Many of us go through phases where we mull the idea of exploring the world via some sort of recreational vehicle — the thought it usually stopped cold once we see the depreciation, the marginal quality of bland “white box” models, and the general aura of overkill associated with these high-maintenance, parking-challenged, rolling hotel rooms.
Fortunately, a new generation of compact teardrop trailers are the ascendant alternatives to going all-in on #vanlife — and one of our favorites to come along is the Carapate, a smart French twist on the idea that’s garnering lots of attention. The 10.5-foot trailer weighs just 990 pounds, making it towable by most cars. Its rich, all-wood exterior design is made for being out in natural environments. The minimalist interior is roomy and practical, with space for three 55 x 25-inch memory foam mattresses that can be configured into a single bed or two or three separate accommodations. The mattresses can also be stacked to make something resembling a tiny sectional sofa.
The designers deployed marine-grade plywood in a welcome alternative to flimsy fiberglass, and use wide, tall windows plus a skylight to keep the natural world in view from inside. The access door opens vertically and can be propped up to allow fresh air inside. A spare tire sits mounted smartly on the rear exterior panel.
Carapate’s greatest trick, though, is the kitchen, with a single-burner stove and a small sink. Both sit embedded in a sliding shelf, making the unit accessible either inside or outside, where you have more space to move around. Optional LED lighting, a 120W solar panel and accompanying USB charge ports, and an electrical pack allow you to upgrade to a slightly less off-grid experience. The trailer wouldn’t really work too well as a long-term van-life expedition RV, but is rather an ideal companion for couples, small families, or solo explorers out on adventures a few times a year.
It starts at the U.S. equivalent of about $16,000, but Carapate is not currently available in the U.S. and the company hasn’t announced plans to export it here yet. On the other hand, it would totally be worth it to move to Europe solely to be able to hitch one of these to a new Peugot 2008 crossover and explore the Alps one campground at a time.
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