The Best Bunkhouse Travel Trailer – Top Models & Options!

Three years ago, my family sold most of our belongings, bought a bunkhouse travel trailer, moved into it, and hit the road full-time. My husband and I chose a Keystone Cougar 29BHS for our family of five, and after three years and thousands of miles, we are still very happy with it.

As we read and researched our options, we came to expect that our first RV would be like a “starter RV” so we could learn from experience what we liked and didn’t like before choosing one that better fit our needs. This seemed to be the common experience of so many families.

Why do we still love ours after three years? We did so much research before we bought it that we were pretty sure we had covered all the bases and knew what would best suit the needs of our family.

For the most part, we were right. We have customized it in minor ways along the way, but that research before we launched made all the difference. Switching rigs frequently is a hassle, and it wasn’t financially feasible for us, but a little extra homework can help avoid all of that.

Perhaps that’s what led you to this article. Whether you’re shopping for a bunkhouse travel trailer to live in full-time or you just want the right rig to take some amazing family vacations, I want to help you to be as happy with your purchase as we are with ours. And because I remember how confusing it gets to have 30 different tabs open on your browser while researching this, I’ve tried to assemble the most useful information all in one place.

From defining travel trailer and bunkhouse to exploring the factors you’ll need to consider, with the advantages and disadvantages of different choices, I hope to help you narrow down the needs and priorities of your family.

Finally, I’ve recommended ten different bunkhouse travel trailer models, all with personal recommendations from myself and other full-time families we’ve met in our travels, including floor plans for easy comparison. Let me be your guide to this important part of your journey.

Credit: Keystone Bullet – Radford Family

What is a Travel Trailer?

A travel trailer sometimes called a bumper pull or bumper tow is a towable RV that connects to the bumper hitch of a vehicle and is moved that way. They are not motorhomes, and they do not need to be towed with a special hitch in the bed of a pickup truck, like a fifth-wheel trailer. They come in a wide variety of sizes and models.

What is Bunkhouse?

A bunkhouse, or bunk room, in an RV, is a sleeping space with bunk beds that is separate from the master bedroom and main living area. Typically, this space has a door that can be closed for privacy, making the bunkhouse its own room.

Advantages of a Bunkhouse Travel Trailer for Families

Bunkhouse travel trailers are perfect for families. Once children are in bed, parents can close the door and use the rest of the trailer without disturbing their little ones. Children usually enjoy having their own space and the option to close the door for privacy. Most families can easily imagine circumstances when it is advantageous to have separate rooms. Overall, a trailer with a bunkhouse feels more spacious and more like home.

Bunkhouse travel trailers also tend to be lighter and can be towed with a variety of vehicles. While a fifth-wheel trailer can only be towed by a pickup truck, travel trailers can also be towed by larger SUVs, which can be very helpful for large families, families with young children in car seats, or those who occasionally travel with guests.

Disadvantages of a Bunkhouse Travel Trailer for Families

Many families find that travel trailers feel too small for their needs. They prefer the higher ceilings and increased storage space of a fifth-wheel trailer. Travel trailers often have less space and weight margins for cargo. Ultralight models are built with weight-saving construction that can be less durable, and it can be hard for children to remember to use the space gently.

Bunkhouse travel trailers rarely come equipped with conveniences such as washing machines and dishwashers that can come in handy when traveling with children. Finally, freshwater tanks and both black and grey water waste tanks are smaller, and many families find them limiting if they do not always park with full hookups.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Bunkhouse Travel Trailer

New or Used

Choosing a used bunkhouse travel trailer will save budget-conscious families a lot of money on the purchase price. If purchased from a dealership, they will often come with some kind of limited warranty, but buying them privately is a greater risk.

A disadvantage of buying used is that the rig will likely have some degree of wear and tear from normal use. A bunkhouse model has most likely been used by a family with kids, which often means it has endured a little more use (or abuse) than a trailer that has only been used by adults. Check any used model thoroughly before purchasing.

Cost is not the only disadvantage of buying new. In our experience, many new RVs end up needing multiple repairs before everything is working as it should. Yes, these repairs are all covered by the manufacturer’s warranty at no additional cost, but that is often little consolation if your brand new rig spends weeks or even months in a repair shop, wreaking havoc on your travel plans.

A used rig can actually end up needing fewer repairs if it has been well-maintained, as the previous owners have gone through the hassles and inconveniences of working all the kinks out of it.

Number of Beds

Consider how many permanent bunks your family needs and wants and limit your search to models that provide this many beds. While the specs may assert that the trailer sleeps ten people, examine how those bed spaces are counted.

Usually, this involves converting dinettes and sofas into beds. On our rig, converting the sofa to a bed allows no walkway from the master bedroom to the bathroom. So while we could technically use this as a sleeping space, it is not practical.

bunkhuse travel trailer bed

Chances are one reason you are looking for a bunkhouse travel trailer is to avoid the need to remake the dinette into a bed every night while also making sure that everyone has their own bed to retreat to at any time of day.

So look at models that have enough permanent bunks for everyone in the family. The more beds you need, the fewer options you have available. There is a wide variety of floor plans available in a wide range of sizes for those who only need two bunks. Three or more bunks are not difficult to find, but the options are more limited.

Number of Slides

More slideouts give you more floor space and storage space without adding significantly to the dimensions of your trailer. Many families prefer to look for a rig with as many slides as possible.

Slideouts add weight and one more moving part that can break and need repairs. They also increase your dimensions when parked, which can limit your ability to park in smaller or more narrow spaces. Opposing slides give the most spacious and open feeling inside the trailer but are also more likely to make your rig too wide for some campgrounds.

Pay attention to how you are able to use your trailer with one or more slides pulled in. Can the bathroom door or refrigerator be opened? Can you walk through to the bedroom? If all slides must be out in order to use the essentials, then carefully consider how you intend to use it and if you anticipate always being able to park in spacious campsites.

Length

Similar to the number of slides, the length is often a compromise between how much space you would like to have while inside the trailer and keeping your options open for where you will park it.

For example, if you are planning a road trip to visit national parks, keep in mind that RVs that are under 25 feet in length are welcome in 93% of America’s national park campgrounds while staying under 37 feet still gives you access to 60% of them.

Rigs over 40 feet in length can park in just 7% of campgrounds in national parks. For more information about different RV lengths and restrictions in specific national parks, check out this resource.

Best Bunkhouse Travel Trailer Options

Weight / Tow vehicle

If you already have a pickup truck or larger SUV that you want to use to tow your travel trailer, investigate how much weight your vehicle is able to tow and restrict your search to trailers with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) below that limit. It might seem obvious, but it can be very tempting to stretch the limits a little bit in order to add a little bit more length or an extra feature that caught your eye. It truly isn’t worth gambling with your family’s safety on the road.

You may see a trailer listed with dry weight and a cargo capacity weight. The dry weight means that all cabinets and tanks are empty. The GVWR is the sum of these two numbers. Remember that you will not always want or be able to tow with all tanks empty, so it is important to consider the gross weight when pairing your trailer with your tow vehicle.

For a complete guide to tow vehicles, weight ratings, and more, use this resource from Trailer Life.

Kitchen

Consider the size and layout of the kitchen if you are preparing food for a whole family in it. Can the refrigerator reasonably hold enough food for your family, or will you need to shop nearly every day of your trip? Is there enough countertop space?

Is it important for you to have an oven or a microwave? Larger rigs, especially those with opposing slides, often have a kitchen island, which gives the kitchen more storage and countertop space.

However, many large families are completely satisfied with a smaller kitchen. Only you can answer what your individual preferences are and if this is likely to be a source of frustration for you. But it is definitely a factor worth considering.

Is an outdoor kitchen a priority for you? Some families love the option of cooking meals outside, while others rarely use their outdoor kitchens. Since many floor plans borrow space from the bunkroom to add the outdoor kitchen or eliminate the outdoor kitchen to increase the size of the bunkhouse, this is another factor to keep in mind.

Dinette seating

For our family, the ability to comfortably gather our family around the table for meals, regardless of the weather, is non-negotiable. Since we are a family of five, a U-dinette was a priority for us. This limited the models we were willing to consider when purchasing our rig.

A surprising number of bunkhouse travel trailers offer permanent beds for up to six people but a dinette that only fits four. If this is also a priority for your family, it is a factor to pay attention to.

Credit: Keystone Cougar 29BHS – Lindstrom Family

Recommended Models

As RV travel becomes increasingly popular among families, the number of bunkhouse travel trailer options seems to multiply. While it’s wonderful to have so many models to choose between, it might feel overwhelming trying to find the one that best suits your family. We can help.

This list of 10 recommended models represents a variety of sizes and features, so it’s likely at least one or two of them will meet your needs. Most are available new or used with a variety of years to choose between. Note that different years will have slight variations in layout and specs, but this overview gives you a starting place to narrow down your options.

Best of all, these rigs are road-tested by real families who are not just using them for weekend getaways or summer vacations but living in them full-time as they travel the country. If they’ve stood up to thousands of miles and full-time use by families with kids, and the families still recommend them, then they deserve to be on this list.

My full-time family and other like-minded families we’ve met along the way would like to share with you the best and worst features of our bunkhouse travel trailers.

Comparison Chart

Make/Model(s)

Length

Bunks

Slides

Weight
(GVWR)

Coachmen Freedom Express 320BHDS

37 ft

3

3

10,700 lbs

Heartland North Trail 31QBS

34 ft

3

1

6,900 lbs

Keystone Cougar 29BHS
34TSB

32 ft
37 ft

3
3

1
3

7,800 lbs
9,600 lbs

Winnebago Minnie 2455

28 ft

2

1

7,000 lbs

Prime Time Avenger 32QBI

38 ft

2

3

11,400 lbs

Keystone Outback 293UBH
31RQS

33 ft
35 ft

3
4

1
1

7,600 lbs
9,600 lbs

Keystone Bullet 287QBS

33 ft

3

1

7,600 lbs

Highland Ridge Open Range 310BHS

37 ft

3

4

11,500 lbs

Coachmen Freedom Express 320BHDS

Advantages: This rig offers plenty of cargo space, including a large pantry in the kitchen. Opposing slides give a spacious feeling in the main living area and allow space for a kitchen island. An additional slide in the bunkhouse gives the kids plenty of space.

Disadvantages: Tank space sometimes feels limited, particularly the freshwater tank. This model is long and heavy for a travel trailer, which limits tow vehicle options.

Floor Plan:

Coachmen Freedom Express 320BHDS

Heartland North Trail 31QBS

Advantages: The bunkhouse has a great layout with plenty of floor space. The bathroom includes a bathtub, which families love. This is a lightweight model that saves on towing costs and keeps your options open for tow vehicles.

Disadvantages: This layout places the bathroom right next to the master bedroom, which some families do not prefer. There is very limited countertop space in the kitchen. This model does not have an outdoor kitchen.

Floor Plan:

Heartland North Trail 31QBS

Keystone Cougar 29BHS

Advantages: This model offers three bunks plus a booth dinette in the bunkhouse. This table is great for crafts, puzzles, Lego building, and coloring. It can also be converted to a bed to give four permanent beds. The U-dinette has room for the whole family, and the bathroom has a bathtub.

Disadvantages: The bathroom can’t be accessed when the slide is in. It would sometimes be convenient if the tanks were larger.

Floor Plan:

Keystone Cougar 29BHS

Keystone Cougar 34TSB

Advantages: Opposing slides in the living area gives a spacious feel and a great kitchen layout with a lot of countertop space. The bunkroom slide adds a lot of floor space for playing. The outdoor kitchen includes an extra refrigerator, which can allow families to stock up and avoid frequent shopping trips. The built-in bike rack is a nice perk, as is the king-sized bed in the master bedroom.

Disadvantages: The location of the bathroom may be inconvenient for families. There is no storage anywhere near the entry door, nor wall space for hooks, so there is no convenient place to keep shoes and outerwear.

Floor Plan:

Keystone Cougar 34TSB

Winnebago Minnie 2455

Advantages: This Minnie is small and light! Staying under 30 feet opens up a lot of options, and it is light enough to give flexibility in choosing a tow vehicle. U-dinette is great for family meals. The bunk beds are double beds, which can be more comfortable for older children.

Disadvantages: This model does not have a bunk room in the sense that the bunk beds are in a room of their own with a door that shuts. It is included as an example of a common floor plan to have bunks in a smaller trailer.

Full-time families who live in this model solve the privacy issue with curtains and other creative solutions. The queen bed is also not in its own room with doors that shut, since there is only a partial wall at the foot of the bed. Parents may not appreciate the lack of privacy, either. The storage space in this model is very limited.

Floor Plan:

Winnebago Minnie 2455

Prime Time Avenger 32QBI

Advantages: Opposing slides in the main living area give generous floor space and allow for a kitchen island for added countertop space. The U-dinette is also roomy to accommodate the whole family around the table. The slide in the bunk room gives plenty of floor space there too. The extra refrigerator in the outdoor kitchen is a bonus that many families really appreciate.

Disadvantages: The location of the bathroom so far from the bunkhouse can be seen as a disadvantage. This rig is long and heavy, which limits your options in choosing a tow vehicle and may, at times, limit where you can take it.

Floor Plan:

Prime Time Avenger 32QBI

Keystone Outback 293UBH

Advantages: This model is a great compromise between space and weight. It is a very lightweight option for a bunkhouse travel trailer with all the necessary features. It is also a very affordable option. The slide gives extra floor space, and the extra refrigerator in the outdoor kitchen helps families stock up on groceries.

Disadvantages: The master bedroom is very small, without many walkways at the foot of the bed. The booth dinette is on the small side for the whole family to sit together for meals. The kitchen is small and offers limited countertop space.

Floor Plan:

Keystone Outback 293UBH

Keystone Outback 31RQS

Advantages: Families that want four bunks without converting a dinette or sofa into a bed in the bunk room; this is your rig. The bathroom is very convenient for kids, and the linen closet is a nice feature. There is good storage space.

Disadvantages: This trailer is heavier than other trailers of a similar size. The kitchen has very limited countertop space. While this camper has permanent beds for six people, the booth dinette can only comfortably seat 4.

Floor Plan:

Keystone Outback 31RQS

Keystone Bullet 287QBS

Advantages: This trailer is relatively light for as much space as it provides. The bunkhouse has great space and storage. The outdoor kitchen is practical, and the extra refrigerator is a feature many families really appreciate.

Disadvantages: The master bedroom is very small and doesn’t have much space to walk around the foot of the bed. The slide is also small. While this trailer has permanent beds for 5, it is difficult to fit five people around the table in the dinette. Countertop space in the kitchen is limited.

Floor Plan:

Keystone Bullet 287QBS

Highland Ridge Open Range 310BHS

Advantages: Holy Slides, Batman! This model’s four slides, including opposing slides in the living area and one in each bedroom, give this rig a lot of interior space. The kitchen has a large refrigerator and an island. The bunk room has good floor space to play and plenty of storage.

A coat closet by the door is very practical, and the master bedroom closet is a great feature! This is a travel trailer that might not know it isn’t a fifth wheel.

Disadvantages: The combined sofa/dinette area has plenty of seating, but only two small tables and the seating is in a straight line, all of which is less than ideal for family meals.

Young children, in particular, may struggle to eat at such small tables while seated on a sofa, and the trailer lacks a good place for coloring, crafts, building Legos, or other activities kids do at the kitchen table.

Floor Plan:

Highland Ridge Open Range 310BHS

I hope this has been a helpful resource in your search for the right bunkhouse travel trailer for your family. While there is no such thing as a perfect RV, if you know your needs and priorities, it is definitely possible to find one that your family loves. See you on the road!

Further Research

Christine Lindstrom

Christine Lindstrom is a freelance writer and full-time RVer. She loves traveling the country with her husband and three children and hopes her writing can help others discover the joys of the RV lifestyle.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below