Go Small... or Stay Home
This is our motto for our family and RV travel. We are still patiently waiting for our Cricket Trailer (crickettrailer.com) and wanted to share some of the factors that drove our decision. We know that a Cricket or a small RV may not always be the perfect choice for our family, but right now, it is. Take a look at the factors we considered and let us know what you think!
Size – At 70 square feet, the first thing you will notice about a Cricket is the size. If a micro-camper is not in your vision of camping, you’ll need to keep shopping. A priority for us was a small camper that could comfortably sleep the four of us. We need enough storage on board to pack for a week, but also want to be able to store the camper at our house. We view a camper more as a base camp than a vacation home; this idea is a key factor that we will continue to explore as we review our Cricket. The Cricket has dedicated bedding for the four of us and the camper can be fully set up inside our garage--at least we think so according to the specs! This will be a valuable feature for packing and unpacking. We also love that it is small enough that we can tow, park, and fuel up without too much added stress.
Flexibility – The designer and founder of Taxa, the company that manufactures Cricket Trailers in Houston, Texas, used his experience with designing the NASA Space Station living quarters, and much of the Cricket is designed to be flexible. We’ll address this further as you read this post. Additionally, the Cricket was the only camper we looked at where the factory can send us an additional bunk, called a kid’s berth, to create one more bed. We can easily remove the toilet, refrigerator, or Primus Stove to leave these items behind or use outside the camper. We can also add in our portable a/c or heater when necessary. Flexibility to us in using the Cricket will mean comfortably having just what we need to make our trip a success.
Quality of Construction – We don’t want to offend anyone, but we have some opinions about the quality of construction for travel trailers that are not the Cricket. When we walk into a typical sub-$25,000 camper, we felt like it was cheaply made. They smell of toxic adhesives and we are sure that the kids could break something in a matter of minutes. When we toured the Cricket, we let the kids treat it like a playground and we are pleased to report that nothing was damaged in the unit we viewed and purchased.
Towing – For the first time in fourteen years, we are no longer a Subaru owner, much to Jessica’s disappointment. We bought a larger tow vehicle in order to bring all of our outdoor gear while pulling the Cricket and we were concerned that the overall weight would become too much for our beloved Forester. The Cricket maybe the only hard sided RV that some Subaru’s can tow because at 1400 pounds, it’s lightweight, but still equipped with trailer brakes and abundant safety features for towing. The Cricket was designed for aerodynamics, as much as can be expected for a travel trailer at least. We’ve heard enough stories of others getting single digit miles per gallon pulling a camper with the aerodynamics of a billboard to know we didn’t want to be in that camp. Stay tuned and we will share the mileage we get pulling the Cricket.
Go Anywhere – Like many campers, we love the comfort of the well-appointed campground. We’ve used shower houses that have teak benches and music playing (thetrain.com), but we love the National Parks System and the idea of camping out in the wild, or even boon docking. We want to be able to camp year round. A big RV and a pop up both can encounter limitations with these camping options, but the Cricket seems equipped to handle all camping conditions. Bears in the area? Boon docking just off the highway? Leave the top down. No hook ups? Run off battery power and the cassette toilet for a couple days. Another option is to step up and buy solar panels; it is solar ready. Cold? 70 square feet can be heated by a small space heater.
Storage – Americans don’t typically travel light. We are no exception. We are hoping to scale down what we take and keep the “stuff” under control. (We will let you know how that goes!) The Cricket has three wide open shelves for kitchen gear, tools, and other small items and the beds open to reveal storage areas and can be held in an open position with bungees to store essential items. Jessica is already checking out packing cubes on Amazon to keep our things manageable. Some of the compartments inter-connect to make long storage possible for items such as fishing poles or s’mores sticks. The kids’ berths bungee to the ceiling, creating a perfect loft to secure bedding for travel. I’ve mentioned bungees a couple times. If you still need to stow additional gear, the walls and ceilings have endless configurations for using bungees to attach about anything for storage.
Toy Hauling – We struggled to get all of our gear to the campsite with a pop up. The Cricket has a Thule roof rack with steps to reach your gear easily. This is a perfect place for bikes, a gear bag, kayaks, or a lot of other uses. Thule makes an attachment to haul about anything. The back of the Cricket opens, comparable to an SUV, and this should prove to be the perfect place to stash our stand up paddleboards or other bulky items.
Ease of Use – Our time away from work and school is limited and precious. One thing we learned with the pop up camper is that we hate to give up vacation hours for setup and teardown. We didn’t want to always have to come home a day early to pop up and dry out the camper. The Cricket sets up in minutes and it folds up in minutes. We can use it without unhooking from our tow vehicle. Right now, we appreciate the lack of a black tank; those do not fit into our vision of a vacation.
Lack of Bells and Whistles – You wouldn’t think that a lack of features would be a selling point. To us, it was. We like the fact that the Cricket doesn’t have a television, a microwave, a traditional toilet, or a plush kitchen. The absence of amenities forces us outside to explore the area we are visiting.
Cool Factor – At the RV lot, the Cricket looks like a colorful space capsule in a sea of white and brown boxes. As we rode with Pat in a golf cart around Mt Comfort RV, (mountcomfortrv.com) we saw rows and rows of virtually identical fifth wheels, travel trailers, and motorhomes. The few Crickets on the lot stood out even though they could fit in the back of many fifth wheel toy haulers. The Cricket is different, and that is a selling point to us.
So, as we are anxiously (or was it patiently?) waiting for the day to pick up our Cricket, these are the main factors that led us into determining if we should go small...or stay home.
Shane and Jessica
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