A Look at the Cricket Trailer

Last month I was invited by Rusty Eckstein of Mount Comfort RV to take a look at the Cricket Trailer at their lot in Greenfield, Indiana. When I asked him just who the demographic was for this “thing”, without hesitation he just pointed to this graphic on the back end of the  2015 Cricket Sport we were inspecting. DSC_0323 With that in mind, I was able to get a better understanding of just what kind of trailer I was looking at and who the target audience is for it.   DSC_0340 Simply put, the Cricket Trailer is a base camp. It’s a 1500 lbs trailer that anyone you’d find in that first picture above would find useful, from mountain climbers, kayakers, hikers….anyone who’s lifestyle revolves around outdoor adventure. The 14.5″ ground clearance on the Sport model with rugged tires, Thule roof racks, optional diamond plate front storage box, and front stone guards standard on the Sport add to the adventure one can have with a Cricket.

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Obviously the unique shape of a Cricket will be the first thing you notice. However, the more you look at one up close, it’s the construction that really makes the Cricket shine. There’s aluminum in these things. I mean A LOT of aluminum that’s thicker than I’ve ever seen in anything. Whether it’s the wheel wells or the rear hatch supports, the thickness of the aluminum is what left an impression on me. DSC_0329

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The skin of the Cricket is just as solid, with the doors, sides, and roof built of a composite aluminum material and insulated at an R-6 value. When I was talking to Rusty inside this Sport model that late Saturday morning, the temps outside were quickly approaching 80 degrees with typical Indiana humidity. With the top popped open as you see it below, the ventilation design of the dual pane windows and hatch made it quite comfortable given the conditions…actually noticeably comfortable to the point of commenting on it at the time. DSC_0344

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While the cage that surrounds the Cricket is stout, the floor it sits on isn’t lacking either. The robust 1″…ONE INCH…plywood, fully encapsulated floor has a Rhino lining undercoating with an aviation grade coin mat flooring above. To give you an idea how this floor compares, most manufacturers brag about their 5/8″ floor as a selling point. Rusty’s been in the RV industry for well over 10 years and told me, “I don’t know of anyone else in the industry using anywhere near that thickness of flooring”.

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As for what’s on the inside of the Cricket, this is where designer Garrett Finney’s expertise as a NASA engineer shows. Garrett designed the Cricket after working for NASA as a senior architect at the Habitability Design Center in Houston, Texas. Simply put, Garrett was responsible for designing the habitability module for the International Space Station. With that kind of pedigree, you should have no doubt how well the Cricket was thought out. DSC_0334

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First off, some key specs of the interior. The interior width is 6’3″, interior length is 11’6″, and with the top up the interior height is an impressive 6’4″ max. The storage underneath the bed, which fully engaged is equivalent to a queen, is 12 cubic feet. Underneath the bed is also where the battery is housed, as the Cricket is completely run on a 12 volt system, which includes the LED lighting, water pump, water heater,  and ample 12 volt outlets throughout the unit. You can also hook up your Cricket to a 110 power source to charge the battery. Cricket offers an optional 2nd battery or you can also choose an optional solar panel for additional power longevity. DSC_0342

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The front counter area has enough area for the optional Primus stove and flush mounted sink, which is operated with a 12 volt pump. There are several cubby holes for storage and an area on the lower right to house the optional portable toilet. All told, the front storage area is just under 9 cubic feet. The front of the counter is also the location for the control panel where you’ll find switches for lights, the water pump, and water heater, as well as a 12 volt outlet. DSC_0321

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The Cricket also comes with an optional kid’s berth that suspends over the bed. You can option in one or two of them, with each having a weight capacity of 135 lbs. When not in use, they can be raised and bungeed in place until needed.

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Then there are some of the little things that make you think “Oh, yeah!” when you see them that you typically wouldn’t have thought of when thinking about trailer design. First and foremost for the Cricket is the signature bottle opener. Bottle opener? Anyone know of an integrated exterior bottle opener on a trailer? It’s one of those little unique features that you’d probably find would come in handy after a long day of mountain climbing or hiking when you need a little carbohydrate replenishment.

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Other small but useful features are the multitude of holes drilled in the roof’s rib structure where you can go crazy with the use of bungee cords for hanging items for use as additional storage, a built in bubble level on the tongue, exterior shower attachment in the front, and steps on the rear side for easy access to your roof top.

As far as the basic specs, the Cricket checks in with an exterior length of 15′ and exterior width of 6’7″. With the roof down, the exterior height is just 6’9″, making it easy to store in just about any garage. The base unloaded vehicle weight is 1460 lbs and has a gross vehicle weight rating of 2500 lbs. The fresh water capacity and gray water capacity are 12 gallons each. The V-berth bed length of 75″ and width of 57″ make it right at a nice queen size as mentioned earlier. 3601E48F-FC07-4199-83EE-14C1054BBC6A

One of the things that impressed me is how Garrett Finney has put so much thought into the Cricket that I really wish more manufacturers would as well. He says, “It’s as narrow as a car, so for all you first time trailer towers, we were thinking of you when we laid it out”. Honestly when I see some layouts of trailers, I wonder what the designers were thinking…and not in a good way.

The Cricket comes in the standard model and the previously mentioned Sport model. Base MSRP for the standard model is $21,700 and the Sport model MSRP is $24,290, at the time of this post. The standard Cricket comes in blue or green and the Sport Cricket comes in silver. DSC_0349                                                                                                 Standard Cricket model

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Cricket Sport model

For an extended look at the Cricket, our friends at Mount Comfort RV have put together some fine walk through videos with Steve Belickis. Steve does a great job going through everything (and more) that I’ve tried to put together here in words and photos. Give them a watch and better yet, go check out one for yourself. For more info on the Cricket Trailer, visit their website where you can learn much more at http://crickettrailer.com.

 

Exterior walk around:

Interior walk around:

Set-up procedures:

The Cricket offers so much as a base camp for those of you who are adventurers of the great outdoors. It’s versatile, easy to tow, lightweight, rugged,  and constructed from multiple sustainable materials. It would make one heck of a bug-out trailer, which is a segment of the RV industry that’s slowly getting some legs. Garrett Finney was once quoted as saying of his time at NASA, “They think design is about survival, and we come along and say we want to survive well.” That thought process was at the forefront when designing the Cricket. And from the looks of things, Cricket Trailer is going to survive just fine as well.

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RV Park Review – Missouri’s Springfield Route 66 KOA

I haven’t done many RV Park or campground reviews, but felt compelled to give notice to one we recently visited.

We were in Springfield, Missouri for the Birthplace of Route 66 Festival and decided to haul our trailer out instead of going the motel route. We chose the Springfield Route 66 KOA because of its location close to the city. We arrived Friday afternoon and were greeted by the front desk staff and escorted to our campsite (25), per the usual KOA protocol.image

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The Springfield Route 66 KOA is smaller as most KOAs go, with about 75 RV sites and a combination of 9 Kamping Lodges, Kottages, and Kabins. But the smaller size also meant a more laid back atmosphere with little noise. However, if you’re a fan of railroads, there’s a line nearby that’ll keep your attention. IMG_8342[1]

Our site, number 25, was a full hook-up pull-through site that was nestled between many tall trees, which offered plenty of shade during this hot August weekend.

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But one of the main reasons I want to give notice to the Springfield Route 66 KOA is because of the subject that’s in their name: Route 66. Anyone who’s known me knows that Route 66 is a big part of my life, and has been for more than 20 years. What made this trip darn near perfect was that I was hauling our trailer on Route 66, enroute to a Route 66 festival, while staying at a campground with Route 66 in their name. The only thing that would’ve made it perfect is if the Springfield Route 66 KOA was actually ON Route 66! But as it goes, the KOA is located about a  mile south of Route 66 through the western edge of Springfield.

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Although they may not be located on the shoulders of the fabled Mother Road, they embrace Route 66 as if they’ve been there since the road’s inception in 1926. Owners Scott & Diane King have owned their KOA since 2004 after leaving their home in California. As business owners in a Route 66 town, the Kings definitely get it. From the signs that stand guard next to the homemade cows in the front of the office to the well stocked camp store filled with just about anything a Route 66 road warrior could use, the Springfield Route 66 KOA should be included as a must stop for anyone traveling Route 66. As Diane told me, she’s open to giving just about any kind of Route 66 merchandise a try in the camp store, so there’s a good chance you’ll find something new anytime you go in.

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IMG_8361[1] The Springfield Route 66 KOA should be the southwest Missouri stop for any RVer traveling Route 66, and dare I say even the non-RVing Route 66er. The Kamping Kabins, Lodges, and Kottages on the premises offer “komfortable” accomodations and a different way to get your sleeps on Route 66 when compared to a motel, and worth the experience. As a matter of fact, a fellow Route 66er in town for the festival happened to stay in one of the Kabins the same weekend we were there, and she told us she frequents the KOA Kabins all across the country when traveling Route 66.                   b98ec9bf-21ff-4fb4-9f60-8612d71b313dphotodaee997e-f190-480c-ade3-98067a7c04f0_jpg

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As traveling the two-lane highways of America goes, most non-RVers blow by campgrounds and RV parks without giving them a second look. And admittedly I was that way before I bought my first trailer. But whether you travel by car, motorhome, or have a trailer hitched to your rear, the Springfield Route 66 KOA is worthy of a visit, whether you bunk up for the night or just stop in to buy a Route 66 t-shirt or sticker in the camp store. For my fellow Route 66 enthusiasts reading this, we all know we aim to support those businesses that support Route 66. Let this be your introduction to another Route 66 business to add to that list.

You can find more information about the Springfield Route 66 KOA at their website at http://route66koa.com

 

 

 

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A Look at Pino Caravan

There are countless small travel trailers in the United States that draw attention due to their unique styling or classic looks. But if you really want to see something that’s different, you need to go to Istanbul, Turkey where you can find Pino Caravan.

Founded in 2009, Pino Caravan is one of just a handful of manufacturers in Turkey. But their offerings are small and utilize some floor plans not typically seen here in the U.S.

Pino trailers come in five floor plans: pi210, 280 Cachalote, 410 Jazz, 410 Blues, and the 340.

The pi210 has a cabin length of just under 7′ and 900 lbs. It can sleep 2 and the dinette can hold 4.

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The 280 Cachalote is a rear entry unit with a cabin just under 10′ long, weighing in around 1500 lbs. It’s got a living area for 5 and sleeping area for 3 plus having a bunk over the dinette. They’ve also made room in the rear for a shower.

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The 410 Jazz and 410 Blues are basically the same floor plans with a few variations in interior décor. The cabin is 13′ and weighs just under 2,000 lbs. It can sleep up to 4 and the dinette will hold 4, and also comes with a shower.

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The last floor plan, the 340, has a cabin length of about 11′ and weight at 1700 lbs. It sleeps up to 3, which is also the capacity of the dinette. Also includes a sink and shower. 3401 3402 3403

The 340 bares a strong resemblance to the Chinese built iCamp, which found its way to a few dealer lots in the U.S. for about a minute back in 2008. iCampElite-FR-775487

The Pino Caravans are built with a lot of components that are household names in the RV industry. They’re built on AL-KO frames, which were the frame of choice for the first generation T@Bs that were built by Dutchmen. Other familiar names you’ll find in a Pino are Dometic, Thetford, and Thule.

In an e-mail with Pino’s Tulu Karatan, she told me “Europeans are very enthusiastic about Pi2010, which offers more than a teardrop model. In Pi2010 one can stand almost totally, 4 people can dine, 2 people can sleep. All included for a perfect weekend escape!”

Now the part you’re wanting to know: How much are they and how can I get one? One and two, I don’t know. I barely found a price on the smallest model, the pi210 and after converting it from pounds, I estimate it costs around $12,000 USD. However, there are no dealers in the U.S. Only in Turkey and a few European nations carry Pino Caravans. All I can say is that if you really have to have one, contact Pino through there website at http://pinokaravan.com and they should be able to help you.

I posted this knowing that there’s a good chance not a one of you (me included) will ever see a Pino, but I like to show some of the unique offerings out there, regardless of where they may be built. However, our reach here at The Small Trailer Enthusiast is international, so this post may reach someone in Europe or Turkey who may very well be able to check one out for themselves. If that’s you, good luck and let us know what you think.

 

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Online Forum Aims to Assist Airflyte Owners

One of the readers of The Small Trailer Enthusiast, Dustin Smith, has started an online forum geared toward owners of the 2014-2015 Shasta Airflyte reissues. Airflyte Hacks was formed to be an online gathering place for owners to share experiences, modifications, improvements and hacks.

Airflyte_Hacks_headerPer the Airflyte Hacks website, “The goal of this website is to learn from each other, and build an archive of information that will last as long as our trailers do. This is not a social club. We will not be organizing outings. There are lots of other great trailer groups out there (including several just for the re-issues) that provide those kind of social forums wonderfully, and we are not trying to replace them.”

I find these types of internet resources much more favorable than social media pages such as Facebook. It gives members the opportunity to search archives and previous threads that pertain to information they’re looking for in an easier to find manner.

You can register for the site at http://www.airflytehacks.com.

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Little Guy Featured in FOX Reality Show

Little Guy Worldwide has jumped into the national spotlight with the debut of a new FOX network reality show called “Home Free”, which airs Wednesday nights at 9pm ET.

The premise of the show involves a competition between eight different families who are renovating homes in the Atlanta area, with guidance by contractor Mike Holmes. While they’re on location, the families are living in Silver Shadow teardrop trailers by Little Guy.7734505778_fbf9d47653

(photo courtesy http://golittleguy.com)

Chris Baum of Little Guy Worldwide has been making the rounds promoting the show and Little Guy’s participation. He was here in Indianapolis where he spoke with affiliate FOX59 at their studios (Hey Chris, don’t forget your friends at The Small Trailer Enthusiast the next time you’re in town! :-D).

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GreenLight Collectibles Introducing Shasta Airflyte Diecast

Back in November 2014, Indianapolis, Indiana based diecast collectible manufacturer Greenlight Collectibles introduced a diecast series called Hitch & Tow, which featured four different vehicles hauling some sort of trailer, be it a cargo trailer or the popular Airstream Bambi hauled by a 1967 Chevrolet Impala.

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There have been two other Hitch & Two series introduced to the market since then, and both have featured an Airstream Bambi hauled by a different vehicle.

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However, GreenLight’s Series 4 Hitch & Tow will feature a 1:64 scale 1962 Dodge D-100 pick-up truck and an early 1960’s era Shasta Airflyte. The Series 4 addition will hit the market sometime in the fall of 2015 and will retail for $9.99.

19126148864_7e6552150a_zIn an e-mail from Josh Hollandsworth of GreenLight Collectibles, he tells me of the Shasta diecast, “This is authentic to scale 1:64 in size, shape and proportions. The beautiful thing about this casting is that both the trailer shell and the chassis are metal which you don’t see in 1:64 very much these days. We did this not only for value, but for the quality as well as it feels like a more substantial and accurate piece.

18357829151_135bc029a3_zJosh further told me, “These trailers are licensed by Shasta and every piece is reviewed and approved along each step of the process by them: casting creation, 3D, test shots, car artwork, decorated pre-production samples, packaging artwork and final production pieces. This is to help ensure authenticity along every step of the way.

With the popular resurgence of the Shasta Airflyte reissue travel trailer over the past year, these diecasts will surely be a huge success once they hit the store shelves later in 2015. But look for more Airstreams and other vintage trailers to be produced by GreenLight in the future. Says Josh, “Expect at least one per release and we’re working on getting more vintage trailer castings as well to release every couple releases. For the Airstreams, we have a whole wall of ideas.”

To learn more about GreenLight Collectibles and some of their other diecasts, you can find their Flickr page here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/glcollectibles/albums or find out more at their main web site at http://www.greenlighttoys.com.

 

 

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Forest River Recalls Shasta Airflyte Reissues

Shasta RV parent company Forest River is recalling 249 of the 1,941 (12.8% of production) Shasta Airflyte reissued trailers due to incorrect Federal Certification Labels, according to RV Pro magazine. The labels incorrectly state the trailer tire size, gross axle weight rating, gross vehicle weight rating and cargo carrying capacity. Incorrect labeling opens the door for the trailer to be overloaded and thus increasing the risk for tire failure. DSC_0291

Forest River will notify affected customers and dealers will install the correct label at no cost to them, with the recall starting sometime this month. To find out if your Shasta Airflyte is affected, owners can contact Forest River at (574)825-8717, and mention recall number 54-06052015-0047.

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And Now a Word from Our Sponsor

A few months ago, I opened up some space on The Small Trailer Enthusiast for any RV manufacturer or dealer to advertise on the site. With the addition of my first paid advertiser, I thought I’d take the opportunity to give them, and future advertisers, a little bit more publicity than the ad for them that appears to the right of this post.

With that in mind, I want to welcome Pierce RV as a partner to The Small Trailer Enthusiast. Pierce RV has three Montana locations in Great Falls, Billings, and Kalispell. They carry a huge inventory of class A, B, and C motor homes, travel trailers, fifth wheels, cargo trailers, and toy haulers.

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Of the travel trailers they carry, manufacturers include Heartland, Winnebago, Cruiser, Keystone, KZ, Prime Time, and Cricket. The history of Pierce RV dates back to 1924 when George R. Pierce started selling, as he called them, “Experienced Automobiles”. In those 90 years, Pierce Companies include an RV division, leasing division, a modular homes division, and a flooring division, employing some 170 employees among all divisions.

So if you’re in Montana or one of its nearby states, do consider our new friends at Pierce RV for your next purchase, and tell them The Small Trailer Enthusiast sent ya!

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More on the White Water Retro Special Edition

Last month I gave you a brief post on the introduction of the White Water Retro 177 Special Edition by Riverside RV. It appeared the 177SE had the same floorplan and specs as the White Water Retro 177, and that is indeed the case.

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The 177SE comes with a few extras that give it an eye-catching look that will surely draw the attention of everyone. I spoke with Riverside RV general manager Mervin Lehman recently to get the scoop on the 177SE. Mervin tells me, “This has been in the works for about 2 months and we used the 177 as it is our most popular model. The first run of these will go into production the week of May 18 so they should be arriving on or about June 1.”

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The 177SE will come as a package with no options. But the upgrades from a typical 177 include birch interior, painted rims w/ whitewall tires, radiant insulation, LED lighting, Fantastic Fan w/rain sensor, 6 cubic foot refrigerator, and a deluxe memory foam mattress.

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“There are no options with this unit as we are doing this as a special package so that every unit is built exactly the same except for color. This allows production to produce these very efficiently,  hence the special price.” And that special price is a reasonably priced MSRP of $18,600.

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Although the 177SE is an in “as is” package, customers will have a choice in exterior colors: white/aqua, white/red, or pewter/red.

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I was curious about the announcement of the Retro 177SE on the heels of the successful venture by Shasta RV coming out with the reissue of the 1961 Airflyte. When I asked Mervin if this was their response to Shasta, he told me, “The Shasta reissue had very little to do with this unit. This a very different floor plan than the Shasta unit and has been holding its own in that market.”

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Currently there is no set number of 177SE units that will be produced. “The number of units isn’t limited but we are limiting the time frame. The exact date hasn’t been set in stone but we are talking about a July 31 cut off date for orders.” And as far as orders are concerned, Mervin tells me the entire first run has already been sold.

And dealers seem to be excited. I spoke with Austin Braun of Braun’s Fun Time Campers in Indianapolis, a White Water Retro dealer. “We ordered one of these on Saturday as soon as we heard about it! I think it’s exactly what we’re looking for.”

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The specs for the 177SE should be on par with a standard 177 model: 18’6″ length, dry weight of 2530 lbs, 20 gallon fresh water tank, 32 gallon gray water tank, and 10 gallon black water tank with an aluminum framed construction.
Currently the Riverside RVs website does not include the 177SE, but my suggestion would be to keep tabs on rvtrader.com sometime in early June to find out which dealers have the 177SE in stock.

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White Water Retro Going More Retro

LaGrange, Indiana based Riverside RV has announced a new addition to their White Water Retro lineup. The popular 177 floor plan will be the basis for a Special Edition model that will hit dealer showrooms in the coming months. Additional features to the newly named 177SE will be a new paint scheme with three color options, whitewall tires, birch interior, upgraded LED exterior lighting,  and wheels painted to match the trailer’s color.

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Screen-Shot-2015-04-24-at-1.52.14-PMWhite Water Retro 177SE – courtesy RV Business

 This looks like it will be a very popular addition to the Retro lineup, and I’d venture to say it’s an answer for those who’ve had concerns about the 1961 Shasta Airflyte reissue’s sleeping set-up, as the White Water utilizes a rear island queen bed and front dinette.

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I’ve got a call out to Bob Taulbee of Riverside RV, so once I get more info, I’ll post it here. Stay tuned!

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