Sleek, compact camper pod grows to 3 times its size at the push of a button
The French aren't the only ones building expandable camping trailers, but they do seem to do it at the highest level. A few years ago, we looked at the telescoping Beauer 3X, and last year it was the feature-packed sCarabane. Now French startup Tipoon has come up with an equally ingenious design, a compact "travel machine" that sits low and hauls gear on the ride and grows up and out at camp, providing standing headroom and space for up to four people.
When you first see the Tipoon, it looks almost like an Airstream Basecamp smashed down to a lower height. You might think, you simply crawl inside and lie down, like a Japanese capsule hotel on wheels.
But the Tipoon is no lying-room-only camper. It tows at roughly vehicle height, but the moment you get to camp, it expands out into a cozy tiny home. Simply hit the activation button on the remote control, and the large and small side slide-outs emerge like wings before the upper half rises over the entire base to a roof height of 8.4 feet (2.6 m). Inside, the ceiling measures in at 6.2 ft (1.9 m), meaning average-height campers will be able to stand up without crouching.
The Tipoon's transformable flexibility doesn't stop when the shell is fully expanded. In the cabin, the raised bed block features a multi-use design with various slide-outs. You can slide out the 42 x 75-in (110 x 190-cm) lower bed to join the 47 x 75-in (120 x 190-cm) fixed upper bed for a four-sleeper interior. The dining table and benches also slide out of the bed block to create the dining area. Finally, you can place the cushions on the upper slide-outs to combine with the fixed upper bed into a 75 x 87-in (190 x 220-cm) oversized king.
The small slide-out wall opposite the bed is occupied by a slimline kitchen area with sink, stove and worktop. Tipoon is still finalizing its options sheet but plans to offer a 50-L refrigerator and water heater options.
The Tipoon's bathroom area has a shower, sink and a removable toilet stored below the sink.
Interestingly, the Tipoon isn't actually a trailer but a pod that sits atop a utility trailer. Its creators recommend using a self-braking trailer with a gross vehicle weight rating of 2,425- or 2,866-lb (1,100- or 1,300-kg), with either a short or long drawbar. This way, when camping season is over, you can store the Tipoon in a garage and still have a trailer for hauling cargo.
The Tipoon's length comes in at 13.5 or 14.8 ft (4.1 or 4.5 m), depending upon the size of the drawbar, and is the one measurement that is fixed and not dependent upon open/closed position. The width adjusts between 5.6 ft (1.7 m) when closed and 10.5 ft (3.2 m) when open, while the height adjusts between 5.6 and 8.4 ft (2.6 m). The trailer can also be opened partially for quick access inside, in which case the width is 8.2 ft (2.5 m) and the height is the same as fully open. In addition to the remote controlled expansion system, Tipoon includes a manual crank as backup.
Tipoon describes its pod as having an insulated poly-composite monobloc shell construction with a galvanized subframe. It plans to offer the aluminum trim that appears in many of the photos as an option and will also offer other appearance customization options.
Tipoon set out to find the perfect blend of sleek styling, compact towing and spacious living back in 2014. We'd say it's come up with a compelling design, with the company believing the trailer will resonate with surfers, road trippers, hikers, and other adventurers and wanderers. It introduced its prototype early last year and has been preparing for commercial production ever since. It hopes to begin deliveries this year.
Tipoon pricing and equipment lists are still being finalized ahead of the launch, but the company estimates base price at €24,000 (approx. US$30,000) and is advertising pre-launch reservations now. Planned standard and available features include 40-L fresh and gray water tanks, portable magnetic lighting that can stick to various surfaces around the pod, awning options, an onboard battery with available solar charging, and roof cross bars. Tipoon plans to give buyers flexibility by offering several styles of equipment, such as gas, diesel and electric indoor heating, electric and gas water heaters, compressor and thermoelectric fridges, and chemical and dry portable toilets.
Have a closer look at the Tipoon prototype in the short clip below and in the photo gallery.