use of space is efficient and almost every feature has multiple uses or can be altered for multiple purposes.
Weight: 700kg (unladen)
Price Range: £14,995
This caravan is one of the more affordable options on this list and it’s also one of the most compact options. This Freedom Jetstream Twin caravan is a very traditional looking caravan. It has a more modern interior but it is not the most luxurious.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if you don’t want to spend more than £15,000 on your caravan. And if you’re hoping to spend more time outside exploring than inside the caravan itself.
This is a small caravan but it is quite tall. If you’re concerned about visibility, this might not be the best option for you. If you’re worried about finding a caravan that is easy to manoeuvre, then this compact caravan is ideal.
At only 700kg, it is also very lightweight. But, it also has a very low MTPLM. This means that it cannot hold more than 50kg. This isn’t very much so this is not a caravan for a family trip or even more than one person. This can go up to 800kg if you pay extra for an upgrade.
Despite its small and compact size, this caravan does have a lot going on inside. This caravan has a seating area that folds out into a sleeping area. This is a great use of space.
The sleeping area can fit either two single beds or a super-king sized double. This is a very large sleeping space for such a small caravan. There is also a decent amount of storage space as there is a half-length wardrobe and seven overhead compartments. This is very useful and practical.
As well as these areas, there is also a small bathroom space with a shower, toilet, and sink. These are all almost on top of each other but there is an efficient use of space.
There is also a kitchen area which is surprisingly well-equipped with a gas oven, a grill, two hobs, sink, and a 60-litre fridge.
Weight: 540kg (unladen)
Price Range: £11,000 – £15,000
Go-Pod caravans are almost a modernised version of the more quaint and vintage teardrop caravans (read on or scroll down to find out more about these adorable caravans). Go-Pod caravans are very small and compact caravans. These are great if you’re concerned about manoeuvering, especially around corners.
Go-Pod caravans are very much what they say on the tin. These are small pods designed for travel. They weigh a small 750kg so will be very easy for small cars to tow. No matter the size of your car, you won’t be concerned about manoeuvrability with this caravan.
We can’t emphasise it enough: these caravans are tiny. But in the best way. These caravans are easy to manoeuvre when towing but also when it is static. This caravan is so small and lightweight that you will be able to move it yourself.
Go-Pods make excellent use of space. They slope in the teardrop shape but have a door to the rear, similar to a van, rather than at the side. Although teardrops have windows, the Go-Pod is much less cramped and allows in a lot more sunlight.
Go-Pods are also better constructed than the traditional teardrop caravan. This is because teardrop caravans were originally designed for warmer climates than we have in Britain.
This is one of the reasons for their small size, the design didn’t envision the occupant having to spend half their holiday sheltering from the rain. The Go-Pod is much better suited to the extreme weather of the British summer.
Weight: 1,029kg (unladen)
Price Range: £18,399+
- Full kitchen area, including microwave.
- Full wash area with toilet, sink, and shower.
Bailey Caravans, such as the Pheonix+ 420 used in the above example, aren’t the smallest of small caravans. But they are still very compact. They are not, however, the most lightweight caravans.
As you can see from the example characteristics above, the MTPLM is very high at 1,146kg which is useful and 120kg of additional weight is a good amount. But, the unladen weight is 1,029kg which is quite heavy for a small caravan.
Especially when there are other options available for much less weight. There are other caravans available for much less money too.
But that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth your consideration. These are still small and easy to tow caravans. The high-quality interiors also more than make up for, and justify, the price.
The majority of the interior is made from a very light oak. This provides a light and airy feel that is difficult to find in small caravans. A caravan of any size can feel dark and cramped. But this definitely isn’t the case for this caravan.
The Bailey Pheonix+ 420 also has a lot contained inside. As is common in small caravans, the seating area folds out into a sleeping area. There is also a full kitchen area with an oven, a grill, a four ring hob, and a microwave.
There is also plenty of counter space, including additional space from the drop-down countertop above the hob. All countertop space is made from a very modern Nordic Stone.
There is also a full wash area with a toilet, sink, and shower. Often in small caravans, the shower is directly above the sink and toilet, or at the very least covers them in water.
But the space has been used very efficiently in this caravan and the shower is hidden behind cabinets. There is also a good amount of storage space in this caravan with multiple overhead lockers and drawers.
Swift Basecamp Caravan
Price Range: £19,095+
- Fold-down bunk beds
- Adjustable TV brackets
This is definitely one of the most expensive options for a small caravan. But this is also the most high-quality, high-tech, and modern small caravan.
Although this caravan, as with most other small caravans, has a very small sleeping area, it makes excellent use of space to increase the sleeping area.
Even in the smallest 2 berth caravan, there are bunk beds that can be folded up and secured against the wall. The seating area also folds out into a double bed. So, despite its small size, this caravan can comfortably fit a young family of four.
This caravan has a traditionally curved roof and appears relatively normal from the outside, if a little more modern than most other small caravans. But the inside is incredibly impressive.
The use of space is impressive and there is a modern dedicated kitchen space that features a sink with rapid hot water, a three-burner hob, an oven (that can be upgraded to a full-oven), grill, and fridge. There is also plenty of counter space for food preparation, with an additional fold-out table with a small padded bench beneath the window.
There are also great additional features including a fold-away TV bracket and various folding tables. There are also multiple plug sockets and plenty of storage space.
Every inch of this caravan has been utilised as much as possible. This caravan also allows in a good amount of light with two large windows along the side and one large panoramic window at the rear. Although this is a small and compact caravan, it won’t feel cramped or dark.
Price Range: £9,495+
- Kitchen facilities in the back – including a sink with tap, a cool box, and a fold-out table. You would need however to provide your own low wattage microwave
Teardrop caravans are some of the most charming caravans available. You likely haven’t seen one of these before as they are quite rare. But this isn’t because they aren’t any good. These caravans just simply aren’t designed for the type of caravan holidays most people in Britain know.
Caravan holidays are a staple of the British summertime. But, because the British summertime often includes a lot of rain, caravans usually need to have more than just a mattress. Namely a table to play games at.
Teardrop caravans are very different. They are named after their unique shape that is similar to that of a teardrop, with a large rounded end for sleeping in and a slopped, slimmer section towards the front which can be used for storage.
That said, teardrop caravans can vary in size. You might be able to find a teardrop caravan which contains a kitchen and a table. But these are generally much bigger and more expensive.
Teardrop caravans are very small, compact, and lightweight. If you’re travelling alone, or with just one other person, and enjoy a minimalistic style while on the road, this is a great caravan to invest in. But, as they aren’t around all that much anymore, you might have to risk buying a vintage version.
How to Choose the Best Small Caravan
If you have read through all of these options and still feel overwhelmed, then you’re not alone. Buying a caravan is a big investment.
It might not cost as much as your actual home but you’re going to be spending a good deal of time in it.
You’re also going to be investing a good deal of money in it. So it’s important to find the best caravan for you and your family.
This is especially true if you’re concerned about being able to tow and manoeuvre your caravan. You don’t want to spend £15,000 on a caravan, only to be unable to drive it off the motorway.
So, to help you with your decision a little more, here is our guide to choosing the best small caravan.
Whilst weight is a very important factor to consider, the overall size of the caravan is also very important.
In fact, it is just as important as the weight and the two need to be considered in combination with one another.
This is because one will impact the other. For example, if a caravan is relatively large but lightweight, then it will be difficult to control when driving as it will potentially move around a lot.
Alternatively, if a caravan is small and compact but relatively heavy, then it will be difficult to tow, especially if you have a small, lightweight car. So, it’s important to consider both together.
As we have mentioned above, the size of a “small” caravan can vary. Whether you’re looking at buying a quaint, tiny teardrop caravan or a larger freedom caravan, you need to consider the overall size. This includes height, depth, and length.
All of these factors are important in understanding whether or not you will be able to comfortably and confidently drive while towing a caravan.
Manoeuvrability is another incredibly important factor to consider. Even if you can easily tow the caravan in a straight line, you’re still going to need to go around corners, turn around, and eventually pitch up.
Thankfully, small caravans are going to be easier to move around. They will go around corners more easily and you will be less likely to become stuck. But, the chances are that a small caravan will be lighter and will be more likely to move around.
This means that you need to be conscious of the route that you will be taking. You also need to know the weight and size of your car. Along with the weight and size of the caravan, this will help you to understand how you will best be able to tow and manoeuvre your caravan.
If this is all sounding a bit like a GCSE Maths or Physics exam, you’re not wrong. But it’s not all as complex as it might sound. The best thing to do is to consider the size of your car. If you have a very small car, then you’re going to be less likely to be able to tow a caravan.
But, if you do have a very small car, you might still be able to tow a Teardrop or Go-Pod caravan. These are very small and compact so will be easy to manoeuvre, almost as if it is an extension of your car.
Generally, if you’re concerned that you’re going to struggle to manoeuver a caravan, try to find the smallest one you can. But, if you have a big car, for example, a 4×4, a small caravan might be difficult to see, so try to remember that you need to keep an eye on it through your mirrors.
Another factor to consider for a small caravan is manoeuvrability while stationary. Some small caravans, including several on this list, are so small and lightweight that they can be manoeuvred by hand. This is incredibly useful when you’re pitching up.
Especially if you don’t feel confident that you can park your caravan in the perfect spot from the drivers’ seat. If this sounds like the ideal caravan for you, try out the Go-Pod caravan. This is quite possibly the smallest caravan that is easily available.
You might be able to find a smaller teardrop caravan but these are pretty rare caravans, especially modern versions. Go-Pod caravans are truly tiny. They do not, however, include much more than the very limited basics inside.
With small caravans, you don’t always have to choose between features and manoeuvrability. But they will definitely contend with each other and you might find yourself compromising between little luxuries and size.
Weight and Loading Capacity
This is an important one. When looking at the overall weight of a caravan, don’t forget that it’s going to get heavier.
You’re likely going to pack a lot of your items in your car boot. But not everything you need to live out of a caravan is going to fit in the car.
This means that lots of items will be packed into the caravan. So your caravan is going to get a lot heavier.
That said, it’s not a good idea to treat your caravan as free storage space and load it up. Packing your caravan full of your luggage will weigh it down a lot. This will potentially unbalance you when you’re driving. Especially if the caravan ends up being heavier than the car.
It’s also not a good idea to pack anything in your caravan that is going to move around. Whilst your caravan might look like it’s moving smoothly, that’s not how it feels inside. If you pack items into your caravan and don’t fix them down, then they will potentially fall over or fly across the caravan.
The loading weight also applies to whoever is in the caravan whilst it is stationary. This also includes any items that you will weight it down with as the suspension and axis will only be able to hold so much.
Buying a caravan can be intimidating, especially if you haven’t owned one before. You will need to find the caravan that suits the needs and those of the people you’re travelling with. So you need to consider all of the features inside.
But, the most important thing is your ability to tow and drive with your caravan. So, even if you think you have found the best caravan for your family, you will be spending your summer holidays on the drive if you can’t drive with it.
It’s best to find the caravan that will suit all your needs but won’t cause you too much hassle. It’ll take you a while to become used to towing a caravan of any size. But it will become second nature eventually.
It’s best to start with something small and compact. The compact nature of a caravan will make it easier to control. When buying a caravan, you will be driving it for years, if not decades to come.
So it’s an important decision to make. But, if you invest your money in a good quality caravan that is small and compact enough to manoeuvre, but can still provide you with the space in which to have a fantastic holiday.