When making a travel trailer purchase, it’s paramount that you first understand what you’re getting and what type of trailer you’re buying. You don’t want to end up with a regretful purchase – not for that amount of money, yeesh. These are the worst travel trailer brands to avoid.
Normally, we’re a pretty optimistic, bright-eyed, and understanding bunch at Viatravelers, but as chill, as we are, we can and do get rubbed the wrong way, especially when it comes to very little bang for a big buck!
We’ve developed an in-depth guide that describes some of the worst travel trailer brands and how you should avoid them. However, we’re not planning to introduce you to them all; we’re not monsters after all.
As far as choosing a travel trailer to buy is concerned, it all depends on the style of vehicle you’ll be using to travel on.
In general, it’s crucial to think about the types of tow vehicles you need to use to tow your camper.
Towing capacity is a very important factor when deciding what not to tow.
In the RV industry, a tow vehicle is the type of motor vehicle that can handle a travel trailer. It’s also known as a “camper van” or “motorhome.”
Table of Contents
- Worst Travel Trailer Brands to Avoid and Why
- 11 Worst Travel Trailer Brands Out There
- 1. Forest River RV
- 2. Coachman
- 3. Jayco Travel Trailer
- 4. Chinook
- 5. Skyline RVs
- 6. Coleman
- 7. Columbia Northwest
- 8. Keystone
- 9. Winnebago
- 10. Gulf Stream
- 11. Hurricane
- Key Issues to Consider When Choosing a Travel Trailer
- Building and Operations
- Trailer Size
- Camper Trailer and Camper Van
- How do I Choose a Good Travel Trailer Brand?
- What is the Worst Travel Trailer Brand?
- Final Thoughts
Worst Travel Trailer Brands to Avoid and Why
Our worst travel trailers list is based on conversations with RV campers on online forums and reviews from real RV and camping enthusiasts.
Generally, the demand for RVs and camping products has significantly grown over the years. And, that’s not the only thing that has gone up – the cost of raw materials also has.
For this reason, even as industry executives scramble to keep up with the rising global demand, they also have to try to minimize the cost of production.
This combination has resulted in reduced yields and the use of low-quality materials, resulting in some real garbage out there, blech!
According to forged part manufacturers, some of these trailers frequently abandon the manufacturing line without proper inspection. This doesn’t just mean shoddy build quality; it could also constitute a safety hazard!
Dealerships are sometimes responsible for checking to make sure that things like sealant don’t leak on RVs or that parking brakes function properly.
However, some of these dealers are sometimes not very good at this – sometimes they’re downright awful.
So, when they sell RVs, it reflects badly on them and worse on the manufacturer.
Also, since they are in the business of making a profit and their margins are sometimes quite tight – it means you probably will find the best RV for your needs at an inflated price.
11 Worst Travel Trailer Brands Out There
Alright, let’s pour some scorn as we look at some of the worst travel trailer brands to avoid and why.
1. Forest River RV
Forest River is a motorized RV with a weight capacity of 28,349 pounds; it tops some of the best sales that could be found. It’s also one of the first names that pop up when you search “worst RV brands.”
There are several features that set the Forest River apart from other station wagons on the market, and not in a good way.
Some of the common complaints from Forest River trailer owners include broken slide brackets, stuck slide out, or slide out that won’t open. Customers have also reported instances of disconnected or faulty wiring, leakages, and improper installation of some components like the bypass valves in the hot water tank.
These and more issues that customers report on reviews prompt us to list Forest River on this list.
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Another RV manufacturer with a long-standing product line and demonstrated success in the past is Coachmen.
However, there are numerous irritating difficulties because of declining product quality, making Coachmen one of the RV manufacturers to avoid like snake oil salesman.
One of the most prevalent issues with Coachmen RV trailers is leakages. The truth is, you’ll find leakage problems almost everywhere on the trailer. This includes the sink, shower, windows, and even the venting system.
In addition, these RVs might also suffer from other common problems like poor installation of parts and appliances, such as refrigerators, slides, drawers, etc.
With such major problems and minor headaches, there are many reasons why Coachmen is on this list of shame.
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3. Jayco Travel Trailer
While many people aren’t aware of Jayco, it is nevertheless a well-known name among RVers and experts alike.
It’s also one of the worst travel trailers when it comes to dependability and quality. Repairs might be needed frequently due to recurring leaks in pipes, equipment, or ventilation systems.
Don’t be fooled by the externally appealing Jayco motorhomes because the interiors might not be as good. They may deteriorate rapidly.
Please stay away from Jayco since it foregoes essential features to save money, resulting in a lower level of durability and dependability.
Travel trailers are fantastic for offering a lot of functionality in a small space, but Jayco’s questionable build quality makes it about as functional as a wheeled bus stop.
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If you’re looking for a lightweight motorhome, then Chinook might have qualified as a suitable travel trailer some time back.
But since the company has decided to focus more on saving costs than providing quality, their travel trailers are no longer as good. This is because they use substandard materials, leading to low-quality products. Subsequently, this has seen Chinook being rated among the worst travel trailer brands to avoid.
Leaks are probably the most prevalent and serious issue with Chinook travel trailers. The worst thing is they’re present in almost every location: the sink, shower, venting system, windows, etc.
And that’s not all. You might also encounter poorly fixed parts and appliances, with technical failures and exposed wiring.
Therefore, if you want to get value for your money, you might want to avoid Chinook RVs altogether.
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5. Skyline RVs
Skyline is another brand that should feature among the worst travel trailer brands on the market. While it may seem like a reputable company at first, it will quickly become apparent why they fall so far below competitors.
With each passing year, more and more people discover that their renovated or refurbished recreational vehicles need more work than anticipated. This is mainly due to water damages caused by faulty plumbing systems.
The problem often becomes worse since parts and labor costs are high due to the “low production rate” that is somehow beyond Skyline’s control.
Skyline should take note of this problem of poor quality and improve upon its travel trailer brands. Otherwise, more people will realize the problem and shift to competitor brands.
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While they may be giants in the world of camping supplies, in the RV market, Coleman is one of the worst RV brands. In fact, anyone who values their money should avoid the brand.
The poor structural quality that tourists and RV enthusiasts despise about Coleman is among the leading reasons why people leave their campers. Many clients are also dissatisfied with the performance of Coleman trailers.
Sometimes, RVers will complain about a broken freezer, while other times, the AC or the heater isn’t working. Generally, there is always something a miss with these trailers.
I’m hoping Coleman starts applying the same level of care and build quality that they do in their camping kit to their RVs; with a legacy as long as theirs, they should know better.
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7. Columbia Northwest
Columbia Northwest is a company that builds trailers in the United States of America. They started in 1996 and have grown to be one of the top companies in the industry.
What amazed me about this company was their quality service and attention to detail, along with their product line, which is made up of two different types of trailers: toy haulers and fifth-wheel trailers.
But after some years of success, the build quality has severely deteriorated, kind of like that first marriage when your new spouse seems hunky-dory right up until you get back from the honeymoon.
All they do is sit on the couch, complain about everything, and expect you to cook, clean, and bring home the bacon.
I want out Columbia Northwest. You took advantage of my goodwill.
Columbia Northwest’s worst RVs include the following brands: Winnebron, Featherlite, Holiday, Four Winds, and the generously named Royal, which is anything but.
Their worst travel trailers are old-school motorhomes and have been known to be heavy gas-guzzlers.
RVs made by Columbia Northwest also have low roofs and long windshields, which is just darned awkward for those of us who are blessed with legs and torsos.
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Keystone buses are fuel-efficient and roomier, but they do have more than their fair share of technical and structural constraints.
The control board in a Keystone RV is difficult to use unless you are a teenager and provides a negative experience even with the teenager.
Keystone is also constantly rated as having poor customer service, which is why I feel no remorse in adding them to the list.
Other RV brands realize that you are making an expensive purchase, and you need to be treated with care, especially if you are buying a brand new RV.
Keystone, however, will take your money, laugh all the way to the bank and tell you it was your fault for buying from them.
Beyond this, most RV enthusiasts found its furniture quality poor and its fishing kit mediocre at best.
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I know; even the OG has some glaring issues. While the name inspires endearment and excitement, don’t be fooled by it.
Sure, Winnebago isn’t the absolute worst travel trailer in comparison to the other RV brands mentioned in this list. In fact, they’re mostly pretty well made.
However, Winnebago continues to fail in the customer service angle leading to a ton of unhappy customers. It’s sad when a company gets so big that problems are swept under the rug unless there’s literal uproar or a class-action lawsuit.
As for the trailers’ structure, the outside walls of the RV are a frequent source of complaints among customers. And, the interior is also not top-notch as you would expect.
A number of customers complain that the interior finishing is not properly aligned. Once you’ve seen that dodgy panel once, you can’t unsee it.
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10. Gulf Stream
Gulf Stream was once a well-respected travel trailer that gave top attention to design and quality. But recently, customers have noticed a decrease in the company’s formerly robust standards, which has sparked concern among them.
Gulf Stream’s profit margins are growing at the expense of customer satisfaction. This is due to the use of low-cost components in crucial appliances that make an RV an RV.
According to numerous customer complaints, it appears that the fridge and heating equipment don’t work as often as they should, i.e., all the time.
This could potentially leave you freezing in all the places except where you actually want it for the rest of your journey.
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The Hurricane brand of travel trailers, unfortunately, lives up to its name; mayhem and devastation for the owner and just about anyone in close proximity.
While some stories about the manufacturer salvaging scrap for trailer construction are apocryphal, some other quality concerns are quite genuine.
The travel trailers Hurricane have slews of issues, worst of all being poor parking brakes. This is a critical component of any recreational vehicle – scratch that; any vehicles, period!
This poses perhaps the biggest danger of safety for obvious reasons.
If potentially rolling into a lake in the middle of the night or crushing into a playground full of children wasn’t bad enough, the travel trailers have been known for poor craftsmanship too – which makes sense if they’re made out of scrap. It’s okay; I said if.
True to the name, the brand has taken the world of travel trailers by storm – for the worst travel trailer. For unforgivable build quality and brakes that could literally kill people, it is the worst brand of all.
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Key Issues to Consider When Choosing a Travel Trailer
Buying an RV isn’t a small investment. In fact, many people save for years to buy their dream RV.
For this reason, doing some research is pretty much important if you don’t want to end up being disappointed by what you buy. In fact, trusting the words of a salesperson isn’t recommended.
I know it can be challenging, especially with so many seemingly great travel trailers in the market. But, not to worry!
To ensure that you get value for your money, we have compiled a list of issues that you should always consider in a travel trailer. This way, you can buy a high-performance product that’s also well-built, durable, and fits your needs.
Here are key issues to consider when choosing what differentiates RV brands:
Building and Operations
Each manufacturer makes their different travel trailers. Therefore, you have many options in what trailers types and models you can choose from.
There’s not one favorite that will be the perfect RV for you. Ensure you test out a number of recreational vehicles before you dive into purchasing one.
Ensure that you assess the RVs construction material as this determines its durability. If you notice some issues with the construction, don’t assume – continue shopping around.
Also, look for a travel trailer that handles most of your needs. This is mainly in terms of performance and comfort. Ensure that all the parts and appliances are working to avoid disappointments during your trip.
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Since you’ll mostly be using your travel trailer for vacations or when you just want to unwind from the busy city life, reliability becomes quite crucial.
You don’t want a trailer that gives you too much work during your vacation. For instance, fixing some appliances or sealing some leaking sinks and showers when you should be relaxing.
Therefore, before committing to that purchase, ensure that every part of that trailer is functional. And where it isn’t, make sure it’s something that you can easily fix and that won’t affect your camping trip.
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The size of the trailer will also determine how fulfilling your vacation will be. And, while its interior and exterior appeal matters, the size shouldn’t be forgotten.
First, buy a travel trailer that your towing car can comfortably tow. You don’t want a trailer that your car strains to pull.
Second, look at the floor size. The travel trailer should have ample space for you and your stuff. Therefore, before even going to shop for a trailer, ensure that you have comprehensively assessed your travel needs. This way, you are fully aware of the type of items you want to bring for camping and the required space.
Camper Trailer and Camper Van
If you’re unsure whether a travel trailer is a perfect option for you, it is a good idea to compare it to a camper trailer or a camper van (RV). You may want to buy a camper van rather than attempting to camp in a camper trailer.
While travel trailers focus more on convenience and space, camper trailers focus on durability and efficiency. On the other hand, a camper van will offer all these features, plus luxury and security.
With a camper van, you can jump straight from the driver’s seat to the dining area, kitchen, or bathroom without stepping a foot outside the vehicle.
So, choose a camping vehicle that best fits your needs.
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How do I Choose a Good Travel Trailer Brand?
As mentioned above, there are a few features that RV owners should consider while choosing a trailer.
The quality of the material used in the trailer’s construction is essential. Structural durability of the materials will ensure that your travel trailer or RV serves you for a long time. When driving the trailer, you should be aware of how dependable it is.
Warranty is another factor that can help you determine how confident manufacturers are with their products. Therefore, look for travel trailers with longer warranties as it means the manufacturer is confident of their work.
Finally, look at the quality of the appliances and tools in the interior of the RV trailer. These should show you if you are getting the best possible value for your money or not.
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What is the Worst Travel Trailer Brand?
I researched some of the worst brands on the internet and found that the aforementioned Hurricane and Keystone were perhaps the worst offenders.
Among the brands that didn’t show up on this list but still produce some shocking trailers were Simplicity and Shasta.
I had to stop adding to the list because I was getting mad. You got off lucky Simplicity and Shasta, but you’re on notice!
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Avoiding the worst RV brands is an issue that deserves more attention. Seriously, these things are expensive because they are supposed to be actual habitats.
There’s nothing worse in the travel world than paying an obscene amount of money for a place to live in that you can’t live in.
With this article at your disposal, you may be able to make better judgments about which of the RV manufacturers will best serve your needs and those of your family.
Does any of these worst travel trailers still sound like it would be ideal for you?
We recommend conducting additional research into their advantages and disadvantages before purchasing the worst travel trailer.
We hope that our list has helped provide valuable insight into what makes an excellent travel trailer brand based on what makes a terrible one!
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