Teardrop campers
are cute, cozy, retro

Teardrop campers are cheap, easy to tow, provide a great sleeping space and a kitchen. They can even become a home away from home for a family by adding a tent or an annex.

They offer so much more than a tent. Surprisingly, one of their most appealing features is that they offer so much less than a full-sized RV.

This simplicity means they take little time to set up, are cheap to tow, cheap to buy and put you more in touch with nature, which is one of the main appeals of having an RV.

Teardrop campers plans can make it easy or hard to build. Follow this link to find out how some people got the teardrop of their dreams and maybe the teardrop of your dreams.

Homebuilt teardrop trailers are cheap, fun and easy to build from plans, from a kit or from scratch.

Camping in a teardrop is more comfortable and convenient than camping in a tent and is a lot less trouble than setting up a tent trailer or camper trailer.

Like people who camp in tents, most teardrop owners spend most of their time outside, using the tear drop only for three things:

  • sleeping in a small and cozy space. Some people have entertainment units that allow them to watch TV and videos or listen to music. Many others keep them simple to keep the weight, cost and disconnection from the environment to a minimum.
  • cooking is usually done on a campfire or in the kitchen which is under the hatchback. Some teardrops have attached tables because the owners like to feel connected to their teardrops at all times. Others have a movable table and chairs so they can sit wherever gives them the best company, best view or greatest comfort.
  • carrying and storing gear. Some gear lives in the teardrop and the rest goes in or on the tow vehicle. When they leave their teardrop at the campsite while they head off and explore the surrounds, some of the gear may be left out, some may be stored in the teardrop and some in the tow vehicle, depending on what sort of protection is needed.

Because the teardrop has only basic facilities, it "forces" you to live outside. For times when the weather is unsuitable, some teardrop owners:

  • have an awning to provide shelter close to the teardrop
  • have an annex that creates an extra room or rooms, possibly in conjunction with an awning
  • use an instant pop-up tent which stands alone or attaches to the camper. These tents go up quickly and expand the capacity and capability of the teardrop camper without the complication that comes with many RV annexes
  • use an umbrella, rain jacket or other gear to protect them and just accept the weather
  • stay at home
  • leave the teardrop at home.

It is rare to find two identical teardrop campers. Some people have an old original passed down through the family or found in someone's yard, barn or shed. Some built one from scratch, perhaps using an existing trailer as a base. Others customized an existing sound teardrop to suit their personal style.

Teardrop campers started to become popular in the early 1930s. They were popular because they could be built with minimal cutting and other complications because they were based on the standard 4' x 8' sheet of plywood. This minimalist design had just enough room for two adults to sleep in. They had a kitchen in the rear under a hinged hatch. After World War II, teardrops became very popular and many people built them with war surplus aluminum and other materials.

A teardrop is not a smaller version of a travel trailer or caravan. It is more like a better version of a tent that is only big enough for sleeping in and with a basic shelter for a perfectly adequate kitchen.

Walk around any campground where you find teardrops and conventional RVs as well as people camping in tents and you will notice that most people in the RVs spend more time inside than people with tents. The people camping in teardrops have a lifestyle similar to the one for people camping in tents.

Converting those feet to metres

  • 4' = 1.2 m
  • 8' = 2.4 m
  • 5' = 1.5 m
  • 9' = 2.75 m
  • 10' = 3 m

The key difference is that the people in the teardrops have a more comfortable setup without losing that delightful connection with nature.

Although the original basic teardrop was based on a 4' x 8' sheet of ply, many are 4' x 10', 5' x 9', 5' x 10' and some are even larger. For a tall person, the minimum is a queen size bed or something close to that. If you are shorter, you might get away with one of the smaller sizes. I don't.

Similarly, not all teardrop campers are "teardrop" shape as seen from the side with that gentle curve at the front that tapers to a point at the tail. Some are squarer at the front and/or rear.

Unlike other RVs, mass manufacturing of teardrops doesn't seem to be very successful. Instead there are many small-scale builders who produce customized and highly crafted trailers to suit each customer's personal preferences.

Today, there are manufacturers all over the place with prices ranging from a few thousand dollars to around $10,000 (from less than ₤1,000 to more than ₤6,000). If you tried hard I'm sure you could find a few that have been optioned all the way up to more than twice that.

Many are home built, some using all new materials, others using materials salvaged or bought used. These teardrop campers often cost less than $1000 (₤500). Other people have invested money and time in building their dream teardrop: Some spend around the price of buying one ready-made plus many weekends for a year or two. This may seem poor economy when they could just have bought a ready-made one.

However, they have a custom trailer that they love and that allows them to do whatever they want, including perhaps taking it into extreme off-road situations or being ultra-comfortable in extreme weather conditions.

It is not uncommon for a moderately handy person to build a teardrop using basic tools at a cost of $2-3,000 (₤1,000-1,500) in less than six months' of weekends. This can be cut dramatically if there are two people working on it and some people even team up to build two trailers together.

Most teardrops weigh between 300 kg and 700 kg (650-1500 pounds), which means they can be towed with pretty much any car. There are some small ones to go behind motorcycles, but usually only the three-wheeled ones with a larger motor and more stability.

Like most other things retro, teardrop campers are very much in fashion at the moment.

With a teardrop you are never alone. Well, it's not quite that bad: People see teardrop campers at a fuel stop or campground and start asking questions about whether you really do sleep in it, what it cost, whether you made it or what brand it is and so on.

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