Friday, March 29, 2013

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Teardrop Trailer Sinks: Pros and Cons

The decision behind whether or not to have a sink in a teardrop is just as varied as the owners and styles of these tiny trailers. Having a sink already built into a galley can be very convenient and allows for quick cleanup of dishes or your hands and face while camping, however they do add a bit more complexity to a rather simple trailer. Many expensive and high-end teardrop trailers will have a sink and many smaller, less expensive teardrops will not.

Teardropper Doug Holser has a small sink with a 2-gallon tank in his Little Guy 5-Wide Platform

So, what are the other pros and cons having a sink in a teardrop trailer? I asked a few members of the TNTTT board their opinion and received a mix of answers. It will really depend on the type of teardrop you have, are building, or want to buy. It will also come down to how much work you want to do, repairs you want to make or how simple you want your teardrop life to be.

48Rob's teardrop trailer has everything and the kitchen sink

Pros 


How nice would it be to set up camp and have your water all ready to go for a cup of coffee? The pros of having a sink installed in a teardrop is that the water receptacle is ready and most likely your water tank is full of water. There is no need to fill up a water container at a campground for washing dishes or making dinner. Even though the tanks in most teardrop trailers are small (between 5-15 gallons) and the waste water tanks are sometimes about half the size or don't exist at all (the water is dumped via a hose into a portable waste water tank) having that water available for a day or two makes teardrop camping a little easier. The portable waste water system also keeps used graywater from being thrown into various parts of a campsite, which might attract critters.

A portable waste water tank can be placed under a teardrop trailer.

Having a sink with a faucet and a plug is also really useful for keeping yourself clean. I know when I camp, my hands and face seems to need to be washed of dirt and fire pit ash constantly. However, you will want to really think about how you use your sink. Do you want it large enough to wash a couple of dishes and frying pans or will a small bowl to wash your face and hands be enough?

"Yes, we have a sink with pull out sprayer faucet and a six gallon gas electric water heater. We love it because meal cleanup takes no more time than at home." 
Shadow Catcher on TNTT

webbaldo on the TNTTT used a dog dish for his teardrop sink.

Cons


One of the biggest cons mentioned on the forum was that a installed sink in a teardrop trailer can have multitude of problems. When you add plumbing into a very small space that bounces down the road, you have the potential of running into leaks, busted pipes and loose tubing. If you are a DIYer, this may not be an issue, but if you are purchasing a teardrop with a sink, take into consideration that you will probably need to make repairs down the road.

The type of pump to draw up water to the faucet is not really a con, but if you install an electrical pump, there are more issues that you will have to deal with if something happens with your battery or wiring. There are some water pumps that work off a 12V plug like the Whale GP1352 which can be submersed into a water tank.


You can also get a hand or foot pump for your sink. They don't rely on electricity, but are only good for a few squirts of water rather than an entire sinkload. Several complaints on the forum were about when a teardrop trailer is not quite level on the ground, the pump will not draw correctly from the tank.

The Combination Hand Pump and lowboy can be ordered from Tweety's

Many teardroppers decide to opt out of having or installing a sink since they do take up valuable galley and food prep space.
"I thought we would have a sink in Miss Piggy just because most teardrops I had seen in the past had one. I assumed it was part of the build. But once I started reading the comments here on the forum, I changed my mind. And so far I am glad I did! It was less work in the build, saved money, took up less of our much valued space, and gives us more flexibility at clean up time."

Vedette, owner and builder of Miss Piggy 

"If had a bigger trailer and could easily afford the counter and storage space that the tanks, plumbing and a decent sized sink would occupy I would have most likely installed it. But with a 4-1/2' wide trailer it just didn't seem worth it."
Oldragbaggers on TNTT

Alternatives to Teardrop Sinks


Teardroppers are the most creative people, if I do say so myself. If they don't have a sink, they make one. I personally do not have a sink in my teardrop trailer and have had to come up with my own system. We have about one or two five gallon water tanks that we use for storing water, another 1.5 gallon tank that is our "faucet" and two dish washing pans that we use as sinks. For hot water, we just heat up a pot on the stove or over the fire.

Our "faucet" is a slimline, fridge jug from WalMart.

Debbie and Randy, the builders and owners of Monstro on TNTT, have built an ingenious little sink washing station out of PVC, a dish basin and a metal water hand pump.


If you don't want to do your own pumping, Coleman sells a All-In-One Portable Sink that comes with a dish drainer, two tubs and a 2.5 gallon sink that pumps water with four D cell batteries or a
CPX™ 6 rechargeable battery.


If you want the luxury of hot water all the time, Coleman's On Demand Portable Water Heater will help keep that coffee warm and dirty hands clean.






Trailer photos courtesy of dholser and 48rob.




Tuesday, March 26, 2013

International Glamping Weekend

Okay, teardrop camping could be akin to glamping. So what? There is nothing wrong with enjoying the beauty of the outdoors in the comfort of your own bed, with a glass of wine after a warm, outdoor solar shower. After being profiled in newspapers and magazines as a credible and affordable way to camp, it now seems like glamping finally has some clout. This is being celebrated with the International Glamping Weekend, hosted by MaryJane Butters, author of Glamping with Mary Jane and MaryJane's Outpost.


The International Glamping Weekend will be held June 1-2, 2013 all over the world. On her site you can search for a local glamping gathering, join a glamping group and get tons of information on various types of glamping and where to glamp. This doesn't only apply to teardrop trailers, but to anyone who wants to be outside, just not sleeping right on the ground.


You can even get a free "I'd rather be Glamping" bumper sticker from the website by sending in a SASE to the address provided. Mine is in the mail right now.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Camp Chairs: Pros and Cons

When you camp in a teardrop trailer, your living room is the outdoors so your "recliner" should reflect the ease of nature and keep you comfortable as you sit in the sunshine or by the campfire. My husband and I have gone through our fair share of camping chairs and have found each of them to have their own pros and cons.


Currently we have two very comfortable loungers from Cabela's that we bought on sale. I have fallen asleep in them numerous times and they are great for looking up at the stars. However, they are super heavy and awkward to carry. They also take up a ton of room in the back of the car.






Right now, I am on the lookout for two new chairs that will not take up so much room in the car. I do like the Alps Aluminum camp chair from the Sportsman's Wharehouse. They are comfortable and do well in front of the fire as well as at a table. Most importantly, they are lightweight and fold up much smaller than the loungers. Unfortunately, they don't have that great foot rest.


Every few years or so, we will teardrop camp with some friends from Florida. We drive to meet them a state or two away from us and they fly in to meet us. This means we have to bring their camping gear along with us. They tent camp during this time, so we bring two easy-to-pack camp chairs that you can get at Costco, Target or Wal-Mart. These types of chairs are light and convenient, easy to fold up and store and they sometimes have nifty cup holders. However, they are cheap and tend to break apart after four or five camping trips.



What are your favorite types of camp chairs for teardrop camping? Where do you like to purchase your chairs and are there reasons why you choose one type of chair over another?


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

But I Hate Campgrounds

When some of my diehard backpacking friends learn that I camp in a teardrop, I get the inevitable…"But I HATE campgrounds!" Granted, it would be wonderful to be able to camp out in the wilderness all by yourself all the time, but most of the campgrounds we've visited have been wonderful. It's true that you have to share your space with sometimes hundreds of people, but I think many campgrounds are wonderfully designed for peace, quiet and privacy.




One of my favorite things about campgrounds is that even though they are usually open to everything, there is a delineation of space that is oddly respected by people who are used to camping. This small space in the outdoors is yours for just a few nights, and other campers understand that. Also, I love it when night comes and each site comes to life with a campfire, small lanterns and the relaxed talking of people enjoying their vacation.

A few years ago, my husband and I were camping for a week at Humbug Mountain on the Oregon Coast. Every night, after dinner, we would hold hands and stroll through the campground looking at campsites, other campers and the stars. Each of the campsites were lit up with lanterns and campfires – shining on the faces of the occupants and glowing along the sides of tents and RVs. One campsite had a family with about four or five children. Each night, they would gather around the campfire while their mother read to them from one of the Harry Potter books. The kids were enchanted by the story and just sat quietly and listened – no iPhones, iPods or iPads in sight. We would hover in the dark near a large pine tree to also listen to the tales of Harry, Hermione and Ron and afterwards, we'd walk quietly back to our own camp.

Photo by JelleS/Flickr

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Featured Teardrop: Miss Piggy

Miss Piggy is almost ready to take her first summer camping trip. Brian and Sandi Woods' teardrop trailer might just be one of the most unusual teardrop trailers on the road this summer. Miss Piggy is a custom "Frankensteined" teardrop built out of a 1959 Simca Vedette, a 1951 Studebaker, a 1950 Studebaker and a 1946 Chev PU truck.


Brian has been building and restoring unique vehicles for over 46 years and he and his wife wanted their first teardrop trailer to be very unusual. Miss Piggy took about 14 months to build and includes parts from nine cars, four trucks and two motorcycles.

"I wanted something that not everyone else had." Brian said. "I am a much better welder than a carpenter, so I thought I would build our teardrop out of cars rather than plywood. I had purchased a 1959 “Simca Vedette Beaulieu” for the motor, but thought the car was too cute and in too good of condition to scrap. So it became a body donor for the teardrop."







Brian and Sandi are avid Street Rodders and had seen teardrop trailers at various Rod Runs over the years. However, they had been tent campers for years with their children, and had never really had the desire to tow anything behind their Street Rod.

"Now that I am reaching retirement and we are empty nesters, Sandi and I agreed it was time to get off the ground," Brian said. "Sandi loves the idea of not having to set up and take down the tent on each day of our travels."

Miss Piggy is nearly complete (the headline and interior panels have to be installed), but Brian and Sandi did sleep in their new tear on New Year's Eve in the shop as a trial run. This summer, the couple will be heading out on a 7,000 mile trip around the West and Northwest which will include stops in Yellowstone, Idaho, New Mexico, Colorado and Los Angeles. They also plan to have a teardrop gathering in Washington state. The couple love to camp around the Pacific Northwest, Washington, the Rockies and the East Kootenays.

So, how did this teardrop get her colorful name?

"One night as I was mocking up the nose and the front window I walked across the shop to have a look at the overall picture," Brian said. "As I turned to look, my first impression was, 'It looks like a pig snout on a piggy bank'. From that moment forward I referred to it as 'Miss Piggy'."













Brian and Sandi are Vedette on the TNTT Forum and the founders of the British Columbia Chapter of Tearjerkers.

Monday, March 4, 2013

What if the weather sucks?

It's true that a teardrop trailer is a fair weather camping trailer. Your living room and kitchen are outside, so you are subject to whatever the weather decides to throw at you. We've been camping in the teardrop for several days in the pouring rain, during thunder and wind storms and when temperatures have plummeted into the teens at night. It's a lot more comfortable than in a tent, but it's not exactly the most fun camping either.

Camping in the Rain from Christina Nellemann on Vimeo.


When the weather turns on us, we've spent our time closed up inside the teardrop playing cards, reading or watching movies on an iPad or laptop. It's not the worst way to spend your time, but you go camping to be in the outdoors. If we are really desperate for some fresh air, we just bundle up and take a walk or hike. Damned be the weather!

However, cooking is another story. It's not fun to cook outside in inclement weather and during a major wind storm in Death Valley a few years ago, we decided to just eat dinner at the local pizza place, even though it cost us nearly double. One of our remedies for bad weather is to pack a camping shelter with wind walls that we erect over the cooking and eating area. This keeps the rain off of us, but still allows us to be outside. We try to keep a good eye on the weather for wherever we're going and we prefer to camp in dryer conditions like the mountains or desert.



When you have a teardrop trailer, you just have to be ready to roll with the punches. Your trailer is simple enough already: hitching up, towing and packing has already been simplified. So, if the weather decides not to cooperate…just go out for a burger.

Friday, March 1, 2013