Rotomolded plastic teardrop camper bashes through the African bush
Rotomolded construction has become a staple in outdoor recreation and exploration via hardwearing, bear-resistant coolers and cargo boxes from the likes of Yeti and Pelican. If there's one thing campers and overlanders want to protect even more than their food and gear supplies, it's their soft, supple, irreplaceable skin. So why not build a shelter like a big, rugged cooler ready to lock horns with the hungriest wildlife? South African startup Edgeout does exactly that, crafting a rotomolded plastic teardrop ready for everything from a quick safari to an intercontinental expedition.
Given that there aren't any bears in South Africa, the brief behind the Edgeout was never to create a bear-proof teardrop trailer. Instead, the idea followed the same route that many a new camper innovation and business startup has: a campfire conversation. A camper across the the flickering, crackling flames asked soon-to-be Edgeout founder Vonnie Heyns why he doesn't rotomold caravans. Not just any campfire Joe, Heyns happens to be, then and now, the managing director of Cape Town's 4EVR Plastic Products, where he gained plenty of experience using rotational molding to build all kinds of demanding products, from septic tanks, to floating marine deck supports, to 600L wine fermentation tanks, to mobile hot tubs.
Heyns was certainly in a unique position of authority to address the question about rotomolded caravans, but he didn't answer definitively on the spot. Instead, he took the idea back to work, researched the best rotomolding techniques and technologies for the task, and began bushwhacking the path toward the rotomolded plastic teardrop trailer that would become the first product of 4EVR spinoff Edgeout.
The 15-foot (4.6-m) Edgeout trailer's two-tone styling hints at something deeper than aesthetics, highlighting the dual-pod construction that underpins the entire product design. The company rotomolds individual bedroom and kitchen units, affixes them together into a two-sleeper teardrop with rear galley, and mounts the whole thing to a galvanized steel trailer chassis from Burquip. Each pod is structurally seamless, cutting the potential for roof leaks.
Edgeout bills its teardrops as the world's first to use a molded linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) design, and while we have watched molded composite trailer construction gain traction in the thriving teardrop market, other models we've looked at have used different molding processes and materials. The idea of a rotomolded camper has been discussed in various RV forums, and undoubtedly around other campfires, but often gets dismissed as cost-prohibitive for anyone other than an existing rotomolding company with all the proper tooling and machinery (i.e. someone just like 4EVR).
Edgeout worked with industrial design firm RKID to give its teardrop a look positively befitting of a world-first rotomolded camper. Rather than attempting to cover up the border between the two pods, the design team emphasizes it with the contrast shades of gray and a thick, raised edge. The surfaces of both bodies reflect raw natural surroundings, giving the body the appearance of a boulder or roughly cut gemstone. The rising, pointed roof rails, meanwhile, feel rather animalistic, reminding us of some type of goat or antelope.
Inside the insulated cabin, the Edgeout has a traditional teardrop layout centered around a 79 x 57-in (200 x 145-cm) near-queen mattress. Around the interior, overhead cabinets and various storage shelves and cubbies provide plenty of space to keep things organized.
The tailgate galley also looks quite familiar, putting a full-width countertop above a pair of slide-outs. One slide-out houses the glass-top dual-burner stove, sink faucet and bucket, and storage drawers, and the other holds an available fridge or cooler. One thing that's quite atypical for a rugged teardrop trailer is the available microwave that serves as a kitchen centerpiece.
Water gets hauled around in a 110-L tank and distributed via a 12-V pump. A deep-cycle battery powers that pump, the LED lighting and outlets. The included charging system can be hooked up to the vehicle and wired to optional solar panels.
The Edgeout trailer has a 1,650-lb (750-kg) tare weight and a 2,865-lb (1,300-kg) gross vehicle weight rating. It rides on Goodyear Wrangler-wrapped 15-in wheels hooked up to a torsion bar suspension.
Edgeout doesn't list pricing on its website, but an info sticker published by one of its distributors last month shows a base price of R249,000, which might look quite expensive outside of South Africa but calculates all the way down to US$15,425 using current exchange rates. That price comes out well lower than we were expecting for a convincing little trailer with world-first construction tech behind it, and it's competitive with another innovative South African teardrop we covered not long ago, the expandable R237,000 ($14,675) Mobi X. Edgeout options include various awnings, a two-person rooftop tent and a deployable privacy room.