Thursday, January 10, 2013

Featured Teardrop: Oregon Trail'R

Jon and Sawyer Christianson of Eugene, Oregon were born into a family of teardrop lovers and have made the design and building of the tiny trailers their current occupation. The Oregon Trail'R company is in its infancy, but their beautiful designs and thoughtful details elevate their teardrops to those produced by larger companies. Jon Christianson (oregonguy on the TNTTT website) gave me the lowdown on their company and why they love teardrops so much.


When and how did you become interested in teardrop trailers?

We were born into a teardrop loving family. Years before either of us were born, our parents purchased a 1946 Cub Modernistic teardrop and spent the better part of the next 3 decades exploring the western half of the United States. As kids, we each had a turn sleeping in a 4-foot long shelf above the bed until we were too tall, then moved into a pup tent. In 2004, our parents re-furbished the Modernistic and gave it to me and my new bride Jamie as a wedding gift. At this point, our parents upgraded to a Camp-Inn teardrop. In 2007, Sawyer spent several weeks in southern Oregon building a new kitchen for our parents, and slept each night in their teardrop. This was when he was bitten by the bug.

Later that year, both of us began designing and building our own personal teardrops, helping each other out along the way. During this process we realized that between us, we have perfectly complementary skills for teardrop building: Jon is a skilled welder, designer, and professional in home technology and Sawyer is a professional cabinetmaker and woodworker. Both of us are lifelong tinkerers, too. In 2009 we started designing a new line of teardrop trailers for production purposes, the following year we began the prototyping process, and have been steadily building our business, Oregon Trail’R, ever since.




You might be one of the only kit teardrop trailer designers I've found. What has been the response to the kits?

It’s funny actually, but we developed the kits as a “response” to much of the email and feedback that we’ve been getting. People have really responded favorably to our teardrops and designs. A small, but significant portion of the inquiries we get are people looking to build their own trailer, but love the look of our design. They want a solution that lets them apply their own “sweat equity” to the process in order to reduce overall costs, and give them greater control over the final stages of process.

The“D.I.Y.” and “Maker” culture has exploded recently, and we are very supportive of the whole concept. We think it is a great thing for people to get their hands dirty and really experience the build process intimately. Many people have the desire to build their own trailer, but lack some of the major tools, time, or skills to start from absolute scratch. Our approach to kits is not to offer a 100 percent inclusive package, but rather to supply a solid foundation and starting point for home builders.

Our kits address the major stumbling blocks that everybody runs into during the process of building a tear: what profile to use, how to shape it perfectly, how to make the sides match perfect, how to choose/build a chassis, how to attach the floor to the walls, how to attach the body to the frame, etc.

We include all the major components: walls, doors, partitions, bulkheads, spars, floor, chassis, etc, all pre-sized and shaped. The major design and build problems come already solved. We don’t include all the little parts and pieces and trim to finish it out, which allows the client some freedom to really make it their own. Clients will choose and install their own stop/turn/tail lights, entertainment packages, clearance lights, trim, and finish details, etc. We are also more than willing to supply anything else the client needs or wants on an ala carte basis.




What do you like best and least about teardrop trailers?

We love the fact that they can be towed almost anywhere by almost any vehicle, but our favorite thing is that teardrop camping is still “camping.” You spend most of your time outside, which is the whole point of camping anyway! Then at night, you get to sleep every bit as comfortably as you would at home.

I would say the least enjoyable part of the teardrop lifestyle is when you have unexpected inclement weather that just won't quit (does anyone else remember the 2009 Dam Gathering?), although it certainly adds to the adventure!

(Note by Christina: I was at the 2009 "Damp Gathering" and was pleased to see that my teardrop was completely watertight.)




Where are your favorite places to camp? What's on your "camping bucket list"?

A very hard question! A few favorite camp spots are in Yosemite National Park, South Umpqua Falls in the Oregon's Umpqua National Forest, or anywhere in the Redwood forests of northern California. Really, some of the best camp spots we've come across have been from exploring off the beaten path.

I'd say my "camping bucket list" includes a trip from Glacier National Park, through Yellowstone, Moab, and Zion National Park. My ultimate camping goal is to tow a teardrop the length of Baja, using mostly back roads.




Your builds are beautiful. What do you keep in mind when designing and building a tear?

We design and build our trailers keeping in mind that they are meant to be used. Our trailers are built to handle the real life demands of a serious camping lifestyle. Our personal trailers get a real workout every season, and we fully expect each trailer we build to get similar use. We spare no expense to make this possible, using only the highest quality materials from the wood, steel, and aluminum products, right down to the fasteners, adhesives, and sealants.

We know that “the look” is a huge part of the teardrop appeal and believe that aesthetics do not need to be sacrificed in order to make a rugged trailer. We feel we have found an excellent balance and can deliver the whole package. We consider our trailers to be heirloom quality; beautiful, timeless, and durable enough to be passed on to the next generation.


Photos courtesy of Oregon Trail'R

7 comments:

  1. YOU HAVE RESTORED MY FAITH IN DESIGN AND THE BEST QUALITY I'VE SEEN IN THE INDUSTRY.. THE STYLE CAN FIT FROM A 2013 CAD.,HONDA OR SUV AND STILL LOOK GOOD BEHIND MY 52 FORD STREET ROD. THE WORKMANSHIP AND LAYOUT IS 5 STAR. YOU ARE A CREDIT TO THE INDUSTRY
    HARRY GRAMIG (IE. NATIONAL TRAILER SUPPLIES)

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    1. WOW...now this comment is going straight into the "Testimonials Section" that is soon to appear on our website!
      Thanks for the GREAT endorsement, and from you it means a lot!
      Jon Christianson (Oregon Trail'R)

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  2. What is the smallest vehicle that can tow one? I have an '08 Toyota Yaris hatchback. As I approach retirement, this may be the perfect way to visit my kids!!

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    1. Hello careyleah. There are several towing capacity charts on the web and from what I've seen, the Yaris is not recommended for towing. However, this is directly from the manufacturer and Toyota, but you can maybe ask a local Uhaul company if they will install a towing package on your car and see what they say. I used to have a 4-cylinder Dodge Neon which was also not recommended for towing and I was able to tow my 450 lb. Little Guy Rascal just fine. That's a teardrop with very minimal amenities, so it will depend on what you need or want.

      Borrow or rent a teardrop trailer and see if you like it, if you do, you may have to upgrade your vehicle to tow the type of teardrop you need. I think you can have all the luxury you want in a teardrop around 850-1,000 lbs.

      Good luck!

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    2. Also, I did a post on the Nest Egg Trailer. This composite teardrop is only 700 lbs. dry. You might want to check and see if your Yaris could tow this type of trailer.

      http://tinyyellowteardrop.blogspot.com/2012/12/featured-teardrop-nest-egg-trailers.html

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  3. I am impressed with the quality as seen in the photos. Reasons why I would buy from you. The layout designs, the shapes and cabinet work are very similar to Camp Inn. I dream of owning a Camp Inn but Wisconsin is a long drive and their prices are way up there (deservedly so). Oregon is close to NoCal.... You are a young, startup company... Attention to detail is noted... Materials appear to be quality and good craftsmanship shows through. I would be proud to be an owner of your teardrop.

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    1. Moto-Espresso: Thanks for the compliments. We would be more than happy to build you a teardrop. Feel free to contact us at info@oregontrailer.net Happy Camping!

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