Composite-monocoque Topo2 is sleekest, toughest Escapod camper trailer
With colorful paint and topo graphics, Escapod's Topo has been one of the best-looking off-road teardrop trailers on the market for years now, and the all-new Topo2 manages to look even better. Driven by a near-obsessive desire to continually improve its design, the Utah-based shop has added smart new features to the Topo over the years, and now it breaks the mold completely with the fully overhauled Topo2. The new trailer brings on a single-piece composite construction, independent suspension, solar-connected lithium power and plenty of other upgrades that make it more prepared than ever for journeying through the backcountry of the American West and beyond.
I loved my experience with the original Escapod Topo so much I put it on my short list of potential campers to give a hard look when I was ready to buy. My one reservation was that I'd prefer something without the wood frame subject to water damage, mildew and other potential longterm issues, a reservation that grew stronger as more and more local trailer and pickup camper builders opted to ditch the wood in favor of full-composite builds.
Escapod itself has realized that the drawbacks of classic aluminum-skinned wood frame teardrop construction were holding it back from truly realizing its goal of building the "best damn camper known to man." So it turned to the automotive industry for inspiration, revamped its construction process and created the Topo2.
Not only does Escapod remove the wood frame, it removes the body frame all together, relying on a single-piece composite body. It reinforces its fiberglass walls with a PET core made from recycled milk cartons to provide structural rigidity without the need for a separate frame. It says this method results in a superior strength-to-weight ratio for a trailer that bases in under 1,500 lb (680 kg) dry, roughly 250 lb (113 kg) lighter than the Topo.
The composite build eliminates the water susceptibility of a wood frame, and the single-piece design eliminates seams that could become the source of future leaks. Escapod further enhances the waterproofing by giving the Topo2 a more three-dimensional shape with rounded corners that keep water flowing off into the new molded rain gutter system that directs it away from the doors and galley. The angular, contrast-colored doors don't only add to the unique look of the newest Escapod, they fight off any chance of leaking or dripping, as does the large 2.5 x 5-foot (76 x 152-cm) stargazer front window.
Escapod previously relied on a torsion-axle suspension, a very common solution in American off-road camping trailers. But earlier this year it moved a step closer to the master off-road trailer-builders from Australia in launching an optional independent suspension, which becomes standard on the Topo2.
Developed in-house, the Freeride Suspension System features a trailing arm with inline shock/spring combo at each wheel. It delivers 5 in (12.7 cm) of travel and smoothens the ride out considerably, limiting the vibrations that would otherwise rattle and wear on the body. Escapod likens the move to independent suspension to a full-suspension mountain bike versus a hardtail.
With a full 23 inches (58 cm) of ground clearance, the 14.3-foot (4.4-m) Topo2 may very well more ride at more than double the height of the truck or 4x4 doing the towing. The trailer stands on 16-in wheels wrapped in 265/75 R16 General Tire Grabber ATX all-terrain tires and has a hot-dipped galvanized steel chassis. Escapod lists departure angle at 35 degrees.
The Topo2 tailgate galley adds in higher-grade equipment to meet the new trailer's upmarket look and spec. The rectangular Ruvati sink, which looks like it came out of a high-end custom camper van, pushes the dual-burner ENO stove down onto a slide-out below the countertop. The spacious slide-out to the right delivers convenient access into the standard Yeti 75 cooler or available 60-L ARB fridge/freezer. The Topo2 retains the multipurpose cabinet above the counter, its door able to pop off, attach to the side of the trailer and become an outside table.
Escapod adds a "heated mudroom" inside each door, providing space to hang wet clothes or jackets and stow dirty shoes before entering. Beyond that, the cabin layout looks quite similar to the original Topo, albeit with a larger 6-in memory foam mattress that grows into a proper 60 x 80-in (152 x 203-cm) queen. Also included are LED lighting, Baltic birch-faced cabinets, and a four-season climate control system with Truma Combi forced-air furnace/water heater and Fresair A/C.
Onboard power comes from a standard electrical system with 100-Ah lithium battery and 140 watts of hatch-mounted solar, and a Simarine command center provides readouts on battery power, as well as internal and external temperature and water level.
Of course, a new, ground-up design means a new price. The Topo2 starts at $39,500, double the current $19,750 price of the Topo. Deliveries will begin in 2022.
And there's the rub for buyers like me. As much as I lean toward fully composite construction, and as great of a design as the new Topo2 appears to be, the overhaul prices me out. I simply can't afford to spend as much (or near as much) on a teardrop trailer as on the SUV or truck towing it.
For buyers with those same type of constraints, Escapod will continue selling the Topo alongside the Topo2 to meet the two very different price points, though we suspect it might discontinue the Topo if and when Topo2 sales take off.
We plan to take a closer look at the Topo2 (exterior at least, they're still building out interior #1) as the summer outdoor trade show season gets underway. We'll report back with more info and impressions.