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