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Teardrop Trailers – How To Select The Best Teardrop Camper For You
There are many websites that tout their list of the best Teardrop camping trailers, but exactly what does that mean for you? As the old saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that applies to your choice of a camper.
Our goal is to supply you with as much information as you are willing to absorb so you can make an informed decision about which of these tiny campers will be the one that meets your specific needs.
You and the people in your life who will be using the Teardrop, are unique in that what you need isn’t exactly the same as other people. Your decision about the best Teardrop camper for yourself will be guided by cost, tow weight, size, sleeping capacity, kitchen, bathroom, air conditioning, off-roading, and other factors personal to you. Who knows, you may want to build your own unit with DIY plans.
We do not endorse, recommend or specify any Teardrop camper trailer as “Best” because that term very much depends on which RV most closely matches your needs. We will cover the factors just mentioned above, and much more. Here is a starting checklist of questions you should think about during your evaluation of which tiny RV you’ll eventually select:
- What is your budget for acquiring and equipping the Teardrop you choose? Can you make the payments on your Teardrop? It isn’t going to be any fun if you can’t afford to actually go camping.
- Will the vehicle you own actually tow the camper you want? Buying a trailer that is too heavy for your automobile not only risks your life but puts your car under stress it wasn’t designed to handle and will ultimately lead to premature failure of vital mechanical systems.
- How many people will you need to accommodate inside your Teardrop trailer? The range of available trailer sizes on the market will generally sleep from one up to four people.
- Will you really enjoy camping in a Teardrop trailer? Most of the units available have the kitchen on the outside and there is no indoor toilet. If you want those amenities then you’ll need to be ready to pay more for a unit that includes those features.
- Are you willing to buy a used Teardrop camper and keep your initial costs down? Keep in mind that the demand is still high for these small campers, so finding a bargain right now may not be that easy.
- To help you get a feel for whether or not you’ll come to regret the substantial investment you intend to make, would you be willing to go through the trouble and expense of renting for a couple of weekends before committing to an actual purchase? You may discover that the camping experience in a Teardrop is everything you hoped for and more, or it could turn out to be a claustrophobic nightmare.
Get your research started by visiting the selections below:
With their profile streamlined in the shape of a teardrop, these small camper trailers are designed to be lightweight and compact. Most of the models introduced in the RV marketplace maximize the utility of the space available so you can pack plenty of supplies and gear.
As a general rule, most of these tiny homes-on-wheels sleep two people. However, there are now units that sleep three, four, and even up to five people.
According to historical accounts, in the 1930s people built their own Teardrop campers and enjoyed exploring the growing highway system. There were even a few people who traveled to job locations and lived in their camper. Today that is called work camping. If you want to brush up on the history of The Teardrop camper, good information can be found on Wikipedia and a more complete and interesting article at WikiBooks.
Most small teardrop trailers will have a very basic kitchen and, of course, the larger units will offer more complete kitchen designs. There are even bathrooms packed into a few of the larger Teardrop campers, but you will need to check on the towing capacity of your vehicle to ensure that you don’t exceed your automobile’s ability to safely tow your tiny home.
Of course, there are Teardrop campers manufactured that are towable behind a motorcycle. There is even a model that is towable behind a bicycle! Yes, that is correct, an actual bicycle camper.
These wonderful little campers now come with their own electrical system and often include sound systems, DVD, cable TV hookups, and more. If you are at a campground, and your Teardrop is equipped with exterior water and electrical connections, you will be able to enjoy water and electricity at your campsite. Many of these units have solar panel options so you will have access to electricity when you are dry camping.
To summarize the answer to what are Teardrop campers, the short answer is a hard-shelled, compact, lightweight RV trailer that can be towed to your camping spot of choice. You may ask, why not get a pop-up camper that is also very lightweight? Well, there are actually some very good reasons you may prefer a Teardrop and we’ll cover that next.
Both pop-up trailers and Teardrop trailers are lightweight, towable with small vehicles and even motorcycles, easy to park, storage for a few supplies, and a comfortable place to sleep to name a few of the benefits shared by each. In addition, both allow you to keep much of your camping supplies and gear stored in the camper so it’s easy to hook up and go.
Teardrop Camper Trailer Positives – There’s a lot to like about Teardrops versus Pop-Ups. Here are few pluses for Teardrops:
- Security! You can lock your unit when you are sleeping or out to enjoy exploring your destination.
- Security again – especially if you are camping in an area where there is regular bear activity. Pop-up campers are not allowed in many camping areas because they are easily invaded by hungry or curious bears.
- On average, lighter than pop-ups for towing purposes.
- Easy to store when you aren’t camping.
- More durable during the inevitable severe weather events.
- Interior heating and cooling is easier than a pop-up.
- Not likely to leak during heavy rain periods.
- Unlike a pop-up, you don’t have to put the roof up and down. This is especially nice if you are traveling across the country. Dealing with the setup and takedown of a pop-up would be much more time-consuming.
- The hard walls of the Teardrop suppress outside noise.
- Useful options are available such as solar panels, tents, shade rooms, and awnings to expand your outside living area.
- Let’s face it, they look downright cool.
Teardrop Camper Trailer Negatives – Now, let’s cover the negatives of a Teardrop before we look at the Pop-Up drawbacks:
- Price. Currently, the high end of the price range for a Teardrop trailer is over $30,000 for a camper sold by Earth Traveler.
- Less interior space compared to a pop-up. You’ll find that pop-ups generally have a lot more headspace and room to move around.
- With most Teardrop trailers you will be cooking outside. Pop-up campers will often have enough space for a very compact galley located inside the unit.
- In many instances, less storage space for supplies and gear.
- Most adults will not be able to stand up without stooping.
- The outside kitchen can be a real pain in bad weather.
Pop-Up Camper Positives – There are many thousands of people who love camping in their pop-up trailers. Here are a few of the positives:
- That feeling of “true camping”, but without the hassles of dealing with a tent such as being on the ground.
- More room, especially for a family, to stretch out and move around without banging your head on the ceiling.
- Convenient inside kitchen and better storage.
- On average more affordable than a Teardrop.
- During pleasant days and nights, you get to enjoy the breeze and smells of nature. In a closed hard wall environment, you miss that experience in exchange for an environment that can be stuffy.
Pop-Up Camper Negatives – Yes, there are more than a couple of problems with pop-ups. Here are a few of the less than desirable traits:
- Setting up and breaking down a pop-up can be seriously time-consuming. With a Teardrop camper, you unhook the utilities if you have water and electric amenities, hitch up to the tow vehicle and go.
- If the pop-up canvas is wet when you depart, the tent canvas will have to be opened again so the material can dry. Otherwise, you’ll wind up with mildew and mold. This can be a problem if there is an extended period of damp weather when you get back home.
- When there is lots of campground noise you just have to deal with it.
- Privacy can be next to impossible when next-door campers are just a few feet away.
- Severe weather can cause water and air penetration.
- There is no security because you are only a piece of fabric away from invasion by animals, people, falling limbs, or flying debris.
- Hot days and cold nights can make a pop-up less than comfortable.
- Pests such as mice can chew your canvas.
So, there you have it, there are benefits and disadvantages to Teardrop and Pop-Up Campers. The reality is that what works best for you will depend on your budget. Most people would actually prefer the convenience of a Teardrop or a traditional hard-sided RV if they could afford the trailer and tow vehicle large enough to tow with.
Apart from the obvious differences in cost and comfort, camping in a Teardrop camper trailer is a very different experience from camping in a tent. Below we’ve summarized a few of the most important points to consider when deciding whether a tent or Teardrop camper will meet your individual needs.
Let’s start with the positives of tent camping:
- There is an amazing number of spectacular camping destinations where no RV, whether it is a Teardrop camper, pop-up, hard-sided travel trailer, or any derivation thereof will ever go. These camping gems are walk-in or boat-in destinations that offer a true wilderness camping experience. A couple of examples include Florida’s boat access only Cayo Costa State Park featuring a pristine nine-mile beach and Washington’s walk-in Chilean Memorial campsite. With an RV, you’ll never experience the multitude of camping experiences that you can only have with a tent because your RV can’t get there.
- Tent camping is far and away the most economical means of enjoying the great outdoors. Not only are the camping fees some of the lowest, or free, all you need is the most basic shelter, supplies, and a means of getting to your destination. You aren’t out thousands upon thousands of dollars to not only purchase a small Teardrop trailer but there is also the cost to own a reliable vehicle with the necessary towing capacity to get you and your small RV to the campground.
- Then, with a tent, there is the authentic, true and rustic camping experience where you are out in nature with just a piece of fabric between you and the natural world. There are many thousands of people who savor the tent camping experience over being confined by an RV and limited by the end of a road.
- People who tent camp are free of licensing, registration, insurance, taxes, and the costs of maintenance, interest payments, depreciation in value, repairs, towing expenses, higher campground fees, and other expenses associated with owning a Teardrop trailer.
- Next, the cost of upgrading to a larger tent is negligible compared to buying a larger Teardrop.
Now, let’s cover the advantages of owning a Teardrop trailer instead of tent camping.
- While you are cozily nestled inside your Teardrop camper sleeping in the comfort of heating or air conditioning, your tiny home can be locked and keep you relatively safe from human intruders as well as large and small creatures such as snakes, skunks, raccoons, bears, and most pesky insects.
- Your tenting neighbor inevitably will rouse to many unpleasant surprises on a regular basis (such as six inches of water in the bottom of the tent) while you blissfully sleep unaware.
- When you’re ready to be out and about enjoying your day you just lock your camper and not worry about whether people, animals, or a rainstorm have gained access to the interior of your unit. It isn’t uncommon for tenters to return and find their camp damaged by wind, rain, small animals, or vandalism.
- Severe storms are a regular event on the schedule of camping attractions and you’ll be cozy and dry while your neighbors flee their tent and take refuge in their vehicle while watching their tent slip its anchors and decays into a chaotic, drenched mess. And, yes, we’ve seen airborne tents and drenched families scrambling for shelter.
Cleaning and drying out a muddy tent, bedding, equipment, and supplies is not as convenient as pulling your Teardrop into the nearest car wash and doing a quick wash and rinse.
- Although some tenters are highly efficient at setting up their campsite, you’ll usually be able to park, put out your awning and relax with a beverage and watch your tenting neighbor work to finish their camp setup that was already underway when you arrived.
- Most of your regular camping gear can be stored inside your Teardrop, ready and waiting for your next outdoor adventure. Your tenting neighbor isn’t so lucky.
The tenter’s typical routine is first to gain access to their camping gear, load it into the vehicle and hope nothing gets left behind, unpack all the gear on arrival at the campsite, set up the tent and arrange all the equipment, take down the tent at the end of the trip and clean and pack everything back into the vehicle and finally, get home and make time to unload and store all that camping gear.
To make matters worse, in the event of a wet, dirty camping trip the tenter may have to set the tent up again to dry and clean all the camping equipment. Now, aren’t you glad you have a tiny home on wheels?
- Did you know that there are campgrounds that don’t allow tenters? Just as there are places a tenter can go and you aren’t allowed, and you may prefer not to go there anyway, tenters regularly encounter campgrounds where tenting isn’t allowed.
- Then there is the noise factor in busy campgrounds. The tenter’s only buffer is a piece of thin fabric, so however long the party next door lasts is how long they get to stay awake. Ensconced in your Teardrop with the air conditioner or heater running, you’ll be less aware of the racket outside.
- If there are a few back-to-back days on intermittent rain you simply hook up your Teardrop and head home. Not only does the tenter get to pack up a nasty wet tent and equipment, then the tent has to be set up again at home and dried out to prevent mold and mildew from growing.
When deciding whether a Teardrop camper trailer is worth it, you’ll have a lot of factors to consider. A few of the factors you’ll be considering are how long you’ll be camping, your budget, whether you find a small space too confining or charmingly cozy, the type of campgrounds you will frequent, and how many people will be using the Teardrop at the same time.
Before you decide to make an actual purchase that can’t be un-purchased, it would be wise to rent a Teardrop camper comparably equipped to the one you’re interested in buying. Try it out for a weekend or longer and get familiar with actually using and living it. There can be a stark difference between the Teardrop dream and the reality of spending time in one.
You may fall in love with camping in the rented Teardrop. On the other hand, you may enjoy the one you rented but realize you actually need a larger model to be comfortable. Purchasing a camper that doesn’t meet your needs certainly isn’t going to be worth the misery you’ll feel if you believe you’ve made a costly mistake. The same advice goes for buying an RV because they depreciate very rapidly and there’s usually no backing out after you’ve taken delivery and gone camping.
Here are a few things to think about in deciding whether a Teardrop camper trailer is going to be worth it to you:
- In comparing a Teardrop to tent camping you have to factor in how many people will be camping. Certainly tent camping is the least expensive option and will accommodate a large family. You can get a Teardrop camper that will sleep up to five people, but at a higher entry price and the necessity of having a vehicle that will tow a heavier RV and cargo. If there are only two or three people and you aren’t interested in the hassle and aggravation of tent camping then a Teardrop camper may be worth it if it fits within your budget.
- There is also the pop-up camper option. Usually, with larger pop-up models, you’ll have much more interior room, a kitchen with storage, and often a dinette with seating. Although pop-up campers are popular, they are more practical for people with larger families. More people tend to prefer a Teardrop over a pop-up due to the hassle of setting up and taking it down in addition to other negatives associated with owning a pop-up.
- Both the Teardrop and pop-up campers handle reasonably well while towing. Larger hard-sided campers, fifth-wheel RVs, and motorhomes can be very stressful when you’re driving in heavy traffic or on tight, curvy highways.
- If you’ve been looking for an alternative to dealing with a tent and all the loading, setup, repacking and unloading, then a Teardrop camper may be a dream come true as long as it fits within your budget and your vehicle is rated to tow the camper.
- With a Teardrop, you’ll be able to park in tiny campsites as found, for example, in US Forest Service campgrounds where most standard RVs will not be able to park because of size restrictions. Thanks to the Teardrop’s hard shell you have better protection from animals, insects, snakes, heat, cold, and long rainy days. In addition, you can lock it when you’re away having fun.
Compared to a tent or pop up camper a Teardrop trailer may be a perfect match if it meets these four criteria:
- You are comfortable in a small space;
- The price is within your budget;
- The unit is towable with your vehicle, and;
- Your camper will comfortably accommodate the number of people camping with you.
So, why do Teardrop trailers seem to be so expensive? That is a very good question and there is a very logical answer you should consider before concluding that the people who build these small campers are ripping you off for massive profits.
It is possible that a small handful of the Teardrop builders who have established their brand recognition and have their production and operating costs tightly controlled are able to take advantage of market demand. Still, even these few companies have to contend with the pricing of their competitors who are desperate for sales.
Just to be clear, we have no financial interest or motive to recommend any Teardrop camper. In addition, we make a point of not touting any make or model of Teardrop as the best because “best” is a very subjective label applied by website owners as clickbait to draw website visitors. We don’t own a Teardrop trailer nor do we have any plans to buy one in the future and it is our intention to provide a neutral evaluation for you without any bias one way or the other.
So, back to the question. Why Are Teardrop Campers So Expensive?
The industry that has grown up around the fabrication of these small campers is very much a cottage/niche business. Currently, there are over thirty independent companies that we could identify who manufacture Teardrop trailers and there are likely many more.
To understand the pricing of Teardrops it helps to think about the contrast between the small businesses who build Teardrops and the major RV manufacturers such as Fleetwood, Forest River, Thor, Keystone, Jayco, Coleman, Winnebago, and many others. You should think in terms of Walmart versus the small main-street retailer who sells a range of regular merchandise and specialty items that the giant retailer doesn’t offer.
The major RV manufacturers purchase their raw materials in massive quantities. These large purchases allow them to negotiate the lowest possible prices from suppliers to keep costs down. Then, the RVs are assembled in production line style with labor costs of around $15 per hour. An interesting article titled “Why the Amish Are Building America’s RVs” is about the Amish who build a lot of the RVs manufactured in Indiana.
In contrast, small Teardrop camper builders generally have to buy in limited quantities without the significant discounts enjoyed by the giant RV manufacturers. In addition, it isn’t uncommon for Teardrop trailer builders to pay labor costs of up to $30 per hour and higher. A large number of these small companies build custom-ordered trailers which further pushes up the time to build a camper.
Like their large counterparts, Teardrop builders also have to buy or rent their manufacturing shop, pay utilities, insurance, taxes, supplies, expensive tools and equipment, payroll, and much more in addition to what they spend to buy the components and materials needed to construct a Teardrop trailer.
At the end of the day, most of these small companies are actually working for a relatively small profit margin and few have the resources to keep a standing inventory of campers ready to sell. The Teardrop trailer industry is a niche business that is still sorting itself out and the likelihood is that a significant number of the existing independent Teardrop builders will not still be in business within five years.
Of course, someone will always pop up and claim they can build their own duplicate version of a Teardrop camper for two or three thousand dollars or even way less. That may be possible if you don’t mind spending hundreds of hours and a lot more money than you’re willing to admit.
Still skeptical? Take a little time and read all the way through the informative forum thread titled “Actual build cost vs markup on US-built off-road trailers/teardrops” and you may come away with a different perspective about why Teardrop campers are so expensive.
So, you want to know how big Teardrop campers are. To give you an idea of the size range for these tiny we’ll look at two on the low end of the size and weight range and then a couple of units at the high end of the size and weight range.
There are a lot of considerations you will need to take into account before purchasing your tiny travel trailer. Will you be the only one sleeping in the camper or do you need room for two or more people? Can your vehicle even tow the unit that appeals to you without putting your life in danger? How bare-bones are you willing to go to have a place to sleep while camping? There is a huge mix of options that will influence the Teardrop you purchase and what it will ultimately cost you.
At the small end of Teardrop sizes, there are many interesting options, but we’ll start with just two: the Small Fry and the Highway Hiker Basic Teardrop trailers.
The Small Fry
The Small Fry is manufactured by PeeWee Campers and Trailers and is located in Nashville, Tennessee. PeeWee sells their campers direct from their factory, so if you want to see one in person you’ll have to travel to Nashville.
Weighing in at 350 pounds unloaded, the Small Fry Is lightweight enough to be towed by a larger motorcycle or a small car. The company recommends adding the electric brake option for two-wheel motorcycles. The base price for the Small Fry is currently $4,995.
An important thing to know about this little camper is that it only has room to accommodate one person. On the other hand, if you need small and lightweight for only yourself, there’s no need to buy a larger trailer.
For photos, you can visit their website located at https://peeweecampers.com and browse their inventory. Below are some of the specifications of the Small Fry according to the company’s website:
•Exterior Box: 4′ Wide x 6′ Long
•Height of Box (at highest point): 44″
•Total Length (from tongue to rear): 10′ 6″
•Total Width (from outside fender to outside fender) 64″
Highway Basic Hiker
Hiker Trailer has two manufacturing locations, one in Denver, Colorado and the other location is near Indianapolis, Indiana. You can browse their website at https://www.hikertrailers.com.
The Highway Basic Hiker is a 4′ x 8′ trailer with a base price of $2,895. Below we’ve listed the features found on Hiker Trailer’s website:
•Black Powder Coated Frame
•Steel 14″ Wheels
•2000 lb Axle
•One Front Shelf
•Two Rear Shelves
•DOT Trailer Lights
•4-pin Wire Harness
•One Curb Side Door w/Lock
•Two Operable Windows w/Screens
•Manual Roof Vent
•All aluminum exterior
•One 110 V Power Strip
•One Exterior 110 V Plug
We’ve presented two small Teardrops, but not the smallest. That distinction belongs to a bicycle camper that is 4.89 ft long and 3.18 ft wide when folded and capable of sleeping two people when set up. Now we’ll take a look at two of the bigger Teardrop trailers.
Camp Rover by Little Guy Trailers
This streamlined camper is twenty-one feet long and seven feet wide. It has room to sleep four people with a queen bed and bunk beds. In addition, the Camp Rover features an internal height of 6’7″ which allows most people to stand straight up, which isn’t common in most Teardrop trailers.
Wouldn’t you love to have a full kitchen inside your Teardrop instead of having to go outside to make coffee or prepare a meal? Well, the Camp Rover has a full kitchen inside and also features a wet bath/shower surround, air conditioning, and lots of storage.
Here are the specifications for the Camp Rover as listed on the Little Guy Trailers website:
•Dry Weight 2,900 lbs.
•Tongue Weight 300 lbs.
•Overall Length 21 ft.
•Overall Width 7 ft.
•Overall Height 8′ 7″
•Interior Height 6′ 7″
Keep in mind that your vehicle will need the capacity to safely tow this camper. You can learn more about Camp Rover on the Little Guy Trailers website at https://golittleguy.com.
The Summit by Colorado Teardrops
Billed as a rugged off-road camping, this model boasts a queen bed and bunk beds that are convertible into a sofa or another queen bed. So, a family of four, or two couples could squeeze into the Summit Teardrop for a few days camping.
The camper body is 126 inches long and has an interior width of 60 inches. According to the company’s website, the outside galley is massive with plenty of storage for food and a couple of coolers.
Pricing for the Summit begins at $25,700 and boasts the following specifications according to their website:
•Body Length: 126″
•Overall Length: 173″
•Cabin Width (inside): 60″
•Overall Width: 88″
•Cabin Height (inside): 57″
•Overall Height: 84.5″
•Bed Size: Queen 60″ x 78″
•Galley Counter Height: 41″
•Galley Hatch/Open Height: 78″
•Frame/Ground Clearance: 20″
•Tongue/Dry Weight: 220 lbs.**
•Trailer Dry Weight: 1750 lbs.**
* Specifications are subject to change without notice
** Weight may change with options
You can visit the Colorado Teardrops website at https://coloradoteardropcamper.com.
So, now you have a fair idea of how big – or little – Teardrop campers are. With over thirty different companies building these small RVs, you should be able to find one that will match the towing capacity of your vehicle and possibly sleep your family within reason.
OK, so you are more comfortable bathing in their RV than the campground bathhouse. As you can imagine, in a camper as small as a Teardrop trailer there isn’t much room to install a bathroom.
Still, you’re in luck if you need a Teardrop camper with a bathroom because we’ll discuss two models that have just what you need.
iCamp Elite distributed by United Recreational Vehicles
This attractive Teardrop trailer has a modular fiberglass bathroom with a shower and marine toilet packed inside so you don’t have to venture out on those dark and stormy nights. Below are some of the specifications for the iCamp Elite as listed on the distributor’s website.
•Unloaded Vehicle Weight 2366 LB
•GVWR 2890 LB
•Net Cargo Capacity 524 LB
•Hitch Weight 236 LB
•Exterior Length 14′
•Exterior Width 6′ 8″
•Exterior Height 8′ 1″
•Interior Length 10’7″
•Interior Width 6′ 3″
•Interior Height 5′ 11″
•Fresh Water Capacity (gal) 22
•LP Capacity (lbs) 20
You can learn more about the iCamp Elite at http://www.urvusa.com.
Little Guy Mini Max by Little Guy Trailers
You’ll enjoy the comforts of home, such as an indoor toilet and shower and kitchen provided by this neat little Teardrop trailer. Unlike so many other Teardrop campers, you can make your morning coffee in the comfort of this cozy little camper and you don’t have to deal with an icky bathhouse.
•Dry Weight 1,993 lbs.
•Tongue Weight 280 lbs.
•Overall Length 17′ 2″
•Overall Width 6′ 9″
•Exterior Height 8′ 6″
•Interior Height 6′
•GVWR 2,900 lbs.
•Tow With Well-Equipped Crossovers
•Tow With Small or Mid-Size SUVs
•Fresh Water 20 gal.
•Grey Water 30 gal.
•Black Water 9 gal.
There are plenty of pictures and information about the Little Guy Mini Max on the company’s website at https://golittleguy.com
You will be quite relieved to know that air conditioning is either standard equipment on most Teardrop campers, or you can have air conditioning installed as an optional item. Considering the interior space to be cooled, you should have no problem staying cool even on the hottest muggy day of summer.
Teardrop campers can begin at less than 100 pounds for a bicycle camper and range well over 3,000 pounds. The weight for most of these small trailers will fall within a range of a few hundred pounds over or under the median weight of 1,000 pounds.