Whether you are a minimalist backpacker or a glamper, it is hard to deny the appeal of a teardrop camper trailer. Let’s face it — they are adorable. Lightweight, compact, and sturdier than a tent, these compact shelters are sensible, too.
The Dyrt Ranger Art Sheridan, a teacher from Chicago, saw the appeal. Because he had prior construction experience, he decided to build his own teardrop camper using a kit, rather than purchase one. As teardrop lovers ourselves, we completely understand the drive behind this decision.
Building A Teardrop Camper Trailer
Despite having more than 25 years of experience in building, Art soon discovered that the process of building a teardrop camper was much harder than he had anticipated. Luckily, after completing the project, he also found it to be well worth the effort, providing him with a comfortable way to spend his summers off exploring the outdoors. Armed with his teardrop and The Dyrt PRO, which allows you to downloaded maps and campgrounds to use offline, he knew he could take on anything.
Art started building his teardrop camper in the summer of 2017. He ordered the Chesapeake Light Craft Build Your Own Teardrop kit. Chesapeake Light Craft is known for building boats. The teardrop camper kit uses similar techniques and the same high quality marine plywood that is used for their boat kits. The company also provides workshops and classes for those who don’t want to take the project on without some instruction.
Prepare for your first teardrop trip by downloading maps. The Dyrt PRO lets you download maps and campgrounds without cell service. “My alternative to using pro would be to drive back out to cell service.”
With experience and confidence in his ability to figure it out, Art got started on the project, bending marine plywood into the desired shape and then sewing it together with copper wire. The entire piece is then covered in fiberglass, and holes for doors and windows are cut. Last, the finishing details are added, like inserting the doors and windows, adding shelves, and furnishing the interior. It might sound simple, but Art assured us that it was not. The project took him until the spring of 2018 to finish.
“It’s a really cool feeling to be living in something you built,” said Art. “I’ve helped repair houses and people will tell me, my grandfather built this. Now I really get it.”
The travel trailer only weighs around 500 pounds, so Art easily pulls it with his Subaru Outback. On the Chesapeake Light Craft website they claim that these teardrops are so light weight, even a Mini Cooper could pull one.
“I have not mastered backing up, but I can get close enough and then unhitch it, lift it, and roll it like a wheel barrow,” said Art. “I think next time I might get some beefier tires, because we’ve been on dirt road at almost every campground.”
As a lover of the outdoors for his entire life, Art was happy to see the teardrop camper finished and to finally be able to use it.
“My roots go back to camping in tents and I’ve been a bikepacker since high school,” said Art. “I’ve ridden my bike all over the country and often used to camp with only what I could carry.”
Since June, Art and Dakota have been out on the road, exploring the west. So far, they have spent several weeks in Wyoming. The current plans is to just keep driving and see what happens. Since Art is a teacher, he has the whole summer off and doesn’t have to return until school starts up again.
“It’s a really cool feeling to be living in something you built,” said Art. “I’ve helped repair houses and people will tell me, my grandfather built this. Now I really get it. It’s a pride factor. I’ve spent all of this time and now I’m living in this thing and it’s working.”