Camping Podcasts

In these cold winter months when I am not able to go camping in my teardrop, I'll get my camping fix by listening to or watching various camping or RV podcasts on my iPhone. Unfortunately, there are no teardrop trailer podcasts (a hint to all those audio experts out there), but there are a few informative and professional podcasts available on iTunes for camping buffs.

My personal favorites are the following:

Living the RV Dream

John and Kathy are full-time RV'ers living out of a Class C motorcoach. They've been traveling around the country for eight years and give tips on living and making money on the road, campgrounds, places to see and gear recommendations.

In the Field Camping Podcast

I've just started listening to this podcast, but I love that it's being recorded on-site in various campgrounds. Chris Rodriguez gives information on campgrounds, equipment, camping tech and tips and personal camping stories.

The VAP — Vintage Airstream Podcast

This podcast is for the ultimate Airstream fan. The VAP discusses trailer purchasing, repairs, restoration, camping and campgrounds. The hosts are funny, but can go off on rants or rambles sometimes.

Camping Gear TV

This video podcast series (completed) shows the latest in camping gear and the hosts do interviews with camping experts. The hosts are a bit goofy, but they show some interesting gear that you never knew existed.

Backpacking Light Podcast

These have not been updated for a few years, but they give some great information on backpacking and hiking gear, places to go, living lightly on the land and professional advice.

Podcasts from the National Park Service

These podcasts on various national parks (Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Badlands, Yellowstone, etc.) are video podcasts about certain features, amenities and campgrounds put on by the NPS. They are short but informative.

Photo by lowjumpingfrog

What would I have instead of a teardrop?

Even though I camp in and love my teardrop trailer, I also enjoy checking out other types of camping trailers. I think the design, space efficiency and personalization of other trailers says a lot about the people who own them. When given the chance, I will go up to a random owner of a small fiberglass trailer or an Airstream and ask if I can peak inside. Rather than getting kidnapped, I make a new friend.

So what would I have if I didn't have a teardrop trailer? Here are my top six picks for an alternative camping trailer or vehicle (if money was no object):

Airstream Sport 16

This quintessential camping trailer would be the height of camping luxury. I would not want one of the larger Airstream trailers because I would need a truck to tow it, but one of the smaller new or vintage trailers would be just fine, thank you. I would specifically want the Airstream Sport 16 foot with that tiny wet bath, dinette and an actual closet.

VW Westfalia Vanagon (1985 with Poptop)

There's something so secretive and self-sustaining about a VW van. You can discreetly park them anywhere, haul a nice load of food and water and still have some room to stand up. Every time I see a Westfalia in a campground, I can't keep my eyes off of them. I chose the 1985 because of the more plush interior and an optional automatic transmission.

Thor or Little Guy T@B

I've been in love with the T@B ever since I saw it at an RV show about ten years ago. They are limited when it comes to a bathroom and water storage, but for their size and weight, you can fit a lot into them. They are cute and colorful with everything you need to stay warm and comfortable while camping. The T@B used to be made by Thor Industries, but is now being manufactured by Little Guy.

Sportsmobile 4x4

My husband really likes the Sportsmobile 4x4 van and every person I've met who owns one are so cool and friendly. This is the type of camping vehicle you want if you intend to head out into the deserts of Baja or Nevada. They are tough and expensive, but can hold up to about a week's worth of food and water. It's the ultimate bug out vehicle.

Trillium 1300

The fiberglass Trillium was originally built in the 1970s and it making a comeback. The best version of this lightweight trailer is made by the Trillium RV company in southern California. They have a 4,500 lb. trailer with a wet bath and a 1,300 lb. trailer without a wet bath. The 1,300 would be easier to tow, but the 4,500 would be nice for longer trips.

Knaus Schwalbennest (Swallow's Nest)

This tiny speck of German ingenuity had me at willkommen. The Schwalbennest was built the first time in the 1960s and was briefly brought back by the Knaus company for their 50th anniversary. If I had had enough time and money to jump on a plane to Germany and hire a shipping company to bring one back to the U.S. for me, I would have it in my hot little hands now.

Featured Teardrop: Silver Tears

While surfing the web, I'm sure you've run into what is being billed at the "world's most expensive teardrop trailer". The Bulleit Bourbon Tailgater was inspired by the bourbon culture of the southern United States. The wood-paneled outer shell of this hand crafted trailer is made from reclaimed oak bourbon casks and the leather seats will age over time — just like a bottle of the amber liquor.

Davis Design and his company, Silver Tears, created two of these teardrops to be sold as limited editions by Neiman Marcus for $150,000 each. Each of the trailers also include glassware, a flat-screen TV, Blu-ray Disc™ player, and a state-of-the-art sound system, plus a one-year supply of Bulleit Bourbon and Bulleit Rye.

For the more down-to-earth teardrop shopper, Silver Tears designs and sells smaller teardrops without the high class pull-out bar. Their custom 6x11 foot Woody teardrop trailer is being sold by Orvis for $29,995 and is made from sapele and mahogany trimmed with ash. It has a custom three-piece foam mattress that converts to a sofa, Awning windows and a roof fan. The rear galley features a curly-maple counter top, a stainless-steel cooler and cabinets for storage. A freshwater tank and faucet with an electric pump are powered by a three-stage marine charger with a 110V plug.

For someone on a beer budget, Silver Tears is now producing a line of aluminum campers that will have a queen bed, galley and storage for between $10,500 and $12,500. The SilverTear will be available as a 4x8 or a 5x10 foot platform and will weigh between 700 to 1,500 lbs. It will include LED lighting, a hidden hatch under the bed for storage, to secure a port-a-potty and to contain upright seating. It will also have a Fantastic Fan, a stainless steel countertop in the galley, aluminum wing tables with supports, a stainless propane stove and a privy tent. Each SilverTear can be customized to the owner's specifications.

Photos by SilverTears

How do you stay warm in a teardrop trailer?

Unfortunately, we live in the mountains where we are not able to do a lot of winter camping. We would love to, but many campgrounds and BLM areas are usually covered in snow. So we have to save our camping fun for the summer and fall months. In addition, camping in the mountains can be cool or cold even during the warmer times of year so we sometimes wear long johns, hats and other warm clothing items when we go to sleep in the teardrop.

Fortunately, a teardrop sleeping area is so small that usually just body heat will warm the space up in a short amount of time. If you don't like getting into a cold bed there are other ways to stay warm while teardrop camping. If you are lucky enough to have a battery installed in your teardrop, or if you are hooked up to power there are a few heating options. On cooler nights we will use a 12-volt electric car blanket just to warm up the bed. These cost about $30 and don't drain your battery. They will heat up for about 20 minutes before shutting off.

If it's really cold, we will plug in small 12-volt ceramic heater that warms up the sleeping space. This heater with a fan will drain your battery much faster and you'll notice that any lights you have on will dim while this thing is running. You only need to run it for about 10 minutes to warm up a teardrop bed area. We have also used our friends' propane heater for heat. The Mr. Heater Little Buddy can be placed on a shelf or stable area of a teardrop bed to heat up the space. Don't keep it on all night since a propane heater will deplete the oxygen in a small space very quickly.

Another way to keep warm is with a good, old-fashioned hot water bottle. A teardropping friend of mine has several in her bed: one for her back and one for her feet. She says they are still warm by morning.

One time while camping in 20 degree temps with some fellow teardroppers, we were so cold that we heated up foil-wrapped river rocks in the campfire and then placed them in our beds to warm them up. The hot rocks proceeded to melt my friend's sleeping bag.

This is not a recommended method of staying warm in a teardrop trailer.

Rent a Teardrop Trailer

If you have fallen in love with teardrop trailers, but you don't want to commit yet to purchasing or building one, you can always rent one of the tiny campers. My first suggestion would be to make friends with a teardrop owner and offer to pay them to take their trailer out on a short camping trip. This will not only give you some experience with towing and sleeping in a teardrop, but you will make another friend who can give you some valuable advice.

There are several companies around the U.S. where you can rent a teardrop trailer for your next wilderness excursion. I'm surprised there are not more companies or individuals around who are willing to rent out their trailers. However, there have been some discussions on the teardrop forums that these types of trailers are very personal to their owners (especially if they were lovingly built from scratch) and owners are reluctant to part with their babies. So if you can't find someone in your local area who is willing to share, check out these rental teardrops:

Explore More Northwest (Spokane, Washington)

Run by a couple in eastern Washington, Explore More Northwest offers four teardrop trailers for rent. They have two Little Guy teardrops and two T@B campers (Dutchman and clamshell versions). The teardrops rent for $89 per night and the T@Bs for $109 per night. Explore More Northwest also rents accessories like camp chairs and coolers.

Basecamp Adventure Rentals (Seattle, Washington)

Basecamp rents out three TC Teardrop trailers, two 5x9 trailers and one 5x8 trailer. The galley includes essential kitchen items: pots, pans, dishware and utensils, spices, a camp stove and propane. Peak season (May 1 thru Oct 31) is $180 for the first two nights, $75/night additional nights and off season (Nov 1 thru Apr 30) is $150 for the first two nights, $65/night additional nights.

Simply GO Campers  (Southern California)

Simply GO Campers in San Juan Capistrano in South Orange County, California has two Little Guy Trailers. "Gary the Teardrop" is a classic 5-Wide Platform and "Ted the Teardrop" is a 6-Wide Platform. "Gary" rents for $140 for 2 nights (2 night minimum) and $60 each additional night. "Ted" rents for $170 for 2 nights (2 night minimum) and $75 per each additional night. Rentals for 7+ nights receive a 10 percent discount.

Missouri Teardrop Trailers  (Missouri)

Missouri Teardrop Trailers in Centerview, Missouri have two 5x10 Silver Shadow teardrops that they rent for $350 per week. There is a two night minimum ($75 per night) and they come with bedding, but no pillowcases.

Vacations in a Can  (Northern California)

Vacations in a Can have become semi-famous since their teardrop trailer was featured on the cover of Sunset Magazine. This Penngrove, California company rents out three teardrops: the Chili Pepper, the Can ‘em Danno and the L’il Bear.  Each trailer sleeps two adults and includes everything from blankets, sheets and towels to a stove, pots and pans and a coffee maker.

Links Teardrop Rentals  (Orange County, California)

This company in Southern California rents out two Little Guy Deluxe Five Wide trailers. They are each $75 per night with a two-night minimum. Links also offers generator rentals as well.

Colorado Vintage Camping  (Aspen, Colorado)

This company in Aspen, Colorado rents out a beautiful Woody teardrop for $149 for a two-night minimum May through September with an additional $99 for each night; for October through April for $99 for a two-night minimum with an additional $89 for each night. They have a 20 percent discount for six or more consecutive nights and the prices include delivery and set up concierge service.

Colorado Teardrops (Boulder, Colorado)

Colorado Teardrops rents a series of 8x5 Basecamp teardrop trailer weigh around 850 lb each. All galley items and a first aid kit are included for $100 per day.

Little Guy Trailers (San Diego, California)

This dealer of Little Guy trailers in San Diego will rent out a Little Guy teardrop for $380 per week with extra days for $50 a day. There is a $1,000 deposit to rent one of their rigs.

PB  Teardrop (San Diego, California)

Charles of PB Teardrops has a 2011 teardrop trailer for rent. It costs $225 for 3 nights and $50 each additional night with a $500 deposit and a $25 cleaning fee. Advance reservations requested but not required. Call Charles at (858) 272-2520 for availability.

Old School Teardrop (Goodyear, Arizona)

This rental company rents Little Guy teardrop trailers for $380 a week and $180 for the weekend. They provide bedding and towels but no stove or propane. There is a 500 security deposit required. Read about Wilderness Dave's experience with renting from Old School Teardrop.

Miller Trailer Sales (Perkasie, Pennsylvania)

Miller Trailer Sales offer several types of trailer rentals. They have a 5x10 Little Guy Silver Shadow for $75 a day or $450 a week, a Little Guy 6-Wide Platform for $65 a day or $390 a week and a Little Guy T@G for $75 a day or $450 a week. Miller requires a one day deposit and a minimum three day rental on holiday weekends. You can order your trailer and make a deposit over the phone.

Happy Camper Teardrop Rentals (Sacramento, California)

Happy Camper Teardrop Rentals in Sacramento offer several types of teardrops. The Mini Mansion is a 5x8 trailer for $65 a night and $130 on the weekend, the 5x8 Cozy Cabin is $75 a night and $150 on the weekend and the 5x9 Lazy Lodge is $75 a night and $150 on the weekend. Happy Camper provides an ice chest, camp stove and fuel, pots, pans, dishes and utensils, coffee pot, paper towels and trash bags and a wash basin with soap.

Sierra Teardrops (Auburn, California)

Sierra Teardrops in Auburn, CA near Sacramento currently have a brand new Sofitel T@B Clamshell for rent for $125 per night with additional nights only $100. The trailer contains a shower/toilet, air conditioning, heater, clamshell kitchen with hot/cold water sink, stove, and fridge/freezer. The company also plans to rent out an off-road teardrop trailer as well.

Hitch and Go Adventures (Houston, Texas)

Hitch and Go Adventures in Houston, Texas have three fiberglass teardrops for rent for only $50 per day (10 percent tax rate not included). They include chairs, shade canopies, folding tables, dishes and utensils, but no linens or blankets.

Thomas RV Rentals (Charlotte, North Carolina)

Along with their larger RV rentals, Thomas RV Rentals in North Carolina rents out a 4-foot wide Little Guy teardrop (April-October) for $65 a night or $390 a week. It includes a DVD/CD player, a 10x10 foot screened porch, heating and AC and a Coleman stove can be rented for an additional $5 a night.

TC Teardrops (Wausau, Wisconsin)

TC Teardrops in Wisconsin have a partnership with a local campground where you can test out one of their trailers before buying your own. The cost is $39 a night when used at the Indian Trails campground and $49 a night when used off site. It's only $299 for 7 days when the trailer is used off site.

Caravan's Teardrop Trailer Rentals (Portland, Oregon)

Deb and Kol of Caravan - The Tiny House Hotel rent out a Little Guy T@G Max trailer and T@G Max XL for rent named Rosie, Miles and Sunny. They include comforters and pillows, Fair-Trade coffee in the fully stocked galley and extras like a table and chairs. Rosie rents for $80/night (two-night minimum) and is pet friendly. Miles rents for $90/night (two-night minimum) and is pet friendly and Sunny rents for $90/night (two-night minimum).

Top photo courtesy of Sunset Magazine and Vacations in a Can

Serial Teardroppers

When I was shopping around for my own teardrop trailer, I kept going back to the Picasa photos posted by Mark Copen and his wife: two serial teardroppers. Over the years they have owned several different teardrop trailers and I was appreciative of the photos they posted and how they set up their various campsites. If you are new to teardropping, it's helpful to be able to see what other campers bring along in order to stay comfortable and prepared for anything...including kayaking.