RV living is a lifestyle choice that requires getting used to minimal living space, lack of privacy and a nomadic way of life.
The fact that one’s living quarters may be smaller than the average domestic home doesn’t mean they have to be unpleasant, though. Indeed, modern RVs usually have all the amenities required for a comfortable living space and some are luxurious.
Most manufacturers offer customers the opportunity to customize their RVs so as to give their living space the personal touch.
Retractable slide-out sections allow RV living space to be extended and this means better rationalization of the space on offer. A slide out, slide, or pop out, is a cut-out portion of your RV that extends and retracts its side wall to create more interior living space.
They are especially prized in small travel trailers. The advantages of small travel trailers are their compactness and streamlined structuring, which make for a faster and more flexible driving experience.
Small travel trailers are also able to park up in places larger RVs and motorhomes can’t access. The disadvantage is the smaller space for living. Slides outs are a way to overcome this potential problem.
When making your choice, you need to ensure you get an RV with the weight that relates best to the tow vehicle you have or intend to get. Number of people who travel together will also influence the choice.
There are also options that focus on interests, such as boondocking off the grid or travelling into extremely cold surroundings.
Let’s have a look at some small travel trailers with slide outs. There’s a wide choice available with options to fit particular travel styles.
Small Travel Trailers
Travel trailers, or pull-behinds, have a bumper hitch at the front which allows them to be towed. The need for a tow vehicle is obvious. Size and weight determine what type of vehicle does the towing.
For a small travel trailer a full or mid-size SUV or a half-ton pickup truck is the usual choice of tow vehicle.
If you are used to camping under canvas but feel the need for something more comfortable that offers more security, due to having hard sides, a small travel trailer may be what you need.
Small travel trailers are self-contained units with a living area, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. They can sleep between two to six people. Well-equipped small travel trailers with full kitchens, dry baths, and heating and cooling are usually priced very reasonably.
Hybrid models have expandable, fold out, sections made of durable fabric, rather than hard-sided slide outs.
Inspect the wheel bearings if you buy a used travel trailer.
Slide outs offer more living space and storage without manufacturers having to increase the length of the travel trailer. Increasing the length would make the trailer more cumbersome on the road. Slide outs stay tucked in while you travel but can be used once parked.
The slide out may be driven by electricity running on the RV’s power system. The hydraulic version is powered by a motor or a pump. Smaller, lighter slide outs tend to have electric motors. Things can go wrong with the motor, the gears, and so on.
Larger, heavier slide outs are usually hydraulic and things can go awry with pumps, valves and lines that can leak or break. Friction, heat and other factors can also contribute to mechanical problems.
All the jostling as the trailer bumps along the road can also stir up problems. Exposure to the weather is another issue. If the roller assembly is not level, or becomes unstable, there can be floor damage, seal damage etc. Leakage can ensue.
They generally extend 2-3 feet along the outside of the travel trailer.
Multiple slide outs, opposing slide outs and full wall slide outs offer maximum benefits but are not really associated with small travel trailers. Larger travel trailers have the options of multiple, opposing and full wall slide outs.
A bedroom slide out may allow you to walk around the bed, provide extra room for drawers and closets, and storage for your devices.
Kitchen slide outs mean you can have a larger fridge or even a larger freezer, a full oven and more surface space.
RVs with slide outs tend to cost more than those without them.
On the whole, slide-outs are very reliable. The operating mechanisms have benefitted from innovative developments. You should get years of service from your slide outs if you maintain them.
Do You Need A Slide Out?
If you are considering purchasing a small travel trailer, you may be trying to decide whether or not to go for a model that has slide outs. A number of factors will determine your decision but, ultimately, it’s about comfort versus convenience.
Remember that when the slide outs are in, they can impede access to bedroom, bathroom or kitchen, making it nigh on impossible to use your travel trailer when the slide outs are in. You need to be certain you’re going to use them before you go ahead and pay more to have them.
It would certainly be a good idea to research into the actual parking sizes of your proposed campsites. If the campsite has parking restrictions that would mean you couldn’t extend your slide outs without overstepping size limits, then the slide outs are just going to get in the way.
You’ll have a horrid time as you won’t be able to use your travel trailer with the slide outs in but will be prohibited from extending them.
How often you use your RV and for what lengths of time are considerations. If you’re a summer camper who likes to spend your time outdoors enjoying the sun, then slide outs may not be desirable.
If you’re a four-season camper or a ‘snowbirder’ (someone who moves from northern areas in winter to warmer southern areas) then you may very well be attracted to slide outs.
How much gear you need to travel with is very relevant. The more things you need to take with you the more storage area you need and space. Slide outs may be worth thinking about.
How you like to travel is pertinent. If you go to one place and stay, then slide outs may be a good idea. If you like to move about all the time and only stay in any one place for a short stop then slide outs may be more bothersome than you need.
Remember that slide outs need a lot of maintenance. If your slide-out is cable-driven you need to check the cables and ensure that you maintain the proper tension. Seals, too, need regular checking.
As rubber seals age, they get brittle, and moisture can seep in. Loose seals can result in damage to floors, walls and to insulation.
Ensure you understand how the seals function so you’ll know when there’s a problem developing and deal with it sooner rather than later.
Inspect seals at least twice a year. To keep seals conditioned, use a rubber seal conditioner for slide outs at least twice a year. Don’t forget to clean the tops of the slide outs so there’s no leakage.
The slide out must be fully in or fully out because if it’s partially extended this can damage the mechanism.
The older slide outs get, the more maintenance they need.
Store slide outs closed. Coating your seals before storage is a good plan.
Observe the movement of the slide out when it operates and listen for anything not quite right. Things can get caught between the wall and the slide out on the top or at the sides.
If a drawer or cabinet opens during travel it could cause issues. If the problem is not due to these issues, then take the travel trailer to get its slide outs re-aligned.
Slide Out Pros
- Increased floor space without making the unit larger when on the road
- More flexibility
Slide Out Cons
- Added complexity, in that they need to be operated and this means potentially more problems
- Added weight to the travel trailer
- The travel trailer is less rigid with slide outs
- More expensive
The Six Best Travel Trailers With Slide Outs
Although we’re going to look at six travel trailers that have slide outs, which are considered to be better than the rest, the choice really is subjective.
You need to consider the manufacturer’s reputation, the travel trailer’s reputation, the purposes you have in mind, the size and strength of your tow vehicle, the number of people who will be using the travel trailer’s living space, the amenities you value and other such factors.
OUR TOP PICK
The travel trailer has independent suspension and axle risers for extra ground clearance, which is great for rough terrain.
This travel trailer has one electric slide out. You operate it manually by means of a push button. The slide out has all the necessary kitchen amenities.
There’s an under-mount sink, a convection microwave, a recessed cooktop which has two burners, with a glass cover, and a gas/electric refrigerator. There are also two drawer guides below the cooktop, which could be used for storage.
The U-shaped dinette is in the rear.
There’s an entertainment center.
Kitchen with a sink and a two-burner range.
Bathroom with stall shower with ABS tub surround and shower curtain. A foot-flush toilet and sink with hot and cold water. Storage cabinets and a medicine cabinet.
There’s a comfortable sofa, which can double as a bed.
The front sleeping area has a queen-sized bed and wardrobe. Near the bed is a hanging closet. The closet has three drawers and storage.
Easy to tow.
Compact enough to suit any campsite.
The outdoor kitchen option is a real bonus.
The fact that there’s lots of extra storage space is another popular feature.
The K-Z – Sportsmen Classic 181BH sleeps 6.
There’s one powered slide-out section, which offers a dinette area. It can be converted into an extra sleeping area.
The set of rear bunk beds and associated storage space is possible because of having the slide out.
The bunks, extra sleeping due to converting the slide-out dinette into a bed and the front master bed space means this travel trailer can sleep six people. Pass-through storage is located above the queen-sized bed.
The kitchen has a fridge, a sink, microwave, and two-burner range.
The bathroom is adjacent to the bunk area with a stall shower and toilet. This is great for the children of a family.
The 9-foot awning maximizes the living space.
Air Conditioner of 13 500 BTU and heater of 20 000 BTU
Towable by a light-duty pickup truck or a mid-size SUV that has a towing package.
This RV would suit families with teenagers and school-age children. It’s not recommended for couples, as the bathroom is far from the master bedroom.
One large slide contains the dinette and sofa.
What’s interesting about this travel trailer is that it has a wall that separates the front bedroom from the rest of the living space.
This is quite unique. It provides some privacy. Otherwise, the floor plan is traditional with a front-position queen bed.
The kitchen has a classic design. There’s an L-shaped addition to the countertop.
The bathroom has a generously sized tub.
At the rear there’s a set of bunk beds, which, rather unusually, are full double-width. This is another very positive feature.
You can remove the upper bunk and place it alongside the lower to make a double bed and thereby create a small private bedroom at the rear.
This travel trailer is a really good choice for families and traveling couples.
It’s within the realm of a half-ton towable. The cargo capacity is a full 2,500-pounds.
The slide out has a U-shaped booth dinette with storage under it, which could be a linen or pantry area.
The dinette can be converted into sleeping space for two. The sleeping space would suit children rather than adults.
A queen-sized bed is just to the right of the entrance. The bedroom also has a closet area and more storage below it.
There’s a large slide tray for storage under the bed and a built-in television which can be swiveled.
The kitchen has a refrigerator and three-burner stove with an oven. Most travel trailers only have a microwave and drawer.
It has all the necessary appliances and amenities. Cabinet kitchen storage is available above the sink.
The very small bathroom has a shower, separated from the commode by a simple curtain. The bathroom doesn’t have a sink or mirror.
If you’re used to camping in tents this would be a good transition to RVs.
This travel trailer is unique to the market because it was built with a very different goal in mind. Many compact travel trailers are built to be as light as possible, or as affordable as possible.
Flagstaff is determined to build the most well-equipped travel trailer within the 26-foot limit on RVs imposed by many national parks.
This travel trailer has dual-slide outs, one in the living room and one for the sideways mounted queen in the rear. Double the number of slide outs means double the living space.
There’s a large bathroom.
The master bedroom is separated from the rest of the living space with a side hallway. This design feature is like that of a luxury fifth wheel.
A drop-frame in the rear of the trailer is similar to the front of many fifth wheels.
There is some of the deepest and tallest storage.
An ultra-light travel trailer with the largest slide out, accommodating a U-shaped dinette.
A dinette-refrigerator-microwave combination is next to the kitchen. There’s more utility and functionality than other slide outs.
The dinette has a free-floating table that can fold down to form a sleeping area for one or two people. Storage under the dinette. Full overhead cabinets above the dinette. Storage space on both ends of the dinette.
The rear facing kitchen has lots of facilities, storage and counter space. The cabinets have triple pull-out drawers and extra outlets for appliances. There’s a sink, two-burner range, refrigerator, and microwave.
There’s also a nicely sized pantry for dry goods. The kitchen is considered to be more attractive than most in small travel trailers.
The wet bathroom lacks cabinets and is very simple but there’s a stall shower and toilet. There’s also a hot and cold external shower.
The sleeping area has a queen-size bed, wardrobe and television that can only be watched from the bed. A closet and dresser storage with three pull-out drawers beside the bed.
Front storage space is accessible from the outside.
Comfort Or Convenience
How often you use your RV, how long you spend using it when you use it, how you travel and how much you take with you on your travels must be assessed in terms of comfort and convenience.
Slide out travel trailers cost more and there are maintenance costs to having slide outs.
Extended Living Space And How Much You Need It
this will depend on your style of travelling and who you travel with.
Is the extra maintenance time and cost worth it?
Usability At Campsites
Check that you’ll be able to extend the slide outs at your preferred campsites.
Extra weight and how this will affect your tow vehicle
Overloading The Trailer
Ensure you remain within the overall weight capacity.
Travel trailers, especially small travel trailers, can certainly benefit from the extra living space offered by slide outs. However, before you rush out and buy a small travel trailer that has slide outs, be sure you can use them and that you need them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Having A Slide-Out Add A Lot Of Weight To The Small Travel Trailer?
Additional material and power-retractable components of the slide outs will add weight. Technological improvements and advances in RV materials help to keep the overall weight of a slide-out section down, so that a mid-size or full-size SUV could be the tow vehicle.
Is It Difficult To Maintain Slide-Out Sections?
Power-retractable slide-out sections do need more maintenance. Lubrication is necessary now and then. Seals or gaskets can leak.