A few years back, Canadian camping enthusiast Pascal Pillon had had enough of packing wet tents and loading/unloading his small car to the brim with multiple trips to his storage unit. Living in a small downtown Vancouver apartment with a small car, Pillon acknowledged that he had a limited options for compact and efficient camping.
Pillon and his girlfriend considered three options: rooftop tents, a converted van, or a teardrop trailer. But all three, while great in their own rights, had their pitfalls.
“[A rooftop tent is] great but it’s so heavy you’ll leave it on your roof year round, unnecessarily increasing fuel consumption,” Pillon told ASN. “[And] it’s still a tent that requires your car to be leveled.”
A van conversion offered the couple a great option, but owning one is certainly different than just renting one. And the upfront cost of conversion can be quite high.
And lastly, most teardrop campers were far too heavy to be towed by Pillon’s Toyota Matrix. So, as he does with most things he can’t find, he decided to just build the perfect teardrop camper (and having over 20 years of applied engineering experience sure helps with that).
Having designed and built all sorts of things like surfboards, boats, kites, avalanche airbags, ski racks and more, Pillon knew exactly what he wanted from a trailer. Combining his skills with his girlfriend’s, who is an interior designer, Pillon had the perfect combination to undertake the project.
They started by drafting the lines in 2016, then building foam-board concepts and eventually building a full-size cardboard model in their living room. Next, Pillon 3D-modeled everything and they started fabrication in December 2016, with a prototype (and personal trailer) finished in June 2017.
The project never started out intending to be turned into anything more than their own personal rig. But as Pillon told ASN, “Everywhere we would park we would have someone asking about it.”
And taking a look at the Scandinavian-inspired Droplet, it’s easy to see why a demand was created. The Droplet houses a built-in solar panel, queen-size bed, a pop-up skylight and is so lightweight (950 pounds) that it can be towed by a Toyota Matrix.
The construction is a high-tech laminate that is inspired by boat and aircraft building that gives it strength while the balsa wood shell core helps keep it light. Plus, the Droplet allows plenty of natural light to come in, keeping it bright inside. And the cooking space in the back features a slide-out fridge, a two-burner propane cooking stove and a recessed sink.
Instead of having it sit in their garage when they weren’t using it, Pillon and his girlfriend decided to rent it out. The feedback was so positive that they decided it was time to build trailers for purchase, with the built-in community and structure for owners to rent out their own Droplet trailers when not using them.
This is a huge attraction for buyers, as many people that own campers don’t use them all year long. It also helps make the purchase price of $15,450 a bit more palatable considering you can rent your Droplet out and recoup some of that money.
But that isn’t the only perk Pillon offers to Droplet owners. They have also been taking 10 percent of company profits to spend directly on buying land to secure and maintain clean and free camping spots for Droplet owners across North America.
Droplet is currently building their first campground near Osoyoos, BC, Canada this May. And they hope to have the option to rally coast-to-coast with a Droplet in five years, solely sleeping in Droplet-owned campgrounds for free.
So not only is Droplet offering owners a way to get back some of their investment from the purchase, but they are also aspiring to offer them free campgrounds to use the trailers at. If that isn’t revolutionary thinking for creating a community based around a product, we’re not sure what is.
“Our goal is to revolutionize the teardrop trailer segment by designing lightweight, roomy, beautiful camping trailers and mindfully using resources,” Pillon told ASN.
It’s quite clear that Droplet is out to change the model, and don’t be surprised to start seeing more of these on the road in the coming years.
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