When the Whale Trailer Cabin was brought to my attention, I laughed at what I saw and was stunned to learn that it had won a Red Dot Design Award. But after taking some time to contemplate this camper’s design principles, I found myself looking past its odd shape and paint schemeand instead considered what it might indicate about the future of trailer and camper design.
Let’s start by revisiting the Cyberlandr Camper which I featured a couple of weeks ago.
Despite receiving a healthy dose of criticism from some of our readers (we get it, you don’t love the aesthetic and are skeptical that it will actually be realized), I maintain my opinion that a super-compact-when-stored yet expandable hard-sided camper would be a great alternative to the boxy, cumbersome designs that are currently the norm.
Think of the advantages: reduced aerodynamic drag while traveling and easier storage at home. An if said trailer or camper could fit into a garage or under a tarp (thanks to a reduced footprint), its lifespan could be increased too.
If any manufacturer delivers an expandable hard-walled camper that shrinks down to a quarter (or even half) of its fully deployed footprint, it would be a whole new branch of the camper and travel trailer family tree—a new and exciting direction for innovation.
Personally, I’ve been much happier with a travel trailer than the coach I previously owned, but I think there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
The Expandable Whale Trailer Cabin
While the Whale Trailer Cabin is very different from the Cyberlandr in terms of aesthetics, it does share the expandable cabin design. With the Whale, a hard-walled slide that deploys from one end appears to double the square footage of the cabin (no specific dimensions exist as this is simply a rendering and not a production trailer).
You might find yourself thinking, this isn’t new; there are plenty of campers with slide-outs and pop-tops. And you are correct.
A lot of mainstream travel trailers utilize slides to pack in extra living space. But most of these trailers are larger, to begin with, and their slides aren’t utilized to produce a more storable, trailerable, easy to manage trailer.
In the overland space, companies like Taxa and Mission Overland (both featured in our best travel trailers of 2020 article) do utilize pop-tops for more efficient (read: compact) travel trailer floorplans.
The challenge with the yet-to-be-realized Whale and Cyberlandr campers will be for their manufacturers to execute the expandable hard-sided design in a durable, functional, and reliable product. With the right materials and some innovation, perhaps we will see a trend toward campers that travel small yet live big.
The main point I am trying to make is this: expandable hard-sided campers could provide elevated comfort in camp, with a more pleasant and manageable towing experience on the road and easier storage at home.
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