What’s in a Name?
First things first, what do you call these pint-sized trailers? The most common terms are ‘teardrop camper’ or ‘teardrop caravan.’ In fact, the naming convention is so diverse that even manufacturers sometimes scratch their heads when deciding what to put on the compliance plate. But beyond these two names, you’ll encounter a plethora of other terms, including teardrop vans, camper trailers, teardrop trailers, small caravans, square drops, pod caravans, pod camper trailers, and more. The teardrop caravan world is full of colorful and creative names, reflecting the unique character of each trailer.
As you delve into the teardrop caravan market, keep an eye out for reputable brands like Wotpods, Jayco, Caretta, Tucana, Brumby, Smidge, and Little Guy. These companies have made a name for themselves by building exceptional caravans that cater to different tastes and preferences.
Shapes – Beauty in Diversity
Teardrop caravans are as diverse in shape as they are in name. While the classic teardrop shape, with its curved front tapering to a point at the backend, is instantly recognizable, there are other intriguing variations. Some teardrop caravans, such as the Jayco Jpod, take a different approach by dropping the back as a vertical lid, earning them the nickname “squaredrops.”
In contrast, some teardrop trailers abandon curves altogether, favouring a more angular and minimalist design. Builders who opt for squaredrops often find them easier to construct. However, companies like Wotpods have While some argue that the classic curved front enhances aerodynamics on the highway, many teardrop caravan owners appreciate the additional headroom offered by alternative designs.
Wotpods has embraced both straight lines and curves in their designs, aiming to provide maximum cabin space and structural integrity. While some argue that the classic curved front enhances aerodynamics on the highway, with the overall height of most teardrop flush with or lower than the vehicle towing them, many teardrop caravan owners appreciate the additional headroom offered by alternative designs.
When it comes to selecting the right shape for your teardrop caravan, personal preferences play a significant role. Some prioritize aerodynamics, while others prioritize comfort and space. We prefer heaps more headspace when you open your eyes first thing in the morning, rather than a roof that is already curving over your pillow. Certainly, it would be good to get some feedback from teardrop caravan owners on what sort of mileage they are getting with their model/weight.
Materials – The Building Blocks
Selecting the right materials for a teardrop caravan is a balancing act between strength and weight. Early teardrop caravans, like the early Wotpods, often featured a steel chassis and marine-ply construction, complemented by timber battens and fiberglass.
We moved to an aluminium chassis for its lightweight, but this expensive option almost doubled through Covid, so we coalesced with industry standards and went back to a steel chassis. In our third year, we moved away from marine-ply to a steel cabin frame, clad with aluminum composite panels. We reviewed the polystyrene XPS foam boards clad with fiberglass – a worthy option for sure, already insulated and very easy to work with… but maybe it’s my dad’s love of steel or my engineer mate’s opinion over a couple of beers, we went with steel and aluminum.
When we reverted to a steel chassis, we offset the weight gain with an aluminum frame, which we previously built in steel. Certainly, there will always be ways to make the pod lighter, but we are happy with our balance of weight with strength. Campers across the industry weigh between 420kg (Little Guy) to 840kg (Bosspod), depending on size, options, and materials. Note, that electric brakes on your pod will often enable a car with a lower towing capacity to tow your pod.
Home-built teardrop caravans are on another level again, some built entirely with timber on a steel chassis, corrugated iron for roofing, and other ingenious solutions. Ultimately, the choice of materials depends on factors like budget, desired weight, and personal preferences. Striking the right balance between strength and weight is crucial for a comfortable towing experience.
Sizes – Beyond Limitations
An interesting challenge all teardrop manufacturers have is building a genuine queen-size teardrop camper. This is because the standard sizes of sheeting materials (1500, 1200, and 2400) restrict what can be achieved without lots of ugly external seams everywhere.
For our first 2.5 years, we shaved about 80mm off a queen-size mattress, not a fun task, especially getting that cover back on the mattress! We settled with simply selling these as double mattresses rather than ‘almost queen’. Ask most manufacturers claiming queen size the exact dimensions of their mattress. Early 2023 we upgraded from our small workshop to a partnership with a large caravan manufacturer. Obviously, they had machinery and space we could only dream of. We were very clear about quality, design, and materials.
Tentatively, we asked if they could build a queen-size Bosspod… and around Easter 2023 we handed over our first genuine queen-size teardrop! This month we launched our Q-pod, a queen-size model not as high as the Bosspod, but with the length and width and some smart-looking angles/curves.
The Wotpod Bosspod is the largest teardrop caravan (we can find) on the Australian market, with the closest contenders being the Stonegate Tucana, Trackstar, and the Riptide Breeze.
Teardrop caravans come in all shapes, materials, sizes, and names, reflecting the diversity of preferences among travelers and adventurers. Whether you’re drawn to the classic teardrop shape. a square-drop or a hybrid shape, there’s a teardrop caravan out there that suits your style. When it comes to materials, manufacturers are continually innovating to strike the right balance between strength and weight. And for those who crave more space, genuine queen-size teardrop caravans are now available.
No matter what you’re looking for in a teardrop caravan, this industry has something to offer you. So, whether you’re a seasoned camper or a first-time adventurer, consider exploring the world of teardrop caravans. You might just find the perfect name, shape, material, and size to embark on your next great adventure!