Probably the most well-known and the smallest of the small RV’s are the teardrop travel trailers. Easily recognized by their teardrop shape, these small trailers were once the sole property of the backyard hobbyist and amateur craftsman. Today a teardrop camper trailer can be bought commercially and some are surprisingly NOT cheap, contrary to their small size. For teardrop trailer lovers there remains an active and thriving community based around these unique, one of a kind rig.
Teardrop Travel Trailers Humble Beginnings
Back in the day, sometime in the 1930’s, magazines such as Popular Mechanics published and featured articles that included plans that the average handy-person could take and build at home. Teardrop trailer plans were one such popular project that seemed a natural addition to the automobile. The early designs were based around the concept of using standard 4×8 sheets of plywood to fashion miniature travel trailers that would become a desirable alternative and upgrade to the standard camping tent and car camping.
After World War II, the teardrop underwent a further evolution with the availability of surplus steel and other byproducts of the war. These were put to good use to by the home craftsman, and larger, more comfortable and full featured designs came into fruition. These teardrop trailers, largely the product of many home builders across the country, continued to flourish until the mid-1960’s when the modern, roomy RV began to eclipse their popularity. A number of modern manufacturers have taken on the resurgence of the venerable teardrop design and of course, added the modern touches and conveniences available to us today such as microwave ovens, full featured stereo systems, LED lighting and other creature comforts.
The Teardrops More Modern Touches and Evolution
A standard teardrop is a small trailer usually some 8-10 feet in length and some 4-6 feet in width, which of course there exist many exceptions. The basic unit will be somewhere in 4 or 5 feet in height. This provides a small, though comfortable weather tight cabin for 2, or perhaps 3 people if they are small. Sit-up height is the norm with the main cabin providing a double to queen size mattress taking up the entire cabin floor. It is often seen folded up to provide a seating area for dining, reading, watching television and so on. Additional cabinets inside are featured for storage, and modern “tears” provide electricity from batteries and perhaps 110 volt A/C current from inverters, for modern electronics.
Outside in the rear of the coach one will find an upward swinging hatch that encloses a rear facing galley complete with fresh water and a sink, an icebox or small electric refrigerator and numerous storage cabinets for kitchen as well as other gear. A porta-potty in its own cabinet is included on some for almost total self-containment. Overall, these mini travel trailers are extremely light weight and can be towed by almost anything even motorcycles in the case of the really small models.
Staying True To Its Roots
The do-it-yourselfer spirit has completely survived in the world of teardrops and there exist today, a number of plans, kits, parts suppliers and active internet forums providing all manner of support, inspiration and guidance for those inclined to build their own unique spin on the classic teardrop travel trailer. There is a lot to be had from customizing your own teardrop as well as significant cost savings from doing so. A number of home builders seem to thrive on the challenge and excitement of producing their own designs. They are as unique as the individuals building them and no two are really ever alike. Get-togethers take place all over the country providing both camaraderie and lots of fun.
A number of commercial offerings can also be had for those with more money on hand than free time. Some manufacturers are just a step above home builders but have considerable experience having built a number of tears. They produce custom units one by one and can provide a quality unit. Then again there exist small companies that produce nothing but teardrop travel trailers, and manufacture high end, well-built units. Some bigger companies that produce “normal” RV’s have entered the teardrop market but haven’t stayed long. It seems the teardrop market will stay the propriety of the home builder and the serious craftsman, and probably with good reason.
If you’re just entering the world of RV’ing and want to get off the ground, a teardrop could be a great first step. Those with just a bit of skill in basic building practices can easily build their own perhaps with the exception of welding the trailer. For many with limited free time, this could be all the RV they’ll ever need. If you’ve got minimal needs and a bit of vintage nostalgia in you, check out the unique world of teardrop travel trailers.