For over seven decades the iconic teardrop camping trailer has wowed buyers in North America and beyond. The diminutive size of the teardrop, its relative low cost of construction and its classic lines made it a popular travel trailer choice for camping enthusiasts in the ‘30s and ‘40s. However, as tastes changed the popularity of these pint-sized RVs began to fade.
Proving the old adage “plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose" (the more things change the more they stay the same) there’s no doubt that trailer designers like A.H. Alexander or Allen J. Hathaway -- who submitted a teardrop patent on behalf of the Alma Trailer Company of Michigan back in 1936 -- would be just as comfortable building teardrops in the twenty-first century as they were in the early twentieth century because the traditional construction techniques remain the same. Indeed, the interest in retro style teardrops -- whether off-the-shelf or self-built DIY versions -- continues unabated and led to something of a global teardrop construction revival in the first decade of the new millennium.
Whilst the teardrop’s classic shape continues to woo new buyers there have been a number of entrepreneurs who have been willing to experiment with some seriously cool design and construction modifications; from heavy duty suspension mods for off-road use to an electrically operated extensible roof that quite literally provides a room with a view. Here are Examiner’s top picks for “The world’s best teardrop camping trailers.”
Best oversized teardrop trailer: T@B 320 RS (Germany)
Jandelsbrunn-based Knaus Tabbert’s retro styled -- 387-centimetres-long (12’ 6”) -- T@B 320 RS was a huge hit when it was launched in Germany a decade ago and frequent additions to the KT product range -- like the T@B White and T@B OffRoad -- continue to attract a wide cross-section of buyers.
Built with customary Teutonic precision the clean lines, minimalist interior and 550kg/1212lb curb weight of the 320 RS not only make this the best teardrop in its weight class but the only one in this class! Priced from €7,990 ($10,314) this stylin’ teardrop is definitely cool personified and the good news is that it’s once again in production in the U.S. Check out the North American T@B RV website for details Additional Information: Knaus Tabbert T@B Teardrop Related: The Knaus Tabbert Swallow’s Nest micro travel trailer
Best standard off-road teardrop trailer: Rough Rider Moab Safari Edition (USA)
Although Little Guy Worldwide debuted their first 4x8 retro teardrop camping trailer back in 2002, it was their ’08 introduction of the Rough Rider Moab Safari Edition that caught the attention of U.S. off-road and outdoor enthusiasts. The go anywhere travel trailer -- which can ford streams up to 19 inches deep -- is the perfect camping companion for those heading for the Easter Jeep Safari in Moab or planning an off-road adventure on California’s Rubicon Trail.
Sporting a 2x3 inch welded tubular steel frame and pimped out with 31x10.5R15 tires on 8x15 rims, the 148-inch-long trailer is the only serious heavy weight contender -- though the Adventure Trailers (AT) Teardrop runs a close second -- for the title of “Best all terrain off-road camping trailer.” MSRP: $10,000 to $12,000 depending on specification Additional Information: Little Guy's off-road all terrain tear drop camper trailer
Best retro teardrop trailer: English Caravan Company (Great Britain)
There have been a number of notable teardrop manufacturers in Great Britain -- including the now defunct King Tiki trailer company -- and one of the very best has to be the Newnham, Hertfordshire-based English Caravan Company. The retro styling -- from porthole windows to flared wheel arches -- employed on the company’s signature 400kg teardrop travel trailer -- nicknamed “Tilly” -- is a deliberate homage to its ‘40s progenitors. These bespoke hand built trailers are available from £6,995 ($11209.49) depending on specification. Additional Information: The English Caravan Company
Most expensive teardrop trailer: Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Woody (USA)
The beautifully appointed $150,000 Bulleit Frontier Whiskey Woody-Tailgate Trailer -- manufactured by Roanoke, Virginia-based master craftsman John Davis of Silver Tears Campers -- is one of a pair of matching limited-edition teardrop camping trailers introduced by North American luxury retailer Neiman Marcus for their Christmas 2012 catalogue.
Designed by New York-based Brad Ford I.D., Inc., the wood-lined interior was handcrafted from reclaimed Bulleit Bourbon casks and sported a line of leather accessories supplied by Lynchburg, Virginia retail tanning connoisseur Moore & Giles. Featuring elegant Waterford crystal and a state-of-the-art Sony® audio-visual entertainment system the trailer came complete with a pull out bar and a year’s supply - four cases each – of Bulleit Bourbon and Bulleit Rye. Additional Information: Neiman Marcus adds $150K teardrop trailer to online catalogue
Best branded teardrop trailer: Camp Runner Alpina DLX (EU)
When MINI combined with Europe’s Camp Runner to create a special MINI branded 2012 “April’s Fool” edition of the Camp Runner Alpina DLX tear drop trailer they inadvertently stumbled across a potential teardrop camping goldmine. Sadly, however, they don’t seem willing to exploit this potentially lucrative market.
The standard Camp Runner Alpina -- priced at £6950 ($11137.38) -- includes a wooden oak Interior & mirror, 3 Speed, in / out Electric Fan, a rear Hatchback with full Size Kitchenette and Cabinets, 12V Battery, 230V Outer Socket & Converter, inside 12Vand battery, alloy wheels (plus spare wheel) and comes with a classic exterior silver finish. Additional Information: Check out the Alpina teardrop in this YouTube video.
Best extensible teardrop trailer: Alto Safari Condo (Canada)
Daniel Nadeau’s Canadian-built Alto Safari Condo teardrop not only employs aluminium and composite construction but also incorporates a revolutionary one-piece retractable roof -- operated via electric actuators -- that extends the interior height of this ultra modern rig to 2,08m (83”). As the roof ascends it reveals tinted tempered glass windows on either side -- rather like an atrium -- which adds an additional element of spaciousness to the sleek interior.
Priced from $25,000 the ultra light Safari Condo -- which employs a Flexiride independent suspension system -- weighs in at just 741kg/1635lbs. The standard unit comes equipped with a 2-burner stove, fridge, and a bathroom incorporating a toilet and shower (1723 model). Additional Information: Safari Condo
More articles in the "world’s best" series:
- The world's ten best motorhomes
- The world’s best ultra-light tent camping trailers
- The world’s ten best car carrying motorhomes
- The world’s best overland expedition vehicles
- Europe’s best motorhomes
- Motorhomes that can survive a zombie apocalypse
- Volkner Mobil Performance: The world's best motorhome?
- Action Mobil Desert Challenger: The world's best off-road RV
- The world’s best eco-friendly micro RVs