Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Shopping for a Teardrop Trailer?

We recently returned from a teardrop camping trip to Grand Teton and Yellowstone. We met up with our good friends, Nelly and Andres, from southern Florida. They flew in to Jackson Hole to meet us and we brought their tent camping gear with us. They are not teardrop owners, but they did use our neighbor's teardrop trailer when they came with us to Burning Man in 2011. I wanted to get their opinions on teardrop trailers and teardrop camping and if they would ever consider purchasing one:



What do you each think about camping in general?

NELLY: I love camping and the outdoors, but I must say that I can only tolerate tent camping for a few days. After a few days, I definitely miss a warm bed and a bathroom just five feet away!

ANDRES: I LOVE camping. But in small amounts. I love being outdoors, love the dirt, and the smoke of the camp fire. I LOVE starting the small fire around the camp! Love gathering the wood and getting the small flicker of flame going into a raging flame. Love that whole process and the experience and the sensation.

I don't like sleeping in tents. It's uncomfortable and annoying. That's probably the one thing I dislike about the whole experience. I don't tend to sleep well and therefore, over a short period of time, will grow tired of it.

As primarily tent campers, what do you think about teardrop trailers? Would you get one? Why or why not?

NELLY: I loved the experience sleeping in the teardrop at Burning Man. It was cozy, warm and the right size for my husband and I. Not to mention, we are short people! I enjoyed the teardrop’s kitchen while camping at Grand Teton and Yellowstone. The dry goods, plates, utensils and everything we needed for cooking was easily accessible and clutter free! Not to mention, it was a snap to lock it away from the bears at night. Christina’s teardrop can easily be towed by car and is compact. It’s perfectly mobile with little hassle.

If I didn’t have children, I definitely would consider a teardrop. They are so unique and again, small and can be easily transported. However, with kids and pets the teardrop doesn’t make my list. It definitely is the perfect fit for singles or couples on the move.

ANDRES: I would love it! They are comfortable to sleep in and very convenient. However, due to our limited garage space at home, it is difficult to have one. But I think that if we did, we would be going camping a lot more.


What other trailers are you attracted to, if at all?

NELLY: I really like the look of the A-Liner camper and other pop up campers.

ANDRES: I think those campers that can expand into larger areas are very convenient. Again, though, they are less practical for us due to space and storage issues. I think a teardrop would be more feasible for us. We would just need to get a vehicle to pull it.


If you were to have your own trailer, what improvements or options would you want?

NELLY: A hot tub! All kidding aside...no seriously, a hot tub. Imagine soaking your feet and body in a nice mini hot tub after a long hike?

ANDRES: I would incorporate solar panels to make sure I have all the power I need to charge my devices. I would also think about making it more practical to store things while driving. The sunflower is nearly the perfect little teardrop for us, all it needs is the solar panels. The article I wrote about mine is at my website.


Where do you like to go camping?

NELLY: We haven’t been camping in Florida in several years. The bugs, heat and rain keep us away from tent camping. We loved camping when we lived out West in Nevada and California. We normally take advantage of camping when we meet up with our friends Christina and Harry and travel to the National Parks. My favorite camping spots were Yosemite, Zion, Grand Teton and Yellowstone.

ANDRES: Anywhere there is nature, life, and something worth photographing and exploring.


Photos by Nelly and Andres Leon

Monday, August 26, 2013

Teardrop Hiking Survival Kit

Most of our teardropping trips are taken to locations where we can do some hiking. Hiking in the mountains in the summer and fall is personally one of my favorite things to do and we try to do at least one 10 mile hike on a trip. These longer hikes will usually take us into the back country and each time we go out I'm adamant about having a few survival items along just in case we end up in a sticky situation.


There are a lot of lists and videos on what survival gear to keep in your day/hiking pack, but this is personally what I like to bring along in the types of places we go hiking: mainly the mountains and high desert.

1. Matches, lighter AND a flint and steel

2. A good knife with a serrated blade

3. A small mirror for signalling

4. A whistle/compass/temperature gauge
This whistle combo saved me on one hike when we were lost with friends in a snowy forest. The melting snow had washed away the trail and we were having trouble finding the parking lot at the top of the trail. We split up into two groups and we each had a whistle or an air horn to signal the other group. I was just behind my partner when I stepped on a pile of snow that had melted underneath and fell into a crevasse up to my nose. He did not see me go down and I had to use the whistle to get his attention so he could help me out. I don't go hiking without it.
 
5. Warm hat, gloves and sweater

6. Emergency blanket and a piece of plastic or rain poncho
 I saw a great episode of Dual Survival where outdoor expert Cody Lundin used an emergency blanket and a piece of plastic to make an ingenious emergency shelter.

7. Emergency rain poncho

8. At least 32 ounces of water, a water filter or some iodine tablets

9. Snacks, nuts, granola bars

10. Fire starting materials in a plastic bag: these could be tissues, Vaseline soaked cotton balls or even some tampons!


Photo: Hiking to Hidden Falls in the Grand Teton National Park

Friday, August 23, 2013

Friday Teardrop Photo


The Sunflower packed up and blasting off to Deeth Starr Valley in a galaxy far, far away.

Actually, Deeth is a ghost town in the middle of Nevada and Starr Valley is the valley where the town is located. We are big Star Wars fans and couldn't help but stop and take a photo.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Featured Teardrop: Klein Cabine

Fans of Westfalia pop-up campers, take note: Michael Hippenhammer has maybe built the first ever pop-up teardrop trailer that you can actually stand up in. His 9 by 4 foot trailer was built by hand with Douglas fir 2x6 construction and his beautiful work was featured in the photocentric Tiny House Swoon.


Michael named his teardrop the Klein Cabine, which means "little cabin" in German. The trailer contains two six volt golf cart batteries, a 40 amp charger, 110 volt break box and a 300 watt inverter. The trailer has lights, forward storage, a mechanical area, an overhead cabinet in the bed area as well as storage under the bed. The 3-panel bed can be adjusted to become seating area as well.

The 1,140 lb trailer does not have a traditional galley kitchen in the back, but the door can be built out to become a small kitchen or additional storage space. The best part of the trailer is the roof that pops up so you can get dressed standing up.

Michael also said that this trailer is nearly bear proof. Perfect for camping in Yellowstone.



Photos by Michael Hippenhammer


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Teardropping in Yellowstone and Grand Teton


My yellow teardrop trailer recently returned from a trip to Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. It was a quick 10 days in the parks, but we packed a lot into the trip. The primary reason for the trip was to meet up with our good friends from southern Florida. Every few years we meet up at a national park and go camping together. We hope to continue the tradition since we have so much fun.



So, what's it like to teardrop in one of the most popular national parks in the nation? Here are a few things I learned while teardropping around the land of mountains and moose.

1. Bears rule

You have to be very vigilant when teardropping in bear country. Every campground you go to will be adamant about correct storage of your food, ice chests, water containers and food waste. The week before we came, a bear had to be "dispatched" since he had acquired a taste for camper food and kept returning to the campground. With a teardrop trailer, this can be a challenge. We usually don't have the room to store all our food or ice chests in the galley so we had to keep two ice chests (with enough food for four people for 10 days) in the car most of the time. Since it was warm for a few days, this melted our ice more quickly.

We also had to keep a very clean camp. I was constantly using rags and paper towels to wipe up our stove, picnic table, cooking area and the teardrop galley. We also had to put the Dutch oven in the car and the water containers had to be locked up.

2. Food shopping is miserable in the park

If you plan on going to Yellowstone or Grand Teton, do the majority of your food shopping in the small towns outside of the park. This includes the town of Jackson near Grand Teton or West Yellowstone in Montana. The "grocery stores" in Yellowstone really only sell junk food, overpriced bacon and eggs and very little vegetables or fruit. Stock up before getting your camp.

The galley of the teardrop trailer was full of food and it was piled everywhere. Having some sort of organization will save you frustration.

3. Be prepared for any kind of weather

In the course of 10 days we experienced spring-like days, roasting heat, rainstorms, hail and freezing cold nights. This area of the country has some crazy weather that can change in 20 minutes. My teardrop is waterproof which was great for us when the skies opened up at around 10 p.m. one night. Before going to bed or leaving camp, be sure to have everything tucked underneath a table or under the teardrop. Use a pop-up shelter to protect your picnic table and always close the galley hatch at night.

4. In this land of amazing things, teardrops still attract attention

On our way up to the park, we must have seen at least six or seven other teardrop trailers. We all waved to each other. I also got another six visitors to the trailer who wanted the nickel tour. One teardrop owner was nice enough to come by and show us his solar panel setup and how simple it is to hook-up to a teardrop battery. It's officially my next project.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Friday Teardrop Photo


I'm currently off teardrop camping in Grand Teton and Yellowstone. However, I'll leave you with this photo of a Nevada sunflower being a bit rebellious and looking off in the other direction versus the other sunflowers around it.

That's kind of what teardrop camping is all about: thinking a little differently and outside the proverbial box.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Featured Teardrop: Small Home Oregon Teardrop Trailers

A few years ago I was in Portland to do a Tiny House Blog post on Walt Quade and his Small Home Oregon homes. His homes were beautifully built, but I was also surprised to see an equally beautiful teardrop trailer sitting in his driveway. He told me he was planning on creating custom, luxury teardrop trailers as well as tiny homes. He is currently offering several handmade trailers with different options and prices.


The Small Home Oregon teardrop trailers have queen size beds, extra reading lights, built-in sound sound system options, two inches of rigid foam for insulation, a propane tank in an equipment locker, a deep cycle battery, a 15 or 20 gallon water tank and a small electric pump that leads to the sink in the galley.


One option costs $9,000 and is about 1,000 lbs with a 100 lb tongue weight. It's 11 feet long overall and five feet wide. The interior is 1/2 plywood and the floor, walls and ceiling are all insulated. This version includes only one door on the right side and a window on the left, but there is a roof vent with a screen and electric fan. The interior has four storage cabinets and a 4 inch foam mattress. The galley has a counter and storage cabinets and a stainless steel bar sink with a cutting board cover. The entire trailer has two 12-volt outlets, but a 110 volt package can be added on for $335.


Another trailer option costs $11, 250 and is 13.3 feet long overall and five feet wide. It contains all the amenities of the shorter trailer. Options such as a CD player, a solar PV charging system, a built-in Coleman stainless steel cooler, custom curtains, a Coleman stove and an additional side door can all be added for an extra cost.

Photos by Small Home Oregon
Queen-sized bed so those of us who are 6 ½ feet tall have plenty of room to move around. Extra reading lights so you can catch up on your favorite book while your partner snoozes. Built-in sound system with speakers in the sleeping compartment as well as the kitchen in back. Two inches of high density, rigid foam surround the sleeping compartment so it’s always warm and quiet. A propane tank is in the forward equipment locker so you have plenty of propane for stoves and lights, and it can easily be refilled. Large, deep cycle battery that powers all the lights and sound system with a PV panel so if you aren’t recharging from the car, the sun will keep you going. Mounted under the frame is a 20 gallon water tank Even a week in the desert won’t drain your water supply. A small electric pump delivers it to the sink in the galley. Hand-made of the best materials available with a keen eye for craftsmanship and detail. - See more at: http://smallhomeoregon.net/tear-drop-trailers-2/tear-drop-trailers/#sthash.NfsnOTQf.dpuf

Queen-sized bed so those of us who are 6 ½ feet tall have plenty of room to move around. Extra reading lights so you can catch up on your favorite book while your partner snoozes. Built-in sound system with speakers in the sleeping compartment as well as the kitchen in back. Two inches of high density, rigid foam surround the sleeping compartment so it’s always warm and quiet. A propane tank is in the forward equipment locker so you have plenty of propane for stoves and lights, and it can easily be refilled. Large, deep cycle battery that powers all the lights and sound system with a PV panel so if you aren’t recharging from the car, the sun will keep you going. Mounted under the frame is a 20 gallon water tank Even a week in the desert won’t drain your water supply. A small electric pump delivers it to the sink in the galley. Hand-made of the best materials available with a keen eye for craftsmanship and detail. - See more at: http://smallhomeoregon.net/tear-drop-trailers-2/tear-drop-trailers/#sthash.NfsnOTQf.dpuf
Queen-sized bed so those of us who are 6 ½ feet tall have plenty of room to move around. Extra reading lights so you can catch up on your favorite book while your partner snoozes. Built-in sound system with speakers in the sleeping compartment as well as the kitchen in back. Two inches of high density, rigid foam surround the sleeping compartment so it’s always warm and quiet. A propane tank is in the forward equipment locker so you have plenty of propane for stoves and lights, and it can easily be refilled. Large, deep cycle battery that powers all the lights and sound system with a PV panel so if you aren’t recharging from the car, the sun will keep you going. Mounted under the frame is a 20 gallon water tank Even a week in the desert won’t drain your water supply. A small electric pump delivers it to the sink in the galley. Hand-made of the best materials available with a keen eye for craftsmanship and detail. - See more at: http://smallhomeoregon.net/tear-drop-trailers-2/tear-drop-trailers/#sthash.NfsnOTQf.dpuf

Friday, August 2, 2013

Friday Teardrop Photo


My friend Andres sent me a photo of this teardrop trailer decked out Hobbit-style.
Now all we need to do is to find a camping spot in the Shire.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Featured Teardrop: Gary's Full-Time Teardrop Trailer

Last weekend I was at the bank and noticed a small wooden teardrop sitting in the parking lot. Before the poor owner could open his car door and pull out of the space, I ran up to him and began to ask him about his small, wooden trailer. It turns out that the owner, Gary, lives full time out of his home-built Hickory Nut Camper.


"I have not lived in an actual house in 22 years," Gary told me. "I really just wanted to simplify and this custom teardrop trailer only took about five weeks to build. It's perfect for me."


His trailer is made of hickory and alder wood and includes a single door and a small window. Gary has a twin mattress inside so there is room for his clothes, but the trailer can fit a full-size mattress. He mentioned how impressed he was with the beautiful wooden spars along the ceiling. Gary's galley is very simple and includes a ton of storage under the kitchen workspace. He tucks a small bucket in the back to use as a temporary toilet when he's on the road.

Gary has been living this summer down in the Mammoth Lakes area and spends his winters working at Furnace Creek in Death Valley National Park.

Hickory Nut Campers are built by Glenn in Sparks, Nevada. The trailers have both 110 and 12 volt power, are only 680 lbs. and have a 1,720 lb. capacity. Prices for the Hickory Nut start at $3,300 and the wood for each trailer can be customized.