Solar-powered off-road teardrop trades propane for electric camping
Making an all-electric camper tends to be a little easier when that camper doesn't require a large motive engine to propel itself to camp. We've already seen a few all-electric caravans on the global market, and startup Colorado Campworks presents one of the first electric production trailers we've seen in the US. Its NS-1 isn't just any camping trailer, either — it's an off-road adventure teardrop built to wander well off the grid while relying solely on electric power once there, no need for LPG. Available options let buyers upgrade it into a four-season, gourmet-grade glamping trailer for digital nomads.
The 12.7-foot (3.9-m) Colorado Campworks NS-1 (Nomadic Systems 1, interchangeably called the "Nomad") had its beginnings as founder Thomas Hoffmann's senior design project at the University of Colorado. It earned high marks from the professor and school at large, but as with many ideas birthed behind the bright, wide eyes of design school students, it didn't immediately translate into a business. It did, however, land Hoffmann an enviable job at the most famous overland camper builder on Colorado's Front Range: EarthRoamer.
The NS-1 was back-burnered but not forgotten, and in late 2019, Hoffman and a team of associates pulled it off the shelf, blew the dust off and founded Colorado Campworks with the goal of bringing that original ski-bumming teardrop to life as a modern overland trailer.
It's quite easy these days for overland teardrops to find themselves in me-too territory, bringing little more to the table than lovable nostalgic looks and compelling photographic promises of idyllic escapes. Campworks avoids that trap by giving its off-road teardrop an interesting point of distinction: an all-electric architecture without so much as a 16-oz green bottle's worth of LPG.
Colorado Campworks lays the electrical foundation with a 200-Ah lithium-iron-phosphate battery that distributes AC power through a 3,000-W inverter. Two hundred watts of roof-mounted solar provide charging out in the wild.
With no big, white tank mounted to the fender or hidden away in a kitchen compartment, common equipment like the gas dual-burner stove and water boiler need to be replaced with electric counterparts. A dual-burner induction cooktop brings meals to temperature, and an electric on-demand water heater warms the water on its path from the 76-L tank to the kitchen sink and outdoor shower.
Instead of the usual galley set below a lifting tailgate, Colorado Campworks stores the Nomad kitchen inside a smaller hatch on the lower rear fascia. The kitchen itself slides out, bringing with it the cooktop, sink, cutting board sink cover and storage drawer.
That's a pretty standard level of equipment for trailer cooking, but Colorado Campworks lets gourmets step it up further with a $3,250 cooking package that adds a Traeger grill/smoker, Breville smart oven and SnoMaster cool box. The option makes the Nomad something of an all-electric trailer counterpart to the German-designed Loef camper van and its slide-out ceramic grill/smoker.
Colorado Campworks dumps the typical aluminum-skinned wood-framed teardrop construction in favor of a single-piece epoxy-bonded, insulated composite shell. It mounts on an axe and shovel on one side, a pair of Rotopax canisters on the other. That body is fixed to a powder-coated tubular frame cushioned by a Timbren 3500 HD Axle-less suspension, with a set of full-length step-on rock sliders protecting the sides. The 15-in wheels are centered inside 285/70R15 BFGoodrich KO2 all-terrain tires for capable off-road handling and brought to stop by electric drum brakes.
The NS-1's interior wears warming acoustic paneling and includes overhead storage cabinetry. The high-density foam mattress fills out the floor space atop a platform that clears storage room underneath. Cold outside temperatures are tempered by an electric heater and darkness fended off with an LED lighting system. Also included is a power management display, AC and DC outlets, and an available laptop workstation.
Other standard features listed on Colorado Campworks' NS-1 sale page include exterior LED lighting, a Front Runner platform roof rack, Front Runner awning and hitch receiver. Colorado Campworks currently advertises a price of $37,000 and a dry weight of 1,750 lb (794 kg). In addition to the cooking package previously mentioned, buyers can add on the $2,500 Digital Nomad package with onboard Wi-Fi and a charging station for powering up electronics, the $6,000 Supercharged package with double the battery power and app control, and the $3,000 Four Season package with added insulation, heated water tank and water recirculation.
Whether looking at the $37,000 price tag, or optioning up to an even higher price tag, the NS-1 costs a lot of money for a little trailer, coming in two, three, four ... times the price of other off-road teardrops we've seen. But Colorado Campworks hasn't spared expenses with its standard composite build and extensive standard features package with the lithium battery, inverter, solar panels, Front Runner platform rack, heat, hot water and exterior wall-mounted accessories. Those types of amenities would often be optional on other trailers, if offered at all. Colorado Campworks is also working on a base model called the Vagabond (VS-1) and plans to offer it around $20,000.
Source: Colorado Campworks