Americans have an on-again, off-again love affair with teardrop trailers. At the height of the real estate bubble—a 3,000-square-foot home, media room, and eat-in kitchen for every family!—there wasn’t much innovation in the industry. But since the 2008 financial crash, more and more trailers have appeared on the scene. “There’s just something attractive about being fully self-contained and on the road,” says Ashley Grimes, founder of Utah-based Moby 1 Trailers.
Take the So-Cal Krawler, which has a reinforced steel frame, adjustable shocks, and a burly roof rack for gear or a tent ($16,195). And the military-grade Schutt Xventure is a utilitarian beast, with 19 inches of ground clearance ($11,995).
For sheer ruggedness, however, no trailer can compare to the Moby 1 XTR ($18,500). Measuring 54 inches wide and 108 inches deep, and weighing in at 1,600 pounds, it comes equipped with a queen-size mattress, a loaded galley kitchen, multiple rechargeable power sources, and, most important, an adjustable five inches of suspension—because sometimes the open road isn’t so open.
Moby even has add-ons, like a solar package to take it completely off the grid ($350) and a rooftop tent to fit the whole family ($2,400).Grimes knows a guy who’s living in his unit full-time and another who uses the trailer as a beachfront shack. “There’s an inclination to pack them with amenities,” Grimes says. “But the beauty of these trailers is that they force you to be minimalist. You have to get outside to cook and shower and do everything except sleep and read a book.” Now that’s an American dream we can believe in.
You’ve always wanted a camper that can travel by land or by sea, right?
If so, you're in luck. Folks in Germany created the Sealander, a towable trailer that’s both a camper and a boat. The transition from land to sea is surprisingly simple: just secure the low-emission, outboard motor to the stern and launch the two-in-one vehicle into the water.
As you might expect, the Sealander as a boat is best suited to calm, shallow bays. (Don’t even think about a trans-Pacific crossing.) Thankfully, the shell is made from fiberglass-reinforced plastic designed to stay afloat even if it springs a leak.
Inside, you’ll find all the creature comforts you’d want in an amphibious trailer. The Sealander comes with a large sunroof, a fold-out table, and seating for six that turns into a bunk bed. Plus, there’s plenty of below-seat storage, and customizable add-ons are available.
Car camping is a bit like backpacking, except that instead of a backpack, you have a multi-ton vehicle to lug all your gear.
So yes: when your car plays double-duty as base camp and storage, you’re entitled to luxuries you definitely wouldn’t have while backpacking. Sleeping in a penthouse atop your vehicle—away from dust, dirt, mud, and creepy crawlies—is one of those luxuries.
Enter Eezi-Awn, a South African company with more than 30 years of experience crafting vehicle-based expedition gear. It makes field-proven rooftop tents that have long been the premier choice for intrepid explorers in Africa looking for a good night’s sleep in the bush.
For Eezi-Awn’s customers—a group that consists of safari guides, around-the-world travelers, and four-wheel-drive aficionados—the only comfortable bed they’ll retire to after a week of adventure is the one mounted to the roof of their vehicles.
Setting up an Eezi-Awn tent takes less than two minutes once you’ve gotten the hang of it. Simply remove the tent’s waterproof cover, use the attached ladder to help you unfold the tent on the car’s roof, then climb up, crawl in, and fall asleep. Having spent quite a few nights in an Eezi-Awn (with temperatures ranging from zero to 95 degrees), I have yet to find a more comfortable shelter to sleep in at the end of a long day.
Did I mention the tent comes with a built-in mattress? Well, it does, and it is light years ahead of the backpacking pad I usually sleep on. I was also pleasantly surprised how well sealed the tent was against the elements. A durable wax-impregnated ripstop poly-cotton fabric keeps the rain, sleet, and snow outside, while still allowing the tent to breathe effectively. In short, it’s old-school tech done right.
This comfort comes at a price. Starting at just over $2,000, Eezi-Awn roof tents are more expensive than their competitors. And at more than 100 pounds, they’re not exactly lightweight either. (Granted, no rooftop tents are light.) But when it comes to durability and build-quality, the Eezi-Awn products are unsurpassed.