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. These are the worst travel trailer brands to avoid.
Usually, 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 bang for a big buck!
We’ve developed an in-depth guide describing some of the worst travel trailer brands and how to avoid them. However, we’re not planning to introduce you to them; we’re not monsters.
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. Generally, it’s crucial to consider the types of tow vehicles you need 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 a type of motor vehicle that can handle a travel trailer. It’s also known as a “camper van” or “motorhome.”
What We Cover
- Worst Travel Trailer Brands Out There
- 1. Forest River RV
- 2. Coachman
- 3. Jayco Travel Trailer
- 4. Chinook
- 5. Coleman
- 6. Columbia Northwest
- 7. Keystone
- 8. Winnebago
- 9. Gulf Stream
- 10. Hurricane
- Worst Travel Trailer Brands to Avoid and Why
- 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?
Worst Travel Trailer Brands Out There
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 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 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 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. It’s also one of the worst travel trailers regarding 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 avoid Jayco since it foregoes essential features to save money, resulting in lower durability and dependability.
Travel trailers are fantastic for offering much 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. However, 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, Chinook has been rated among the worst travel trailer brands to avoid.
Leaks are probably the most prevalent and severe issue with Chinook travel trailers. The worst thing is they’re 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, technical failures, and exposed wiring. Therefore, you might want to avoid Chinook RVs altogether to get value for your money.
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While they may be giants in the world of camping supplies, Coleman is one of the worst RV brands in the RV market. Anyone who values their money should avoid the brand.
The poor structural quality tourists and RV enthusiasts despise about Coleman is 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 the AC or heater isn’t working other times. Generally, there is always something to miss with these trailers.
I’m hoping Coleman starts applying the same level of care and build quality they do in their camping kit to their RVs; with a legacy as long as theirs, they should know better.
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6. Columbia Northwest
Columbia Northwest is a company that builds trailers in the United States of America. It started in 1996 and has 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 comprises two types of trailers: toy haulers and fifth-wheel trailers.
But after some years of success, the build quality has severely deteriorated, 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 of 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 awkward for those of us blessed with legs and torsos.
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Keystone buses are fuel-efficient and roomier but 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, so I feel no remorse in adding them to the list. Other RV brands realize that you are making an expensive purchase and need to be treated with care, especially if you buy 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 and fishing kit mediocre.
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I know; even the OG has some glaring issues. While the name inspires endearment and excitement, don’t be fooled. Winnebago isn’t the worst travel trailer compared to the other RV brands on this list. They’re mostly pretty well-made.
However, Winnebago continues to fail in the customer service angle, leading to many unhappy customers. It’s sad when a company gets so big that problems are swept under the rug unless there’s a literal uproar or a class-action lawsuit.
As for the trailer’s structure, the outside walls of the RV are a frequent source of customer complaints. And the interior is also not top-notch as you would expect. A number of customers complain that the interior finishing is not aligned correctly. Once you’ve seen that dodgy panel once, you can’t unsee it.
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9. Gulf Stream
Gulf Stream was once a well-respected travel trailer focused on 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, 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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Unfortunately, the Hurricane brand of travel trailers lives up to its name: mayhem and devastation for the owner and just about anyone nearby. While some stories about the manufacturer salvaging scrap for trailer construction are fictitious, other quality concerns are genuine.
Hurricane travel trailers have many issues, the worst being poor parking brakes. This is a critical component of any recreational vehicle – scratch that; any vehicles, period!
This poses perhaps the most significant danger to safety for obvious reasons. If potentially rolling into a lake in the middle of the night or crashing 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 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. It is the worst brand for unforgivable build quality and brakes that could kill people.
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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 absolute garbage out there, blech!
According to forged part manufacturers, some 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 sometimes ensure that things like sealant don’t leak on RVs or that parking brakes function properly. However, some dealers are sometimes not very good at this – sometimes downright awful.
So, when they sell RVs, it reflects badly on them and worse on the manufacturer. Also, since they are making a profit and their margins are sometimes quite tight, you probably will find the best RV for your needs at an inflated price.
Key Issues to Consider When Choosing a Travel Trailer
Buying an RV isn’t a small investment. Many people save for years to buy their dream RV. For this reason, doing research is pretty important if you don’t want to end up disappointed by what you buy. 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 you get value for your money, we have compiled a list of issues 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 different travel trailers. Therefore, you have many options in what trailer types and models you can choose. There’s not one favorite that will be the perfect RV for you. Ensure you test out a number of recreational vehicles before purchasing one.
Ensure that you assess the RV’s construction material, determining 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 all the parts and appliances work to avoid disappointments during your trip.
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Reliability becomes crucial since you’ll mostly be using your travel trailer for vacations or to unwind from the busy city life.
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 every trailer part is functional. And where it isn’t, ensure it’s something you can easily fix that won’t affect your camping trip.
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The trailer size 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 your stuff. Therefore, before shopping for a trailer, ensure 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, comparing it to a camper trailer or a camper van (RV) is a good idea. 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 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. The 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 know 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, which 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.
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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 Hurricane and Keystone options mentioned were perhaps the worst offenders. Among the brands that didn’t appear on this list but still produced 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! 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 for a place you can’t live in.
With this article at your disposal, you can better judge which RV manufacturers will best serve your needs and those of your family.
Does any of these worst travel trailers still sound like they would be ideal for you? We recommend researching their advantages and disadvantages before purchasing the worst travel trailer.
We hope our list has helped provide valuable insight into what makes an excellent travel trailer brand based on what makes a terrible one!