Recreational vehicles have always been the perfect element to home-like camping, so it was only a matter of time that people latched onto the idea for year-round living. The 2008 economic crisis led countless homeowners to look into other livable options, such as travel trailers. Thirty million Americans are currently full-time RVers, many of which are fiberglass travel trailer cultists. But what’s the main types of travel trailers and how did this fiberglass cult emerge?
The RV Evolution
The idea of a mobile camper came about in 1946 after America received an influx of post-war technological advancements.
The earliest campers were 13-inch high squares that could be hitched to the back of a typical family car and toted to a favorite campground. There, the enclosed tent was unpacked right over the wheels and could easily sleep up to four people at a total of 1,000 pounds. Within a decade, advancements offered a tent with a full-size bed and kitchenette setup that was easily accessible from the outside of the upgraded square encasement. By 1959, the first fully usable aluminum camper was created which included running water, bunks, and full storage for hunting and fishing gear, as well as luggage for the entire family.
The travel tent routine expanded through the 60s, transforming from cowboy charming to socially selective. Suddenly camping in the great outdoors was fashionable as long as you had your own travel trailer. By the end of the decade, fully enclosed box models offering sleeping bunks for four and extendable picnic options on sturdy flooring gave new meaning to “communing with nature”. But as industry leaders like EZKamper, Apache, and Bethany ran with a “bigger is better” motto with aluminum campers, a Canadian-based company called Boler introduced a fiberglass option that would change the camping game.
Boler found it difficult to enter the American market, however, and in the early ’70s were joined by the M trailer company called Scamp. The original 1968 Boler design was implemented in the U.S. in 1971 and camping enthusiasts flocked to the new age of cross-country travel.
Unlike aluminum models, the 13-foot Boler was composed of two molded fiberglass halves to create a waterproof seal. The internal housing contained a sink with a hand pump, refrigerator, stove, sleeping for four, and a rear dinette nestled between seating that could double as a double bed. It was the epitome of cozy camping at an affordable price, and the egg shape marked it as a true Boler/Scamp and provided a visual reminder that camping is truly a family affair.
What’s the Big Deal About Fiberglass?
Aluminum and fiberglass are the two main durable siding materials used in RVs of any size. While both are decent, it’s important to choose the one that best fits your lifestyle. Many people simply want an occasional vehicle to get away with the kids or friends. If you’re not driving in inclement weather or traveling extensively, aluminum may fit the bill. It’s lightweight, easy to repair, and relatively inexpensive. Of course, if you do run into weather issues or have kids playing nearby, something as simple as hail or a basketball can cause expensive damage.
That’s not the case with fiberglass. This material is strong, durable, and provides a seamless fit. Doors and windows seal better to fiberglass, and the material offers better insulation than metal. So if you’re traveling in cold weather, you’re likely to stay warmer, and if you’re traveling in the summer, you’ll be cooler. Worried about the kids playing too close to the camper? Not a problem with fiberglass travel trailers. They can hit the siding with a baseball bat and it won’t leave a dent. Of course, laminates peel off easier on the smooth finish, and fiberglass is more expensive than aluminum – an important consideration in today’s thrifty economy.
Scamp’s 2006 warehouse fire limited its late model production, but it’s starting to pick back up. You can still find older, gently used models on the road if you keep both eyes open. The retro egg-shaped models in multiple finishes and sizes are always recurring fashion-forward trends. Their mission to manufacture and sell the world’s lightest fiberglass travel trailers continues, making right now the perfect time to go chase that next adventure.
Now that you’ve learned about the cult of fiberglass trailers, if you’re in the mood to experience trailer camping yourself, take a look at this beauty based in Atlanta, Georgia.
Robin the Tab TQ Teardrop awaits a fun adventure with you soon!