Teardrop camping trailers are nothing new – but one made largely by hand out of a composite of chicken feathers certainly is.
It’s called the Earth Traveler T250LX, a single-axle trailer weighing just 135kg and built by the Earth Traveler company in the US state of New Mexico.
The adaptable four-person living shelter has strength comparable to carbon fiber, says the company, and its organic shape makes it both aerodynamic and weatherproof.
Gullwing panels expand the interior space for added comfort. You can even add tents, kitchen amenities, off-road components, and UV awnings.
Earth Traveler is aiming the trailer at the electric vehicle (EV) market, where its light weight won’t burden an EV’s battery range as much as a heavier trailer. Price starts at US$10,000.
There’s an obvious downside to a rooftop tent – getting in and out of it in the middle of the night to find the campground toilet, for instance, or scrambling to find a convenient bush.
There are other disadvantages, too, like extra wind resistance when you and your now top-heavy SUV are on the move.
Nevertheless, the rooftop tent has found a place with off-roaders, especially overlanders making their way through deserts and backwoods areas in the United States.
The tents are even appearing in the Aussie Outback, isolating occupants above creepy-crawlies like Mulga snakes.
Now California start-up company Rubicon Expedition Products has come up with compromise accommodation called the Hitch Tent Rack System, a fold-up steel and aluminium frame with four telescopic legs that hitches to the towball and is carried upright behind the tailgate, thereby cutting wind resistance.
The company says nothing about obscuring the driver’s view in the vehicle’s rear-view mirror however. Anyway, the system drops the contraption down to tow level, leaving it as a freestanding structure and freeing up the vehicle for day trips. With a rooftop set-up of course you have to pack down the tent every time you want to use the vehicle.
The telescopic legs fold out and adjust in height to level the tent out on almost any terrain. The platform holds up to 272kg.
The system retains many of the benefits of rooftop tens – like keeping occupants above ground and sleeping where you find a suitable park – but does away with the top-heavy downsides.
The Hitch Tent system has just been unveiled in the US. Pre-orders opened immediately, from US$1200. That’s just for the platform – the three-person tent is extra.