Minimalist camping isn’t just for couples in van campers. Smaller travel trailers are worth a second look for families with kids, too. They make packing easier, towing more efficient, and allow you to spend more time together in shared activities. Inevitably, you get more creative with the space at hand, and while that comes with its own set of challenges, the rewards are numerous.
For filmmaker and first-time RVer Adam Jones, his wife Shea, and their three kids, sharing a 16’ Coleman Rubicon 1400BH on a weekend camping adventure to visit Rutledge Falls, Tennessee, became an ideal introduction to RV camping.
As first-timers, the ease of use outweighed the small size, and the 1400BH performed as designed — a modest RV with practical sleeping options. Here we explore the Jones’ experience and look at what RV camping is really like for families making a small travel trailer work. We’ll also look at several 2023 and 2024 RVs that offer a similar appeal.
Do you have experience owning a small and large towable RV? We’d love to hear your thoughts about what you preferred and disliked about each in the comments below.
How the Jones Family Started RVing
Adam and Shea Jones hit the road for Rutledge Falls with the kids in the backseat and the Rubicon 1400BH in tow. They’d been tent camping before, but RVing was a first. The appeal of the RV and the inspiration behind the trip? A lowkey adventure with the family. Plus, they’d been encouraged to try RVing.
“The hassle of getting a hotel and finding things to do in a new city with such young kids sometimes can be so overwhelming we don’t enjoy the time as a family,” said Adam. Tent camping appeals to those like Adam and Shea, who prefer the flexibility of the outdoors. Adding an RV to that equation can complicate matters.
Adam and Shea had reservations about RVing in general: It would be cumbersome and especially difficult with kids. But the size of the 1400BH alleviated some of that.
“The size made this very approachable for us,” Adam said. “There was enough room in the cabin for us all to sleep[,] but also the functionality of the kitchen made feeding three kids very easy. As newcomers[,] we had no idea what to really expect[,] but being able to focus on family time and not logistics made it an amazing asset.”
Adam’s first impression of the 1400BH was its compact size and how easy it was to haul.
The main benefits of a small travel trailer like the 1400BH are easier towing and setup. These can be towed by a variety of smaller tow vehicles, including SUVs, mid-size trucks, and crossovers. There’s a smaller learning curve to drive and complete tasks like backing into a campsite. And setup is simpler with manual leveling components and a smaller trailer.
The Coleman Rubicon 1400BH
- Length: 15’11”
- Weight: 1,908 pounds
- Cargo Capacity: 1,100 pounds
- Sleeping Capacity: Up to 3
The Coleman Rubicon 1400BH is a 16’ single-axle lightweight travel trailer, coming in unloaded at just over 1,900 pounds and capable of sleeping three adults. Versatility is the 1400BH’s most valuable quality. Towing is easy, setup is easy, and the interior’s modular design allows for far more sleeping and dining variations than you’d guess when looking at it from the outside.
The Versatility of the 1400BH’s Interior
Inside, dual-facing bench seats accompany a removable dinette table, so four guests can sit, eat, or enjoy games comfortably. With a quick adjustment, the interior converts into a versatile sleeping space, complete with two bunks for the kids and a queen-sized bed that fits two adults (and potentially another kid).
Admittedly the favorite feature of the Jones’ kids, an electric fireplace, is positioned either at the head or foot of the queen-size bed, depending on your orientation. The unit also features two side doors, which makes it easier to get in and out, especially at night or when multiple guests are sitting at the bench seats. These doors also add airflow when utilizing the screen doors.
At seven feet tall, the 1400BH fits in most garages, an added perk, knowing you won’t have to pay for winter storage. And with all-terrain tires, the 1400BH is set up to reach campsites a larger, bulkier RV would struggle to reach safely.
What The Jones Family Loved About the 1400BH
For their first outing, the Jones family decided to boondock. “We felt most comfortable not having all the rules and regulations we assumed would be associated with a campground. Going off the beaten path is where we felt most comfortable,” Adam said.
For that independence, the 1400BH was perfect, and they made use of the all-terrain tires to reach their off-grid campsite not far from Rutledge Falls. They quickly set up camp (even with the kids running around) and prepared a delicious camp meal using the 1400BH’s outdoor griddle and rear kitchen.
“The coolest thing about the 1400BH was how it gave us the conveniences we needed for the trip. Plenty of water in the tank, a griddle, the kitchen, and a fridge. We had a small generator that was so simple to use and powered everything easily,” Adam said.
The best small travel trailers for families include well-designed features that account for the loss of utility you’d have with the amenities inside larger RVs. The exterior rear of the 1400BH, for example, features a kitchen with a high-rise kitchen faucet supplied by a 21-gallon fresh water tank, a 3.3-cubic-foot fridge, rooftop solar prep, and a strut-supported pop-up cover that provides shelter from the elements while cooking.
This made the first RV trip for the Jones surprisingly convenient, given they were typically adjusted for tent camping.
“Now feeling comfortable and knowing what is possible with an RV, we would stay even longer and enjoy the scenery,” Adam said. For them, the trade-off for space was worth it to gain the convenience and ease of a smaller travel trailer.
Other Small Travel Trailers With Similar Benefits
Explore other options similar to the Coleman Rubicon 1400BH below.
Forest River No Boundaries 10 Series (NB10.6/NB10.7)
- Length: 13’10” to 15’”’
- Dry Weight: Under 2,300 pounds
- Sleeping Capacity: 2-4
The 10 Series from No Boundaries features trailers under 2500 pounds, and we’re looking at the NB10.6 and the NB10.7, both of which include dual side-entry doors and a version of a centralized sofa/bed combo. The 10.6 boasts a toy-hauler-like rear ramp door and the notable traits of the 10.7 floorplan are its the electric fireplace and wardrobe storage.
The 10 Series units from No Boundaries include the most ground clearance in their class and feature all-terrain tires, ready to go anywhere.
Forest River Rockwood Geo Pro G14D/G15RD
- Length: 12’-18”’
- Dry Weight: 1900 to 3500 pounds
- Sleeping Capacity: 2-4
The entire Rockwood Geo Pro lineup is great for families looking for a smaller camper, but the options in the 2000-3000 pound range are especially ideal, including the newly released G14D and G15RD. Both feature wet baths – a significant added bonus – and the G14D comes with twin side doors, allowing easier access and airflow.
A notable similarity among small RVs for families with kids are benches, which are included in the Rockwood Geo Pro G14D and G15RD. These easily adjust to serve as sleeping spaces once the daytime activities are done.
Winnebago Hike 100
- Length: 15’11”
- Dry Weight: 1,908 pounds
- Sleeping Capacity: 2-4
The 2024 Winnebago Hike 100 floorplans, five in total, were among those that stood out to us at the Hershey RV Show this year. These compact trailers offer such features as rear entry, wet baths, and solar panels. It can sleep up to four adults, depending on the floorplan — an impressive cumulative feat for a trailer weighing less than 2,000 pounds.
Still towable by smaller vehicles, the Hike 100 also doubles as transportation for the gear for your favorite outdoor activities, with options for bike and kayak racks. This includes a fully walkable roof for accessing any overhead gear, too.
Single-axle trailers with premium suspension upgrades and Goodyear Wrangler 16” tires, these are more than capable of going off the beaten path to reach ideal destinations.
Grand Design Imagine AIM 15BH
- Length: 19’11”
- Dry Weight: 3,560 pounds
- Sleeping Capacity: 4
This lightweight bunkhouse travel trailer is a great option for families looking to move towards the more traditional size travel trailer while maintaining some minimalism. Making important use of vertical space with the large bunk to free up space, the Imagine AIM 15BH also includes a wet bath and indoor kitchenette. The convertible booth dinette also allows additional sleeping space.
The exterior of the 15BH features an outdoor griddle, a 14’ awning, two baggage doors, and a spray port for outdoor cleanup. Plus, enjoy an on-demand water heater, 20 BTU furnace, and 13,500 BTU A/C.
Coachmen Clipper 12.0 TD Pro
- Length: 17’5”
- Dry Weight: 2,225 pounds
- Sleeping Capacity: 3
We end our list with a teardrop trailer, in part to argue that these can also serve as capable RVs for families with kids. The determining factor is the layout and maximizing space for sleeping locations, which the Clipper 12.0 TD Pro does with the gaucho seating that pulls out into an extra bed. In combo with the standard queen bed, it comfortably sleeps three.
The Clipper 12.0 also amazingly includes a corner wet bath, refrigerator, and microwave, making this an all-in-one package for those looking for compact living without sacrificing too many amenities.
The Jones family and the Rubicon 1400BH are proof that a smaller travel trailer can suffice for a family with kids. And there are many great options available for those who might prefer to go small while still retaining some key amenities, like bathrooms.
Let us know about your experiences with small campers in the comments below!