Thursday, April 23, 2015

Why we chose Camp-Inn for our Teardrop

In an earlier post, I shared our story of how we stumbled across teardrop campers and had our Moment of Discovery. In this post, I would like to share why we chose Camp-Inn and the roller coaster ride of buying our trailer.

After our 2013 family camping trip, we knew we needed something more than a tent and found teardrops as the ideal solution for us. The next journey was to figure out whether we wanted to build or buy a teardrop. Once we decided to buy, we needed to figure out a budget and then went through the arduous process of trying to determine which manufacturer had the right teardrop design and quality that we wanted in a trailer.

Lots of Options
We looked at a number of different manufacturers online as well as some in person. We looked at T@G by Little Guy, Oregon Trail'R, So-Cal Teardrops, TC Teardrops, and several others before we finally decided on Camp-Inn. There were trailers in various price ranges from $8,000 up to $20,000. No small amount of money for sure, so careful examination was required before I was ready to lay down such a large sum of cash on a trailer. Now, you may be thinking "but you can get a brand new travel trailer for around $10,000" so it naturally begs the question, why so much for a teardrop? Unlike typical travel trailers, most of the manufacturers listed above do not mass produce their trailers, they are often built especially for you when you order. Having a trailer built just for you allows you to get it exactly how you want it, whether it is no frills or fully loaded. In addition to the custom nature of a build, like any other product, the more you spend, the higher the quality of materials used, the more amenities you get and the more attention to detail (think labor intensive) put into the building of your teardrop. For example, to protect the trailer from wood rot and moisture, Camp-Inn uses marine grade plywood, not standard plywood or press board. They sand and finish all the wood 3 times and seal all the ends of the plywood which helps prevent warping and damage due to moisture. This is a labor intensive process that ensures the trailer will last for years to come. The all stainless steel galley is another example of something that drives up cost and improves the value of the trailer.       

Quality & Design
We had already heard great things about Camp-Inn's customer support and after seeing one of their trailers in person, we were stunned by the quality of the build. It was better than most travel trailers we saw and the fit and finish was truly impressive - a demonstration of their expert craftsmanship for sure. Now, I will say that some of the other trailers were also extremely well made and would have easily been a good choice but none of them had the Raindrop design which combined with the quality was what ultimately sold us on the Camp-Inn. 

The design and layout of the Camp-Inn 560 Ultra offered more room. The extra space up front that serves as a couch and gives us a place to sit out bad weather and watch TV or Movies in comfort. It also serves as a place for our dog to sleep as she can be quite the bed hog.

Additionally as proud new grandparents, we knew at some point, we might have a grandchild or two sleeping in the trailer with us on family camping trips (like our Thanksgiving trip in 2015, woohoo!) so the bunks were a real value for us. We can't wait to take this little angel camping with us.

After much deliberation, we settled on Camp-Inn for the trailer. Now came the hard part of waiting and saving to make our purchase. While it only takes them 4-5 weeks to make a trailer, Camp-Inn typically has a 4 to 6 month waiting period due to all the orders they are getting in for these fine products. With Thanksgiving fast approaching, we were resigned to the fact we would be in a tent 1 more year. 

We had considered buying used, but these trailers rarely come up for sale and when they do, they sell fast and are nearly the cost of a new one. In the 8 months we were looking we never saw 1 Raindrop model go up for sale.

Scrimp, Save & Wait
So, we scrimp and save to raise the money for our trailer and with a bit of good luck in not having to fix the foundation on our house (that's a story for another time), we finally have everything together. It was a Thursday in October 2014 and we are ready to place our order. We get our quote from Cary at Camp-Inn and get ready to send our deposit when a Raindrop goes up for sale on the Unofficial Camp-Inn Forum. I immediately contact the seller as these things go was a 2009 model with lots of great features but not quite what we wanted. It's now Friday and so again, I get ready to send out our deposit when low and behold, another Raindrop gets posted on the forum. Again, I reach out to the seller, this one was even nicer, a 2010 model. I like it but it was all the way out near Camp-Inn's office so I decide once again to place my order on the following Monday. And as luck would have it, 2 more get posted over the weekend. Keep in mind, for 8 months, nothing and now over the course of 3 days, 4 trailers get posted for sale. Both these units are exceptionally nice, one in Vermont (30+ hour drive one way) and the other in Florida. 

Now, I am really starting to go through the emotional ringer trying to figure out what to do. Every time I think I have the answer, another wrench tossed into the mix. Throughout this ordeal, I had been speaking with Cary at Camp-Inn, he new each of these sellers and their trailers and was advising me on each trailer. He knew what I was looking for and knew whether each trailer would be a fit. After careful consideration, he recommended the trailer in Florida. To me, this speaks volumes about the integrity of Camp-Inn. Instead of just trying to sell me a new trailer, they recommended buying a used one.

It was meant to be...
After speaking at length with the seller, we finally agree to meet and buy the trailer if all checks out. The sellers were some great people...a retired couple that bought the trailer specifically for a trip to Alaska and then were planning on selling upon their return. However, they liked it so much they kept it for one more year and only selling because they were losing their indoor storage location. The seller agrees to save me some driving time and meet me part of the way so I'm thinking great, he just knocked 6 hours off my drive time and saved me some gas money too. He then calls me back the next day saying he always wanted to visit Dallas and would be passing through my area on the way so how about just meeting me out here...I can't believe my luck. So we meet him at a campground about 40 minutes from my house and we love the trailer. Before I can even hand him the money he profusely apologizes for how dirty the trailer is and explains he hit every rainstorm on the way out and knocks $1K off the already agreed price and proceeds to throw in all the gear he had for camping. 

I felt truly blessed to be able to meet such a generous couple and to own such a wonderful trailer. While it was a lengthy ride to get here and quite a emotional roller coaster, I can say it was truly worth the wait and it made our 2014 Thanksgiving camping trip so much more joyful. 

So, do you own a trailer or RV? Was it a long process for you as well? Share your experience in the comments below.

See you on the road,
Jay T.