Shrinking Trailers, Shrinking Cars, Shrinking Hitches

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February 1, 2010

It seems, my friends, that the sun blotting trailers of yesteryear are quickly giving way to the sub-compact micro-trailers. While I’m all in favor of increased fuel economy and parking in one zip code, I wonder how far this trend will go. While perusing the new units at the Hershey RV show last year, I asked a dealer why there were holes in the wall at the end of the bed.

“Feet,” he replied.

And so it goes. As I pondered the idea of waking up in the wee hours with an unknown creature of the wild licking my toes, I had to admit that some of these manufacturers were getting downright crafty in their designs. I saw outside kitchens, TVs that dropped from the ceiling, and a dinette that expanded into a dance floor, complete with the cheesy DJ.

Okay I made that last one up. But you get my drift. I assume, the laws of physics being what they are, that we’ll eventually hit a minimum size trailer. Unless you work for Ringling Bros. and wear a red nose, you might demand enough room to inhale (insert Bill Clinton joke here).

But why fight it? If you can get a 20′ trailer with all the modern luxuries and tow it with your Moped, rock on! We’re certainly not fighting it. For sixteen years Hensley Mfg. has built trailer hitches geared toward the mobile estate. And we’ve built them well. So well, they’ll work on any sized trailer.

“But it looks so big on my trailer!” you cried.

CubButte2Fair enough. Aesthetics are everything. So we designed smaller hitches for smaller trailers. It seemed risky, because we thought that folks with smaller trailers don’t have much issue with trailer sway or, in the case of 5th wheelers, bouncing.

We were wrong. What we failed to consider was this: you’re not just buying smaller trailers, you’re buying smaller tow vehicles as well (i.e. the aforementioned Moped). While you may not feel the sway or bounce of a small trailer with your ¾ ton truck, you’ll definitely notice it when you go to the more fuel efficient models. By the way large truck fans, the sway is there, just ask the guy behind you. Yes, that’s him, the one slowing down to put a state or two between you and he.

BD3-hitch-cutoutAnd you were right. Since we’ve launched the Hensley Cub for small trailers and the TrailerSaver BD3 air-ride hitch for smaller 5th wheels, they’ve taken off. So much so that we’re back to the drafting table (yeah, I know…so twenty years ago, but it’s a nice image) to see how much more we can scale it back.

These are exciting times in the RV industry. New ideas often spring from a tough economy. And nowhere else is it more clearly displayed than in the auto and RV industries. If you haven’t been to an RV show in years, go! You’ll be amazed at what they’re doing with those little boxes on wheels. Then give Hensley a call to see what we’ve got to fit your new compact, efficient, yet stylish camper.

For more information on the Hensley line of anti-sway hitches or the TrailerSaver line of 5th wheel hitches, call 1-800-410-6580. Check out their websites at and

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  2. I actually bought my first RV at the end of last season. It was so much at the end of the season, it was too late to use it, so, I stored it in my back yard. When I bought it, it was a quick decision and I only had a chance to drive it around the corner. Since I knew the person I bought it from, I wasn’t worried about any problems with it since it is 20 years old. It’s about a 26′, runs great, has about everything a fairly new one would have. It’s been winterized, checked out and everything fixed. The only thing that hasn’t been done is the frige. It either has to be fixed or replace and that is something I will do when I decide to register it, if I do. It’s 20 years old and by looking at it, you wouldn’t believe it. It’s in great shape and the mileage is low. My only problem is I am so afraid of driving it because it looks so big for me. It sleeps 4-6. I guess I would rather get something that just sleeps 2 and is much smaller, since the other one takes my whole back yard. I am looking into smaller ones right now, but, I am not sure if that is the way to go. I hear everyone who has had a small one, wished they had gotten a big one, with more room to move around in. By the way, this is a driveable 1989 Jamborie. Just curious if anyone has any comments of them ever owning a small one as opposed to a big one. I would love any feedback.
    Thank you so much,

  3. Bluestatueman

    We started out with a 26ft TT. It was cramped. Especially on cold, rainy days. No room to invite friends or family. No with a 31ft TT, everyone is much happier.

  4. Rhonda

    I was so happy to read the comments. My husband & I just bought a new 36′ 5th wheel & have enjoyed the few trips with our grown kids & young granddaughter. It was a great buy but I was uneasy – only due to the economy, cost of fuel (we drive Ford diesel trucks). After reading these comments, I feel like we did the right thing – for us.

  5. Wow. That got a lot of quick responses. Funny you guys bring this up. I had a guy call yesterday. He said he just bought a 14′ trailer (Dutchmen I think) for him and his wife. Their first. I told him about the small hitch but advised him to consider the larger hitch if he thought he might ever buy a bigger trailer. He said they were pretty happy with the 14′, though they hadn’t actually camped in it yet. I said, “Give it two days of real good rain.” He laughed and got my point. I’m with you guys, I love my 33′ slide out. With two kids–now teenagers–it maintains sanity and overall family happiness!

  6. Sheila Allison

    We have a 30ft Award which seems small to a lot of people untill they get inside and see the room. We have the Hensley Arrow and pull with an 06 Tundera. What a beautiful ride even if it is about 10 to 11 mpg. My husband is retired and I hope to be able to go even less on my job in about a year. I guess I will never be able to stop working. We hope to be able to find our way back to Alaska and downsizing is one option for us. We have been there in a large motorhome and it is very restrictive. While a subcompact unit would get us there and back with all the comforts of home and being able to pull off and see the sights without taking a city block would be great if not easy. As long as it has a bed, bathroom and a kitchen I can be happy on the longest of trips.

  7. I think I enjoyed the comments more than the short article, as they all made excellent points.
    I especially found Manuel Enos comment to be quite to the point, with my thought as to his points is;
    You do deserve to be able to drive the vehicle and RV you choose; God Bless your hard work and service to your country and hope you (as well as others here) your “twilight years” in good health and comfort

    BTW, I own an old ’91 Class C which is terribly unreliable, but his is all I can afford and my kids have enjoyed this all their years growing up with it, and I am happy that I am able to have this RV, even with all the headaches and constant breakdowns (it does get reasonably good mileage IMO for a Gasoline engine at 9.5 mpg)

  8. steve hansen

    As long as the trucks are rolling down the highway i’ll be right with them. When they can no longer afford to travel then and only then will i consider downsizing. As long as fuel is under $5.00 a gallon it is still a bargin. in 1973 i made about $10,000 a year. With the oil embargo of 1973 gas jumped to 55 cents a gallon. Now the average salary is closer to $60,000 or about 6 times what i made in 1973. So, that would mean i can spend $3.30 per gallon and not spend anymore of my income on energy then 1973. By the way, my car gets 27 mpg now compared to 14 mpg in 1973. I guess the 10 mpg pulling my fifth wheels is not that bad by those comparisons.

  9. Mark

    To each his own. Its great that there is a choice for those that want small, but big still needs to be an option for those that want it and can afford it.

  10. Gary

    If I didn’t want to spend all my money golfing, I would spend it on a bigger rig. I love my big truck and I love my big 5th wheel. When we had kids we had little – I am way over that!! Got to have room for my gal, my clubs, my dog, oh and the cooks cast iron… 🙂

  11. John Reay

    Personaly I will not give up my “Sunblocker”. As to my overwieght and ugly TS3
    as we roll down the road and the truck hits a big bump I just look in the mirror at the 5th wheel pin box floating uo and down grin. So please downsize as it gives me more room between you and me.

  12. Gregg

    I still see the industry still offers great big platforms for those who full time and they have gotten real inventive offering the teeny tiny units for those who like to camp on weekends. I definatly see a trend for smaller, but lets face it, once people fall in love with camping it would be long before they upgrader to bigger trailers 5ers or motorhomes. At least now there is a good choice of sizes.

  13. Manuel Enos

    I love my space. I spent 23 years riding submarines and working my butt off to be able to retire and enjoy the life style I wanted. I do not plan to buy a sub compact no space no frills RV in the twilight of my years. I enjoying stretching out in my 40 foot diesel pusher at 14mpg and as long as it is possible that is the way I will RV. Sorry folks, if you don’t agree so be it.

  14. Herb and Ardy Jones

    We are all in favor of a smaller trailer our Escape can pull. We plan to turn the class A into a park model and hit the road at 35 feet rather than 55 feet. We spend our time out of the rig so we do not need a large space.

  15. jeff

    Not me… I want a trailer as big as my house… I want a trailer so big that I need a semi to pull it… If I am going to relax.. Might as well be in complete comfort.