How to Live Large in a Tiny, Teardrop RV

Aging gracefully is sometimes a challenge. But the payoffs can be mighty sweet. Like embracing the truth that it’s time to ditch my tent in favor of something more sturdy and comfortable for full-time travel and camping.

I’m weary of riding out heavy storms and nighttime critters with only a thin sheet of nylon for protection. I started my quest for something tiny, easy, and rugged to take me on offroad adventures.

Research geek that I am, I rented rigs large to small in a variety of climates and terrains to find my perfect tiny, travel home.

Parameters included high customer ratings, easy to hook up and tow, low maintenance, user-friendly with the capacity to “boondock” or dry camp.

Enter the teardrop trailer. It scored bonus points for retro hippie.

If you’re into technical specs read on. If you want to know about my customer service experience skip to the bottom.

Outback T@G Specs & Techs

In the world of light-weight, aluminum, off-road teardrop trailers, nuCamp offers a well-equipped rig on the lower end of the cost spectrum for off-road RVs ($18k for 2017 model).

Manufactured in Sugarcreek, Ohio the units are distributed nationally through independent local dealers, making them readily available and serviceable across the country.

Accessories from top rated manufacturers can translate to fewer glitches over time. I’ve already had a glitch and even with easy to access service it still takes a long time.

RUGGED

This offroad teardrop trailer can get you there. The T@G line is the classic, lightweight teardrop design from the 1940s.

I opted for the new rugged Outback XL offroad model with higher 15-inch ground clearance, alloy wheels, Lionshead nitrogen-filled 175/80/15 off-road tires, and a Dexter pitched, steel axle with electric brakes.

The package also adds a Yakima roof rack, custom aluminum platform, and diamond plated tongue box, square fenders and stabilizing jacks.

The “peace of mind”  spare tire is mounted on an axle below.

POWER

Offroad teardrop trailers can plug into the grid but are designed to rock life far beyond civilization.

The major portion of electrical power is 12-volt which means almost everything can be easily powered by solar – the jackpot for boondockers.

The XL part means king-sized bed for the princess me who wants my own space and plenty left over for my loyal companion Rocky.

The Outback model expands the off-road adventure fun factor exponentially in a lightweight trailer easily pulled by smaller trucks and SUVs.

The dry weight totals 1400 pounds/2200 GVW. The fully loaded rig works well with my Subaru Outback 3.6R with 2,700 towing capacity.

KITCHEN

Who wants to live inside when you’re traveling offroad in the most beautiful parts of our country?

I get a bit cramped in “canned ham” trailer set-ups and the T@G Outback rocks an outdoor accessible kitchen for those of us who love creating meals in the fresh air with plenty of open space.

Behind the clamshell liftgate, the galley includes a Norcold 12-volt DC refrigerator, 1.0 Cu. Ft. High Pointe microwave (110v – I call The Power Hog and use it to store food), Dometic stainless sink and two-burner stainless propane cooktop.

Storage is at a premium with one cabinet below the sink and a small shelf with a lip above the counter.

A Pentair Shurflo DC water pump pulls water from the 11-gallon potable water tank to the sink.  You can also connect to “city” water via the exterior hose connection.

The kitchen backsplash includes both a DC 12-volt plug and two 110v electrical outlets.

The full galley area and beyond is well lit by overhead LED lighting mounted on the interior of the liftgate and both sides of the trailer. It’s a bit of blinding overkill for me unless I need to find something in the dark.

INSIDE

Both sides of the Outback have doors opening to the cabin. The XL model includes a king-size bed with storage headboard, Jenson 19” entertainment center with TV, radio, CD/DVD, flush mounted ceiling speakers with Bluetooth, USB, and auxiliary chord connection options. LED lights to provide overhead cabin illumination, headboard accent lighting, two reading lights with a cool blue light mode to help maintain your night vision.

Two cooling systems include a Danby 5,000 BTU air conditioner and a 14”x14” Fan-Tastic Vent fan with three-speed reverse controllers that blow air in or pull it out like an attic fan.

Two operable windows and a large star-gazing front window provide ample ventilation.

There is no heating option on the AC unit but me, my dog and a down blanket quickly warm the 47” Hx70” W cabin.

There is no interior bathroom in a T@G although there is an outside, cold water shower hose.

I prefer to use a separate solar shower and portable toilet room. Check out the Gear Hound page for info on that setup and more. (nuCamp does make a larger, heavier T@B model that has both an indoor shower/toilet and kitchen option.)

Cabin power options include two double-outlet 110 plugs, one DC 12 volt plug and two USB charging ports. The power center/power converter is an easy to access WFCO Ultra III providing four 12 Vdc circuits, reverse battery protection, one 30 Aac main circuit, and three 20 Aac branch circuits.

The cabin also has battery-powered smoke and carbon monoxide alarms by BRK.

TIP: PROTECTION AT THE POLE

There’s always a catch to coming in from the outback. I learned to use a portable RV surge and electrical protection product such as Progressive Industries SSP-30XL.

The unit provides surge protection and status of your power source including correct wiring, reverse polarity, open neutral and open ground.

I also recommend plugging this protector at the power pole to test the quality of power before plugging in your shoreline and exposing your wiring. HUGE thank you to Craig and Ellie @ C and E Camper Care, 1019 S. Oak St., Cortez, CO 81321, 970-764-8544 for that lesson.

FIND THE BEST DEALER

Culling through loads of nuCamp dealer options in the US was a dandy research project!

If you travel offroad in teardrop trailers you need far more than a great local shop. Local is great but excellence during pre- and post-sales is my top priority.

Hands down Rogers Motors in Burnet and San Antonio, Texas is my favorite dealer. They were the first nuCamp dealer in Texas and have the largest inventory.

Owner Shawn Rogers patiently answered my zillion questions during phone and email research and that is a 5-star score on its own. His passion for this product means he knows the details and if he doesn’t know he will find out. He also shows up when chips are down and you need help.

I got a fair deal and the customer service knocked it out of the park. Sales Manager Scott McDonald walked me through every nut and bolt of the rig I was considering buying and the unit I rented for an extended test drive.

Now, this is why the dealer matters. My early opinion is that nuCamp could improve customer service and I needed it desperately less than 3,000 miles into my trip.

I called every department in the company and could never get an answer – not even the receptionist. I emailed multiple departments. Non-responsive.

BECAUSE STUFF HAPPENS- SERVICE AFTER THE SELL

My trailer lights went out while touring Yellowstone National Park. Those winding mountain roads in bumper to bumper August traffic are not the place to be with no trailer lights and I eventually found an excellent mechanic in the Fishing Bridge Repair Shop in the park who provided a temporary fix so I could limp to Billings, Montana for warranty repairs. (Thank you “Yellowstone Jeremy” for the tracking down the problem, providing the temporary fix and follow-up on solutions!)

My dealer Shawn at Rogers Motors in Burnet, Texas was on it within minutes of my phone call asking for help with nuCamp.

In the weeks that followed he was able to navigate communication from nuCamp to me so the warranty repairs could be completed. The tire was too close to the trailer side and had rubbed through the wiring.

Long story short nuCamp had originally used axles that were too small for the new larger Outback model. They have corrected the problem and replaced my axle on request. The whole fix took three weeks. 

Fortunately, I was able to bunk with a friend on her ranch outside Billings so I didn’t morph into evil Cindy while stranded. (Thank you, dear Agnes, for the laughter, tears, hikes, horses, fly fishing and fun!)

That is why the dealer matters. No matter how good the product there will be glitches and issues and a non-responsive manufacturer is a nightmare. A good dealer like Shawn and Scott will always help get the job done.

Time will tell how nuCamp’s product and service fairs in the long run. But I have no doubts about who I will buy future rigs from. www.rogersmotorssales.com 830-237-2004 cell, 512-756-6259 office/fax.

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51 thoughts on “How to Live Large in a Tiny, Teardrop RV”

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