Who has visited your teardrop?

Teardrop trailers seem to attract wildlife. During one of our camping trips, we were visited by a flock of chukar and a doe and her two fawns...all in one day. Maybe it's because of its low profile or quick access to food, but some teardrops seem to be popular with campground residents.

I could not resist posting this photo from some of my favorite teardroppers: Dave and Kathy of CampADK.

Teardrop Trailer Boondocking

Many times when we go camping with our friends (who also own a teardrop trailer), we will boondock. Boondocking is essentially free camping on public land. It's also called dispersed camping, and there are various places around the U.S. where you can set up camp for the night with a minimal amount of amenities. Boondocking with a teardrop trailer is just as easy as with a larger RV, and maybe even more so because a small teardrop tucked away in the woods or in the desert does not have as high a profile as a larger RV and can be less conspicuous.

You can boondock on BLM land or National Forest property, and some people even boondock in the parking lot of Wal-Mart or a local truck stop. There are discussions among campers whether or not parking lot camping is really boondocking, and the word tends to refer only to free camping on public land.

Depending on the area and terrain, boondocking areas will have specifically designated areas for camping, vehicles and campfires and some sites may not even allow any kind of open flame. Boondocking spots normally don't have hookups, sewer, showers or water, but sometimes they have basic pit toilets. Many boondocking areas have a time limit of several weeks.

You can find boondocking areas on these two websites: Free Campsites.net and Boondocking.org.

Boondocking tips:

Bring your own water or a water filter

Several places where we like to boondock have a nearby creek or river where we will fill up canteens just for washing dishes or ourselves. This water should not be used for cooking or drinking unless it has been filtered or boiled. It's best to bring several five gallon tanks of your own drinking water.

Stay safe

Camp with people you know and trust. Boondocking is not necessarily dangerous, but since there is no camp host and some boondocking areas are away from populated areas, it's best to not camp alone. 

Re-use campfire areas

If you are boondocking and happen to run across a spot where someone once had a campfire, use the same area rather than creating a new area to burn. Depending on where you're camping, many boondocking areas have plenty of downed wood.

Use Dry ice

If you plan on boondocking for a week or more, use dry ice instead of regular ice. Your food will stay colder longer and you won't have to travel a long distance to re-stock your ice supply. Here are some tips on how to use dry ice.

Featured Teardrop: Nest Egg Trailers

Several people have asked me if a teardrop trailer can be towed by a Prius or other hybrid car. There was never anything on the market (except the Little Guy Rascal), but these new lightweight teardrops may be just what hybrid drivers are looking for. The Nest Egg Trailers are super lightweight, weighing in at a dry weight of only 700 pounds.

Nest Eggs are made of 100 percent composite materials and do not contain any wood. They are 100 percent waterproof and if they get dirty on the inside, you can just hose them out. They contain a queen size bed, a galley with a sink and a roll-out work surface, a 9 gallon fresh water tank and a 9 gallon waste water tank, a smart built-in ice chest, double skylights and interior cabinets.

The basic model costs $8,995 and additional options include carpet, a shower tent, a mattress, heating and air conditioning, a power pack and USB and 110 volt plugs.

A Magazine Just for Teardrops

A free electronic magazine just for teardrops will be arriving in February 2013.  The Cool Tears and Tiny Campers magazine is a bi-monthly publication that will be delivered to your email box and is dedicated primarily to teardrop trailers and other small and ultralight campers.

One goal of the magazine is to break down the vast amounts of information on the web into a few interesting stories presented in a familiar graphic magazine format. The magazine will also feature quality manufacturers, custom builders, and do-it-yourselfers and teardrop trailer parts and supplies.

Are Teardrop Trailers Romantic?

The first teardrop trailers in the 1940s and 1950s were popular with honeymooning couples. The comfortable bed, tiny space and lack of electronic diversions do work very well in conjunction with a romantic getaway.

When my husband and I teardrop camp, it is sweet and romantic to curl up together, pop open his iPad and watch a show or a movie in the dark. We also snuggle up and read together. However, it's not always cuddling and kissing. If we are having a bad day or an argument, there is nowhere else to get away from each other at night. We don't have a large RV with a living room or a bedroom where we can fume for a few hours. This forces us to either resolve our issue or not to have one at all.

I met a guy at a teardrop rally a few years ago who had just finished refurbishing his vintage teardrop trailer. This was his first time out and he had brought along his girlfriend. Unfortunately, the teardrop was four feet wide and only had one door. I have a feeling she slept on the side without a door because the next day this previously affectionate couple were not speaking to each other.

If you are thinking of building or purchasing a teardrop trailer and you are a couple, really take into consideration the size and layout of your bed area. Having a bit more room, his and hers closets, hooks and storage areas and doors on both sides of the teardrop can make or break a camping trip and a relationship.

Photo by Christina Nellemann. Illustration by teardropplans.blogspot.com.

Featured Teardrop: Little Guy Silver Shadow

When shopping around for my teardrop trailer, I was torn between the Pleasant Valley Spirit and the Little Guy Silver Shadow. Both of these trailers have a retro style and similar features and options. I ended up getting the Spirit because of the color and I liked the look of the inside of the hatch more, but the Silver Shadow is still one of my favorite manufactured teardrops on the road today. Little Guy sells three versions of the Shadow: the White Shadow, the Silver Shadow and the Highline. They come in four sizes: 4'x8', 5'x8', 5'x10' and 6'x10.

The teardrop features include retro styling with white-wall tires, black fiberglass fenders, baby moon hubcaps and a silver Alufiber® finish for the roof and galley hatch. The interior has birch walls, a mattress, a single speed roof vent, three 110v outlets, LED lights and a wood countertop for the galley. You can stick with the silver walls or pick your choice of colored walls (available on the Highline). I think the current colors are green, red and black.

The upgraded kitchen of the larger Silver Shadows have an 8 gallon water tank, a sink with pump, a 12V refrigerator and a pull-out camp stove. The sink drain empties onto the ground.

The Silver Shadow is only sold through dealers or by private owners. I've seen them as high as $10,000 down to about $6,000. Keep an eye out on eBay, Yakaz and Craigslist for both new and used trailers.

Jason and Amanda of the TNTTT forum camp in a 2009 Silver Shadow

Jason and Amanda of the TNTTT forum camp in a 2009 Silver Shadow

Jason and Amanda of the TNTTT forum camp in a 2009 Silver Shadow

Photos by Little Guy Worldwide and Jason and Amanda of the TNTTT

The Funniest Things I've Heard About My Teardrop

Teardrop trailers get some interesting reactions. The majority of the time, people are really nice and enthusiastic about my tiny trailer and tell me stories about their own small campers or a teardrop that their parents once had. But once in a while, I get the odd comment or question that really makes me laugh:

"Is that for your dog?"

"You don't really sleep in that, do you?"

"It looks like a coffin."

"My wife would kill me if I made her sleep in that."

 "My husband would kill me if I made him sleep in that."

 "Can you tow it with a bike."

"It's perfect for my Labrador."

"Can I buy it from you now."

Photo from Sport Touring.net

Five Tips for Towing a Teardrop Trailer

If you are thinking of purchasing or building a teardrop trailer, but you've never towed anything before, taking your new camper on the road may feel daunting. Because these miniscule trailers are so light, you'll tend to forget that you are towing it, which can get you into trouble on the road.  In all, you just need a bit of practice before taking off on that first camping trip. Here are a few tips I've learned over the years from towing a teardrop trailer.

1. Slow down: I'm a pretty slow driver anyway, but even if you are a faster driver, slow down and stick to the right lane. Other drivers will appreciate it, you'll get better gas mileage, you'll be more prepared to react, and you can appreciate the scenery more.

2. Be ready to brake: Even if your teardrop is really light, don't forget that you have an extra 800 to 1,200 lbs behind you. It will take you longer to come to a full stop and since most teardrops don't require their own braking systems, you and your vehicle are in charge of coming to a complete stop.

3. Watch those curbs and bumps: While coming out of a driveway, or around a corner, watch those sidewalk curbs, planters and other bumpy things that can damage your teardrop tires or even cause axle damage. The tire fenders on my teardrop stick out and I have to really watch it if I go through a tight entrance or even a fast food drive-thru (yes, you can take your teardrop through a Taco Bell).

4. Honey, we spilled the salt: No matter how well you pack your teardrop, things are going to go flying as you motor down the highway. We've had the lid pop off our coffee and send grounds spilling over the rest of our food, the items on the inside shelves usually end up in the bed and clothes in the cupboards will tumble out when we open the doors. Each campsite stop usually requires a bit of cleaning up.

5. Check, check and double check: At nearly every rest stop, we check and re-check the tow hitch, the chains, the tires, the locks on the hatch and the windows, the electrical connections and the teardrop lights and signals. You can never be too careful.

The Sunflower Goes to Burning Man

The Sunflower has been going to Burning Man since 2009.

I bought my original teardrop trailer in 2007, a Little Guy Rascal, so my 75-year-old mother would have something to sleep in while accompanying me to the raucous, desert gathering. Yep, I took my mom to Burning Man and she loved it. However, I knew she couldn't sleep in a tent on the ground, so I started looking around for a tiny trailer that my Dodge Neon could tow. That brought me into the world of teardrop trailers.

After two years of camping in the Rascal, I knew I wanted something larger and with a full galley in the back. The Rascal was cute and light, but had no kitchen and only a full-size bed. So, about four months after purchasing the Sunflower, she took her first trip out to the Black Rock Desert of Northern Nevada.

My teardrop does really well out at Burning Man. She's been through several major dust storms with only a minimum amount of leakage into the bed area, and we've slept like babies when the desert night drops into the teens. The double doors also allow for some nice air flow during the day, so we can take a much needed nap after being out since 4 a.m.

Even at Burning Man, known for its crazy art, home made shelters and amazing RVs, the little, yellow teardrop still catches a lot of attention. I've had fellow Burners from all over the world come up to the trailer with squeals of delight.

Note: The other teardrop in the photo belongs to our neighbors. Stayed tuned for the story of their little trailer.

Photos by Christina Nellemann and Harry Thomas

Ten Best Teardrop Galleys

A few months ago, I was showing my teardrop for the first time to my friend Pedro. He had no idea the trailer had a kitchen in the back, and when I opened up the hatch, he nearly fell over. There is something brilliant and beautiful about a teardrop trailer galley, and they are great examples of smart design and fresh air cooking. This list contains the 10 best teardrop galleys I've run into over the past few years. Many of them are great examples of space-saving ideas, ingenuity, craftsmanship and design.

The Little Guy Silver Shadow is a manufactured, stock teardrop, but their 5x10 model has a really nice galley with a sink and roll-out stove. It's nearly similar in design to my galley with a small drawer and the useful top shelf which keeps cups and other items from flying out while going down the road.

This is a 1947 Kenskill teardrop featured on the Old Trailer.com website. I really love the way the utensils and the paper towels have been integrated into the older cabinets.

This teardrop by Mini Tears is meant to be towed behind a Mini Cooper. The fold-out table, roll-out ice chest holder and rolling cabinet covers give this galley some great details.

Big Woody Campers build some of the most beautiful trailers on the road today and their ultimate teardrop galley contains a double sink, a small fridge and a space for your TV.

This is a simple, but really well organized galley by Camp ADK. This couple's website is one of the first ones I came across while searching for my first teardrop trailer. I really love that they built the galley around the size of a 5 gallon water tank. 

This is a great example of a way to add on extra work space to a galley. Sunset magazine featured this teardrop trailer in an article about glamping.

This is one of my favorite teardrops from the Douglas Keister book, "Teardrops & Tiny Trailers".
It was built by Douglas Hoder.

This galley has always been one of my favorites. The use of tile and color makes it look so different from other teardrops I've seen.  It was built by Melody Lucero with a Desert Teardrop plan.

This Moby1 galley has a place for everything. The design is really smart and well done for such a tiny area.

This is one of my favorite galleys on the TNTTT (Teardrops & Tiny Travel Trailers) forum. It's a Camp-Inn trailer that has been customized for a real camp chef. Check out that copper kettle!