Why are Teardrop Campers so Expensive?

Feature Driven, Supply and Demand Drive up Prices

Like anything in America, we all suffer from the bigger, better, cooler, feature-needing syndrome. Well not everyone, lol. The whole idea behind the original teardrop was affordability. They were built with surplus parts by anyone with some tools. Cheap travel trailers.

DIY TrailersFast forward to today, now we’re making them so much cooler it’s driven up the price. You can still get homemade teardrops here and there but why not get a little extra to make things more comfortable. Let’s look at the parts. You can build one on a cheap imported trailer chassis, but that’s like building a house on a foundation of toothpicks. Not something I would skimp on.  Just think pulling down the highway in 104-degree weather and having those really small wheel-barrel size tires, scarry. The improvements made in trailer technology is worth it. Better suspension, better axles, wheels, etc.

Quality of Materials Used

These trailers are very light and bounce and vibrate when going down the road. If the structure isn’t built properly they will just come apart. So over time, the manufacturers have really stepped up on the structures. The cheaper trailers are still making the cabins out of wood but have vastly improved the design making them stronger. This is fine for the casual user. Other companies have an all-aluminum frame that will not rattle apart and well worth the extra money, especially in rough terrain. Companies are building their own trailer chassis as well. High Camp trailers in Portland, for example,  use a fully welded powder coated custom frame, that frame is going to last.

The siding used on RV’s varies from sketchy to solid one-piece fiberglass. Water damage is one of the more common problems with all RV’s. Cheaper siding relies on calking for its watertight integrity. Inevitably there is going to be some failure with that. Some builder’s walls and roof panels use separate pieces with a seam on the roof-top edge. Very prone to leaking without diligent maintenance. Same with the rear hatch.  The slightest bit of water will cause dry rot that you won’t see until things fall apart. Somewhere there is a balance of costs VS. watertight integrity. You get what you pay for. Companies like Bean trailer in Salt Lake use a custom one-piece molded fiberglass out shell that cannot leak. Also, they use a one-piece rear hatch. These are perfect examples of why some teardrops trailers can cost more than others. The commercial camping trailer industry is notorious for spitting out crap so buyer beware. Do your homework.

Are Teardrop Campers Considered an RV? – Check out the Upgrades, Features, and Options

The beauty of the teardrop trailer industry is the number of features and customization available. Almost all of them will add the features you want. Also, this is where you can really control the cost of your trailer. You can order it with a more bare-bones approach on options and add them later as you start to use it. I advise this approach because you can’t forecast everything you’ll think you need in the beginning. Once you start using it you’ll find a host of things you need or don’t need. Things like sinks and water features for example. You might think having a stove, sink, and microwave are important to you. Others find the extra counter space without the sink is more important. How much water should your trailer provide? This is a perfect example of a feature that sounds good on paper but in reality, you’ll probably be running out of water most of the time. It’s a small trailer, not a motorhome, adding too many bells and whistles always sound good on paper but in the real world just might not work out so swell.

Teardrop Trailer weight

Like a lot of RV’s weight is always a consideration and using high-quality materials to reduce weight and retain strength is important. Lightweight materials cost more and sometimes require a somewhat more skilled workforce to implement. Things like fiberglass outer shells and aluminum frames are a good example.

Teardrops were originally designed to be pulled by just about anything.  You can even find one that you can pull behind your motorcycle. They are great for traveling across the country because they won’t impact your fuel economy too badly. They’re lightweight enough to roll around the garage by hand. Keeping things lightweight is an advantage that I try and preserve by not packing it with too much. There are plenty of trailers that are under 1,500 lbs. to choose from and prices vary considerably. Larger teardrops say with indoor bathrooms start to blur the lines between a full-blown travel trailer and the small teardrop.

TAB TrailersThese larger teardrops try to be much more than practical for their size and again you’ll need to look at things larger tow vehicles and features that just can’t quite compete with a travel trailer. You might as well get the travel trailer.

How much is a teardrop camper?

Hiker Trailers are probably one of the affordable trailers made. They start as low as $3,700 for the most basic trailer. Though not really a teardrop they accomplish a lot of the same things. Gone are the aerodynamics of the traditional teardrop and looks more like a Uhaul trailer. Trailers that are too affordable tend to use the flimsiest parts, like doors that have easily broken latches, windows that don’t open, handles that fall off, etc. Ask anyone who’s bought a cheap motor home and listen to their stories. Things just break.

A good Teardrop starts at around $10,000. Anything less than that can be basically an empty box on a cheap utility trailer from places like Harbor Freight. Don’t waste your money!

Overlander or off-road trailers can be $31,000 or more if they’re packed with options. But these trailers are meant for extreme conditions and sustained usage. The average camping trailer wouldn’t survive these all-terrain trips. So the extra cost is well worth it. 

If you like to build things there are plenty of teardrops DIY kits and plans available, just don’t skimp on the important things like the chassis, wheels, and tires.

Are Teardrop Campers Worth it?

Imagine coming home on Friday night. You hitch up the trailer and you’re packed. Just load the ice chest, fill up the water and you’re ready to go. When you get to camp you back in, level your trailer, put out your folding chairs, and you’re camping. Gone are the setting up the tent, sleeping on the ground, waking up to a deflated air mattress, unloading countless boxes, and trying to remember what’s in each one.
Your trailer is equipped with all your necessary kitchen items that are always in the same place, your toiletries are always kept in the trailer and there for you. Sleeping in a teardrop is a cozy experience with some trailers having a DVD player for an occasional movie. If it starts raining you just sleep in. The beds are fantastic, I have a full queens size memory foam mattress that rivals my bed at home.

Towing these trailers is a breeze. You can tow most teardrops with most any cars, and you won’t even know you’re towing something. You can fit in many more camping spots than say a bigger trailer or RV, making finding a campground much easier. You can fit them in more tight spaces when you are boondocking.

If you can rent a couple of different styles of teardrop campers before you buy, you’ll have a much better idea of what you really need. Take them out and get a feel for what you’re going to use. My idea of what I thought I wanted had changed dramatically after using one. I can tell you I will never need a DVD player because I can never stay awake lol. The amount of water we use far exceeds any teardrops capacity so I opted to carry separate water jugs vs. spending money on an elaborate sink, water tanks, and greywater systems. Your experience will be different so rent one here first.

Teardrop trailer companies are small and live and die by their reputations. Like most small companies that don’t do a lot of sales volume, doing their absolute best is how most of them operate. Truly a made in America product.