The ScarabRV is a new ultralight camping trailer that frees you to hit the road with room for two, whether you're traveling by small car or motorcycle. In contrast to the typical cranking pop-up, this trailer's tent inflates into shape within a minute of arrival. Easy to tow and easy to use, the Scarab is designed to take the headaches out of travel and camping.
It's a good time to be shopping the lightweight camping trailer market. We've seen a very steady stream of new small trailer launches over the past few years. At about 300 pounds (136 kg), the ScarabRV slides into the "lightest of the light" category with the likes of the Freespirit XT.
The story behind the ScarabRV is one that we've heard many times before, albeit with a different pair of names filled in. Mike and Mary Setzer were looking for something they couldn't quite find on the camper market. Namely, they were looking for a solution combining light weight, ease of set-up and style. After deeming all existing options too large, heavy and/or difficult to set up for their needs, the Setzers set about designing a new trailer. They looked to the inflatable tent to create their perfect design.
Since blowing into a valve or hand-pumping a tent wouldn't be all that much easier than using a traditional crank, the Setzers equipped their camper with an auto-inflation system. When you arrive at camp, all you have to do is push a button and the electric air inflator automatically pitches the tent, providing a queen-sized sleeping area for two.
Unlike the Wild Land Pathfinder roof tent and other quick set-up camping designs, the Scarab system doesn't even require you to remove a cover or undo any latches. So you can simply use the remote control and wait inside the car for the tent to set up. The top wings of the hard trailer automatically open, and the tent inflates into shape, all within about a minute.
We're loath to ever declare anything a "world first" in the camper market, where designs are constantly renewed, revived and recycled. However, we couldn't find anything close to the smooth, inflatable design of the ScarabRV when we looked around for an inflatable tent trailer. There are other versions of inflatable tent campers, but they are nowhere near as convincing. The Campmaster Air is basically a small, lightweight trailer coupled with a freestanding Vango Airbeam tent, not an integrated tent trailer like the ScarabRV. Then there's the odd creation that Audi and the inflatable tent masters at Heimplanet came up with a year ago.
The ScarabRV tent has a large door at the rear and a window up front. The design looks like it might be a bit shaky in high winds, and certainly not as stable as a hard-sided trailer, but that's part of the give and take in having such a lightweight, easy-to-use design. The description of the tent as "water repellent" makes us question how well it would hold up to steady rain and whether one might want to add some type of tarp in bad weather.
The Setzers use a colorful gelcoat composite body to help keep weight down and give the Scarab a look all its own. That body is also designed to give the trailer a low center of gravity and low drag. It is mounted to a fully welded tubular steel chassis secured to the 12-in wheels with independent suspension and has LED brake lights and tail lights.
A lightweight inflatable-tent trailer involves some concessions in terms of amenities. Unlike other small trailers, some of which include things like kitchen areas and entertainment systems, the ScarabRV is really just a tent on wheels. It does include a 250-lb (113 kg) payload and has 22 cu ft (623 L) of storage space with locks. Options include interior carpeting and LED lighting.
The inflation system is powered by the onboard 12 V 20 Ah battery and can also be used to fill up accessories like air mattresses, inflatable watercraft, etc. The trailer comes standard with a 12 V outlet, and buyers have the option of adding more 12 V and USB outlets.
The Setzers began their ScarabRV journey in 2007 and have since developed two prototypes. They also developed tooling and construction processes, dumping more than $100,000 and hundreds of hours of time into the project. They've spent much time testing the prototypes out in the wild, pulling them with a Harley bike and a Toyota Prius.
The Setzers are now working on getting production up and running. They have turned to Indiegogo in an attempt to raise the funding they need to bring the ScarabRV to market. The campaign is offering personalized special edition trailers for pledge levels of US$4,200, along with a number of lower pledge options.
We really like the design of the ScarabRV and think it would make a nice addition to the small trailer market, but crowd funding seems like a tough way to get something as expensive and niche as a camping trailer to market. With only $210 of $350,000 raised in more than two weeks, the campaign will almost certainly be unsuccessful.
Hopefully, the Setzers will be able to find another way of raising the funding they need to get their design to market. If they do, they've also talked about developing a larger tent trailer and pickup truck camper.
The video below is a bit grainy, but it does a good job of showing the ScarabRV in action.