Rustic Trail Teardrop Campers

Jonathan Sechrist of Rustic Trail Teardrop Campers in North Carolina has been building teardrop campers since 2010. What started out as a fun project for a Craigslist sale quickly turned into a full-time family-run business.

Rustic Trail has several teardrop models—including a standy model with a tiny inside kitchen. The original 900 lb. Papa Bear teardrop comes in a base and standard model, the Grizzly Bear is larger with also with a base and standard model, and the Polar Bear is a 1,365 lb. lightweight standy. They are each built on a heavy duty metal frame with 14 inch aluminum wheels. The base models of each camper are completely finished outside but don’t include cabinets, beds or dinettes inside. The standard models do include solid birch cabinets, elevated beds and folding mattresses and lots of storage. The teardrops range from $4,700 to $7,875 and come in a variety of exterior and interior colors.

Rustic Trail also has affordable add-on features including an outside sink ($75), spare tire ($150), Thetford portable toilet ($175) and a front AC unit ($400).

Jonathan was kind to take some time out of his day to answer a few questions about Rustic Trail Teardrop Campers.

What are some unique aspects of your teardrop designs?

We do not offer a rear galley. Instead we offer a walk in camper (Polar Bear) with a bench and settee that transforms into a queen size bed. We also include cabinets and lots of storage.

What do your customers look for in a teardrop trailer? What basic features or add on features are requested the most?

Affordability, quality and accessibility. Our most asked for added feature is the AC and the front rack.

How did you come up with the Polar Bear design? What’s the reaction to the standy design?

The Polar Bear was a design for those that want to stand up. We have several customers that are well over six feet tall and several with back issues that find this camper exactly what they need. We have taken comments and ideas from our customers and introduced them to our line. Most people are surprised at the room the Polar Bear gives and it being so lightweight as well.

Do you camp in a teardrop? If so, where do you like to go?

We do camp. We have tried all three campers and love them all. Our favorite place to camp is the Outer Banks of North Carolina near Buxton. Being so busy we have not had the opportunity to camp very much. Our entire family works at RTTC. They have learned so much that we feel confident in letting them handle the shop. Our hopes for 2018 is to take the camper out and advertise a little more.

Someone is coming to Pilot Mountain, North Carolina to go camping. Where should they go?

Anyone wanting to camp in our area has several state parks and private owned campgrounds to choose from. About 20 miles north you have the Blue Ridge Parkway which is our favorite. The parkway offers many state parks.

Learn more about Rustic Trail Teardrop Campers from the Facebook owners group.

Photos by Rustic Trail Teardrop Campers

Will a thermal cooker work with a teardrop trailer?

A few weeks ago I became very interested in thermal cookers as an efficient, non-electric way to cook food while camping. Video bloggers, Phil and Vanessa live full time out of their Honda Element and use their Saratoga Jacks thermal cooker to make meals on the road without having to plug anything into a socket.

The way a thermal cooker works is by using thermal mass to slowly cook food that has already been brought to a boil. A thermal cooker is essential two pots: one is a thick bottom pot that holds the food and is placed on the fuel source such as a camp stove. The food is brought to a boil and then placed into the second pot, essentially a large Thermos. The food continues to cook for a few hours, providing a hot meal without having to cook something on the spot.

Normally, when we are teardrop camping or on the road our lunches are cold. We have sandwiches, dips, crackers, tuna, etc. I thought a thermal cooker might be a great way to enjoy a warm meal while in transit or while at the campground. We could start it in the morning and within 3-4 hours we could have lunch. Or we could start a dish in the afternoon and have a quick dinner. This could be beneficial if we are camping later in the year when it gets dark earlier or we don't want to cook outside.

Last weekend, I tested a thermal cooker by Cook's Essentials. This was the smallest thermal cooker I could find and one I thought would fit in the teardrop trailer easily. I tested it in my home kitchen with a vegetable curry similar to Phil and Vanessa's road-worthy recipe. In the top pot provided with the Cook's Essentials system, I placed some rice and beans we already had on hand.

I brought the vegetables (sweet potatoes, potatoes, onions, carrots, garlic), red curry paste, coconut milk and some Bragg's Liquid Aminos to a boil in the inner pot on the stove. I placed the pot into the thermal cooker and went for a three hour hike in the hills. When I got back...success! I had a tender, vegetable curry that was still hot. The top pan with the rice was less warm, but all the food was cooked and retained heat for quite a while.

I have yet to test this on the road. I would need to find a space in our trailer where the pot won't topple over and spill the liquid. While in camp, the pot will fit nicely in our galley until we return for a hot meal.

I'm now on the lookout for a few good recipes...

The 5 best condiments to take on a camping trip

When we go out on a teardrop camping trip, we are limited by space. Our food takes up the majority of the galley area, but we do find room to take a few items that add a little more spice to our meals. There are a few handy condiments that always make it along on every trip, and each can do double or triple duty.

Bragg's Liquid Aminos

Rather than soy sauce, we bring a small container of Bragg's Liquid Aminos. The sauce tastes just like soy sauce, but without all the sodium. We use the aminos in everything from marinades to salad dressing to fried rice.

Cholula Hot Sauce

We really can't go on any camping trip without Cholula Hot Sauce. It's not overly hot and has a really nice, piquant flavor that goes great with everything from eggs and burritos to corn on the cob. We prefer the original flavor.

Kirkland Signature Imported Pesto

I put pesto on everything from pasta to sandwiches. It's also great in potato salad, on wraps and even on scrambled eggs. Unfortunately, it does need to be refrigerated, so it's a condiment that we have to keep in the cooler. We bring a small container of the Kirkland Signature Imported Pesto from Costco since the original container is too large.

Kikkoman Seasoned Rice Vinegar

You can tell we like our Asian flavors. We love to bring along a bottle of Kikkoman's Seasoned Rice Vinegar for everything from quick pickles to salad dressing. It's also a good marinade for fish.

Lea & Perrin's Worcestershire Sauce

No camping trip is complete without burgers or steak. We like to generously dose our meat with Lea & Perrin's Worcestershire Sauce. The sauce is also another great marinade for ribs or skirt steak.

The Sunflower and the Great American Eclipse

Last week we packed up the Sunflower and headed to central Idaho to experience the Great American Eclipse. After listening to tales of the "apoceclipse" for several months, we were expecting the worst, but ended up having an amazing adventure.

After driving through the massive amounts of traffic...

...lining up for gas...

...fighting for space...

...and fending off hordes of multi-colored zombies...

...we finally made it to the St. Anthony Sand Dunes near Rexburg, Idaho.

The dunes were wild with ATVs and motorcycles, but the majority of the people there were visiting for the eclipse. It was the perfect place to set up camp, explore the area and get ready to film on Monday morning.

Then it of the most amazing experiences of my life.

Is Simple Better?

Our good teardropper friends, the Stargazers, recently moved up from their teardrop trailer to a Jayco Jay Flight 14 foot camper. While they still like their teardrop, they needed something that would protect them from the elements during longer trips in their retirement years.

I've never been a fan of manufactured, boxy campers, but I've got to say that the layout of the inside of their Jay Flight is ideal. They have more than enough room to store food and clothes for longer trips, a queen bed, a bathroom, heater, and a delightful kitchen that can be used in 60 mile an hour winds and sideways rain.

My husband and I have been in the discussion phase of what we would want to upgrade to when he retires. While we like our friends' camper, the discussion has revolved around gas mileage, cost, size and our most needed amenities. I love the Sunflower and it's ideal for long trips with great weather. It's when we get into bad weather that we have to look at something different.

The thing is, we want to keep it simple. All we need is a comfortable bed, an inside kitchen, a place to store food and clothes, and maybe a table. A bathroom would be nice, but after years of not having one, we know exactly what we need to do. However, if a future camper had one, we would use it.

Finding all the items on our list is proving to be very difficult. We've looked at the T@B, the MeerKat, the RPod, the Chalet, the PaloMini, the Scamp, and the Passport ROV. These choices are either too expensive, the bed or the storage is too small, or there is just too much...stuff. Quality seems to be an issue as well and I don't feel like getting 12 miles to the gallon hauling around items we don't need.

We are sticking with the tiny yellow teardrop for now, but will be keeping our eyes out for small, efficient campers to be our future road warrior. Manufacturers, keep an eye on our list.

Wedding Anniversary Trip to Oregon

When my husband and I got married 15 years ago, we did not have a teardrop trailer. As big fans of tent camping, we never even considered a tiny camper until several years later. After nearly 10 years of teardrop camping, the Sunflower is still an excellent wedding anniversary (or belated honeymoon) getaway.

Our latest trip was a 10 day trek to the Oregon Coast and Northern California to escape the heat of the desert interior. We took a similar trip many years ago and didn't have to book any of our campsites. Unfortunately, the number of people visiting this area has increased and campgrounds fill up very quickly. We ended up having to book sites at several KOA campgrounds and hope for the best.

We were pleasantly surprised by a few of them. One night was spent at the KOA near Mount Shasta and one at the KOA in Grants Pass, Oregon. The Grants Pass location actually had their own wonderful swimming holes. We'll be going back to that one.

The Bandon/Port Orford KOA was a quiet, tree-filled delight close to windy Cape Blanco and Bandon restaurants. It was a perfect place to enjoy the coast without getting blasted by wind or cold. We also stayed one night at the Heceta Head Lighthouse (where we originally proposed to each other) and were lucky our tiny trailer fit down their tiny road.

The last locations included Whaleshead Beach Resort near Brookings and the Redwood Meadows RV near Jedediah Smith State Park and the Del Norte Redwoods. While the Redwood Meadows was conveniently located near the redwood hikes and Smith River swimming holes, it was packed full of larger RVs. We were a curiosity in that campground. We had visited Whaleshead before and stayed in a rental cabin that overlooked the coast. This time, our campsite was meant to be for a larger RV, but had plenty of room for us.

Out of all the places we stayed, we were consistently the smallest trailer around.

Interview with Explore More Northwest

Jay and Dana Cadwell are the owners of the teardrop trailer rental company, Explore More Northwest in Spokane, Washington. After a four-month trip through the western U.S. and Canada in their Dutchman T@B, the couple decided to open up their own business renting out two Little Guy teardrops and two T@Bs—including their own. Dana was so nice to give us not only the inside scoop on how they started their business, but also how much they love the teardrop life.

How and why did you become interested in teardrop trailers and T@Bs? 

When Jay and I lived in Spokane, Washington I was working full time and he was in grad school. We wanted to get away on the weekends to go hiking but it always seemed like a hassle to pack up the car with all of our camping gear, so we looked into small travel trailers. We wanted something small enough so we didn’t just disappear into a large RV and miss out the camping experience so a teardrop seemed like a great compromise.

We couldn’t have been happier with our decision to get our T@B trailer. We didn’t realize how much use it was going to get until we spent over 60 nights in it within the first year. Not only did we use it in the summer for camping, but we towed it up to ski resorts and stayed in the parking lots in the winter.

We love the T@B layout because we were able to cook inside, allowing us to travel no matter what kind of weather was thrown at us. We have slept though severe lighting storms, winter blizzards, and torrential down pours. We love that no matter what the weather throws at us, we can still travel and have a comfortable night sleep!

What are some benefits and challenges of teardrops? 

Benefits: Easy to tow, lightweight, and comfortable to sleep in. When we get away in our teardrop it’s not always about the camping experience. Sometimes our main objective is to go mountain biking, skiing or long distance running. These activities require a good night’s sleep so we can be re-charged for the next day of our trip. It is SO nice to get a good night of rest and be able to make dinner in a flash with the easy kitchen access in teardrops.

Challenges: I never had any towing experience before our first teardrop so it was a little intimidating to learn how to hook up and back up a trailer for the first time. I was surprised how quickly I learned and how easy it really was to operate a teardrop.

How did you get started in the rental business? 

Jay and I found ourselves at a juncture in life where he had the option to take some time off from work for a couple of months. We decided to hit the open road and travel out of our 2008 Dutchman T@B for four months. We had no itinerary or plan so we were able to make decisions on a whim and live each day in the moment.  It was incredibly easy to travel this way with the simplicity of our teardrop.

When we finished our trip in our hometown (Kennewick, Washington) we realized we wanted to share this experience with the local community and give them quick access to the outdoors. We are incredibly passionate about being in the outdoors and how it can bring a sense of peace to those that live a stressful life. It’s important to unwind, disconnect and recharge in nature every now and then and we hope that renting out teardrops will grant our customers a quick escape into nature.

Read more about Explore More Northwest and their rental business at Do It Yourself RV

Photos by Explore More Northwest