Standing the test of time, and in conjunction with rising fuel prices, the traditional teardrop camper has resurfaced in recent years as an economic alternative to your large clunky caravan or fully decked out Winnebago. Raising the bar with an intelligent and modern teardrop design, Canadian company Safari Condo has recently released the Alto R 1713 and R 1723 recreational campers.
Both travel trailers are lightweight and boast an aerodynamic shape, which makes towing them easy and accessible. Furthermore, the design incorporates an electric retractable roof, offering greater interior space compared to the typically quite small traditional teardrop trailers.
"We wanted to make a small, extremely light and very aerodynamic travel trailer, while maintaining a comfortable interior height," Daniel Nadeau, CEO of Safari Condo tells Gizmag. "The need to combine the aerodynamic features with a generous vertical space inside was the source of the retractable roof design."
With a total weight of just 1,683 pounds (763 kg) and 1,725 pounds (782 kg) respectively the Alto R 1713 and R 1723 can each comfortably house three to four people. The retractable roof not only floods the interior space with natural light but also provides a more than comfortable interior height of 6.8 feet (2.08 m).
They both feature two sleeping areas; an extendable dining area which can be in use even when the bedding is set up; a smart kitchen complete with mini fridge, two-burner gas stove and sink; fixed flush toilet and lots of storage space. In addition, the R 1723 has an interior shower with curtain. Both versions have the option of adding rooftop solar panels, a heat pump and air conditioning.
In order to reduce the overall weight of the trailer, aluminum was used to construct the walls, roof, floor, chassis, cabinets and bed structure. According to Nadeau, the Alto trailers are 600 to 800 pounds (270 to 362 kg) lighter than other campers of a similar size.
"The Alto is genuinely aircraft-inspired," says Nadeau. "Being a pilot for over 35 years and having built my own aluminum aircraft, this type of construction was well known to me. The goal with the Alto was to get a travel trailer that was truly easy to tow."
During the manufacturing process of the Alto, Safari Condo tried to reduce as much of the waste materials as possible. When cutting out the windows and doors on the sandwich walls, it was found that a lot of good material was being thrown away. Therefore, the company chose to build its own doors, steps, battery box shelf and propane support from the cut-outs of the window and door openings.
"The reuse value is also evident in the light aerodynamic design of the Alto which allows most of our clients to keep their current family car, without having to change to a new larger vehicle," explains Nadeau.
If you're interested in purchasing either of the Alto versions, you'll be looking at spending between CAD$24,000 to $31,000 (US$23,000 - $29,500), depending on extras and options.
"It’s true, the Alto is not cheap," says Nadeau. "When we designed it we bet that, even in this world of highly disposable goods, there were still people willing to pay for a durable quality product. The high quality build of the Alto allows owners to keep their trailer for a very long time and the design is based on materials which do not rust or rot. Unlike many of its competitors, the Alto is built to last for decades."