Back in January, I introduced you to the Lance Camper 1475 travel trailer. It was introduced this past December at the RVIA trade show in Louisville, Kentucky. The 1475 is a non-slide, single axle 2500 lbs trailer ideal for 1 or 2 people, and is built at the Lance manufacturing facility in Lancaster, California. The 1475 brings the Lance travel trailer lineup to nine, ranging in lengths from 14′ to 22′. Unique to the 1475 when compared to trailers similar in size and amenities is the absence of a traditional RV dinette.
“Downsizing, simplification, micro-homes, it’s all the rage these days,” states Bob Rogers, Lance’s Director of Marketing. “The genesis for this model came directly from our customers and is a result of what they wanted to see in a sub 15′ floor plan. The 1475 is ultra-light weight with 100% Lance DNA and yes, it doesn’t have a fixed dinette. Customers tell us they like to eat outside or while sitting in their lounge chairs and would rather have two comfortable chairs and a nice size dry bath, so that’s what we designed!”
In a recent press release from Lance, the 1475 comes standard with laminated fiberglass/aluminum frame/block foam insulated construction, Azdel interior panel walls, bluetooth app enabled audio system, LED lighting, class leading pass through storage, radius full torque frameless dual pane tinted windows, aluminum wheels, exterior propane BBQ connection, exterior wash station, ducted heat as well as popular options including keyless entry, electric lateral arm awning with motion sensor, solar panel, LED TV, microwave & A.C. The 1475 is designed to be an adventure machine that is easily towed behind almost any midsize tow vehicle with a minimum of 3,500lb. GVWR.
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. 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. 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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Standard Cricket model
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
“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.
Although the 177SE is an in “as is” package, customers will have a choice in exterior colors: white/aqua, white/red, or pewter/red.
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.”
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.”
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.
The Small Trailer Enthusiast is a home for news on small travel trailers, typically 20' or less. Here you will find info on new models, industry news relating to small trailers, and any other stories I think you might find interesting. Have some small trailer news you'd like to pass along?