Most adventurous outdoor parents can tell you what a challenge it can be bringing toddlers along for camping and backpacking trips. Before having kids, cold weather, bad food, and the discomforts of camping and trail life were a part of the romance and pageantry of each outing. With a non-verbal toddler, those minor discomforts can quickly become a big issue. After a few rough nights of winter camping in a tent, I started looking for alternative sleeping options. My goal was to find a trailer that would allow us to enjoy the outdoors without having to brave the cold winter nights and powerful winds we often get here in the California desert.
After looking around online, I discovered a company called Off The Grid Rentals. Poking around on their website, I found that they specialize in providing off-road ready Teardrop trailers and roof top tents to adventurous outdoor families. They have two pickup locations in Southern California, and I really lucked out since I live 12 miles from one of their locations. They also have pick-up locations in Utah and Arizona. From there, Julia got in contact with Off The Grid Rentals, and we were embarking on a California desert road trip only two days later.
After a 3-day weekend road trip covering more than 500 miles, I’m a Teardrop trailer convert. It’s going to be pretty difficult getting my son to hop back into a tent after this experience. This trip was a game-changer for sure. With that being the case, here are 5 reasons our family road trips will never be the same!
1. Bad Weather Is Only A Mild Inconvenience
At the tail end of our road trip, a pretty big storm blew into Southern California. The wind on the storm front packed gusts in the 40-50mph range. This all started at around 3:00 AM. I only realized this because I went outside to use the restroom and almost got blown over. I was amazed how well insulated the Teardrop trailer was from cold and wind noise. My son was sleeping like a champ and had no clue what was going on outside. Had we been in a tent, that night would have proceeded in a radically different fashion. Sleeping in a trailer will allow us to safely camp in colder locations and higher elevations without having to worry about my son’s comfort and health. I can’t wait to bring this camper up to Grandview Campground in the Ancient Bristlecone forest once the road is open.
Since the Teardrop has such a small profile, it’s very easy to tow. Even in high winds, I could hardly feel that I had a trailer attached to my 4runner. Having never really towed anything before this Teardrop, this was an issue that had me concerned. I still have a lot of work to do in regards to learning how to backup with a trailer. Driving forward, however, couldn’t be easier.
2. Sleeping Gets A Lot More Comfortable
When the nights are cold, windy, and rainy, even the most steadfast adventurer can struggle sleeping outside. Having slept in those conditions on more than a few occasions over the past few years, the inside of this Teardrop is downright luxurious. This makes me feel a lot better (and safer) when bringing my 20-month old toddler on camping trips in the middle of nowhere.
The full size mattress comfortably fits 2 adults with one child in between. This Teardrop also had shelves, a stereo, and USB chargers for our phones.
On the top of the Teardrop we had a pop-up tent. This isn’t a standard feature for all rentals, but is an extra option by request. The pop-up tent provides sleeping space for three more people, and is an awesome place to relax and nap once you’ve found a place to camp.
3. There’s No Need To Set Up Camp
When we take road trips, we often leave on Friday night after work. In the winter months with shorter days, that means arriving to campsites in the dark. Pitching a tent, blowing up sleeping pads, and preparing dinner in the dark can be a real chore at times. Having a ready-to-go camper alleviates all of these issues as your bed is already made and the entire trailer unit has bright LED lighting.
Leaving one campsite and heading to another in the morning is easy work with a trailer, as there is no tent to break down and no sleeping pads to deflate. We simply made our bed, shut the doors, and we were off and running.
4. The Teardrop Krawler Can Go Virtually Anywhere My 4runner Can
When I first started looking at trailers I was worried about whether or not I’d be able to take them on some of the rutted fire roads we usually drive on to get to dispersed campsites. This Teardrop model is called the Krawler and it’s built for off-highway adventures. What makes the Krawler special is it’s Old Man Emu leaf springs under a 3500 lbs axle, 20″ of ground clearance, 10″ electric brakes, and 9-way adjustable shocks. The kit is finished off with Method race wheels and all-terrain tires. On our first night we made our way out to Afton Canyon, home of the famous Mojave Road, and had no problem on the steep, sandy, and rutted roads in.
5. Cooking And Cleaning Off-The-Grid Isn’t An Issue
I have such an aversion to cooking and cleaning while camping that I almost always bring dehydrated meals and my Jetboil for dinner. This is even the case at established campsites! The Teardrop we rented had such a nice kitchen that I had to break from tradition. The Krawler comes with a full propane stove, pots, pans, and cookware. The best part is that the final cleaning of the cookware was included in the overall cleaning fee. The kitchen setup also came with a refrigerator that we kept iced and only needed to run a little at night.
When you’re ready to clean your dishes or take a shower, you can plug in the water hose for some high pressure cleaning. We like boondocking, and almost never stay in developed campsites (I don’t like crowds), so having battery power and water lets us hang out wherever dispersed camping is allowed.
As you can see from these 5 reasons, I don’t think family camping will ever be the same. For car camping, inclement weather trips, and planned family outings, I think we’ll be sleeping in a trailer from here on out! I still see myself doing a ton of backcountry camping and backpacking trips to remote areas, and I’ll surely be bringing my son along on a few of those trips if weather permits. This trailer rental will give us options and flexibility to make sure that all of our family outings are positive and enjoyable experiences for my son, and that’s the most important thing in my eyes.
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36 thoughts on “Family Travel In A Teardrop Trailer: 5 Reasons Road Trips Will Never Be The Same”
Such convenience packed into one tiny port buggy!
I know! So much packed into such a small trailer!
That trailer is so damn cool! What a great idea for family travels!
Thanks, Anna! It’s definitely going to make family road trips a lot more comfortable in the future.
Thank you for this!!! I’m hoping your review will help me convince my husband that we need one of these!!!!
You’re welcome! Hopefully you can get a rental for a weekend to convince him!
Thanks for this review, Drew. I’ve looked at these, but am not yet convinced. I do like the heavy-duty aspects of this particular teardrop, however. Lack of floorspace for boots, etc. seems to be an obstacle for me, but I guess storing such gear underneath, outside would work too! But those big tires and heavy suspension are a big plus! Thx again!
Thanks, Mike. Like you said, the footprint on this is small. That’s what we really liked about it, but others might want more space. The tongue of this Krawler trailer has a large lockbox that fits all of the things we didn’t want to store in the 4runner or trailer. You can always rent to try it out first. You can also check out the larger R-Pod trailers. They offer a lot more space, but can’t go where the Krawler can go.
This is so cool. We’ve been looking for something for a trip to Yukon/Alaska that’s a step up from tenting but without going the large, cumbersome RV route. Thanks for the introduction.
This would be a great option for a trip to Yukon/Alaska. We looked at larger trailers and RVs as well, but their massive size and footprint was a nonstarter. We also worried about being able to drive them to more remote areas. This trailer allows us some minor luxuries, without the hassle of a huge trailer. It doesn’t have a restroom or table setup, but we can easily live without those.
My wife and I lived out of our Sierra model (made by the same company as the Krawler) for 7 months. We drove from Tijuana up the Yukon-Alaska Highway to Prudhoe Bay, AK and it was perfect for us. We came to many of the same conclusions as you did about trade offs, and we don’t regret our decision for a second. Even though we are now back in the ‘real world’, we’ve kept the camper and plan on long road trips with kids down the road. Here’s more about our thoughts on the camper if you’re interested: http://www.thepursuitoflife.com/the-camper/#more-2081
Thanks for sharing the link, Ryan! Awesome to see you had no problem towing the Teardrop with your Outback.
Awesome! This takes car camping to a whole new level. Nice to minimize camp setup and breakdown.
Exactly! Car camping is something I enjoy now.
Wow! That’s a great review of this trailer and I have to agree with you that such addition to your “gear” will enhance your family outdoor activities.
I wish you many trips and to enjoy the outdoors!
Thank you. We’re looking forward to more trips in the Teardrop soon!
Drew, you and Julia should stop by and take a tour of the shop some time. I know Allison would love to say “hi” to one of her favorite teachers 🙂
That would be awesome, Gabe! Julia would love to see Allison as well!
This is really cool. When I was growing up we had a large motorhome that slept all 6 of us. I was much younger than my brothers so my mom dealt with camping with a small child (starting around when I was 18 months) and doing everything else. It can definitely be a challenge. Things like this make it easier.
That’s awesome that you got started so young. I’m sure you have some great memories from those motorhome trips!
Are you going to buy one or just rent?
Just rent. We wouldn’t use it frequently enough to justify the purchase. It’s a nice option to have when we need it.
My wife and I rented one of their TD’s and took it to Anza, it dropped down to the low 20’s and let me tell you it was cold, would have loved to have had a heater in ours. I do not know if the newer ones come with a heater but it would have helped a lot.
The other thing is that my wife and I are not in our 20’s or 30′ any more and moving around in the TD is a lot more difficult for the older folks. The kitchen out side was really nice but the lighting on the older model was not that good and the height of the upper shelves made it impossible for my wife to reach anything we placed up there.
We love the ease of towing and honestly it never really felt like it was back behind the Jeep 4 Door we drove. Space is limited but it was perfect for the 3 days we traveled with it.
Yes I would still rent one, no I would never purchase one.
My baby is 7 months old, and I’m looking for tips to include him in our adventurous lifestyle! Great read, such a cool looking trailer! How do you find it on gas compared to more traditional trailers?
This would be great for your 7-month old! I meticulously track my fuel economy using the Fuelly app and average 18.1 MPG with my 4runner under normal driving conditions. With the trailer, my MPG drops to around 14 MPG.
This is great! I almost bought a vintage wood teardrop years ago (before kids) but my husband is 6’9″ tall and well, that’s just ridiculous to think he’d fit. I tried to justify that he could fold up like origami in the fetal position when he sleeps but it still wasn’t happening. We eventually had one baby, then two, and here we are a dozen years later and we have a gigantic trailer that is five times the size with five times the worry. Hold onto that size as long as you can it’s perfect!
Wow! A gigantic trailer is necessary at 6’9″. I’m guessing your kids are pretty tall, too!
They will be! 🙂
I do own a teardrop, no kitchen at the back as we didnt want to cook too much we bought a coleman oven who do all we need. I need to say, it’s not for everyone. We really enjoy ours but lots of people need bigger. To us, a camper is a comfy bed and this is what our teardrop bring us, all the rest of our money goes for the fun and not for the gas… Loll
I agree, Daniel. We’re backcountry tent campers 90% of the time, so any bed that’s not on the ground is a luxury for us. For those used to massive campers, a Teardrop might feel a little cramped.
I love roadtrips that was such a huge change in our life. No more hotels to pay, no extra fuel to pull it! Can park about anywhere, even in cities! We leave it attached most of time as we drive a lot and if we decide to stay for the night in a cool place why not! I’m an adventurous man, I love discovering new cool places.. So fun! Sorry can’t put a pic here but go on Facebook on my Group EN MINI ROULOTTE. (I’m french Canadian loll so title is in french) Only teardropppers are allowed in the group. Sorry
That looks awesome! Our kids are 4 and 7 currently. Do you know if there’s anything a touch bigger available? I don’t know how popular the pop up tent would be!
Hello mate. Excuse my poor English.
I really like this roof top tent very much but the only reason why I have not bought one is because I have a four legs love bug name Fido who is like my shadow. He goes with me everywhere I go. I would really like to be able to get the rooftop tent and be able to get my doggy up there. He had two knee replacement and it will be very hard for him to get in and out of the tent. A nice ramp with a doggy entrance will be ideal and very helpful for people with large size doggies.
Fido and friend.
Did you end up buying one of these for your family? I might pick one up or rent one soon. We have a family of four and might find this useful.
We didn’t buy one. It is more economical for our usage to rent when we need it.