- Where Have All The Colemans Gone?
- Getting Your Camper Ready For The Off Season
- Preparing Your Rig For The New Camping Season
- Maintaining Your Camping Rig
- Four Tips For Purchasing A Used RV
- Why You Should Attend an RV/Camping Show
- Park Model Campers
- Motorcycle Campers
- A Guide To Truck Campers
- Toy Hauler Campers
- A Guide To 5th Wheel Campers
- Types Of Towable RV's
- A Guide To Motorized RV's
- Class C MotorHomes
- Class B MotorHomes
- See More Articles
Toy Hauler Campers
Toy Haulers, also commonly called Sport Utility Trailers, are an increasingly popular type of towable trailer designed for people who want to take their "toys" with them while they camp or attend an event such as a motocross race; snowmobile competition; or the special weekends and weeklong gatherings for people who like to ride dirt bikes, four-wheelers, snowmobiles, etc.
A toy hauler has a large cargo area, usually in the back of the trailer that can tow and store "toys" such as four-wheelers, snowmobiles, any type of bike, jet-skis, dune buggies, go-karts, canoes, etc.
The built in ramp is usually as wide as the trailer itself so it is easy to load and unload. One of the biggest benefits of a toy hauler trailer that people appreciate is the security it provides for their four-wheelers, etc. because in today's world, it is not uncommon for people to steal those types of things if they are left unattended or out in an open area. Another big benefit is they eliminate the need to tow a separate trailer for their bikes, etc.
Other than the cargo area, toy haulers are pretty much like any other travel trailer or fifth wheel except the living area will be smaller. They also usually come with (or have the option of adding on) at least one generator, a fuel tank and a larger than normal water tank.
Some people who own toy haulers put furniture in the cargo area when they are going camping somewhere and are not taking any “toys” with them. The cargo area then becomes a spacious living room. I know a few people who do this, because although most toy hauler manufacturers take into consideration that a user will not always have something in the cargo area and therefore provide fold down beds and seating, my friends prefer seating that is more home-like so some of their family room furniture gets loaded in their toy haulers when the toys stay home.
How popular have toy hauler trailers become? During my own unofficial research I found over 50 models of toy hauler trailers available, not counting the motorized and popup toy haulers.
What's the difference between a toy hauler travel trailer, a popup model, and a motorized model?
Toy Hauler Travel Trailer
This is the most commonly found toy hauler and the most popular. There are two types: a toy hauler travel trailer and a toy hauler fifth wheel travel trailer.
Travel Trailer Style Toy Hauler
5th Wheel Style Toy Hauler
From the outside they look nearly identical to a regular towable travel trailer or a regular 5th wheel travel trailer, with the exception of a ramp (almost always on the back) for loading and unloading the "toys." Another clue to whether or not a towable travel trailer or a 5th wheel is conventional or is a toy hauler is the paint job it has. Toy haulers often have distinctive paint trim details that may look like flames or racing stripes. On the inside they look like normal travel trailers or fifth wheels too, although some have special themed interiors that make them look like a racing fan's dream world.
Motorized Toy Hauler
Other than the cargo area in a motorized toy hauler, there are not a lot of differences between a motorized toy hauler and any other similar sized motorized camper. One thing to consider is whether or not you want a separate vehicle to use. Many people prefer a towable toy hauler because the towing vehicle they have is often a truck and that truck has a bed that is usually big enough to haul at least one of the pieces of equipment they have brought with them. For example, there may be a need to haul a canoe to the river because accommodations near the river were not available.
Toy Hauler Popup
This option is best for people who don't have a lot of large "toys" to haul, people on a limited budget, or those who have a towing vehicle with limited capacity. The area for hauling the "toys" is usually not protected from the weather but is either an exterior flatbed extension of the popup that is on the front or rear of the camper, or uses the reinforced top of the camper as the hauling area for equipment such as a four wheeler.
Standard and Optional Items Available
Although items that are standard in toy haulers versus items that are optional, or even available at all vary widely by model and manufacturer so shop around to find the best fit of standard items, optional items, and cost for you.
Here's a list of some of the amenities you can find in toy haulers (standard or optional):
- Water heater
- LCD TV
- Cable hookup
- DVD player
- MP3 player
- Home theater system
- Hydraulic slide rooms
- Bay window
- Ice maker
- Swivel rockers
- Leather sofa
- Solid surface countertops
- Double door refrigerator
- Slide-out pantry
- Smoke detector
- Fire extinguisher
- Deadbolt lock on entry door(s)
- Central vacuum system
- Electric lift and lower systems for the wall mounted beds in the cargo area (almost always an optional item)
- Power jacks
- Heated and enclosed underbelly/basement
- Ample exterior lighting (often includes floodlights)
- Fuel station with tank and gauge (a must have for many toy hauler owners)
- Outside shower (a nice thing to have after a muddy day of four-wheeling)
- Large rear door for easy loading and unloading into the garage area
- Air conditioning in the garage area (often an optional item)
- Separate storage area in the garage portion of the toy hauler for those necessities you want handy when doing maintenance or repair work on those "toys."
- Generator (almost always an optional item)
- Satellite dish
- Air compressor (usually optional)
- Pressure washer
- Exterior speakers
- Shore line power cord
- Roll down screen as an option to having the cargo door closed
- Cold weather package
Toy Hauler Pros
What are some of the best benefits to owning a toy hauler?
- A person only has to tow or drive the toy hauler instead of pulling an extra trailer for the bikes, four-wheelers, snowmobiles, etc.
- Toy haulers almost always have a fuel station with a tank as an available item, although it is often optional.
- There's interior storage space for the equipment that's being hauled which means a person doesn't have to worry about securing equipment outside and covering it with tarps to protect it from inclement weather
- Some toy haulers have the garage/cargo area completely separated from the living area by a wall and a door. It is like walking from the living area in your home out to an attached garage. Odors and the garage like feel are kept away from the living area.
Any Downsides to Owning a Toy Hauler?
Nearly everything has some negatives, although they are many times outweighed by the positives. What negatives do I think you need to consider before purchasing a toy hauler?
- Smaller interior living space. Unless you plan to leave you toys outside overnight, and may people don't want to do this for security reasons, you will have less interior living and sleeping space than normal. Some of the smaller toy hauler trailers only have a bed in the cargo area which means you either need to leave your "toys" outside or find another storage area for them.
- If you are continually in close proximity to your equipment in your toy hauler, the lingering smell of gas and oil from the engines may bother you. If you think you may find this bothersome to the point of ruining your trip, purchase a toy hauler with a separate garage area.
- Lower gas mileage. Anytime you are towing something, even if it is in the interior of a tow hauler, the weight of those items will affect the gas mileage of the towing vehicle or of the camper itself if you are driving a motorized toy hauler.
- There is a larger selection of regular campers and travel trailers along with more choices of amenities and options, when compared to toy haulers.
- Being inside a toy hauler, even while in the living area, can feel like being in a garage. Depending on how you feel about this, it can be a negative or a positive. Again, having a closed off garage area can eliminate this problem.
Costs of toy haulers vary widely depending on the type (popup, travel trailer, fifth wheel, motorized) chosen, the size, the options picked, and whether or not a new or used unit is purchased.
Generally speaking, a toy hauler purchase is going to be a significant one. If you are not sure if it is the right thing for you, consider renting one for a trip first.
Some of the lower end toy haulers can be purchased new for less than $20,000. A large fully decked out model can cost significantly more, often upwards of $40,000 after all the fees and taxes are calculated.
The best times to buy new campers are typically early in the year when many dealers are promoting their wares as at camping and RV shows and have show specials and closeout prices on last year's models, or late in the year when dealers are looking to reduce inventory.
I've found the best time to purchase a used camper is at the end of the season, especially in climates where winters are cold and snowy. People who haven't used their camper that year or have only used it a few times and want to sell it are more often amenable to negotiating because they don't want to have to worry about winter storage, especially if they are paying a monthly fee for that storage.
How to Decide
One of the best ways to help decide on what type of camper or motor home to purchase, whether it be a toy hauler or any other type, is to attend a camping show. Not only do you get to see a large variety of campers/motor homes/travel trailers/toy haulers, you get to talk to dealers and owners about them. One little known fact about most camping shows is that the extra personnel nearly every dealer needs to hire are their customers who are the owners of the campers and RV's they sell.
In the end though, there's no doubt that most toy hauler owners are very happy with their purchase. When they take off on a trip with their toy hauler, they are looking forward to a fun time with whatever "toys" they are bringing with them. And not many things ease tension and stress better than a ride on the water with a jet-ski, or a romp on the trail with a four-wheeler, or an exhilarating snowmobiling excursion though the winter wilderness.