Out of Bounds

Teardrop Time

The least expensive path to teardrop heaven is to build your own, but this takes time and you have to know your way around the shop

By Rob Breeding

If you’re thinking about a camp trailer for hunting season you better get on it. August is nearly gone.

I’ve been researching travel trailer options for a while now. I don’t plan to add one this fall, though hopefully I will before fishing season next summer.

I’m going small with my trailer. I’m a minimalist with stuff like this anyway, but when I downsized from a full-sized pickup to a mid-size, it forced me to reconsider some diminutive mobile bedrooms I’d previously written off.

My kids are grown and out in the world so I don’t need something with slide-outs that will sleep a half dozen — that many folks snoring in a tightly enclosed space sounds kind of horrible anyway — so if you’re thinking you need a trailer that will test your one-ton dually pickup, this isn’t for you. If you’re looking for something you can pull with a midsize truck, a small SUV or one of those exceedingly cool Ford Mavericks, however, here are my thoughts.

I’m thinking teardrop.

Before we go there, let’s briefly discuss the cheapest route to hunt camp trailerdom: an old beater, preferably a Shasta. I say this because the wings are cool.

This method is useful only if you can at least borrow a one-ton dually, because if you’re going to buy an old, heavy classic trailer, then tow it one time to park it in the little piece of heaven you have somewhere, your RAV4 isn’t going to cut it. Of course, this only works if you have a spot you return to again and again. It’s not a travel trailer so much as a cheap cabin you occasionally relocate. 

If you can stand the old trailer smell this might work. The local mice will love you for it.

But if you want to tow your small-sized bedroom with your small-sized tow vehicle all over the West, you need a functional trailer. I’ve long thought teardrop trailers seemed a little frivolous. Basically, a bed on wheels. If you want a lit, indoor space where you can eat, read or chat with friends, a teardrop always seemed too limiting.

I don’t know if my perspective has changed or if post-pandemic, travel-trailer inflation has forced me to revisit how much rolling luxury I need. If you’re interested in buying new, a teardrop is about the only thing left on the market that dips below $10,000. And it’s easy to double that, especially if you’re looking for a teardrop set up for overland travel. That’s not my gig. I’d prefer to drive paved roads to developed campsites, drop the trailer, then run daily hunting excursions with the truck. 

You can get a nicely equipped teardrop with a rear-hatch kitchen in that range, though it will likely be north of $10,000.

The least expensive path to teardrop heaven is to build your own, but this takes time and you have to know your way around the shop. If you go this route, carefully consider your construction materials. Traditionally, teardrops were made entirely from wood. Some of those old classics are practically art pieces. 

If you want an OG teardrop, go for it. I have a drift boat I built with wood because that’s what I wanted. There’s extra maintenance required, but no one has ever slid their hand along the gunnel of a fiberglass drifter and sighed, “This is gorgeous.”

But practical? Absolutely. If I built a teardrop I wouldn’t use a scrap of wood. It would be foam core, fiberglassed with marine epoxy for strength. My drift boat is a composite using a similar method, only using marine-grade mahogany plywood because it’s beautiful and a drift boat doesn’t need insulation.

There are lightweight, standard trailers towable with smaller SUVs, so if you require standing headroom, an indoor kitchen and a bathroom, take a look at Helio and MeerKat, or the classics, Casitas and Scamp.

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