Sleepless miniaturized teardrop is a micro-camping backpack for SUVs
Of the dozens of gear-hauler trailers we've looked at over the years – from low-riding exo-frames, to bolt-and-build cargo boxes, to fold-a-tent tubs, to tiny wagon-wheelers – none have struck us as immediately lovable as the Ushi. Designed and built in North Carolina, the new trailer appears at first to be a small squaredrop that's gone through a multidirectional compactor, riding much shorter and lower than average. But it's not a tiny towable habitat exclusively for children and pets, nor is it an expander ready to pop and slide into a full-size family camper. Instead, it's a towable workstation that offers everything a typical teardrop camper does, minus the actual overnight camping.
To put some numbers to the Ushi's visible tininess, the trailer stands a mere 4.8 feet (1.5 m) high and stretches 7.4 feet (2.3 m) long, from rear bumper to hitch tip. That's as short an automobile trailer as we've seen previously, and given that the exterior body behind the tow bar is only 5 feet (1.5 m) long, it's clear from the get-go that this trailer wasn't built to shelter campers from the weather. It doesn't even have enough roof space to carry the usually obligatory topper tent, offered on all the other trailers linked above.
Instead, Ushi Outdoors has conceived its trailer to offer the next level in gear hauling and adventure support, organizing days' worth of camping and outdoor essentials like a vehicular version of a thru-hiker's backpack. Many gear-hauling trailers are simple boxes or tubs, but the Ushi features a teardrop-inspired layout that creates a neatly packed base camp ready to cook, dine and launch adventures immediately on arrival.
True to teardrop design, the Ushi includes a tailgate-accessed galley space complete with full-width bench top. Ushi used an inbuilt Dometic dual-burner stove on an older prototype, but now advertises the trailer with just the wood counter, on which campers can use a portable camping or backpacking stove to cook. Ushi extends the work area via removable side-mounted shelves.
The Ushi trailer's compact dimensions eliminate the backsplash-area cabinetry common in traditional teardrop galleys, leaving Ushi to drop the storage below the counter via a series of drawers. The largest drawer sits between the taillights just above the bumper and is actually two separate drawers with a single outer face panel. The long, shallow lower slide is large enough for an outdoor camping table, while the deeper upper drawer has space for taller items like pots, pans and dry food, complete with adjustable organizers.
Above that lower dual drawer, two side-by-side drawers directly below the counter offer space for utensils, cooking tools, dishes and other smaller items. A custom-made MOLLE panel fit to the inside of the lift-gate offers a place to lash on additional cooking tools or general camping gear.
With no actual teardrop interior to be found, the side doors open up to reveal more storage space. The right side houses a slide-out designed to fit a cooler or fridge, while the left side offers open storage space for luggage, camping furniture and more. A battery compartment provides dedicated leisure battery storage for powering the fridge, interior and exterior lighting, and galley outlets.
The small roof and tailgate design appear to effectively eliminate any possibility of squeezing even the narrowest rooftop tent atop the Ushi trailer, and the company makes no mention of such use. The roof rack on the front of the roof is meant to carry luggage or large items such as a folded ground tent or canopy room.
Since the Ushi doesn't offer any integrated shelter, it seems best for use alongside a ground tent or hitched to a small motorhome or a tow vehicle with in-vehicle camper kit or rooftop tent, working as something of a chuckwagon and field workstation. It certainly promises to streamline the camping experience as compared to unloading the car to set up an outdoor kitchen. The trailer can also be used as a tagalong support for single-day activities like tailgating and fishing.
When not in use, the Ushi tow bar removes and the small 5-ft-long Ushi fits neatly in a garage in a way larger camping and cargo trailers would not. It can hold all camping, cooking and general outdoor supplies when not in use, keeping everything ready and organized. So instead of running around gathering cooking equipment, pots, dishes, hiking tools, etc. the morning of the trip, all that gear can remain in the Ushi ready to hitch up and go.
Ushi relies on a folded and riveted anodized aluminum trailer body atop an aluminum chassis to keep dry trailer weight down to 640 lb (290 kg). The axle is rated for 1,500 lb (680 kg) so the trailer can carry up to 860 lb (390 kg) of cargo.
Ushi introduced its trailer at Overland Expo East this past fall and is now offering it at a starting price of US$9,960. It also works with customer's on customization options. Unlike trailers designed exclusively to be picked up by the buyer, the Ushi trailer can ship on a custom pallet for easier delivery.
Source: Ushi Outdoors