Modular Teal campers and shelters hit the market
By C.C. Weiss
March 4, 2013
The modular, build-it-yourself Teal camper is officially available for purchase. Teal debuted its first model, the Tail Feather, at the Colorado RV, Sports, Boat and Travel Show last week and has begun production on the camper, which features a few structural changes from when we last saw it.
The original idea behind the Teal camper was to make owning and using a camper more versatile and convenient. To reach this goal, Teal implemented a build-it-yourself, multi-panel design. Instead of taking up a big portion of the garage or driveway throughout the year, the Teal camper can be disassembled and stored neatly – the panels even nest together to minimize the space they take up. Teal's campers can be left empty and used to haul gear (e.g. dirt bikes or work equipment) or outfitted for mobile living. They're sized to fit standard trailers, creating a full camper that falls within the 1,000 pound (454 kg) tow limit of smaller vehicles.
When we covered the Teal Camper last May, designer Lawrence Drake was still searching for a manufacturing partner to turn his design into a marketable reality. Drake went on to receive much interest in his camper design. He even received an invitation to ABC's Shark Tank, which said that it had contacted him despite fielding some 30,000 applications every season. Drake decided the show wasn't the best route for his camper, so he stuck to his guns and pursued things on his own.
It would appear that Drake's vision and hard work will pay off. Teal has begun production on its first camper model at its modest home shop and will soon be moving to a 30,000 square foot (2,787 sq m) manufacturing facility. All of its major components are being built in Colorado, and Loveland-based Peak Engineering and Automation will assist with manufacturing.
The new Tail Feather maintains Teal's basic premise of a camper built out of panels to fit standard tow trailers. Each panel weighs less than 30 pounds (13.6 kg), and the entire kit transforms into a camper within about an hour with some very basic assembly.
The pop-up roof that we saw on last year's prototype has been swapped out for an insulated, hard-shell dome roof. Teal says that the new roof is lighter, better insulated and easier to handle. Integrated venting ensures that there's sufficient air circulation inside, and the dome shape delivers 6 feet 2 inches (1.9 m) of head room without requiring pop-up hardware. The new roof also includes built-in low-voltage lighting.
The Tail Feather trades out the wooden benches and shelving of the original Teal camper design for foldable canvas. The canvas furniture saves weight and makes the interior easier to break down and store.
The windows have also been redesigned with improved frames, sealing and screens.
The least expensive Tail Feather model is the P48 4 x 8-foot (1.2 x 2.4-m) version, which weighs 420 pounds (190.5 kg) and includes all structural elements (walls, roof, windows, etc.), a dinette/bed set, a soft sink cabinet and shelving. The full kit retails for US$7,300. The P58 5 x 8-foot (1.5 x 2.4-m) version retails for $7,500, and the P510 5 x 10-foot (1.5 x 3-m) version for $7,995. Those prices represent a sizable increase over the $5,000 being estimated last spring, but the kits also include some added equipment, such as the sink cabinet. The trailer itself is not included with purchase and will need to be supplied separately.
Teal also offers a shelter conversion kit with a special door frame, added wall panels and an extra roof section. The conversion kit allows the Tail Feather to be transformed into a standalone wilderness shelter, ice fishing hut, child's playhouse, etc. Since a single-design shelter won't fit every potential application, Teal works with individual clients on designing shelters around specific needs. Drake told us that it is currently working on purpose-designed shelters for things like snowmobile-accessed backcountry ski touring and emergency homeless housing.
Teal plans to expand the size of its camper line once it gets Tail Feather production off the ground. It is working on a pitched roofing system that will increase camper size to 450 square feet (42 sq m) and larger.
At the moment, Teal only offers direct-to-consumer sales through its website.
Source: Teal Camper