Former NASA designer creates another out-of-this-world camper
By C.C. Weiss
October 30, 2013
After successfully putting his NASA design skills to work on the Cricket Trailer, Garrett Finney has started on an even smaller field shelter. Similar in purpose to the Teal Tail Feather and other small campers, the new Firefly is designed to split the difference between gear hauler and camper. It can be mounted to a pickup truck bed, towed on a utility trailer or choppered in to remote locations.
Finney and his team at Taxa LP have come up with a small, lightweight camper pod that slides into the smallest pickup trucks on the market and fits in a 5 x 8-foot (1.5 x 2.4-m) utility trailer. Thanks to compact, lightweight aluminum construction (an aluminum shell insulated with aluminum-composite panels) the Firefly weighs in at 600 lb (272 kg), making it possible to tow it with vehicles as small as a Mini Clubman, according to Taxa.
"The patent application basically says, there's lots of luggage racks out there, and there's lots of gear racks, and there's lots of campers and little habitats, but this is really supposed to be right in between those," Finney told us.
Finney went on to describe the Firefly as a "toolbox that you can sleep in," and it is stripped to the bare essentials inside. The design is still being developed, but so far, we see a fold-down, two-person bed and numerous straps and attachment points for securing gear. A series of windows provide ventilation and light, and customers will be able to select from one- and two-door options.
That open, minimalist interior gives the Firefly plenty of room to haul gear. Finney said it can fit a dirt bike, possibly two. Of course, it can also fit various tools, boards, bikes, etc. The bed flips up against the sides, clearing out storage space during transit.
Just because the basic Firefly is simple doesn't mean that it has to lack other amenities. The customer will be able to fit-out the camper with choice of equipment, such as power and lighting systems. The ribbed exterior structure is designed for bolting, and it can be used to mount things that would usually be on the inside – things like a kitchen counter and water system. Finney also mentioned mounting tools and sports equipment to the exterior.
Beyond offering campers and adventurers a lightweight shelter and gear box, Finney imagines the Firefly being useful for all kinds of professional applications, including as temporary shelter for disaster relief. It includes a set of legs so that it can stand outside of a pickup bed or trailer.
"They are their own shipping crates, and they go places and provide a basic but very malleable, or adaptable usage, given that you can bring whatever you want attached to the outside of them," Finney explains. "So I like the idea of ecotourism, or that someone's getting married and they rent 12 of them and put them in a big circle with a campfire in the middle of them, or that they're part of a forest ranger outfit."
Taxa LP has built the first prototype and is currently fine-tuning the design and working on other ideas and accessories. One of those ideas is expanding the pictured sunshade into a full room extension that could serve as a weatherproof dining/living area. It hopes to bring the trailer to market by June with a price under US$9,000.
Source: Taxa Firefly