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5 Reasons To Avoid Teardrop Trailers


teardrop trailers
Teardrop trailers have pros and cons. Photo via author

5 Reasons To Avoid Teardrop Trailers

After more than a decade of camping in an eight-foot long teardrop trailer, I feel I can provide both the pros and cons of the lightweight, miniature campers. There are a ton of pros for them, but not too many people talk about the cons.

If you don’t already know, teardrop trailers are the smallest type of RV available. Normally they are around four to five feet in width and about eight to 10 feet in length. There is usually no way to stand up inside a teardrop trailer and it is just large enough to fit a double bed inside and a small galley kitchen in the rear.

teardrop trailer galley kitchen
Christina Nellemann

History of teardrop trailers

Teardrop trailers originally evolved during the 1930s when the U.S. was developing the nation’s highway system. Soldiers coming home from WWII would build the little trailers with military surplus materials. The aluminum from airplane wings gave the campers their distinctive shiny exterior.

Since then, teardrops have evolved into both homebuilt and mass manufactured industries. Their popularity has increased exponentially in the last decade due to their cuteness factor, availability, and ease of use.

If you have ever wanted to break into the camping world without too much effort or don’t have a beefy towing vehicle, teardrops are a great first step. They can be towed with a smaller, 4-cylinder vehicle and are easily and cheaply modified to fit your style.

However, there are several cons to these types of campers. Before you start looking into buying your own teardrop trailer, check out these five reasons to avoid these mini RVs.

1. They are not much fun in inclement weather

Over the years of teardrop camping, my husband and I camped in all types of weather including pouring rain, freezing snow, gusty winds, Burning Man dust storms, and damp fog. We and our trailer survived, but it was never as much fun as camping on those sunny 70-degree days.

Bad weather would sometimes deter us from taking a trip or would keep us inside our less than 40-square-foot space. There are ways to add additional shelter to a teardrop trailer, but less than ideal weather is always an issue.

camping in the snow
Christina Nellemann

2. Teardrops don’t have a bathroom

While it was never a big deal for me, not having a bathroom is a big deterrent for some experienced and newbie campers. There are ways to add a camping toilet or bucket to your teardrop trailer arsenal, but I have never seen a teardrop with a dedicated bathroom with a sink. Some teardrops have a sink in the galley kitchen, but many are built without them.

teardrop trailers
Christina Nellemann

3. Lack of headroom, foot room, and well…room

Anyone who shops in the big and tall areas of the mall may have trouble even fitting inside a teardrop trailer. The majority of teardrop beds can only fit one or two people under 6’5”. Teardrops are also around four to five feet in height. I don’t know of any teardrop owner who hasn’t hit their head at least once or twice on the ceiling or the door frame.

teardrop trailers
Wikimedia Commons

4. They are not the most family-friendly RV

Along with the lack of room comes a lack of extra beds for a larger family. Some teardrop trailers come with fold-down beds for small children, but most families with one or two kids need to snuggle up together in the same bed. Check out Playing with Sticks on YouTube to see how some families accomplish this.

The same goes for families with pets. I’ve seen adjoining tents set up for larger dogs who can’t fit inside a teardrop. These types of tents can also be used as outdoor living rooms for all family members.

5. Teardrops can be overpriced

Because of their soaring popularity and because no major manufacturers are building them in mass quantities, many teardrops are priced unreasonably high. Some of the newer designs are running around $20,000 or more for what is essentially a bed on wheels. I’ve even seen some that cost over $60,000!

teardrop trailers
Hütte Hut

You can find more affordable used teardrop trailers online, but they do tend to get snapped up quickly. Since they are so desirable, they also retain their value and owners are not letting their old teardrops go at too low a price.

While there are a few reasons to avoid purchasing a teardrop trailer, I had a blast camping in mine. My little 850 lb. camper went quickly and easily over mountain passes, through national parks, and around curvy roads. It fit into tight campsites and even through fast food drive thru windows. In addition, everywhere it went it would draw a crowd and even charm a few highway patrol officers.

If a teardrop trailer sounds like it is right for you, check out this new $17,000 Teardrop Camper Built To Go Off-Road.

Author Christina Nellemann Avatar

Christina Nellemann

Christina is a writer and designer who has written about camping, tiny houses, and alternative living since 2008. She recently traded in her teardrop trailer for a 13-foot fiberglass trailer from 1982.

37 thoughts on “5 Reasons To Avoid Teardrop Trailers

  1. I am a widow of advanced age. My teardrop uses no extra gas, it is an off-road model, it tracks behind the tow vehicle, I do not need hookups, I do not wish to sleep with a toilet, and it works for me and the dog. It can be a bummer if it’s cold, but I do have a 12 volt throw and can put up the 6×6 Clam shelter and use a propane heater. I have an awning but have not had to use it. If I don’t want to use the Clam, I have a privacy tent. I back in with no help in about a minute.

    If I had an indoor toilet, I probably would not use it. If I don’t use any tents, it takes two or three minutes to be set up and that long to pack up again. Toss out a chair, tie the dog, and put out his bed and feeding station, ready for hiking. No problems so far.

  2. This spring I pulled the trigger on a used 2018 [email protected] 3200- cs-s. It’s just myself and my three small pups. I originally considered the [email protected] but couldn’t see hauling myself at 68 in and out of a bed on wheels. I couldn’t afford a new model but this model was on the lot and I fell in love with it and bought it on the spot. I immediately modified the sleeping area into a 32” single bed with two side seats and the Lagun table relocated from the back of the caravan to the front by the door. It was the drawers that really sold me. the new models only have cupboards. I invested in an All Pro Adventures awning specifically designed for the caravan and an EZ up style awning with removable screening for the galley. I also snagged a 12Volt Emerson water heater to make up a quick cup of soup or hot tea inside if the weather is uncooperative and outside cooking is out of the question. My TV is a 2015 Subaru Outback 3.5r 6 cylinder. It pulls the caravan quite well but the mileage really suffers. Thank heavens for A/C because this summer temps have been in the high 90’s and it’s been brutal. This past weekend I experienced several of the nightmares one can encounter while camping. A biblical thunderstorm, a leak location to be determined. A leak under the sink from the outside shower easily fixed with a wrench, gale force winds forcing the abandonment of the EZ up in the middle of dinner. All of these things require quick thinking on your feet, patience’s and calm. That’s what camping is all about, challenges of nature and muddling through as best you can. Wanda is my great escape pod that helps me satisfy my WandaLust. A motor home or land yacht where just too intimidating for me as a single adventure seeker just venturing into RV territory after years of tenting. It’s step up from tenting, I agree, but it beats a staying home couch potato existence. I’m happy with my clam shell and look forward to many wonderful adventures to come.

  3. Christina, I love the ‘tongue in cheek’ and the pros that you share. One thing that at least for me, and my situation, is that I want to travel extensively in the US by road, visiting everything from the majestic Rocky Mountains, to National Parks and Forests, things like the Carlsbad Caverns, Ol’e Faithful, Disney World in FL, etc.

    I am recently retired, and in my semi-retirement time just before the COVID restrictions, the year before my wife and I went on several ‘road trips’ lasting from 2 to 4 weeks, totaling 3 months in one year.

    The fact is that as frugal as I could be (not staying in the ‘hot sheets’ or drug emporium hotels, the expense was about $2,500 a month. That is just lodging alone. A teardrop trailer would greatly mitigate that expense. I am more than aware of some added costs, but overall the savings between National parks, boondocking, the occasional campground , would more than pay for some heretofore avoided roadside attractions,

    Besides all that my teardrop will have a seperate bathroom, with the option of in the future a wet shower inside. Since we are older, the fact is that at O Dark : Thirty no matter how close the toilets are, it’s too far! Especially in the rain!

    Besides all that I dream of dinner and breakfast at a Cracker Barrell, staying in their parking lot, and an inside bathroom (granted, very small) will be a great benefit to the travel experience.

    Travel, with camping capacity, rather than camping wit travel capacity. I didn;t even mention visiting friends that have moved out of the area.

    Teardrop trailers are a tradeoff like everything else in life!

  4. It’s not for everyone, but most of your cons are pros for me and my spouse. The small size, light weight, and aerodynamic design make it effortless and economical to tow with a compact SUV or mid-size car. The bed is comfortable for me and my 6’1″ spouse, and it requires no setup (unlike those dinettes that convert to beds). There are shelves inside for books, clothing, and amenities—and even a rod to hang clothes if you need a “closet” while camping (seriously?). The walls and window coverings block light and sound much better than a tent at a noisy campground. I would not want a kitchen or bathroom inside a small trailer. That’s just asking for odors and time spent cleaning when you could be hiking or lounging. Campgrounds typically have pit toilets at a minimum, and if you’re camping away from other people (as I prefer), you can use the great outdoors and you don’t need to set up a ridiculous tent for that; just bring a small plastic shovel that weighs almost nothing and takes up almost no space. I agree with the commenter who said you camp “out of” a teardrop, not in it. We take along a Caravan pop-up 10×10 canopy for inclement weather, shade in hot climates, and wind protection when needed (it has zip-on walls). A teardrop is small enough to fit into most tent campsites and go on roads with tight curves that bigger trailers cannot access. At home, our teardrop makes a handy backyard guest bedroom and/or pop-up bar (with electrical outlets) when we host a sleepover party or family reunion. We love it for road trips too, because we can set up our own kitchen and outdoor dining area in minutes at any location, and are not at the mercy of horrible interstate food. The rear galley of our teardrop actually has a lot more counter space and storage than the “kitchens” in many small trailers or overpriced Sprinter vans. I would never recommend a teardrop for a family of more than two people, but it is perfect for an adventurous couple (and a couple of dogs). Sure, I have the occasional fantasy about owning an Airstream, and then I remind myself that our aluminum teardrop is not only durable but also enormously agile and inexpensive (both in terms of initial and operating/maintenance costs) by comparison. I don’t understand why anyone wants to go “camping” and bring along an entire house including their television and air conditioner! So far I’ve only had two regrets: 1) if an off-road package had been available when we bought our trailer, we’d like that even better than the model we have, and 2) ) we didn’t realize our teardrop would be so appealing to other people that we’d have to spend time answering questions and giving “tours” whenever we stay at a campground. I do agree that many teardrops today are overpriced, but a lot of trailer manufacturers (of all sizes) have been price-gouging because of the pandemic, and costs for some materials and parts have gone up a lot because of supply-chain issues. Some of the best manufacturers are the ones that build relatively few units per year, so you might have to wait a while to take delivery after ordering. That was true even when we bought ours in 2006. Totally worth the wait!

  5. Everything is a compromise – teardrops are low cost, lightweight, and easier and safer to live with on the road. Have considered upgrading to something with standing headroom and a mini bathroom, but the trade off in terms of extra weight, cost and safety is a barrier.

  6. Reply to your 5 reasons:
    1. That is why you have the teardrop (Squaredrop in my case) ARB awning room attached to your camper, or back the teardrop up to a pop canopy so that you don’t have to worry about inclement weather. As long as you are under the canopy inclement weather is a none issue.
    2. Neither do tents, get a pop shower tent, add a portable potty or bucket, and problem solved.
    3. You don’t live in your tear drop you live out of it. The only time you should be in it is when it’s bedtime, and you don’t need standing room for that, although you can sit in one with plenty of headroom clearance.
    4. Really? If you have more than 2 people then this is not the camper for you, just as if it is just the two of us a 5th wheel with slideouts is not the RV for us.
    5. RV’s are pricey as well, even more so now because of the pandemic as everything has tripled. I built my own 5×10 squaredrop camper to my specifications and the costs was $2600. Way cheaper and better built than those on the market.

    Now do a 5 reasons to buy a Teardrop because I really think you reached on this one.

    1. Hi Vee – Thanks for your comments. Would you please be willing to email me some tips or plans for how you built your $2,600 trailer? That sounds fantastic. It would be a fun project. Thank you for any guidance. Dave

  7. I am looking at teardrops. I am a tent camper, but my wife is not. However, I don’t see discussed when it is bad weather outside in a tent, I have a vestibule area to get undress and despsoit my footwear. However, I do not see this with the teardrop. Is my perception incorrect?

    I mean your bed is exposed to the wind and rain when getting in or out, especially if conditions are above drizzle.

    1. Camp-Inn makes Teardrops and also will sell you a side tent for porta-potty or stand-up dressing/undressing.

  8. Check out the 13′ Scamp that has all the amenities including a bathroom with shower and it’s about 6’3″ inside. We have one and love it. It’s a fiberglass trailer too, so it will last many years.

  9. Good points to consider before getting one. I built a Chesapeake Light Craft kit. I put about $5000 total in it and pull it behind my Kia Sportage at 31 mpg. Being self-sufficient backpackers for 50 years its luxury sleeping on a memory foam queen sized mattress in the insulated camper w/lights and a galley. It’s all about the experience you are looking for.

  10. Teardrop trailers are for the adventurous. For those of us who would still be tent camping if our backs didn’t ache and we wanted to stay a little dryer in wet weather. Not to mention the convenience of having almost everything packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice. We are like-minded people. I love mine and wouldn’t trade up for anything! Ours is a Little Guy 5-wide we pull with a 4-cylinder Outback. Perfect!!!

    1. I’m with you Melanie. I have a vintage Little Guy Tailgater 4′ wide I can pull with my Subby Forester. I’m 65, done with tent camping , I do have a clam , but don’t always use it

  11. I loved my teardrop I had a clamshell can’t remember all of the title. But I enjoyed it while I had it. I had originally bought it a couple years prior to my retirement and was planning on going camping after I retired all around the country. But for some reason the Lord saw otherwise. After having my camper just three years I developed Parkinson’s disease. So that was the end of my camping. Minehead the kitchen on the outside little refrigerator two burner stove TV on the outside it also had a sink. It what is a full size mattress table inside room to seat 4 people. Had a shower and a toilet and even a small sink. I never actually took a shower in it but I did use the bathroom frequently. It was just the perfect size for me.

  12. We bought a teardrop last year and love it ! Your 5 reasons not to buy one goes without saying . One , bad weather doesn’t affect us no more than a regular trailer . If it’s cold turn on the heater , if it’s hot turn on the air conditioner or vent . Two , bathroom , we put out a portable bathroom in an outside tent next to the door (for those late night nature calls) . Three and four , lack of room and family friendly . It’s now just my wife and I so it’s just us . We are retired . But I’ll tell you it’s ALOT more easier to drive and pass on the highway getting to your destination than with a bulky trailer . And last of all . . . The price . Shop around . We paid well under $10,000 for a custom built trailer . It works for us !

  13. You get what you pay for…. you buy the covered bed on wheels then don’t expect you can stand up in it. We have had “LaVerne” for over 3 years. She’s a TAB 320S. We have a bathroom/shower a small kitchen inside and almost a queen sized bed. We have customized her over the years ( removed the tv ) so she is just perfect for us plus our 16 pound terrier/chihuahua. We have adventured to New Orleans and back 3 times, plus southeast and west. Froze some water connections and baked in 105 degrees at Chaco canyon. It’s all great adventure. If you aren’t into minimalist camping then DONT by a small teardrop! You don’t need “ the kitchen” sink plus a fireplace to enjoy he open road.

  14. The price is astronomical! Wow. Great article. No bathroom would rule us out immediately. Unless the campground had a nice one. Plus, I couldn’t fit in one. I would feel claustrophobic. 6’2, 230, no where for the wife to sleep.

    1. Yes it wouldn’t fit you. I am 5’7”and it is fine with a 110 dog cause she sleeps curled up. I don’t even put the slats extension in , just put the couch down. The bath really would get you trapped, lol. But I can camp in it just fine with junk for enjoying the time stored in my truck bed under a hard top.I keep a big freezer in there and only keep todays meat defrosting in the sink, while the cube frig in the TD is for fresh produce that needs to stay cool.All the heavy and bulky stuff is packed in the truck, and I can go from just hopping in the TD, heating something on the galley cook top and hitting the sack to pulling out the screen room and solar and setting up a glam camp. I have a lot of fun with it, no more brass alcohol stoves or MSR whispers to puzzle out. I knocked my last tiny stove off a ledge into a spring flood so this is luxury especially as I bought a good few acres and I move it around for different views or to be close to my latest food forest project. Lots of land and a tiny home make me a happy girl.

  15. I certainly enjoyed your story on the “Teardrop” camping trailer’s!!! Thanks for sharing the information.

    Tim Spreadborough
    503 655 5067
    Oregon City, Oregon

  16. We have a tear drop trailer made by Safari Condo in Canada. We chose it after seeing two while camping in our ALiner. We have the Alto 1723 retractable roof. We have a bathroom, inside/outside shower and a dining area with refrigerator and two burner stove. We have AC and heat. All the cons we have. And it is 18 feet long and raises up to 8 foot 4 inches withe roof up.

  17. After many years of being a tent camper, I took the plunge and am now the owner of a gently used 35′ Class A motorhome (2002 National Dolphin) that I purchased last year. However years ago I gave serious consideration about going the teardrop route after a friend showed me the one he was building from plans he found on the internet. This friend has a very nice late model Jeep that he takes on off road excursions, so the teardrop makes perfect sense for him (and his wife on occasion).

    Without sounding sexist, only a few adventurous women would be interested in camping without access to a toilet, a bathroom (shower), and other creature comforts, which is probably the biggest con for owning one

    That said, these teardrop campers usually appeal to men who don’t mind the inconveniences, and go to austere camping locations (off the grid).

    In defense of these trailers, storage is easy due to their small size and footprint, and are a step above tent camping. Plus, there are tents that can accompany the trailer (attach to it) for additional space to accommodate more people, for a portable toilet, and a small shower can be an addition as well.

    While there are cons to them, when all things are considered they have a lot of positives that outweigh the negatives.

    Nevertheless, it’s always good to present both sides (pros and cons) of owning teardrop trailers.

    1. You have got to be kidding me. I spent twenty years in the military. Plenty of women do not need regular toilets or showers for a couple of days or even longer “camping” Besides, there are very few places you camp that have zero access to bathrooms or showers. You forget that women nor men have always had huge walk-in showers and plumbed toilets in the not so far away past. They did just fine. Portable toilets are pretty easy to you today. You can even set up a shower tent if you really need to. I don’t have to have a toilet or shower in my house now. There are plenty of them I could have access to if I needed one.

    2. Yes, that’s more than a bit sexist. It’s 2022. Thousands of women backpack and hike by choice without bathrooms, hair dryers, and daily showers every year. We do just fine.

      But thanks.

  18. You had on the perfect gear sitting in the snow. There would only be enough room for your very favorite gear for sure. The freedom to camp just about anywhere would be fun. We enjoyed your article and now will daydream of all the beautiful places to visit. Happy Camping

  19. I must disagree on a couple points. My wife and I own a Tab 320 cs-s. It is a clamshel with rear kitchen, not only does it have a flush toilet it also packs a wet bath with a shower and sink,a/c heat. Its a little low im 5″11 and I can stand up inside toward the front its about little over 1,500# black grey and fresh tanks its super easy to tow anywhere with our 4runner

    1. Friends of mine have them. Pretty nice. But, too much stuff I don’t care about in them and not enough of what my wife and I really want in a small camper like a TAB. But, great for what they are and the right people. I do most of the cooking when outdoors or camping, and I don’t need a kitchen built in. Sure, I will have something to cook inside if the weather is bad but don’t need a kitchen for that. The bathroom part I like but I can do the same another way. Again, I’m the one that gets up at night so the wife won’t care about it so much as long as one is close. But… the biggie for having a happy life for me is a queen size standalone bed that both of us can also sit up in if need be, and well an AC for the Texas heat. That is why I am building one just big enough for the things we need but not the things we do not. Good luck to you.

  20. I just sold my teardrop last October. Mine had a kitchen,a toilet and shower. It was a great introduction for me pulling a trailer. It was a 2013 and i paid $11,500. I traded it in for a 2021 Winnebago Micro Minnie. I got a trade in of $16,000.
    Been camping once in new trailer and new car and it still seems small inside. I am getting use to pulling something that size. I am 76 and nervous trying new things. But wanted to say i loved my teardrop just looking for a few modern conveniences. I noticed a the dealership i taded it too has it forsale for $19,500.!!! Crazy.

  21. Tear drop campers are for the summer seasom! You will not like cooking breakfast outside in 20 -30 degree wrathet….and for 17000, you could be declared INSANE

  22. We went planning on buying a teardrop camper, but after looking at the Aliner fold down campers, we decided not to get a teardrop for the reasons mentioned. We can stand up, cook, shower and stay comfortably in inclement weather in an Aliner.

  23. I have a great teardrop camper. It is my step up from tent camping, was very affordable and has all the space I need. I tow with an Outback and also use a pop up screen room for cooking and relaxing. The company I found makes campers that are up to 6 foot inside. It has a portable potty inside for night use. Exhaust fan and AC. Lots of add-ons optional. Less than 10k for many models.
    The teardrop is perfect for me. I am a solo camper and the security of a locking door and windows is great. My camper is custom made and the company Rustic Trail Teardrops out of NC have backed their product. Many owners connect and camp together. I love the ease of towing and parking. I have a stationary twin bed and a seating area with table and plenty of storage. Love my teardrop!

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