This article was written by Mike Gustafson, the founder of MONNOM Customs and builder of the beautiful teardrop camper you see pictured here.
My wife, Sandy, and I have been wanting to build a teardrop for several years so we took the typical approach, scour the internet to find what we like and what we didn’t like in design and function. We knew that we wanted a classic, vintage teardrop look and a clean, contemporary interior space.
We also knew that we didn’t want a bed that was smaller than a queen size and we would need as much storage space as possible. We also really didn’t want the footprint to be any larger than necessary. Our original thought was use an existing trailer frame to build off of but it became clear that the camper would be much more to our liking if I built a custom steel frame and purchased our own axle and wheels to spec.
The queen sized mattress gave us the basic footprint and we designed the kitchen and internal cabinetry based on those dimensions, we don’t use any fancy 3D modeling software so everything was designed with a pencil and paper and then to full scale on 1⁄4” MDF for templating.
The body of the camper is made from UV coated cabinet grade Maple plywood and the floor is constructed from an exterior sign grade plywood material. All joints, seams and fastener holes were coated and filled with a 2K marine epoxy and the skin is a 1/16” aluminum sheeting. The entire roof is insulated with 1” rigid foam insulation panels and the undercarriage is coated with an epoxy paint.
The electrical system is based around 45 amp AC/DC power distribution system that is made by Progressive Dynamics. When the camper is plugged into 30 amp shore power we can use an electric tea kettle, an electric blanket and a small electric space heater. The D/C portion of power covers all the interior / exterior lighting, exhaust fan and USB outlets, the on board Optima Deep Cycle battery allows us boondock for up to 5 days with no A/C shore power.
The kitchen features 4 drawers that are a full 24” deep, we use one drawer just for a food pantry and there is plenty of additional storage in the open area under the counter for a cooler and other items. The interior cabin has his and hers cabinetry, each includes a USB charging station and plenty of space for packing additional clothing.
There is also lockable cabinetry built into the headboard that is large enough to carry hammocks, shoes, camp chairs and heavier jackets. A skylight and a temperature controlled exhaust fan that features a built in rain sensor that automatically closes when rain detected is also installed. Another handy feature is the kitchen to bedroom pass through, it makes coffee in bed easy!
The unit weighs 1,300 lbs. loaded and has a a tongue weight of about 80 lbs. so it can be pulled by any vehicle.
This project was on the back burner for us so it took a couple of years to complete but it has been an absolute pleasure to use. It is basically like tent camping with a gourmet kitchen and a 5 star hotel quality bedroom.
You can choose the exact experience you want, you can stay with the larger RVs in a proper campground or you can trek to more remote areas be completely on your own utilizing the battery power.
Its wonderfully cozy inside and has all the amenities that you need and not a thing that you don’t. You are still outside experiencing the elements but you have the security of the bedroom at night and in in-climate weather.
The biggest thing to me is that you can keep it loaded with everything you need to enjoy a nice weekend away, all you have to do is grab some groceries, hook it up and go.