Our Teardrop Trailer | Introducing Wilma…

What is the perfect Adventure Travel rig?

There is no real answer to that question, not in the general sense. The answer to that is different for every person and for every adventure. Since we started looking several years ago, there have been dozens of new companies making teardrop trailers and the designs all vary on the central and classic theme of the iconic “teardrop” design. The idea is to stay light, fast and agile as you travel and the teardrop trailer offers that. It may not be perfect for all things, but the teardrop trailer is damn near perfect for us, for most adventures.

In the Beginning…

My wife and I got married in late 2012. In 2013, as we began taking trips together across the southwest, the conversations about camping began to take on a new tone. What would we need to make longer trips easier and more comfortable? My wife was tiring of sleeping in a tent on an air mattress that refused to stay inflated throughout the night. As much as I love camping and roughing it, my nearly 40-year-old body was telling me that sleeping on the ground for extended periods of time might not be in my future either. So we started exploring the options. For my wife’s birthday that year, we decided to rent a teardrop trailer and head up to the Grand Canyon for about a week. It took a little adjustment but, ultimately, went incredibly well. On the way home from that trip we began scheming about how we could get a teardrop of our own.

My wife made a new hobby out of shopping for trailers. New, used, antique, state-of-the-art, big, small…all were in consideration. It led to extended talks about our future. How would we use the trailer? Would we take the dogs? Would we ever have more than two dogs? Would we have kids? How long would our longest trips be? What vehicles would we be towing with? What kind of camping did we want to do? How self-contained should we be?

TC Teardrops at Overland Expo

The rabbit-hole was deep and the research went on and on. We’d been looking for a couple years when I talked my wife into coming to Overland Expo with me in 2015. Maybe we’d find something there that would suit our purposes. If nothing else, it would allow her to get a real-world idea of how these trailers could work for different purposes. That’s when we stumbled on to TC Teardrops. After some discussion with Carol at TC Teardrops about options and pricing, my wife and I settled on our trailer order decision with the options we thought we’d want/need. We placed the order and the custom build began. By October of 2015 we had our trailer.

The Naming of a Teardrop…

We couldn’t wait to take our new toy out for a spin. But first we had to get things set up. We got the battery hooked up, tossed in some bedding, outfitted the storage box with some basic gear, stocked the kitchen and made sure we had everything in working order. We wanted to squeeze as many nights into our first trip as possible so I loaded the trailer on the back of the Subaru that evening, picked my wife up from work and we headed north as the sun disappeared. A couple hours later, in the dark, I awkwardly backed the trailer into a spot at Dead Horse Campground in Cottonwood for our first night with the new teardrop. We were both grinning from ear to ear under the very impressive Foxwing Awning, sipping on steaming mugs of some tasty adult beverage. It rained that night. It rained hard. We slept like babies.

first night with trailer at dead horse state park

It was still raining the next morning, but there was no wet tent to put away, no muddy tent footprint or soggy rain fly, no damp sleeping bags…it was nice. Close the doors, stash the chairs and fold up the Foxwing and we were ready to hit the road. It rained off and on that day as we headed further north and east into the high country. We made a couple of muddy stops for photos and snacks.

teardrop trailer camp

teardrop trailer kitchen

teardrop trailer

My wife has named all of her cars, including the new Subaru. So it was not a shock when she started asking what we should name the teardrop. After tossing around both boy and girl names, we decided quickly enough that it was a girl. This narrowed the playing field. Our initial teardrop trip, the one that started the whole thought process, started out with a slightly creepy night in Bedrock City. This inspired some Flinstones-themed name options for our new trailer. Dino and Bam-Bam were in the lead before we decided she was a girl. One of us suggested Wilma. It immediately seemed to fit. It had a classic, throw-back feel to it…like the teardrop trailer itself. We agreed, she would now be called Wilma.

We visited, and stayed in, three separate state parks on that first trip in November with Wilma. We added two more on another trip later into southern Arizona. We have also taken her on a few short, bumpy, muddy trips into the backcountry and a fast-paced 5000+ mile cross country tour through 14 different states. Plenty of time to figure out what works and what doesn’t and make some adjustments.

teardrop at Homolovi state park

Our cattle dogs have become very fond of Wilma. They both know that when we start packing Wilma, a trip is coming. The older of the two dogs, Wiley, has a special relationship with Wilma. It’s her favorite place to be, it’s her home away from home, her happy place. I’m pretty sure she’d rather hang out in Wilma than anyplace else. She’s the first one asking to go in at camp and the last one up in the morning. We often joke that Wilma is the most expensive dog-house we’ve ever seen.

Wiley's favorite spot in the teardrop

Wiley's happy place

Getting Dialed In…

Now that we’ve had Wilma on the road off and on for the better part of a year, we made some adjustments and improvements to the set up. You can read about the initial build order here.

Since we’ve started traveling with Wilma, there are a few things that we thought were pretty important additions to the original build. Our original setup had no water storage. We would routinely buy a couple of two gallon water containers on our way out of town and use the melted ice from the cooler as wash water. It wasn’t ideal. So we started looking at storage solutions and settled on the low-profile Rotopax cans that we could mount directly to the side of the trailer. We now have three 2-gallon containers of water and one 2-gallon container of extra fuel mounted to the side of the trailer. Though a little pricey, I like the way they are stowed out of the way and well secured while traveling. I also appreciated that the mounts were not difficult to install. TC Teardrops is a Rotopax dealer and can install them if you order it when they build out your trailer.

rotopax mounted on trailer

We are also storing an extra 5 gallons of water in our Road-Shower mounted to the roof rack. The road shower is extra water storage AND can be pressurized allowing us to use the attached hose and nozzle to shower, hose off the dogs or spray gear clean. The black, powder-coated tube heats the water inside during the day when the sun is on it. I’ve seen the temperature of the water get into the high 90s which is plenty warm enough for a decent backcountry hose-down before bed.

Road Shower on trailer

After the first couple of nights in the trailer, my wife wanted a little more privacy. She picked up some material from a craft store and after much swearing and cursing (and the purchase of a new sewing machine) created curtains and door covers for the trailer. I installed the rods and now we have an easy and attractive way to get a little privacy when our camp neighbors are a little too curious.

The Foxwing Awning is one of my favorite parts of our setup. I absolutely love how fast and easy it is to use. It’s out and set up in seconds and it doesn’t take much longer to put it away. In fact, we recently got caught taking down camp in a crazy rain storm and I really gained an appreciation for just how quickly the Foxwing gets put away. Rino-Rack (which makes Foxwing in collaberation with Oztent) also makes a floor covering cut to match the “winged” design of the awning. We saw TC Teadrops using one at their display for Overland Expo 2016 and decided it was much better than the cheap outdoor rug we’d been using, so we ordered one. The Foxwing is also open on all sides (as you can see from the pictures) which is fantastic except when the wind is up and I’m working in the kitchen. So we also ordered one of the removable sidewalls for the Foxwing so we can close off any one of the sides if we want to. We figure this could help as a wind block, a rain block or simply to create a little more privacy. It can also be used as an extension of the awning, offering a little extra shade.

Relaxing in the backcountryThe next things on the list are mostly little items that will help make our trips run a little smoother. I will be installing a couple of floor mounts in the galley so I can strap down the cooler while we’re driving. Right now it’s loose and has a tendency to bounce and shift when the roads aren’t perfect. I’d also really like to figure out a way to drain the cooler as the ice melts without lifting the entire thing out of the galley.

We are also looking for new camp chairs. The ones we have are OK and they pack up nicely, but they are very poorly made and started falling apart pretty quickly after we bought them. I like the design, I just wish they were built better.

We’ve toyed with lighting options, but in reality, we don’t need much. We like to let it get dark and enjoy the night. Headlamps work for getting around outside and there’s plenty of light inside. I wouldn’t mind a little more light at the galley when I’m cooking late (or making late night cocktails) but it’s not necessary.

I’m also very much considering another stove option that would give me some more cooking flexibility. I like to cook. I cook a lot at home and I like to have fun cooking on the road as well. The little Camp Chef stove works well for basic stuff, but I want something that will allow me to do some fancier cooking. I’ve got my eye on the Skottle from Tembo Tusk. They’ve been at Overland Expo the last few years and I’ve seen the cooktop in action. I think the skottle would be a nice kitchen addition.

If you have any more questions about our trailer setup, TC Teardrops or any of the accessories please leave me a comment and I’ll try to answer what I can. If you have a teardrop, or are ordering a teardrop, feel free to comment and let us know what you’ve done to dial in your trailer. 

 

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Dave Creech is a successful business owner and entrepreneur based in Phoenix, Arizona. He shares his personal story and lifelong passion for travel and rugged outdoor adventure through his blog at WildernessDave.com. David’s focus has been on trip stories, gear reviews, Wilderness Medicine and a series of articles aimed at introducing Yoga to hikers and backpackers as a path to staying fit, healthy and injury free.

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Comments

  1. Very nice. Looks like you’ve got a little slice of heaven to follow you wherever you go. Sometimes as I pull myself off the ground and put on wet shoes in the rain, I wonder if I am getting too old for a tent. We shall see, my friend. Plenty of campgrounds in San Diego. :)

    • I’m willing to take on a much higher level of hardship when I’m solo or deep enough in the backcountry. But what I became less tolerant of was sleeping on the ground when car camping. Plus we were talking about storage options because we were running out of room for us, the dogs, AND the gear all in the back of the Subaru. San Diego has come up several times in conversation. When we have more control over where we go, we will likely head that way. I might be out that toward New Years….maybe…it’s on the radar.

  2. Thank you for the post, I am currently in the same situation you were in prior to your TCT purchase. I must have looked at 100 s of teardrops and it seem like once you set a budget the temptation to increase by 2 or 3k give you so much more. Then you are at 13k but wow I spend 2k more I can get that too and so on…. Wait this madness has to stop!!! So I have set a firm budget of 10k or under and I plan on attending the Overland expo Eest is on Oct 7 weekend. I am pleased that tct and Hiker trailer will be there in person so I can have a closer look. I personally do not like the traditional teardrop shape, so the 3 I am looking at are Hiker, TCT and MicroLite Wazat. They all seem to be sub 10k so now I have a Two part question for you. 1. What other brands did you look at and what made you choose the tct over the others. 2. What other option you wish you would had added or now realize I really don’t need that….thanks you in advance.

    • Robert,

      We did set a 10k cap on ours, TCTs pricing made that very doable. We added a couple small things here and there and deliver costs put us over, but otherwise we did good at that budget. To answer your questions: I couldn’t tell ALL of the models we looked at but Socal Teardrop, Little Guy Teardrop, Mobi1, Cricket, Vistabule were all at the top of the review list. TCT won out on price, sizing, style and we just like a smaller company with good owners. As for if we would do it different, I think we did a pretty good assessment early on and nailed it pretty damn close. I think if TCT had been offering the Rotopax at the time we had ours done we would have had them add those at the beginning. I sometimes wonder if we should have gone for the off-road package, but their high-clearance package has so far been able to go anyplace we would take it and hasn’t given us any issues.

  3. April Driggers says:

    Absolutely LOVE this! What a gem!

  4. Wondering about the Foxwing in the rain. Most pix I see of the awning, it looks like the awning by the poles is higher than the trailer. In the rain, if you don’t scramble out of bed and lower the poles, when the water runs down toward the trailer does it then run down between the awning and the door, or does it run onto the trailer roof?

    • Bill,

      Good question about the Foxwing. Ideally, if you have any idea it might rain, you should rig it up with a little down slope to the outside and add the extra tie-downs between poles to create gutters for the water. But that doesn’t always happen. When the poles are up higher and the awning is sloped toward the trailer, the water is funneled to a built in gutter at the centerpoint. This will carry water wherever you’ve directed the gutter. In the case of our trailer, we run the gutter across the top of the kitchen/galley door and to the opposite side of the trailer. It works fairly well and, even in a heavy downpour, the side of the trailer and the space under the awning stays dry. It has proven very effective.

      • Another question Dave. In your Introducing Wilma post, the picture of your doggie lying in the trailer shows the grain in the wood inside the trailer really well, and it looks really nice. What stain did you chose on your trailer? Can you post or send me a picture of the galley that shows the stain. I’m just about to order a trailer but it’s hard to tell what the stains look like from the little swatch on the TCT website. Thx Dave.
        Bill

  5. RAYMOND FARROW says:

    Love your setup thanks for sharing

  6. David, Many thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences. All are very helpful to me. I’ve also been thinking of a 5’x9′ TCT equipped similarly to yours, and using an Outback. You also mentioned an Outback but I saw a truck in a photo. Did you get experience using an Outback, and if so, how was it? Do you know the fully loaded weight of your TCT?

    • Randy,

      Yeah, we have been using the TC with the Outback for a couple of years. I just recently got the truck, so we did most of our hauling with the Outback and it did great. The total packed weight, as we have it, has to be somewhere around 1500lbs. It’s pretty easy to haul with the Outback. You’ll be fine!

  7. So good!
    I like your dog :). Thank David for sharing your experiences, I Desire one day,traveling, camping and hiking with my family on a minivan :D

  8. Wow, that is the coolest thing, never saw one of those before. Looks like a great way to travel! Thanks for sharing..

  9. Looks like an awesome setup! Love the name too. Your photos are killer nice too, very professional!

    I’d love to get a teardrop someday. My wife and I have a pop-up camper and we really like it but the teardrop looks like more efficient to setup and just darn cool aesthetics wise.

    Thanks for sharing!

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