IS THE TEARDROP LIFESTYLE FOR YOU?
Here you will find the top 10 things to consider about the Teardrop Lifestyle, Teardrop campers in general and if owning a teardrop camper is a good fit for you.
1 - AGE AND CIRCUMSTANCES
Do you have kids? Do they still go camping with you? If so... where are they going to sleep? Can they sleep alone? Just because a teardrop camper traditionally only sleeps 2 people, don’t discount them for a family. There are plenty of couples (including ourselves) that regularly take their kids camping. You can fit a smaller child in a larger teardrop with you, however, I expect this can have challenges! Our 14 Year old still enjoys camping with us and whenever possible, we usually take a friend for her as companionship. Together, they are happy to put up their own tent (with assistance at times). It’s a great experience for them, and helps them to become more independent. Anyway, this is not about parenting it's about the teardrop lifestyle!
A teardrop camper requires the ability to be physically able to get in (and out) of them also. While this goes without saying, some have larger doors, but in general all are quite small, but don’t think for a minute, that they are strictly for the young. We are constantly surprised by the amount of ‘older folks’ running a teardrop. Mostly they say it’s because they are so easy... Easy to hitch, easy to maneuver and just easier to enjoy as there's no set up time and they are simple and light to tow. We have spoken to a lot of the older generation who have downsized from a larger caravan because they have become unmanageable and require too much maintenance.
2 - PURPOSE, WHERE DO YOU WANT TO GO?
Are you a spontaneous camper, who is happy to get away at the drop of a hat if the weathers good? Are you only able get away for the weekends as you're time poor? Or are you the type that heads out for longer trips? Is it a round Australia trip you’re planning, or a road trip to the tropical north? Is it a mix of all these? If you want to off road do you have the vehicle to tow it?
Well all of these things are capable in a teardrop camper! More so in fact, as it’s the most versatile tow-able product of all the others. This is the Teardrop Lifestyle!
3 - TOW VEHICLE
If your reading this, one would presume you have a car. If you have a car, then you can usually live the teardrop lifestyle. Typically, a teardrop camper can be towed by a smaller car, (maybe not a light car however). Many of the smaller teardrops fall under the 750kg class and therefore classified as a light trailer. Some of the bigger more top end campers like out Breeze and Tsunami Campers are over the 750kg in weight, meaning that they must be fitted with brakes, and most commonly electric brakes are used these days. The larger campers can still be towed with a small car, as long it is within the vehicles rated braked towing capacity and fitted with an inexpensive electric brake controller If it off road you want to go, obviously you need a suitable vehicle.
4 - BUDGET
Budget is a significant factor to anyone making a RV purchase of any kind. Teardrop campers are on the cheaper end of the scale as far as tow-able accommodation. Cheaper than motorhomes and caravans, and on par with the more basic of tent trailers. A teardrop can be purchased new from around $15K for the most basic on road models, all the way up to $50k+ for a fully spec’d off road models that are now appearing from a couple of manufacturers. Again, you get what you pay for.
If you only have the budget for cheap and cheerful, there’s plenty of options for you at the lower spec end of the teardrop lifestyle market (not necessarily low quality), there are great Australian made options like Little Guy, Travel Bug, and even Jayco now make a loosely termed teardrop called jpod. If you like a little (or a lot) more comfort, conveniance and luxuries, again there are options. You have Gidget Retro Teardrop Camper with their slide out front extending the living space lengthwise, and ourselves, Riptide Campers, who build the largest teardrop in the class. Say you were going to invest $30K into a RV, you are buying the bottom range spec of the Caravan market (just!), the mid-range spec of the tent trailer market, and the very top end spec of a Teardrop Camper with everything! Choice comes back to purpose. What do want to do?
5 - QUALITY
There is a chasm of difference in quality build in teardrop campers, and I honestly believe you get what you pay for. There are many home built teardrop campers around and from what we’ve seen and researched, there are good ones and bad ones. Its separating the 2 that can be the challenge and it’s buyer beware! A quality teardrop camper will have one piece ply or composite (fiberglass) side walls. If not composite, only marine grade ply should be used, never cheap imported Luan type ply from Asia. As a boat builder for 25+ years, I have seen far too many failures in cheap plywoods. Once water or delamination occurs, there’s no recovery. With a teardrop camper, repairs a major. It all comes down to budget at the end of the day, but if you can afford it, by new from an Australian production manufacturer. You’ll get quality, and a decent warranty. If still deciding, buy Aussie made! We saw a brand new teardrop camper imported from China at the recent Caravan show in Brisbane. It was $25K and the quality was beyond poor, both inside and out. Even the dealer was embarrassed. At least the quality in this one was blatantly poor, and this is not always the case! It’s usually what can’t see that’s the issue.
6 - SIZE
It's true, size DOES matter! Like all segments of the RV market,within the Teardrop Camper market there are significant differences in size. The important question is, does it you, and does it have everything you need? Everyone’s different so the needs of one are different to the needs of another, and again, this depends on how long you’re going for camping for,and where you're going? How much water, is on board, is there cooking facilities built in? Do you get a fridge or esky? Where is the gas bottle? Is the bed big enough, or do you need to sleep curled up? For us, in designing our models, the most important factors was storage and funtionality, and more specifically, kitchen storage. (Extra clothes can always be stored in the boot tow vehicle, much harder with cutlery, crockery, and food!). The teardrop lifestyle is all about the outdoor kitchen! Remember, you are camping not caravaning! It’s the social aspect and the convenience of the kitchen that make a teardrop camper different to its rivals. Make sure the one you choose is functional and practical. Consider… Where do you put your Weetbix, your bread rolls, the biscuits, the sauce, the plates, cups, the wine glasses, BBQ tools, stubby holders, sunscreen, pots and pans to cook with etc. Is there enough bench space? Where do you wash up if no sink? Many teardrops fall short on convenience, while others excel! Again you get what you pay for.
7 - CONVENIENCE
Ideally, you should have both an Anderson connector and an electric brake controller fitted to your vehicle by an auto electrician. This is in addition to the correctly rated tow bar. Fitting an Anderson connector will allow you to charge the camper battery from the tow vehicles’ alternator whilst travelling. And installing and electric brake controller on your car will allow you to use the electric brakes fitted to your Camper. This is not something Riptide Campers can fit for you, but it is highly recommended! The trailer to car wiring connector fitted to your camper (for lights and indicators) will be a flat 7 pin connector. If you have a round 7 pin connector, you may need an adaptor to convert this to the flat 7 pin type. For the ‘Breeze’ a standard 50mm tow ball is required - The Tsunami will require the appropriate off-road coupling to be fitted.
8 - COMFORT
Levels of comfort (like any RV) increase with budget. Our recommendation is to consider what you need, Vs what you want. Do you want (or need) a TV when camping? A Fridge? (of course!) Alarm system? A cooker is must, but does it need to be built in? Could you use portable unit? One of the biggest factors in our opinion is water supply. You can’t beat having a electric water pump plumed to a decent water supply and sink. Having to bring your own water outside of a water tank is a real pain! We have all been camping and have had to BYO water! How much do you need? Where do you store it etc. Another major is the bed. After all, you’re probably upgrading to a teardrop camper for a comfortable bed. Make sure it suits your needs… and comfort! There can be a lot of difference, so do your homework. You have both foam and innerspring options; Riptide Campers offers both. If you’re particularly tall, this will also narrow your options, but Full length Queens are available. A sky light over the bed is a nice touch, but also ensures you’ll be up at the crack of dawn every morning (if you’re into that?).
9 - X-FACTOR
This alone is why some people buy a teardrop, for the style. So it looks good behind their classic car or hot rod. For us, and many others we have spoken to, the style is far less important than the ease of use, practicality and lightness to tow and maneuver. Style is always personal preference; and beauty is the eye of the beholder. Some manufactures are happy to offer white, and white only, others are far more flexible to colour choices so you can personalise.
10 - WEATHER PROTECTION
This is the most common asked question of a teardrop camper. ‘What do you do for an awning?’ The rear hatch that opens high on all teardrop campers which while this offer some weather protection in its own right, is also an impediment to fitting a standard type RV awning or annex. Pretty much universally, the solution is the same. Put the teardrop under a gazebo (or put the gazebo over the camper). This solution works well, and while this takes a little more time, it’s still an easy and quick solution to the issue. Some manufactures are advertising an awning solution, at he time of writing, this is yet to be seen.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE WE HAVEN’T COVERED?
Thanks for the investment of your valuable time in reading this!