After the turn of the 20th century, when a large number of Americans began buying cars, they also began traveling far beyond their previously limited locales. Since interstate highway systems and motor hotels (motels) were not created until after WWII, in the early days of motoring folks managed extended road trips by staying with friends or camping in tents outside their cars. As car travel and camping grew by necessity during the Great Depression, DIY-prone road warriors decided to build tiny, towable structures for sleeping and gear storage, and the travel trailer was born. Perhaps the most recognizable travel trailer is the shiny aluminum Airstream, first designed and built by Wally Byam in the 1930s.
The teardrop remains one of the most popular styles in travel trailers since its small stature makes it the perfect size for towing behind most passenger vehicles. Thanks to a teardrop trailer’s aerodynamic shape (a horizontal teardrop), drivers can still see the road behind them, and when maneuvering in close quarters — such as backing around a corner — it is easier to see beyond a teardrop than a boxy trailer or bulky fifth-wheel. Teardrop trailers are typically not tall enough for adults to stand up inside, but most teardrops will accommodate adults in a seated position.
Made in the USA: A Trailering Trade
As the popularity of car camping and budget travel remains strong among Americans of diverse demographics (young couples, families, retirees), demand for unique tiny trailers grows as well. Today a surprising number of American businesses — both small and large — are producing high-quality camp trailers, so folks can feel a sense of pride when they buy a product made in the USA from a local company. By no means an exhaustive list, read on for details about some of the amazing American teardrops and tiny trailers available today.
Broadway 5×8: Starts at $12,999
A small company on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon, Aero Teardrops builds lightweight, affordable handcrafted trailers. The company offers three models of differing sizes and price points, and they give their trailers as many standard features as possible and offer a limited number of options, so buyers have less chance of feeling priced beyond their budgets. With a decidedly retro design, Aero Teardrops have a look of sturdy, solid comfort. The company’s website offers an excellent Trailer Builder tool that allows a shopper to configure and price a trailer in real time — and then order it.
Jackson Center, Ohio
Basecamp: Starts at $37,400
Arguably the most recognized name in travel trailering, Airstream has been a pioneer in the outdoor recreation industry since the 1930s. Throughout the years, Airstream has offered many trailer models as well as complete road-going RVs. Recognizing the growing trend in teardrops and tiny trailers, Airstream went back to their roots, offering the Basecamp aluminum trailer as well as the Nest — a new fiberglass trailer that breaks from the traditional Airstream aluminum models. At $37,400 the entry Basecamp is not inexpensive, but the high-quality construction, materials and build methods mean an Airstream will last for generations. The 16-foot Basecamp sleeps two and features a wraparound galley, toilet and shower, and seating area.
Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania
Scout-Lite: Contact Dealer for Pricing
Under the Aliner brand umbrella are three trailer lines: the Aliner, the Ascape and the Somerset. A trailer that puts a slight twist on the standard teardrop shape, Aliners are pop-top A-frame campers with hard walls. Made with pride in Pennsylvania, Aliner models range from the minimalist Scout-Lite to the decked-out Expedition. The cool thing about an Aliner is that drivers have maximum rearward visibility while towing, and once at a campsite the Aliner can be popped up into a completely hard-sided camper trailer in less than a minute. The Ascape has a more traditional teardrop shape, a long list of standard features, requires no pop-up and comes in eight models. The Somerset is a range of pop-up trailers with soft sides; four models are available.
Osprey 3.5×7: Starts at $4,945
A custom-build trailer company out of California, American Teardrop’s models range from the entry-level twin-mattress-width Osprey 3.5×7 that starts under $5,000 to the Harrier, which has a California King bed and starts at $11,645. American Teardrop offers a plethora of options (classic wooden icebox, anyone?) and packages (Classic, Baja, Off Road) that helps customers configure the exact trailer for their needs.
Big Woody Campers
Elk Mound, Wisconsin
Deluxe: Starts at $8,979
A company that recalls trailering days of yore, Big Woody Campers offers not only complete trailers, but also teardrop plans (with CD and templates), U-Finish models as well as teardrop trailer kits (wood, kitchen, galley) for handy DIY folks, which harks back to trailering’s kit-based roots. The company’s two complete trailers are the Deluxe and the Ultimate, which are all wood and absolutely beautiful to behold.
Basedrop: Starts at $12,995
A now-familiar story among trailer companies, Colorado Teardrops started as a family business when an experienced boat builder and woodworker in the Centennial State discovered he could not rent a teardrop before purchasing, and the waiting period to obtain one would be six months. So he decided to build a teardrop himself, and from those humble beginnings the company was born. Colorado Teardrops offers a line of trailers from the Basedrop, their smallest trailer designed around a queen-size bed, to The Summit, an extreme off-road trailer with bunk beds that convert to a sofa in addition to a queen-size bed. And since the owners believe in trying before buying, Colorado Teardrops rents camp trailers to potential customers so they can try their hand and catch the trailering bug.
Dub Box USA
Dinky Sleeper: Starts at $16,900
A company out of Oregon, Dub Box USA produces not only camping trailers but also retail carts, turnkey mobile food and beverage carts, sleepers and toy haulers. The unique aspect of all these units, as one might guess from the name, is that they resemble iconic VW buses of the 1960s and ‘70s. Manufactured out of fiberglass, all Dub Boxes can be tailored to a customer’s specific needs. In terms of campers, the Dinky sleeper includes a lightweight aluminum chassis, fiberglass body and bumpers, a 7-pin wiring harness, Reflectix insulation, “moon” style hubcaps, a queen-size mattress and a 30-amp power center. Adding an outdoor kitchenette runs less than a thousand dollars.
TOPO Series: Starts at $16,500
The trailer with the funky name (a play on escapade), Escapod trailers are handcrafted masterpieces. The attention to build detail is stunning, and every trailer this company in Coalville, Utah, cranks out brings in new loyal customers. The company’s hashtag #towandbehold contains stunning images of customer trailers, customer images and press shots that showcase the personal attention and genuine care that goes into the creation and delivery of each trailer. The TOPO Series is a 5×8 trailer constructed on a 2-inch by 2-inch welded and powder-coated frame. All exterior walls are aluminum. The standard features are incredible at this price point (Rhino rack crossbars, stargazer window, stainless steel countertop, customizable graphics) and trailers are easily configurable online.
R-pod: Contact Dealer for Pricing
Forest River is one of the largest U.S. manufacturers of RVs, motorhomes, travel trailers, toy haulers and even destination trailers. Billed on the website as a trailer built to the tenet of “form follows function,” the R-pod stretches teardrop size to the extreme, but deserves inclusion in this series about tiny trailers made in the good ol’ USA. Billed as the best-selling RV in its class (under 23 feet), the R-pod is a true standup trailer with many convenience features and quality build techniques, including steel and aluminum frame construction and a one-sheet fiberglass roof to eliminate any seams (and therefore less chance of moisture intrusion). Want even more convincing? Forest River is a Berkshire Hathaway company — if Warren Buffet believes in this company and its trailers, customers can too.
Los Angeles, California
HC1: Starts at $24,950
Another decidedly retro-hip unit built in California, the Happier Camper HC1 is a fiberglass tiny trailer and not a teardrop, but its small stature and modular interior system make it a standout. Called the Adaptiv system, the interior is comprised of blocks that can be interchanged and moved around (even outdoors!) for a variety of trailer configurations to suit a camper’s needs. The HC1 sleeps five, has a solar panel integrated with the trailer roof and an interior height a bit over 6 feet. Happier Camper also has a rental program in the Los Angeles area for those lucky So-Calers who want to try before they buy.
High Camp Trailers
High Camp: Starts at $17,150
Built in the heart of the Pacific Northwest, High Camp Trailers out of Portland, Oregon, has a design and build philosophy that many consumers will appreciate. They have one model, load it with lots of quality standard equipment instead of trying to upsell options, and build the trailers one at a time to exact customer specifications. Standard equipment includes a remote-controlled 13-speed roof vent, a queen-size quilt-top mattress, anodized aluminum skin, a 3-burner cooktop and a stainless steel Coleman cooler, to name a few. The ordering process is spelled out in detail on the website, and the company is so customer-focused they even have a cancellation policy that is extremely thoughtful and fair.
Denver, Colorado and Noblesville, Indiana
Basic Hiker 4×8: Starts at $2,895
Hiker trailers come in three variants: Highway Hiker, Mid-Range Hiker and Off-Road Hiker. The entry-level Highway has two options, Basic and Deluxe. The Basic has no rear galley doors and some interior shelving, and the Deluxe has the rear galley door and some cupboards. Featuring a boxy style (think volume), all Hiker Trailers are aluminum-skinned for protection from the elements. The top-of-the-line Off-Road performs as the name implies: it has beefier everything to handle excursions off pavement. The Hiker Trailer website has order-form style inquiries, and a rep from Hiker Trailer will contact prospective customers to iron out details and final price. Unique aspects of Hiker Trailer are the company’s two build locations in Colorado and Indiana. The two relatively equidistant locales allow customers more access to the company if they choose to visit, and since Hiker Trailer has a rental program it gives prospective customers more access opportunities if they want to rent before purchasing.
Luna Lite: Starts around $15,000
InTech RV makes three ranges of teardrop-style trailers; Flyer, Luna and Sol. The entry-level Flyer trailers are the smallest versions, with the Sol being the largest. Midway between the two is the Luna range, which features the Luna, Luna Lite, and Luna Rover. Lunas have doors on each side of the trailer, a front panoramic windshield, and LED lights at each door. Galley amenities include a sink with a residential-style faucet, a 2-burner LP stove and a slide-out 12-volt refrigerator, as well as blue LED accent lighting. Other standard features include a Bluetooth stereo/DVD player, in-floor storage compartments and a 2-inch receiver hitch for a bike rack.
Little Guy Trailers
2020 MyPod: Contact Dealer for Pricing
A division of Liberty Outdoors, Little Guy Trailers is one of the “big little trailer” companies in operation today. Little Guy trailers are sold throughout the U.S. as well as in Canada, Australia, Chile, Colombia and South Korea. In America, Little Guy sells the MyPod, Mini Max and Max. The MyPod (available in 2020) is an ultralightweight trailer molded in fiberglass that can be towed by compact cars. Weighing in at a mere 630 pounds, the MyPod features a full-size bed, air-conditioning, a 3-speed fan, and an entertainment center. Priced in the $20,000 range, the popular Mini Max has a more traditional teardrop shape, weighs about 2,000 pounds, sleeps 2–3 on dual twin or a queen-size mattress, has hardwood cabinetry, a 2-burner stove, a refrigerator, a dinette set, a furnace, a toilet/shower wetbath, a microwave and air-conditioning — to name a few features. These Little Guys really let a person camp with creature comforts and flair.
New Wave Teardrop
5×8 Sleeper/Hauler: Starts at $3,990
New Wave offers custom-configured, solid trailers with a clean, minimalist interior and plenty of combinations and options. Customers start with a sleeper/hauler base and then add a half or full galley unit, and customization can go up from there to an Off-Road Package and the Elite Model, which has the most standard equipment (available on other trailers as options). New Wave will customize any options to a customer’s preferences. Standard exterior features include a 2-inch welded frame, 15-inch tires, aluminum fenders, all-aluminum exterior (painted white), two flip-down stabilizer bars, and an outside power hookup. Available options include a fan, air-conditioning, an exterior aluminum toolbox, Jeep-style fenders, an awning and a graphics package, to name a few.
TAG: Contact Dealer for Pricing
Formerly Pleasant Valley Teardrop Trailers, the company changed the name to NuCamp in 2016 to better reflect its mission of catering to outdoor enthusiasts, RVers and campers. NuCamp has two lines of trailers, the TAG and TAB. The popular TAG line features the TAG and TAG XL. The TAG is 5-feet wide, while the XL is 6-feet wide. TAGs are priced more economically; however, features on a TAG are super-plentiful and clever, from a lighted headboard with storage, a TV, an air-conditioner, an entertainment system, cabinets and 110-volt outlets, as well as underbed storage. The exterior galley includes lighting, a 2-burner stove, a sink with an 11-gallon tank, a refrigerator and even a microwave in the XL version. The primary difference between the TAG and TAB models — the TAB is tall enough for most people to stand up in. Both TAG and TAB lines can be upgraded with a Boondock off-road package or the Sofitel package for “luxurious glamping.”
DoDrop: Starts at $6,150
With its pioneering name and Pacific Northwest location, Oregon Trail’R is owned and operated by two talented brothers from Southern Oregon who have years of fabrication experience. (The videos on their website reveal the time, attention to detail and craftsmanship that go into each handmade trailer.) The company’s trailers get built on three platforms: DoDrop, FronTear and TerraDrop. The DoDrop is the entry-level trailer, a minimalist platform built to the exacting standards of all Oregon Trail’R products. The FronTear is the brothers’ take on the classic teardrop with a refined art deco flair. The TerraDrop is logically the company’s most off-road-oriented version, touting more headroom and space. The DoDrop and TerraDrop can also be configure with the ALPHA package for extreme off-road trailering. The package includes full-body armorcoating, special laser-cut components (including the frame), integrated stabilizer jacks and Timbren axleless suspension.
Pee Wee Campers
KnockAbout: Starts at $6,495
Headquartered in the heart of Music City, Pee Wee Campers tout solid construction techniques, thick walls and solid running gear as the calling cards of their tiny trailers. Although they create a version for towing behind a motorcycle, trike or minicompact car, for practicality’s sake let’s focus on the KnockAbout. The KA sleeps two in 5×8-foot by 4-foot-high space, and is fully configurable. Standard features include air-conditioning, 15-amp 120-volt outlets, curved brushed aluminum fenders, interior lighting, a roof vent, stabilizer jacks and 15-inch wheels. KnockAbout options include fender upgrades, mattresses, rear double doors, a skylight, a storage box and a TV.
4×8 2-door: Starts at $5,745
RetroRide trailers are sleek, minimalist units that shine like diamonds thanks to their fingerprint-resistant aluminum skins and fenders. The trailers come in three sizes: 4×8, 5×8 and 5×10. Interiors are constructed using America-sourced woods. Standard features on all three sizes include a front rack, a 3-speed roof vent, LED taillights and running lights, 110-volt outlets, a galley, a power control charger box and a 2-inch receiver hitch. Options include a 12-volt battery, additional windows, a spare tire, heating and air-conditioning. The more spacious 5×10 model starts at $7,890.
Road Toad Campers
Road Toad ABODE: Starts at $6,300
A part of Petenwell Industries, Road Toad is a new venture to build lightweight composite trailers at competitive prices. Road Toad trailers have unibody construction, which means they employ an integrated body-and-frame system (instead of body on frame) that the company says produces the lightest trailers available. Road Toads weigh 400–450 pounds and can be towed by a vehicle with as little as a 1,000-pound tow rating. The first two models are the TOTES cargo teardrop utility trailer and the ABODE, which is a sleeper with a galley. Trailer features include a queen-size sleeping area, two side doors, screened windows, a large galley countertop, aluminum Jeep-style fenders, all LED lights and a composite body. Buyers have a few options to consider, including hitch-ball size, 12-, 13- or 14-inch wheels and tires, powered fans, air-conditioning and mattresses.
CoolCamp: Starts at: $3,995
Billed as America’s most affordable mini-camper, Runaway Campers in Marion County, Florida, pays attention to every detail of their camper builds. With five models to choose from, Runaway has two sizes: 4×8 and 6×8. Their bread-and-butter model is the CoolCamp, which has a plethora of standard equipment including LED taillights, diamond-plate fenders and front plate, 13-inch chrome center-cap wheels, a 5,000 BTU air-conditioner with cover, a wheeled front jack, 110-volt power with a six outlet strip, aluminum exterior walls and square-tube welded frame construction. Options include extra shelves, windows, a roof rack, custom wheels. Runaway also offers the Venturist off-road trailer in two sizes, 4×8 and 6×8. Three option packages are offered as well. Venturists start at $6,999.
13-foot Scamp: Contact for Pricing
Built since the 1970s and billed as the world-famous fiberglass trailer, Scamps are not technically teardrops, but the smallest model puts it in the teardrop consideration set. Longer and taller than most of the tiny trailers covered thus far, Scamps come in lengths of 13 , 16 and 19 feet. Scamp trailers are built to order and sold factory direct through a dealership in Backus, Minnesota. The 13-foot model, which can be towed by most 4-cylinder vehicles, features a 2-piece fiberglass shell, full walk-in height, a screen door, sleeps 2-4 people and has a dining area that seats four and converts into a bed, and a sofa that converts into two bunk beds. Options include a powered roof vent, air-conditioning, a furnace, refrigerator, an awning and more.
The Yak: Starts at $6,000
When three friends who worked at a grocery store decided to open a body shop in Libby, Montana, they never imagined they would instead pivot into the teardrop trailer business. But they identified a need, went headlong into production, and named the company after expert Tibetan guides who bring mountaineers home. Sherpa has a basic philosophy about all its trailers; they need to be simple, sturdy and long-lasting. The company currently has three teardrop models: the Yak, the Yeti and the Offroad. As the entry model, the 4×8-foot Yak is a barebones unit with a carpeted interior and a couple of puck lights, but plenty of options can be added to make the Yak an excellent sleeping pod, including air-conditioning, cubbyhole storage, bunk beds, a water source, solar panels, roof racks, extra doors and windows, and stereo systems.
Tigermoth Camper: Contact Dealer for Pricing
Towable by many 4-cylinder vehicles, the Tigermoth has a unique, large side hatch that creates a “corner window” effect, letting the outdoors into the trailer. The Tigermoth’s large rear pull-out offers a versatile workspace for cooking. Flush with innovative features incorporated into intelligent design, the Tigermoth can go 7-plus days off-grid thanks to its “NASA-inspired design and integrated electrical systems.” Standard features for Tigermoth include kynar-painted and UV-treated aluminum panels, tempered tinted windows, a torsion axle suspension with electric brakes, a jerry can, wiring for solar panels, foam-core interior walls, LED lighting, a single-speed vent fan and USB charging ports. Options include a screen door, a shower tent, a Dometic portable toilet, and air-conditioning.
Trek: Starts at $12,488
Another great trailer company out of Oregon country, Teardrops NW manufactures three highway models and four off-road variants to give folks freedom of choice. The 5×8 Trek starts at $12,488 and includes cadence cabinetry, a 72-inch folding mattress, a 13-speed Fantastic vent fan, round fenders, 15-inch wheels in black or silver, a 2-inch receiver hitch, 110-volt, 12-volt and USB ports, LED lights, trailer brakes, a 7-pin wiring harness and a black powder-coated steel frame. A fifth off-road model is the Sportsman, which is basically a small utility trailer with a heavy-duty rack atop it on which a tent sits. Not exactly a teardrop, the Sportsman is the company’s most economically-priced model starting at $6,989. And in the spirit of trailer pioneers, Teardrops NW also sells DIY kits and options for those independent folks who want to go their own way . . . and personally build the trailer that takes them there.
Grand Junction, Colorado
Pika: Starts at $11,750
Timberleaf’s attention to detail and quality craftsmanship have few peers in the industry. The trailers have so many incredible features and thoughtful touches it would be tough to list them all. The entry-level trailer is the Pika, which is 36 percent smaller than the Timberleaf Classic, the company’s first model. The Pika, like the Classic, has all wood construction from Baltic Birch, incorporating fine cabinetmaking features such as dovetail joints. The shell is all aluminum, and other standard features include a roof vent, seven LED lights, custom cabinets and a headboard with a sliding door, two windows, two doors, a skylight, a queen mattress, a retro laminate countertop with period aluminum edging, a power center, a deep-cycle marine battery, four USB ports, two 110-volt GFCI outlets, a sink, a pullout drawer with cooktop shelf and a solid rear hatch. Options include an exterior side shelf, a pullout cooler with a countertop lid, a tongue storage box, solar panels, a roof rack and awnings.
Turtle UP Trailers
Beacon: Contact for Pricing
Turtle UP not only builds trailers, they are a full-service shop that repairs other brands as well. Turtle UP currently has one model (Beacon) with another on the way (Squirt). The Beacon’s frame can be made of steel or aluminum, depending on trailer location (predominate climate), use and customer wishes. On the outside, the Beacon comes in many color choices for both sides and roof — the latter is coated with a bedliner-like material for durability against all elements. And something not seen in other trailers: all four corners have leveling jacks for maximum stability on uneven surfaces. Beacon interiors are also unique with cabinets created from high-density polyethylene (HDPE) to prevent rot over time. Dual skylights are standard, as is a memory foam mattress. The floor gets covered with easily-replaceable carpet tiles, and the rear galley possesses a modern look thanks to HDPE cabinets and a one-piece countertop. The Beacon can be outfitted with many amenities such as a sink, stove, refrigerator and even accent lighting.