Teardrops & Tiny Trailers

by Christina Nellemann on October 6th, 2008. 25 Comments
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“It has often been said that owners of travel trailers (and especially vintage travel trailers) are some of the friendliest people on earth…it also appears that the smaller the RV, the friendlier the owner.”

- Douglas Keister, Teardrops and Tiny Trailers

How would you like to get rid of everything and live in a tiny trailer? Once you take a look at Teardrops and Tiny Trailers by Douglas Keister, you will realize how stylish tiny trailers can be, and will want to run off with one of your own.

Keister, who has written books about and photographed everything from cottages to cemeteries has a new book about teardrops and tiny trailers. Last May, I attended the 15th Annual Dam Gathering of the Tears in Lakehead, Calif. with my Little Guy Rascal. I was able to meet Keister and view a slideshow of his teardrop and tiny trailer photographs. I also realized that teardroppers really are the friendliest people in the world. So, of course I had to buy the book.

Kit Teardrop from 1941

Kit Teardrop from 1941

New Teardrop and Mini Cooper tow vehicle

Keister emphasizes the neighborly warmth that emanates from the owners of tiny trailers. Because of their small size, owners are really forced to spend more time outside their trailer or RV and interact with the people around them. Teardrop owners will even decorate their camping space to mesh with the design of their teardrop.

The other benefits of a teardrop or tiny trailer are:

  • You don’t need a large vehicle to pull a tiny trailer. I pull my Rascal with a Dodge Neon.
  • Your camping clutter is kept to a minimum in a small space. You only take what you really need.
  • You save money on gas.
  • Teardrops and vintage trailers are sure to gather a crowd. You will be popular in the campground, so be prepared for many admirers.

The book mostly profiles the design and history of teardrops, canned ham trailers such as the Shasta and the Serro Scotty, the Canadian boler and of course, the Airstream. The book also includes a chapter on European caravans.

Homebuilt Teardrop by Douglas Hoder

Homebuilt Teardrop by Douglas Hoder

Li'l Bear Tag-Along Teardrop

Li'l Bear Tag-Along Teardrop

There is really no mention of people who live out of their teardrops or tiny trailers, except for the temporary residents of Slab City in Niland, Calif. Most people use them for camping or more extended vacations. I use my tiny teardrop for camping and sometimes for guests who don’t mind the cramped quarters. Tiny House Blog recently had a post on using a teardrop as a guest room. I did run across the blog of Misty Tosh, who is a writer and producer and lives out of her vintage trailer while she travels and works.

If you are interested in staying in a vintage trailer, you can visit the Shady Dell in Bisbee, Arizona.

By Christina Nellemann

1957 Aljo

1957 12.5 ft Aljo

1951 13-ft Comet

1951 13-ft Comet

1966 Kit Companion

1966 Kit Companion

Comet Interior

Comet Interior

Teardrop Interior

Teardrop Interior

Gypsy Caravan at the Mas dou Pastre Bed and Breakfast in France

Gypsy Caravan at the Mas dou Pastre Bed and Breakfast in France

All photos by Douglas Keister

Tin Can Tourists

Airstream Living

Vintage Trailer Crazy

Arizona Teardrops

Teardrops and Tiny Trailers Forum

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25 Responses to “Teardrops & Tiny Trailers”

  1. I just sent a link to this post to my wife. Julia loves the old retro trailers and wants to restore on of those someday. Seems like the perfect camping trailer and we see them from time to time unrestored for free on craigslist… although often with no paperwork and in nearly untowable condition. Thanks for posting this Kent!

  2. Kent says:

    I personally would love to have the Mini Cooper setup above. Decent gas mileage, a fun drive and a place to eat and sleep!

  3. Christina says:

    I adore Rascal and wish I had more time to take it out. I will eventually upgrade to one that is a bit larger, but I don’t see myself needing anything much bigger than my teardrop. I get so many positive responses about it and so many people are shocked that I sleep in it. They think it’s for my dog!

  4. Very cool, I love those! ;-)

  5. Daniel says:

    Extreme downsizing at it’s best. I’ve seen pictures of these teardrops recently. They’re cute, but with my height (6’5″), it wouldn’t be too practical. I’m sure if it was custom built, it would be made to accomodate someone such as myself. It’s something to look into more later on. It would be great for (young) kids to play in and around.

    Thanks for the info,

  6. I LOVE the old canned ham trailers! Glorious photos you’ve posted. I especially like the Gypsy one in France. Although I think the teardrops are extremely cute I don’t think I could squeeze myself through one of those little doors and feel too comfortable closed inside.

    Thanks for all the great photos! Now if I can only get my husband to finish playing around with all those pallets maybe we can start a new project like one of these!


  7. Mary says:

    Great post, and thanks for the link to Misty Tosh’s blog. It will take me a few hours to read all the stuff that caught my eye there.

    The real paydirt is in that column of links on the left hand side of her blog—scroll down to Food/Adventure Articles. First one up is “How To Get Off-Grid in a Vintage Travel Trailer.”

    Kinda makes you want to hunt down an old trailer, slap on some solar panels, make the rig comfy and hit the road to Baja…….

  8. Rick says:

    Hah! We’re actually building one now.

    Got the plans from http://www.mikenchell.com/forums/

    There’s a lot to be said for compact travel and some of the Teardrops are amazingly detailed.

  9. Daniel says:

    Rick, thanks for posting that site. At first glance, it looks pretty good. with over 7000 users, I’m sure there’s plenty of info to sort through. I’ll look into it a little more to see how others have done theirs.


  10. will be mobile and compact the next evolution ?

  11. Christina says:

    Rick. We would love to see pictures of the teardrop you are building. The forum is a great place to get information, the teardroppers on there are very helpful.

  12. I couldn’t go as small as a teardrop but mine is not much bigger!

  13. [...] doing a post on teardrop and vintage trailers a few weeks back I thought I would do a post on the ultra-modern T@B. Since it was introduced a few [...]

  14. The teardrops and the T@B trailers are pretty neat — small, cozy, and easy!

  15. [...] of a teardrop trailer as a temporary home or a guest room for a tiny home owner, seemed to be a popular post the last time we wrote about it. The buzz around my life lately is about my new bright yellow teardrop [...]

  16. Christo Navarre says:

    The Kit Companion photo above looks just like mine! I know very little about it and would really like to get in touch with someone who does. I do have some original paperwork that I am willing to share.

    • Whitney says:

      The Kit Companion with the X-mas lights is the exact same as the trailer I just bought! Down to the year! I am having a heck of a time finding info on these trailers, have you found anything interesting or of use?

  17. Christina says:

    Christo. You can find tons of information and support on the teardrop trailer forum listed above. The people on the forum are really great. Also visit http://www.teardrops.net for more information.

  18. Lauren says:

    I spent a summer sleeping in a tear drop my uncle had rebuilt out of the fiberglass from tractor trailer tops, and other bits of stuff found at a local landfill. I painted the insides robins egg blue. When we took it up north and to the Wisconsin dells it was awesome.

  19. [...] of a teardrop trailer as a temporary home or a guest room for a tiny home owner, seemed to be a popular post the last time we wrote about it. The buzz around my life lately is about my new bright yellow teardrop [...]

  20. [...] Teardrop trailer, complete with surfboards, is reminiscent of my favorite Airstream Bambi Travel [...]

  21. [...] Photos one-three: Jenny Roeper for découverterre; photo four: Forest River, Inc; photo five-six: tiny house blog; photo seven: go glamping; photo eight: Heartfire At Home) This entry was posted in outdoors, [...]

  22. Bonnie says:

    What are the smallest crossovers/small SUV’s that can safely tow a 10-12′ canned ham trailer?

  23. Does anyone ever rent out their trailer unit?(Tucson area) I grew up with family trips/vacations using one and think I would like to buy one for retirement travel now…but, I need to try out the experience (handling, set-up, comfort etc.) first on a trial-run before purchase. Thanks Sally

  24. [...] Even without the restoration hassle, how do you choose the right one?  The options are endless, including Holiday, Shasta, Aljoa, Scotsman, Aloha, Fireball and even those silver bullets, Airstreams. Each one has its unique combo of what you want and what you don’t want. The tiniest are these sweet Tear Drops, which save gas and you don’t need a huge car to pull–but what’s the point of dragging that around if it’s so dinky? Where do you put the bed? (photo via TinyHouseBlog.com.) [...]

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