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Teardrop Trailers 101: A Beginner’s Guide

Nothing screams adventure more than packing your bags, hitting the open road, and exploring nature’s bounty. However, for many, the prospect of trading the comforts of home for a camping trip can feel daunting. That’s where teardrop trailers come in – compact, comfortable, and convenient. They offer a unique blend of camping and practicalities of home, allowing travelers to enjoy the best of both worlds.

This beginner’s guide to teardrop trailers aims to introduce you to their charming world, discussing their history, features, advantages, and potential disadvantages.

What is a Teardrop Trailer?

A teardrop trailer is a compact, lightweight travel trailer known for its distinctive aerodynamic teardrop shape. They’re usually small enough to be towed by regular passenger cars and have enough interior space to accommodate two people comfortably for sleeping.

Despite their diminutive size, these trailers pack in a range of features, like a bed, storage spaces, and an outdoor kitchen, making them perfect for weekend getaways or cross-country road trips.

 

The History of the Teardrop Trailer

The teardrop trailer has its roots in the 1930s, during the Great Depression in the United States. Due to economic hardships, many people sought to build their own travel accommodations rather than pay for hotels.

The economical trailers became popular, and magazines like “Mechanix Illustrated” provided DIY instructions to build these small, cost-effective trailers. Post-World War II, teardrop trailers gained popularity among returning soldiers who took to the roads to explore their homeland. While the popularity of larger RVs eclipsed teardrop trailers in the late 20th century, recent years have seen a resurgence in interest for these compact, practical, and charming travel accommodations.

Features of a Teardrop Trailer

Teardrop trailers aren’t particularly large – although for many this in itself is seen as a feature! These easy-to-transport trailers can go just about anywhere and are a perfect way to roadtrip.

Sleeping Area

Ask most people why they rent a hotel room when they travel and they’ll tell you it’s for a place to sleep. Teardrop trailers are basically a bed on wheels – although the size and plushness of the bed does vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

The inside of a teardrop trailer is primarily designed as a cozy sleeping space, comfortably fitting two adults. Some trailers even include storage cabinets, reading lights, and entertainment systems.

While some teardrop trailers have thin pads that barely pass as mattresses, at Timberleaf Trailers we’ve actually spent some time sleeping in our campers and recognize the importance of a real bed. Even our smallest trailer, the Kestrel model, comes with a 6-inch thick double mattress, while our Classic teardrop includes a plush Colorado Queen-sized mattress.

For anyone trying to make a comparison to tent camping – there is no comparison. Real mattresses outperform even the most premium camp pads every time. No sleeping cold. No crinkly noises to disturb your sleep. No feeling the hard ground beneath your back. You’ll wake up fresh and ready to keep adventuring!

Outdoor Kitchen

Traditionally located in the rear under a lift-up hatch, the outdoor kitchen or galley often includes a small propane stove, refrigerator, and storage space for cookware and food. This feature lets you cook and enjoy your meals al fresco – no campfire required. This is perfect for traveling in the western United States where burn bans are frequent.

At Timberleaf Trailers we’ve used a residential ‘kitchen-triangle’ design philosophy for our galley kitchen. This means that the stove, sink, and fridge are all within easy access of the cook and you’ll never need to reach over a hot burner to grab anything important.

Advantages of Owning a Teardrop Trailer

Teardrop trailers have returned to popularity in recent years and it isn’t just nostalgia that is bringing them back. These small trailers offer significant advantages over tent camping and large traditional RVs.

Convenience

The compact design means you’ll spend less time setting up and breaking down camp and can completely forget the hassle of pitching a tent in the dark! They’re ready for use as soon as you park, allowing for more relaxation time.

Close Proximity to the Great Outdoors

Traditional RVs are limited to large, paved pads with easy access, making many campgrounds inaccessible. Teardrop trailers require a tiny amount of space, allowing you to camp in remote sites away from it all.

Compact Size

Being small has its perks! Teardrop campers are easy to store when not in use and help you connect more with nature. Sure, our trailer doesn’t have a slide-out living room with recliners and a big-screen TV… but that’s why we chose to go into nature in the first place!

Easy Towing

Their lightweight design allows them to be towed by most vehicles, even small cars, making them perfect for those who don’t own trucks or large SUVs with high towing capacity. Once you’ve arrived at your destination you’ll be able to unhitch your teardrop camper trailer and move the trailer by hand to the perfect spot.

Minimalistic Design

Compared to other RVs, teardrop trailers are simplicity incarnate. With fewer moving parts and complicated systems there is less to break and less maintenance to perform, meaning you’ll have more time to enjoy your travel.

Enjoy Life on the Road

With a teardrop trailer, the journey becomes as enjoyable as the destination and you’ll have the freedom to stop and sleep wherever you wish. Whether you’re staying in state parks, national parks, or boondocking on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands, your teardrop trailer provides amazing travel flexibility.

Customizable

Teardrop trailers are typically hand built in low numbers, meaning that they offer greater customization than traditional mass-produced trailers. At Timberleaf Trailers we offer a wide range of customizations ranging from exterior colors, countertop designs, off-road suspensions, and add-on accessories like awnings, roof racks, and exterior storage solutions.

Potential Disadvantages of Owning a Teardrop Trailer

While teardrop trailers offer numerous advantages, they aren’t for everyone. Here are some limitations to be aware of:

Only Sleeps 2 Comfortably

Many of a teardrop trailer’s strengths come from its small size – well this is a double-edged sword. Teardrop trailers are great for two people – but fitting a third is not recommended.

More Expensive than a Tent

If you want the most minimal outdoor living experience you can get – a camping trailer isn’t it. Tents are cheaper and with only a thin layer of fabric separating you from the elements will give you a more traditional camping experience.

Limited Storage

It all comes back to size! While small, nimble, and towable, these small campers are not going to be able to carry as much camping gear as larger rigs. Keep in mind that with a roof rack and external storage you can store a surprising amount of equipment – just not as much as a motorhome.

No Indoor Bathroom or Kitchen

For many people, an outdoor kitchen is a big part of the appeal of teardrop trailers. After all, why go through the trouble of getting into the great outdoors and then spending your entire time in the cramped living space of a travel trailer? However, an outdoor kitchen does mean that you’ll need to be prepared for inclement weather when preparing food and may not be for everyone.

Similarly, the lack of a bathroom is a mixed blessing. You won’t have to worry black water tanks or finding a campsite with hookups – but you will need to carry a toilet trowel or find a campsite with bathroom facilities that you can use.

Teardrop Campers – A Classic American Tradition

With a nation as large, beautiful, and well connected as ours, it is easy to understand why teardrop camping is as popular as it is. Since the 1930s teardrop campers have been a great alternative to tent camping or traditional RVing.

With low weight that allows for easy maneuvering and accommodates just about any tow vehicle, teardrop campers are perfect for people who are new to towing. If you’ve only spent time in tents, you’ll be amazed at how nice it is to sleep in a real bed and have a real kitchen to cook in at your campsite!

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