How do you stay cool?

Now that summer is on its way, one of the questions I get about teardrop camping is how we stay cool while sleeping in what is essentially a large coffin on wheels. We usually go camping up in the mountains or on the coast so we don't have too many issues with staying cool, but I'm sure it's an issue for teardroppers who go camping in the more hot and humid areas of the country.

When camping in the summer, my husband and I only have a soft fleece sheet and another soft blanket to stay warm when it gets cooler in the early morning hours. These are easily kicked off if it gets too warm.

We also sleep with our windows open and the screens down. This allows for a little more airflow. We do have a fan at the foot of the teardrop, but rarely use it since it draws power from the battery and we tend to camp at spots without hook-ups. If we are camping in the middle of nowhere where we won't be bothered, we will sometimes just sleep with the doors wide open.

Many teardroppers stay cool while sleeping with a Fantastic Fan or other roof fan which vents warm air out out of the sleeping area. Other teardroppers use a 12 volt portable fan. These can be purchased online from Teardrop Trailer Parts.

For really warm locations, an AC unit is a must. Many teardrops including the Nest Egg trailer have air conditioning units included or as an option. If you are installing your own air conditioner, Kuffel Creek has a good article on what units will work best in a small trailer. These types of air conditioners that reduce humidity will need to be run from a hook-up at a campground or from a generator.

Here are two good video examples of two different ways on how to use a regular 120 AC unit mounted on the side of the teardrop and facing into the sleeping area through an open window:


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Friday Teardrop Photo

These were a couple of teardrop trailers I took a photo of in the Cappadocia area of Turkey.
It was nice to see that they are also popular in Asia. :-)

Five Things You Never Thought You Needed in a Teardrop

We try to keep the items in the teardrop trailer down to a minimum. You have a small trailer so that you can keep life simple, right? However, once in a while I find an item stashed in the teardrop that has really come in handy on our camping trips.

1. Cleaning Rags

I throw a couple of clean rags into our storage area with the dish towels. These are useful to have for wiping up spills on the tablecloth and doing some quick cleaning of the galley area after cooking. They are better than using paper towels (which tend to run out quickly) and I just wash them out and and hang them up on a clothesline.

 2. Temperature gauge

I have a small temperature gauge that sticks to the window. It's nice to know the outdoor temperature before getting out of a warm bed in the morning. A smart phone with a weather app is useful, but we usually camp where we can't get cell service.

 3. Wind-up Radio and a Pair of Two-way Radios

We have an emergency wind-up radio that has come in handy a few times for local news, weather and some off-beat music stations. The batteries in this radio are charged with few cranks of a manual handle and they last for about 45 minutes. We've also used two-way radios in a few situations when we've been separated from our friends while hiking.

 4. Notebook

I always keep a notebook in the teardrop for jotting down recipes, notes on camping trips, hiking trail directions, to-do lists and a myriad of other informational tidbits.

5. Extra earplugs

Even though we usually camp in pretty quiet areas, there will be times when other people in a campground want to get up earlier than you. Since we also tend to sleep with the windows open, I always keep extra earplugs in several places around the bed: in the toiletry kit, the first aid kit and at the foot of the bed with my books and notebook.

Camping Takes Practice

At the beginning of the camping season, my husband and I seem to have to learn everything all over again. Over the winter, we get a little complacent when it comes to preparing for summer and fall camping and our first trip out into the wilderness is usually an experiment and an example of what not to do.

Camping actually takes some practice. You don't go out on your first camping trip as completely prepared, expert campers. Even if you are an expert camper. You make mistakes (like forgetting the propane tank connectors!), lose things, break things and forget things. Items coming out of winter storage are sometimes broken or need replacing and the teardrop trailer will sometimes need some repairs or updates.

On our first trip out this year, we had to make a stop at the big box store to pick up some of our favorite foods and coffee we had forgotten to pack, and we also decided to stock the teardrop sleeping area with some extra lamp batteries and extra headphones for the iPad. With each trip, we will be more prepared, but we will also find additional items that we could probably use on our trips.

Make your first camping trip of the season an easy trip close to your home, preferably close to a town. This will allow you to work out the kinks and run into a store for supplies. Also, be sure to bring a small notepad or your iPhone or iPod for making lists on what you will need to get or bring on your next camping trip. By the time summer is at its height, you will be an expert teardropper.

Photo by Laura Gilmore/Flickr

Teardrop Trailer Radio Show

Teardrop trailer fans now have their own radio show. Brooke Folk, a professional radio host has debuted, a weekly radio show on TalkShoe. The show will cover everything about teardrop trailers including manufactured and home-built trailers, gatherings and tips and tricks from teardrop owners and listeners. This show is for veteran teardroppers and people still shopping around for their own trailer.

The first show was May 18th, 2013 and featured GoLittleGuy president Joe Kicos. Brooke will soon be getting his first teardrop trailer, a Little Guy 6 Wide Platform named "Angel". Brooke is also writing an ebook on the history of teardrop trailers.

The show will be broadcast every Saturday at 11 a.m. EST, but if you miss it you can listen online at any time or download the show for your portable device.

Listen to the first episode here.

Friday Teardrop Photo

Outdoor cooking and camping at the Dam Gathering.
Taken at Antlers Resort & Marina in Lakehead, California near Shasta Lake.

Featured Teardrop: Trekker Trailers

Being a fan of small spaces (I also write for the Tiny House Blog), I try to keep up with what's going on in the tiny house and tiny trailer industry and I frequently check out the Tiny House Listings site to see what's for sale or rent. Currently on the site is a 5x10 teardrop trailer by Trekker Trailers. It is being sold for $7,900, but you can try before you buy.

The trailer is the company's current rental camper so you are welcome to try it before you buy it. It is a year old but Trekker will be giving the buyer a full one year warranty. The camper has a full size 3 layer memory foam mattress plus a bunk in the back for a child. The mattress can be rolled out of the way to allow for table and chairs. There is plenty of storage inside and out. The sink on the side is portable and hangs on the inside for travel. The galley is unusual in that it slides out from the side of the tear.

Trekker Trailers offers several trailer designs including the 650 lb. Simple Sleeper for $4,900 for a 4 foot wide model or $5,900 for a 5 foot wide model. The Simple Sleeper is designed to be towed by motorcycles or small cars. It has a rear cargo area for gear, can be fitted with A/C and have a drop down floor and a bed that can be folded into a couch. It does not have a galley.

Trekker also offers the Adam's Cabin for $5,900 which is an unfinished teardrop trailer that you can customize yourself. It's a 5x10 and weighs 1,000 lbs. You finish the lighting, cargo rack, interior and mattress area. The finished Adam's Cabin sells for $9,400.

Photos by Trekker Trailers

Where do you go to the bathroom?

Surprisingly, one of the biggest questions I get asked is how do we go to the bathroom when our teardrop trailer is clearly too small to have one. Just like the shower post I wrote, we use whatever we have around us: campground toilets, public and restaurant restrooms, pit toilets and Portapotties and even the great outdoors. Actually, some of the outdoor places I' have had the most beautiful views.

 Can you believe that I was going pee when I looked up and saw this view? I had to to take a photo.

Teardroppers are big fans of clean, well-maintained bathrooms with sinks, warm water and mirrors. After you've been camping for a few days, some warm water and a mirror is a pleasant detail that should not be overlooked. In town, we take full advantage of these bathrooms in fast food restaurants, gas stations, caf├ęs and coffee shops – before or after making a purchase.

Many campground bathrooms are more basic, but they are clean and fully stocked with toilet paper. Most campgrounds we've been to in the West only have cold water faucets and some don't have mirrors. These are fine, but not as nice to use as a restaurant's bathroom.

Pit toilets are usually located at dry campgrounds and day use areas. These have improved over the years and are usually clean and have good air flow to reduce odors. Just remember to follow the rules of the pit toilet by not throwing trash or feminine supplies down into the pit. Also, please close the toilet lid to keep flies and smells out of the toilet shelter. Most of the time, these types of toilets are not designated male/female, so you will be using the same space as the opposite sex. Check that toilet seat, ladies!

For these more basic toilet situations, it might be a good idea to have your own "bathroom kit" packed into the teardrop. This kit can include personal wipes, extra toilet paper, a small towel, your own soap or some hand sanitizer and maybe a small mirror. A small flashlight is also handy for those nightly trips to a pit toilet with no lights.

 Some teardrop campers will bring along a portable potty while camping. These small potties can be tucked away in a camping shelter or under the teardrop. You are safe from random, possibly dirty toilet seats and your toilet is always close by. Most of them can hold up to about 2-3 gallons of waste and can be cleaned and flushed out with water.

If you are going to go to the toilet in the outdoors, be considerate of other campers and hikers as well as the cleanliness of the local area. Go to the bathroom 100 yards or more from a water source and dig a deep cat hole for your solid waste. Use biodegradable toilet paper and be sure to bury that as well. For more information on pooping in the forest, get the wonderfully titled "How to Shit in the Woods: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art" by Kathleen Meyer.

Photos by tyle_r, greenthumb_38, MiguelVieria.

Teardrop Trailer Ingenuity

I just returned from a fun trip to Lake Shasta and the Dam Gathering. There were around 190 trailers at the gathering and the majority of them were teardrops. I spent some time walking around and taking photos of what I thought were the best bits of teardrop trailer ingenuity. These were either builds that caught my attention, camping ideas that got my brain moving or interesting and beautiful details that caught my eye. Thanks to everyone at the gathering who let me snap away with my iPhone and kudos to those who came up with some great ideas.

The Motel 2 was a popular build at the Dam Gathering and had some unique and helpful features that would make camping in the teardrop much easier. The teardrop was built to be square rather than rounded and the galley had a side opening that would make a nice windbreak. I also loved that the owners used a yoga mat cut to size to keep their kitchen items from sliding around. The interior had folding mattresses from IKEA that allowed them to create a small couch.

I wrote a previous post on the Oregon Trail'r company run by two brothers: Sawyer and Jon Christianson. I met Jon and his wife, Jamie, and was impressed on how they set up the bed for their young daughter in their personal teardrop. She sleeps in a cot above the foot of their bed and the mirror next to the cot is actually a shelf that comes down into the galley. This was made so the couple could keep an eye on their toddler when she took her teardrop naps.

Gordon and his wife's sink washing station blew my mind. It sits right next to their teardrop trailer and features a hand pump water sprayer connected to a copper tube that runs over the heating element of a propane-powered grill. The water is pumped into the copper tube and comes out hot into the sink. Gordon said that it's sometimes too hot to use right away and the couple will sometimes put the hot water into the small ice chest to keep it warm throughout the day for washing their hands.

This sink idea also had a ton of style. Randy and Sandy's teardrop sink had a vintage Stanley thermos as a faucet. These types of thermos containers were used in several teardrops at the gathering.

These were just a few details that caught my eye and showed that teardroppers really have a great sense of style.

I loved this storage box with the various vintage travel stickers. The Coca-Cola thermos is awesome.

I didn't get the name on this trailer, but that copper light just outside the bed area was one of my favorite details at the gathering.

I couldn't resist taking a shot of this chicken wire cabinet in the teardrop of Dawn and Dave Kappadahl.

Teardrop Trailer Spring Cleaning

Yay! It's spring and time for some teardrop camping. I'm heading off to the Dam Gathering in Northern California in a few days and need to get the Sunflower in shape. My teardrop spends most of the winter covered up with a Little Guy all-weather cover and usually needs a good cleaning in the spring. I also go through the closet to make sure we have the correct clothes for wherever we are going. I also unhook the battery from its trickle charger and install it back into the galley. On our first trip out, the tear gets run through the local car wash. I whipped up a small video of me cleaning the Sunflower for its first spring trip.