Continuing from part 1 of my trip to the Elkhart Open House, I moved on to what I believe to be one of the better up and coming small manufacturers today, inTech RV. InTech has been around less than 10 years, but their quality I’ve seen thus far puts them near the top of the heap of some of the larger teardrop manufacturers. While their teardrops aren’t teardrops in the form of a traditional shape, they are with respect to their size and function. inTech’s Flyer line includes submodels Chase, Pursue, Explore, and Discover. Weights range from 850 lbs on the Chase to up to 2050 lbs on the Discover, which is their toy hauler touting an impressive 7000 lbs GVRW.
inTech introduced one of the most unique teardrop styled trailers you’ve likely ever seen: the Luna.
There are several trailers this thing reminds me of. I see bits and pieces of an Airstream Basecamp, a Vistabule, and a T@G in it. Construction-wise, the Luna fiberglass body sits on an aluminum frame with a fully welded cage, as do all inTech trailers, and offers a composite floor deck, which will be standard in the production models. The overall length is just over 15′ and weight should be around 1800 lbs, depending on options, with a 2200 lbs GVWR.
If you think Luna’s huge front window takes a cue from the Airstream Basecamp, that’s not a coincidence, as inTech’s Scott Tuttle told me that day. But unlike any other teardrop out there, the Luna offers a Cool Cat air conditioner/heat pump combo and a HUGE 40″ flat screen TV. The cushions are interchangeable to offer various seating configurations. And because the LP tank is enclosed in the front panel of the Luna, that creates a handy counter below the front window.
The galley area offers a 12 volt slide out refrigerator, and stainless steel microwave and sink with a pull down sprayer, as well as stove. Counter space looks pretty good for accessories and other “stuff” most teardroppers will bring along. Overall, I was quite impressed. It’s one thing to have a design that’s unique, but when you add a quality build to the mix, it raises eyebrows. There aren’t many Lunas out yet, as production is just now starting to ramp up, but expect an MSRP in the $20-22K range, depending on options. That said, you should see these picked up from the mid to upper teens depending on your location and dealer you’re dealing with.
That does it for this installment from the Elkhart Open House. I realized there was enough just to do a single post on inTech, but I’ll have more posts coming soon!
The report of my death was an exaggeration. – Mark Twain
That famed quote by Mark Twain in a letter he wrote in 1897 is something that popped into my head on the drive back home to Indiana recently after visiting Liberty Outdoors’ facility in Somerset, Pennsylvania. For after the split of Little Guy Worldwide (now Liberty Outdoors) with longtime manufacturer Pleasant Valley Teardrops (now nuCamp RV), a lot of people left the Little Guy team for dead.
Destined to become more than just a teardrop marketer, Little Guy entered the arena of manufacturing, something quite new to them. With the recently acquired rights to the Serro Scotty brand, Little Guy formed an alliance with Gulf Stream to manufacture an “everyman’s camper” in the Serro Scotty. The Scotty took a beating on the internet, and especially in the vintage Serro Scotty community, due to its perceived lack of styling with its standard travel trailer boxiness prevalent in the industry today. Little Guy assured everyone that this was just the first wave, and more products were yet to come that would be more in line with their roots that they would manufacture themselves.
That day has come.
Fresh from their own plant in Somerset, Pennsylvania, comes the Little Guy Max.
The Max is just the first of many new lines you’ll be seeing coming out of the plant in Somerset over the next two years. And based on my first hand observations of the Max last month, the product offerings from Little Guy will undoubtedly set the small trailer community on its ear. But until then, let’s first take a look at the Max.
I met Little Guy Director of Operations, Dylan DeHoff, at the Liberty Outdoors Somerset plant one Wednesday morning last month. Along with Dylan to meet me was a celebrity in the world of camping podcasts, Janine Pettit of the Girl Camper podcast. Janine was lucky enough to be taking the 3rd Max built back to her home in New Jersey, as she was going to do some hands on critiquing of the Max for Little Guy on a 4 week trip out west starting this month.
Janine and Dylan took me on a tour of hers before she took it back to New Jersey. The first thing you notice when you first step into the 21′ Max is the incredibly open feel, due in part to the seven dual paned windows throughout, including a window in the door that opens up for additional airflow.
There are also two windows in the rear of the Max that also open, including the vertical window above the spacious 60″ x 80″ queen bed, with a mattress locally made exclusively for Little Guy.
If there’s one word that really defines the Max it would have to be space. You really feel the space in the actual physical size of the Max, including an impressive 6’7″ ceiling height. In addition, the light tones of the real maple hardwood cabinetry open it up to create such a refreshing environment that’ll rival the great outdoors for your time spent camping.
Space is also highlighted in the form of storage space. And for a trailer of this size, I don’t recall anything have the storage, and it’s smart storage, as the Max. A total of two pantries, a deep drawer below the fridge, storage below both the queen bed and the front dinette, as well as three kitchen drawers, and overhead cabinets and cubby holes at every turn.
This doesn’t even cover the storage under and around the front dinette either, which there is plenty there as well. You’ll notice in the photo above the 24″ Furrion TV at the foot of the bed. There’s also another Furrion TV concealed at the front dinette that opens up with the press of a button. That front dinette also folds down to make a single bed, as typical in most RVs.
As for construction, the Max is built quite a bit sturdier than your typical trailer in this class. First, it sits on a tubular steel frame that is powder coated to automotive standards. As is the case with most of the components Little Guy uses in production, the frames are locally built. The cage is aluminum and insulated with block foam insulation and covered by Azdel paneling. The one piece fiberglass roof and sidewalls can come in either a white or silver base, with exterior trim in your choice of black, silver, or red.
The floor is made of a 3/4″ thick product called PerforMAX 500, which is a wood product engineered to better withstand moisture and be more stronger and stable than plywood.
The construction really shines especially in the cabinetry. The dovetail construction used throughout is something you just don’t see much in the industry. I learned during my visit there that they’re building trailers to last you a long, long time. They have the confidence in their trailers that they’ve put a standard 2 year warranty on them, which in the industry is still the exception.
As for bathroom facilities, the Max has a wet bath with a height of a generous 6’2″, giving ample headroom for most. It also includes a full size multi-speed fan, which is a rarity when it comes to trailer bathroom vents.
The standards on the Max are plenty, and things you wouldn’t even see as options on other trailers in this class. As for some of the exterior features, they include a 6’3″ Thule awning with LED light strip, 2″ rear receiver for the optional bike rack, 15″ aluminum wheels, sliding screen door, exterior speakers and TV mount, pass through storage with slam latch doors, illuminated aluminum entry step and illuminated grab handle.
On the inside of the Max, you’ll find (aside from those features already mentioned), an 8″ deep stainless steel kitchen sink with residential style high rise faucet with sprayer, a flush mounted 2 burner gas stove with glass top, a stainless steel microwave, stainless steel 4 cubic foot stainless steel refrigerator, 13,500 BTU roof mount air conditioner, traditional 6 gallon Dometic hot water heater, LED touch screen and switch panel for monitoring tanks and lighting controls, LED lighting throughout including various accent lighting above cabinets, and Furrion Stereo, Bluetooth, MP3, MP4, DVD.
As for standard specifications, the Max checks in with a dry weight of 2,900 lbs, tongue weight of 281 lbs, and is an even 21 feet long. The holding tanks are 20 gallon fresh water, 14 gallon gray water, and 9 gallon black water. Overall width is 7 feet and height comes in at 9’1″. There’s also an optional Rough Rider package you can buy that gives you a 3.5″ axle lift, black diamond plate, and 15″ matte black off road wheels and tires.
The options on the Max are four: solar panel, bike rack, power tongue jack, and stained cabinetry, if you want your interior a little darker.
Even though I’ve given you a lot of information here, chances are I’m probably forgetting a few things, which is testament to how loaded this “little guy” really is. It packs a feature punch that honestly I’ve not seen in a trailer this size in the years I’ve been doing this. While some will balk at the $29,999 MSRP, once you see one for yourself, you’ll soon realize that you’re not going to really find much on the level of the Max’s build quality and features. And that MSRP isn’t as high as other similar high end trailers within its size range. And from my visit to their factory, I would consider the Max a high end trailer that will last you many, many good camping years…and look pretty cool rolling into the campground to boot.
I asked Janine a week after she took to the Max what her impressions were of it and she told me, “Liberty Outdoors just raised the bar in the light weight towable market with their Little Guy Max. It’s built to an exacting standard, thoughtfully designed and affordable. It’s a win, win, win for all RV enthusiasts.”
Based on what I saw of the Max and the other projects set to come online in the next year, that bar will be raised even higher. Their story is just beginning.
Some ten plus years ago before I ever became an RVer, my wife and I pondered how cool it’d be to get a teardrop trailer one day. I remember many nights scoping out the various teardrop websites and thinking of how cool it’d be to own the Airstream of teardrops, a Camp-Inn.
But reality always set in and that dream kept getting put off until it was virtually forgotten. However, things changed in September of 2009 when over the span of a weekend in Missouri we saw a great looking Route 66 inspired Pleasant Valley teardrop and a Dutchmen T@B.
After having the luxury of comparing both a traditional teardrop to a T@B over the same weekend, we discussed the pros and cons of both on our drive back home to Indiana. We decided if we were going to do this, it’d be a T@B, and the following weekend sure enough we had our own T@B sitting in our driveway after a purchase from a dealer in Elkhart, Indiana.
As newbies to the RV lifestyle, we soon realized that despite the coolness of the T@B, we needed a little more space…and a toilet. Seven months later, enter a 2010 Serro Scotty HiLander, just about the same size, but with a wet bath and a smidge more space.
But as some of you have followed our story over the years, you’ll know that once grandson 2.0 came along, even the Scotty became too small, as we wanted to make sure both of the boys had a chance to have childhood memories of camping with us. So now we call our 2016 Shasta Oasis 18BH our RV of choice.
The Shasta has given us a good family camper with a couple of bunks, bathroom, queen bed…and a vanilla, generic look compared to the T@B and Scotty we had before it. Gone were the days when it’d take me 45 minutes setting up our campsite, as 35 of those minutes were spent talking to a passerby about the T@B or Scotty. No one’s given a second look at the Shasta. I’ve realized that socialization at campgrounds over the trailer I had was a big part of my camping experience, and one I missed. And after my birthday this past June, one which is taking me closer to 50 and farther away from 40, I realized mid-life crisis was in full effect. I had to do something to tame it. And so with my wife’s blessing, we did.
We put an order in on a 2017 Riverside RV Retro, Jr 509 back in late June. I know a few teardrop builders in the industry, and as you can see on our Manufacturers Page, there are a lot of them throughout the country. And make no bones about it, they build some excellent products. However, I’ve had a previous working relationship with Braun’s Fun Time Campers in Indianapolis, a Riverside dealer. After inspecting some at their dealership, we soon realized the Retro, Jr gave us what we wanted at an excellent price point.
Riverside offers a few color schemes to choose from, but after going back and forth on what we wanted, we realized we needed to go with the white with aqua trim with baby moon hubcaps to pay homage to our former Scotty. But on our first camping trip a couple of days after we took possession, it was like old times. At a busy Starve Hollow campground, it got its share of looks and even some pictures. And once we start taking it out more next year, I’m sure I’ll be speaking of its virtues to any fellow camper interested.
Now for the nuts and bolts of the Retro, Jr. Total length is 13’9″ and dry weight fully optioned is 1,023 lbs. Those options we ordered are air conditioning, sink/stove combo, spare tire package, electric brakes, and a few other minor ones, including a USB/12 volt charging port and solar prep. One thing I did get on my own was a mountable jockey wheel at Menards for about $25 that swings up or down, depending on whether you’re hauling or ready to move it by hand.
The interior bed dimensions are a nice 60″ wide and 76″ long, more than ample enough for two average sized adults. We added a 2″ memory foam mattress topper from Walmart for some extra comfort. There are also storage cabinets on the front and rear interior walls, with the rear cabinets a little bit longer than the front, but both sides large enough to handle your typical bags for clothes you’d bring on a weekend camping trip.
The Retro, Jr is now decked out with all LED lighting, inside and out with the exception of the over the door exterior light. There are two main overhead lights as well as two reading lights underneath the front cabinet that are on either side of the USB/12 volt charging station.
The air conditioning unit is more than adequate for anyone in just about any climate. It was about the time we ordered ours in June when we were informed that Riverside had done away with the interior window-unit style air conditioner in favor of an 11,000 BTU roof mounted Dometic unit. It should be interesting next summer to see how it does in really hot weather.
Moving to the rear kitchen area. With going with the sink/stove combo option, that also meant we’d have to have a 5 gallon propane tank on the front, and in the rear hatch, we’d need the 17 gallon fresh water tank as well as water pump. But should you decide not to get the sink/stove combo, the entire rear storage area is yours, as the fresh water tank and water pump wouldn’t be included.
The rear kitchen area offers ample counter space, an electrical outlet for a microwave, coffee maker, or any other electric kitchen device, as well as a decent sized cabinet for utensils and other small cookware. Also included is an LED light for those late night cooking ventures.
Now one important upgrade that we went with makes our Retro, Jr…as far as I can tell…a one of a kind (for now). And that is the interior Retro package that we asked for. And that is the wood grain interior and kitchen area finish as well as the black & white checkered flooring. This is typically something that does not come on a Retro, Jr and isn’t listed as an option. I’ve scoured every photo and ad for these for the past 5 months and I’ve not seen one with this option. So a typical Retro, Jr interior would look like this:
Kind of a no brainer to go with the wood grain/checker board look for about $300, don’t you think?
Now back to some specs, the Retro, Jr sits on a 1500 lbs axle, supported by two 13″ wheels. The underside is enclosed by the usual black Darco material to keep out moisture. The 30 amp power cord could be a little longer to suit me, so be prepared to purchase an extension for it as it’s probably about 15′ long.
Construction-wise it appears to be built pretty well. It’s got an aluminum cage with a steel frame, aluminum sidewalls and a fiberglass roof. It tows extremely well and at just 1,023 lbs, can be towed by a lot of vehicles. As you can tell, this is a teardrop with doors on each side, which isn’t always the case with some manufacturers. Each door has a deep tented, vertical sliding window for some good cross ventilation and are draped with color coordinated shades for privacy. The one drawback with going with the rooftop air conditioner is that it eliminates the possibility to have an A/C as well as a roof top vent fan. However, a Fantastic Fan is standard if you don’t order the A/C. And one other request I wish I would’ve made is to have an exterior porch light over each door, as they only put the one over the curbside door.
But overall, it appears to be a solid trailer with a good build quality. And coming from me, that says something, as I was rather critical of Riverside’s sloppiness on their Retros when I first saw them at the RVIA trade show in Louisville in 2011. However, in subsequent years, I commented on how they seemed to have got their act together on fit & finish for this price point, and the fact that I’m buying from them should show how much I believe in how they’ve improved.
Depending on where you are in the U.S., you can likely expect to see a Retro, Jr fetch an MSRP starting in the $9,000’s, but your results may vary. I’ll keep you all posted on how things are going on it in the near future. And if you’re wondering, yes, we are a two-trailer family. We’ll be keeping our Shasta for when we take family trips with the grandboys. But the Retro, Jr is for me, or me and my wife to play with. I kind of liken it to this: The Shasta is kind of like a minivan that a guy has to drive throughout the week. And the Retro, Jr is that guy’s sportscar that he drives on the weekends. Hope you follow that analogy!
I’ve put together a walk around video of it that you can find below. Feel free to shoot me any comments or questions either below this post or on the YouTube video. As always, thanks for reading.
As I hinted at in late August, Little Guy Worldwide this week debuted the T@G teardrop and the myPod molded fiberglass trailer at America’s Largest RV Show in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The T@G will have optional TV, air conditioning, and refrigerator & freezer. It comes standard with a queen size bed, 2 side doors, 2 side windows, a galley, and fan. With options (including the battery), the T@G checks in at 1.025 lbs and 875 lbs without options. The MSRP is $8,995 and production will start in November. No specs to report on the myPod other than the base weight without options is just over 500 lbs.
Fresh off the heels of the highly successful “Rolling Home” rally for T@Bs and Little Guy teardrops, Little Guy Worldwide VP of Sales Dylan DeHoff tells us things are are moving along very well with the Ohio based teardrop trailer manufacturer. First, total sales of all models are up a whopping 130% from 2012, with nearly 1,500 units to be produced in 2013.
Look for upgrades in the T@B for 2014. Among them is the addition of the Alde 110-LP Water Heater & Central Heating unit, which replaces both the furnace and water heater with the one single unit. Benefits of the Alde unit is that it distributes heat evenly around, is extremely quiet, has programmable controls, and has a 93% efficiency equivalent. Starting in 2014, this will be the standard heating device in T@Bs.
Italian SMEV Stove. Inset, Hinged 2 Burner stove with Glass Cover
Electric Brakes replace hydraulic brakes
Coming some time in September will be the introduction of two new models: The T@G and the myPod. There’s no indication yet what the T@G will look like, but as Dylan tells it, “It’s a true “tweener” between the T@B and the Little Guy, with modern, T@B-inspired, European lines.” There currently aren’t any images available of the T@G, however Dutchmen also created a T@G around 2009 that never advanced any farther than the prototype stage, which was really nothing more than a teardrop trailer without any kind of galley. So right now there isn’t enough info to warrant a guess as to whether or not this is what it’ll look like.
As for the myPod, I think it’s safe to say what it’ll look like, as Little Guy gave a sneak peak on their Facebook page back in February. The myPod will have a “futuristic”, 100% fiberglass molded, rear loading galley-free design. It will be available in several colors including the option to match a particular paint code. It will also boast an optional roof rack, entertainment center, and air conditioning unit.
As always, we’ll have more on all of this info as it develops.
Eustis, Florida based Trekker Trailers will be conducting a class in late June where the students build their own trailer under the supervision of professionals. The first class is scheduled for June 21-30, 2013. The model used will be their entry level Simple Sleeper, which is a teardrop trailer without a rear kitchen.
The Simple Sleeper features an air conditioner, rear cargo rack, drop floor, 2 doors, and a mattress. It measures 7 1/2′ long and 4′ wide, which, along with its 650 lbs weight, makes it easy to tow with a large motorcycle or small car.
In the class, students will be cutting out the shapes using templates, assembling the wood structures, sheet metal, installing windows and doors, and the finishing touches. Some of the work will be done for you so everyone stays on schedule.
The cost of the class is $3900 ($2500 deposit), which is a $1,000 savings on a Simple Sleeper had you just bought one from Trekker Trailers. Currently there are spots for only 3 students.
Little Guy Worldwide plans to debut the reintroduction of the T@B Clamshell model at next weeks 50th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, KY. The first images of the Little Guy version of the Clamshell were released in an article Friday on rv-pro.
Comparing the Little Guy version (above) to the the previous version built by Dutchmen (below) there are a few cosmetic changes. On the Dutchmen, the bottom of the trailer has a slight upward angle near the rear, where the Little Guy version is straight all the way across from the wheel well to the rear hatch. The LG version incorporates new LED strip tail/brake lights below the hatch on a diamond plate base, where the Dutchmen version used standard travel trailer tail lights afixed to the hatch. Much cleaner look on the LG model.
But overall, the concept remains the same with the kitchen area enclosed in the rear hatch of the unit.
The kitchen will house ample cabinet space, a sink , stove, refrigerator, and an optional flat screen TV with remote and external speakers. Aside from the Clamshell model, a new model called the “S” floorplan is also being introduced as well. It will be a T@B with a wet-bath, and will also be available as an option in the Clamshell.
The Clamshell gives the best of both worlds, for those who like a tradtional teardrop trailer where the kitchen is in the rear yet gives one room to stand up in the interior of the trailer. It’ll be interesting to monitor the message boards over the next few years to see how well these Little Guy hatches hold up against water intrusion. Dutchmen Clamshells had a troubled history of leakage resulting in damaged or rotted wood.
I’ll be attending the Louisville show next Tuesday on opening day, so I’ll be giving my first hand impressions of the Clamshell (as well as other smallish trailers) later next week. I’ll be Tweeting throughout the day from Louisville, so be sure to give us a “Follow” via the link on the right side of this page. For those of you who don’t Tweet but are on Facebook, you can give us a “Like” via the link on the right and view my Tweets there. As always, thanks for reading!
Just in time for Christmas, Neiman Marcus has added a $150,000 custom built teardrop trailer to their 2012 fantasy gifts Christmas book. Built by Roanoke, Virginia based Silver Tears Campers and designed by New York based Brad Ford ID, buyers have a chance to own a trailer that is like no other. It features a polished mahogany and ash exterior, and the interior is made from recycled Bulleit Bourbon solid oak casks.
But that’s not all. Featuring a pull-out bar, you’ll also receive a year’s supply of Bulleit Bourbon and Bulleit Rye, leather accessories from Moore & Giles, Waterford crystal, and a Sony audio-visual entertainment system.
There will be only two of these units available for purchase. Need something to tow it with? No problem, as Neiman Marcus is offering a 2013 McLaren 12C Spider as your tow vehicle…for a mere $354,000. Oh, and in case you were wondering by the photos (courtesy Neiman Marcus), don’t plan on using this trailer to sleep in. That slide out bar has to go somewhere!
Entries for the contest close on October 31, 2012 and the winner will be drawn on November 6. Here’s a video from Little Guy Worldwide’s Chris Baum with a little more on the Little Guy 5-wide platform that will be awarded to the lucky winner. You must be an Ohio resident to win.
In a press release this week, Little Guy Worldwide announced a partnership with America’s oldest brewery, Yuengling. The partnership is in the form of a contest where a Little Guy teardrop trailer, wrapped with Yuengling’s brand, will be the grand prize.
More than 20 of these trailers have been wrapped and are hitting the road throughout Ohio. They’ll be located at grocery stores in Ohio as a point-of-purchase promotion where Yuengling is sold. According to Chris Baum, Chief Operating Officer of Little Guy, “We are delighted to have the opportunity to partner with Yuengling®, a company with a rich and storied history that is as unique as Little Guy Teardrop Campers.”
The contest is restricted to Ohio residents only, so those of you in the Buckeye State have a chance to load up a new teardrop full of America’s oldest lager. Full details on the contest can be found by clicking here.
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?