Outdoors

Composite-monocoque Topo2 is sleekest, toughest Escapod camper trailer

Composite-monocoque Topo2 is s...
Escapod goes full composite and hot-dipped galvanized steel with the new Topo2 off-road teardrop trailer
Escapod goes full composite and hot-dipped galvanized steel with the new Topo2 off-road teardrop trailer
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The Escapod Topo2 takes on a more sculpted teardrop form with a few extra curves and angles
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The Escapod Topo2 takes on a more sculpted teardrop form with a few extra curves and angles
Escapod regularly added improvements like the cabinet door/side table to the original Topo and incorporates them into the all-new Topo2
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Escapod regularly added improvements like the cabinet door/side table to the original Topo and incorporates them into the all-new Topo2
The Topo2 comes with a large stargazer window for added light and views
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The Topo2 comes with a large stargazer window for added light and views
A peek at the new independent suspension that launched as an option on the Topo and comes standard on the Topo2
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A peek at the new independent suspension that launched as an option on the Topo and comes standard on the Topo2
A 140-W solar panel helps keep the 100-Ah lithium battery charged
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A 140-W solar panel helps keep the 100-Ah lithium battery charged
Bird's eye on the stargazer window
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Bird's eye on the stargazer window
A peek inside
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A peek inside
The strength of the single-piece composite body has allowed Escapod to shave 300 lb off the weight of its galvanized steel-tube chassis
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The strength of the single-piece composite body has allowed Escapod to shave 300 lb off the weight of its galvanized steel-tube chassis
The independent trailing-arm suspension system puts the shock and spring on the same plane for 5 in of travel at each wheel
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The independent trailing-arm suspension system puts the shock and spring on the same plane for 5 in of travel at each wheel
Escapod introduces the second-generation, composite-monocoque Topo2
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Escapod introduces the second-generation, composite-monocoque Topo2
Side table set up and available ARB fridge ready to serve
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Side table set up and available ARB fridge ready to serve
Escapod launches the Topo2 in four body colors and three door colors for a variety of combinations
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Escapod launches the Topo2 in four body colors and three door colors for a variety of combinations
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Tall side doors provide entry inside, with left and right mudrooms there to handle dirty, wet clothes and shoes
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Tall side doors provide entry inside, with left and right mudrooms there to handle dirty, wet clothes and shoes
Escapod goes full composite and hot-dipped galvanized steel with the new Topo2 off-road teardrop trailer
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Escapod goes full composite and hot-dipped galvanized steel with the new Topo2 off-road teardrop trailer
Escapod leaves behind the structural wood, but adds warmth with Baltic birch cabinets in the interior and galley
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Escapod leaves behind the structural wood, but adds warmth with Baltic birch cabinets in the interior and galley
Escapod hasn't shown all the interior photos just yet, but you can get a feel for the new mudroom design from the spaces flanking the floating cabinet unit
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Escapod hasn't shown all the interior photos just yet, but you can get a feel for the new mudroom design from the spaces flanking the floating cabinet unit
Escapod does away with seams using a single-piece composite shell
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Escapod does away with seams using a single-piece composite shell
This particular color combination really pops
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This particular color combination really pops
The Topo2 measures 14.3 feet to the tip of the tow bar
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The Topo2 measures 14.3 feet to the tip of the tow bar
Popping open the tailgate galley
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Popping open the tailgate galley
The Topo2 steps up with a nicer Ruvati inbuilt sink
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The Topo2 steps up with a nicer Ruvati inbuilt sink
The dual-burner ENO stove slides out for cooking
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The dual-burner ENO stove slides out for cooking
View gallery - 23 images

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.

Escapod does away with seams using a single-piece composite shell
Escapod does away with seams using a single-piece composite shell

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.

Tall side doors provide entry inside, with left and right mudrooms there to handle dirty, wet clothes and shoes
Tall side doors provide entry inside, with left and right mudrooms there to handle dirty, wet clothes and shoes

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.

The independent trailing-arm suspension system puts the shock and spring on the same plane for 5 in of travel at each wheel
The independent trailing-arm suspension system puts the shock and spring on the same plane for 5 in of travel at each wheel

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.

Popping open the tailgate galley
Popping open the tailgate galley

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.

Escapod hasn't shown all the interior photos just yet, but you can get a feel for the new mudroom design from the spaces flanking the floating cabinet unit
Escapod hasn't shown all the interior photos just yet, but you can get a feel for the new mudroom design from the spaces flanking the floating cabinet unit

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.

Escapod launches the Topo2 in four body colors and three door colors for a variety of combinations
Escapod launches the Topo2 in four body colors and three door colors for a variety of combinations

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.

Source: Escapod

View gallery - 23 images
3 comments
3 comments
paul314
Gorgeous, but, as you point out, getting into low-end Tiny House territory for pricing. Maybe it will come down after they've amortized the tooling.
SteveMc
Forty grand???? A crazy price! I don’t understand why anyone wastes their hard earned cash on these at all. An excellent three man tent costs 1/40th of the price and although it’s pretty much a ‘plug-and-play’ experience with one of these teardrop designs, I’d rather save myself the vast sum of money and set up the tent/kitchen/bed manually - in the decades long traditional manner. You’ve got to be VERY lazy to justify the advantage against the cost. Or more money than sense :)
jerryd
Great way to build a trailer. Too bad they couldn't make it aero, as wide as the wheels, so even a light car could tow it.
Better is build your own in epoxy/ply for under $1k..