Can a Teardrop Camper be considered a nice piece of equipment to add to your #vanlife or are you not really sure about how a teardrop trailer could enhance your next camping experience? I have weighed all the options here to help make your decision easy!
- What is a Teardrop Camper?
- You Had Me at the Word “Retro”
- When to Think About Getting a Teardrop Camper
- Benefits of Owning a Teardrop Camper
- Teardrop Trailers: DIY and Costs
- Are there any Disadvantages to Owning a Teardrop Camper?
- How to make your own teardrop camper?
- Where to buy or rent a teardrop trailer?
- Teardrop Trailer Tips
- TO ROUND THINGS UP
What is a Teardrop Camper?
One of the most iconic camper styles is the teardrop. It’s not quite a caravan, and not quite a trailer, but falls neatly somewhere between the two. Teardrop-shaped campers fell out of fashion between 1960 and 2010, but camper designers have fallen in love again with the teardrop’s cozy shape, light towing weight, and flexible design. And I can understand why.
I enjoy tracking down the best lightweight trailers, camper vans, and family campers that deserve a higher profile than they have currently, and the teardrop camper definitely falls into this category. The best teardrops on the market range from large units that can comfortably sleep a family of four through to tiny campers that make a tight fit for two.
You Had Me at the Word “Retro”
I want to talk about the teardrop camper’s cool factor. As tempting as it is to get totally swept away by some of the available and extremely desirable designs out there, don’t jump into buying a teardrop camper until you have checked if it’s really the best fit for your on-the-road lifestyle.
Some of the teardrop designs have me wishing I could get one. Some futuristic teardrops campers look like a cross between a flying saucer and a standard trailer. Others look like the lucky owner has been able to dip their hand into the past and buy the cutest retro trailer. The design shouldn’t be a deciding factor for you though.
When to Think About Getting a Teardrop Camper
If you’re an outdoor adventure enthusiast that loves to spend your weekends and holidays using your camper or trailer as a jumping-off point at the campground, the teardrop is perfect for you. However, this style camper is not for permanent van-dwellers – it’s simply too compact.
You could possibly extend your living space by adding on a tent or shelter/awning, but basically, teardrops are for sleeping in, and not much else. The larger ones can include a dinette/single bed and sitting area/queen-size mattress. Plus, there are always a few interior/exterior storage compartments or cargo nets integrated into the structure.
One look at most of the teardrop campers’ shapes and dimensions and you’ll understand why it makes for a snug sleep, but is also a confined place to move around in.
Benefits of Owning a Teardrop Camper
When you see a teardrop camper at a campsite, there’s a strong chance it will have a few admirers standing around pointing at it. When I get the chance to chat with a teardrop owner, here are some of the benefits of owning a teardrop camper they always mention.
1 Minimal Maintenance
The compact shape of a teardrop means there are fewer systems and components onboard that can break, or be exposed to wear and tear. The only item you have to check on and renew occasionally is the battery.
When you have your car tires and axles checked before a trip, don’t forget to include your camper too. The battery can stay plugged into its charger during storage in the garage because doing this keeps the battery fully charged.
Add a wash and wipe down after every use to your teardrop maintenance list, and you’re good to go!
The first advantage teardrop owners always tell me they have is its easy portability.
- You can move your teardrop close to the front door for easy loading and unloading.
- Every item you need fits in the camper galley.
- It’s possible to leave things in the camper full-time to make leaving home even faster.
- Exceptional movability because of the lightweight and light tongue weight.
- Easy to transport or maneuver, and light on gas.
Being able to travel at safe speeds and move around a campsite easily is a big plus when you own a teardrop. The average weight of a teardrop trailer is usually less than 1,000lb/500kg, so you can tow one with virtually any type of car. Most on-road vehicles have a towing capacity of more than one thousand pounds.
3 Easy to Set Up Camp and Breakdown for Home
The moment teardrop owners have backed their camper into position, it usually takes about 15 minutes to set up camp. It’s this lightning speed setup and breakdown that appeals to the teardrop owners I’ve spoken to on my travels.
While campers with larger rigs are still hard at work unhooking heavy tongues and negotiating their campervan stairs, teardrop owners have already uncapped their first drink.
4 Stop-Over Camping, Parking Overnight, & Beach Visits
It’s not always possible to arrive at your destination campsite in one day. While the jury’s still out on the pros and cons of parking and sleeping in your car and roadside pull-offs, that’s not a problem for teardrop campers.
Park safely, crawl into your teardrop and sleep. It’s as easy as one, two, three. No setup required, and if you’ve remembered to keep your battery charged you’ll have access to light as well.
This easy setup makes teardrop campers the perfect companion for a day at the beach. No more day trips ruined by wind or no place to have an afternoon nap.
5 Parking & Storing a Teardrop
If the size is an issue for you when it comes to storing and parking a camper at home, a teardrop camper might be the best fit. If your Home Owners Association has a by-law against trailers left in the driveway or you are like to keep your camping equipment in pristine condition, you’ll be pleased to know a teardrop fits easily into a single garage with room to spare.
Teardrop Trailers: DIY and Costs
DIY: As you know from our camper renovation and conversion, we love nothing more than taking on a DIY challenge and learning from our mistakes! If you think you’re capable of building a teardrop camper of your very own – or refurbishing a vintage one – you could cut the cost of buying a new camper by more than half.
There are a few teardrop camper model kits available you can order online. The kits include all the different parts, such as natural Baltic birch wood finishes, ceiling studs, and retro-style vinyl stickers.
Costs: It depends. Some teardrop campers are priced to appeal more to the vintage/memorabilia collectors’ market than to the average couple who love to camp (I’m leaving out kids here, although there are teardrops that can sleep, 1-2 small children).
Teardrop campers are less expensive than a fully kitted out campervan or trailer home, but they are still a sizeable spend because of their hip factor. The number of different teardrop styles and designs gives the buyer a true shopping selection:
Every taste and lifestyle preference can find a teardrop camper to suit.
Are there any Disadvantages to Owning a Teardrop Camper?
If you are a teardrop trailer fan, nothing is going to deter your enthusiasm for these eye-catching campers. If you’re thinking about buying one, and need to know if there are any disadvantages attached to teardrop camper ownership, I have a list of drawbacks some owners have mentioned to me in the past.
1 The Size
If you like your space – and find it to be a thin line between sleeper trailers and claustrophobia – then give teardrops a miss. Confined sleeping arrangements can be a real deal-breaker for anyone who is used to the spacious interiors a campervan offers.
There are some teardrops campers on the market that allow for a dinette setup and enough space for a camp cot, but most models only have room for lying down/sleeping.
When you love the outdoors and don’t get fazed by sporadic summer rain showers when it’s time to cook dinner, then a teardrop camper is a good match for you.
2 No Bathroom Facilities
I see so many campers who handle using Portaloos, public campsite ablution facilities, and even trees with a calm dignity that I’m not sure if it’s even worth mentioning the teardrop’s lack of a bathroom. Washing hands in a plastic basin used to wash the dishes is part of the whole camping vibe, so not having a bathroom three seconds walk away isn’t so bad.
3 Cooking Outdoors
What I love the most come late afternoon at a campsite is smelling the wood smoke and meat charring over all the outside barbecues. I even miss these delicious aromas sometimes when our campervan is on-the-road.
I consider having no indoor kitchen in a teardrop camper more of a “pro” positive factor than a negative “con”. If you plan on using your camper frequently, however, it could get repetitive to cook everything over a campfire all the time. It’s reassuring to know that every outdoor cooking utensil and device you need during your camping trip will fit easily into a teardrop.
How to make your own teardrop camper?
If you are looking for a DIY way to make a teardrop camper trailer one of the best places to start is TeardropBuilder.com, Ryan the owner spent two years planning, designing and constructing his original Wyoming Woody teardrop. You can see a picture of it below. And on top of describing his process, he also offered the plans for FREE!
The Wyoming Woody’s classic 1950s shape and build is outstanding, and though it’s DIY, it certainly doesn’t look the part. Many of the campers featured on Ryan’s site look as polished and put-together as custom pre-built teardrops that cost thousands of dollars more.
I love how much space it has on the back, the kitchen looks so good!
If you feel like you want to make your own but not start completely from scratch, the best way to go is with a DIY kit, here are some of the best we’ve found:
Where to buy or rent a teardrop trailer?
There are many companies that offer kits and pre-built custom-made teardrop campers, many of these same companies also offer ways to rent before you buy. I find this so helpful because just like when you test drive a car before buying, getting to use a teardrop camper before committing to buying one is awesome!
So here are some of the cooler teardrop camper companies we’ve found, along with some pictures to inspire you and the overall details :
Bred for adventure and built for those who yearn to escape the beaten path. The Topo Series teardrop trailer comes ready to roll with upgraded suspension for the earth’s most technical terrain.
- Length of 13 feet
- Width 7 feet ( includes fenders)
- Height 6 1/2 feet
- Clearance 18″ ground to frame
- Cabin Exterior 9 1/2 feet long x 5 feet wide x 4 feet tall
- Sleeping mattress 80 x 56.5 x 5 inches
- Dry weight 1600 lb. ->up to 1800 lb. with water tanks
This sporty-looking teardrop has it all and then some! They are custom made in Utah and can be fully customized, the basic package starts at around $16,900+.
One of the features I love the most is that it can have an awning and upper tent to that you don’t have to sacrifice interior space, it’s like having a second-story mini house in one small package.
The Pika is a lighter, more compact alternative to their Classic Timberleaf model. Built for rugged simplicity, the Pika Teardrop Trailer is thirty-six percent smaller than the Classic model, featuring a 54-inch by 96-inch frame, it offers all of the quality craftsmanship Timberleaf Trailers has become known for, in a lighter and more nimble package.
- Frame size: 4’6″ x 8′
- Overall length: 11’10”
- Height: 65″ w/o vent
- Dry Weight: 970 lbs
- Tongue weight: 120lbs
- Wheels: 15″
- Torsion axle: 2000 lb
- Mattress size: 54″ x 75″ x 4″ Double
- Clear height inside the cabin: 36″
Lightweight and rugged, Cricket is the perfect blend of sophisticated design and purpose that’s towable by many four-cylinder engines. With sleeping room for two adults and two children. TAXA’s NASA-inspired design and integrated plumbing and electrical systems prepare you for excitement wherever the journey takes you.
- Exterior Length: 15′
- Exterior Width: 6’7″
- Exterior Height: closed 6’11” – open 9’2″
- Interior Width: max 5’3″
- Interior Height: closed 4’2″ – open 4’2″ to 6’10”
- Bed Dimensions: 75″x59″
- Kids Berth: 60″x22″ – 130 lbs
- Fresh Water Tank: 15 gal
- Ground Clearance: 14″
- Tongue Height: 20″
- Tongue Weight: 170+ lbs
- Dry Weight: 1,800 lbs
- Cargo Capacity: 700 lbs
- Habitat Capacity: 2 Adults & 2 Kids (>5’)
The Basedrop starts with a reliable, comfortable, strong, and light cabin made with an aluminum frame. Designed around a full-size Queen mattress and ergonomic Galley on a 2200 lb. suspension. Plenty of storage for you as you visit all the National Parks and prepare fabulous meals from the Galley.
Basedrop is also light enough to be towed by a small car with a small engine. Sure, you can tow it with anything you want but I’ve seen pictures of this super cool teardrop camper behind a Subaru.
- Body Length: 102″
- Overall Length: 148″
- Overall Width: 76″ (inside 60″)
- Overall Height: 70.5″ (inside 41″)
- Bed Size: Queen 60″ x 78″
- Galley Counter Height: 41″
- Galley Hatch/Open Height: 78″
- Frame/Ground Clearance: 17.5″
- Tongue/Dry Weight: 55 lbs.
- Trailer Dry Weight: 1000 lbs.
One of the things I love the most about the Vistabule camper is the one-of-a-kind design oriented to the front of the teardrop camper where all the action is. It has a huge window with lots of space to take in the sites around you. Claustrophobia is out; views are in. The sleeping/living area is the size of a queen bed. Big enough for a pajama party, pillow fight, or deep slumbers after a big night of campfire revelry.
- Body Length: 10 feet
- Total Length: 14 feet
- Body Width: 5 feet
- Height: 67 inches
- Interior Height: 43 inches
- Under the Floor Storage: 6.5 inches
- Main Bed Size: 58.5 × 78 inches
- Dry Weight: 1200 lbs
- Tongue Weight: 130 lbs
To close up the selection of teadrop campers, I HAD to also include this beauty by Denmark based company Wide Path Camper. Their bicycle camper is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen! and while it will not fit our family of 5, I know that more than one of you will swoon over this cutie as much as I did.
- Bed size: 90 x 200 cm
- Unfolded outside: (L 285 x H 175 x W 97 cm)
- Folded outside: (L 149 x H 175 x W 97 cm)
- Height inside cabin: 142 cm comfortable for sitting
- Floor-over-ground height: 50 cm
The Wide Path Campers are durable, collapsible, lightweight, and surprisingly spacious. The camper’s unique shape and hardshell exterior provide a cozy secure feeling inside and a safe place to store your belongings. With this camper, you can enjoy the freedom of taking your bicycle cargo camping trailer, shelter, solar energy source, and social space with you wherever you pedal.
Teardrop Trailer Tips
Okay, so you’re sold on the idea of teardrop camper ownership. A few more pointers will get you there with no regrets.
Make sure you do your research before committing to buying a teardrop camper. Check the model and manufacturer you choose are solid and reputable. A camper for sleeping in all weather conditions must have good bones: Strong, lightweight wood, and aluminum frame structures and chassis, lightweight tongue, and clean, simple interior lines.
A roof vent, Scandinavian interior ambiance, leather trim (check the quality of the sewing), and LED lighting are signs the designer and manufacturer have gone the extra mile. A well-insulated teardrop is also a good idea to extend your camping season.
The things to consider when looking for a teardrop camper trailer:
- Propane tank
- Water tank
- Vent fan
- Air conditioning unit
- Portable toilet
- Portable refrigerator
- Camping shower
- Interior and exterior lighting
- USB charging ports
- Solar panels
- Chargers and inverters
- RV batteries
- Roof rack
- Stabilizer jacks
TO ROUND THINGS UP
How do you feel about teardrop campers today? Do you think they are a little retro gem, and can’t wait to get one? Or do you feel they are overrated, over-priced, and you have something else in mind?
If you have anything else that would like me to cover about teardrop campers, just let me know! And don’t forget to share this with anyone who you think would make the ideal teardrop camper owner.
Want to know more about all other classes of RVs? Check out this post with the list of specifications, pros, and cons of each RV type.
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