The spark began in July 2011 when Boulder resident Dean Wiltshire took a trip to Yellowstone with his 11-year-old daughter. They camped in a dome tent near a tree with a sign that read “Danger. Bear activity. Do not cross.” After a few days in the wilderness, Wiltshire heard that a hiker had been killed by a grizzly not far from their campsite, which ignited his interest in finding better, safer, more comfortable ways of camping. Drawing on woodworking skills picked up from his carpenter father, Wiltshire started building his own trailers, tinkering with different designs. In May 2014, he launched Colorado Teardrops, a company that makes roomy, comfortable trailers you can tow behind a car.
“Coming from a software background, building trailers was way more satisfying,” Wiltshire says. “We built something with our hands, something that’s real and tangible, and it enables people to have adventures. I equate it—I’m a little bit of a romantic—with setting sail back in the 1700s or 1800s. If you stepped aboard a ship, it was questionable if anybody was ever going to see you again. You were off on a grand adventure.”
“Our first design was based on the size of our materials. I did the best I could with material sizes that were available at a workable price point. There are trade-offs in everything we do. For example, I’m working with a woman right now who wants a big refrigerator wall in a custom trailer. If we do that, we have to sacrifice other features to make it work. It’s all about maximization—what’s the most you can do in these small spaces. The challenge is wonderful.”
What sets them apart
Teardrops’ seven styles start with the $13,000 Basedrop, which at 5 feet wide and 8.5 feet long has space for a queensize mattress. It weighs about 1,000 pounds. “There is another classification of trailer—tiny trailers—that have the same weight range as teardrop trailers. But tiny trailers are boxes, whereas our trailers have that classic teardrop shape with a tapered, rounded back. It allows the trailer to slip through the air nice and easy. The teardrop is the optimum shape to travel through an atmosphere. When towing them across places like southern Wyoming on I-80 on a snowy day, for example, they push down behind the vehicle and grip the road. The wind coming off the car catches the trailer and physically forces the trailer down, giving you good traction.”
What the future holds
Wiltshire has turned Teardrops into a family business with his son, David, and daughter, Sarah. “Our plans are to continue to grow across North America. We reach all corners of the United States, including Alaska, and we just sold in Canada. We also want to encourage our expansion with better web design and internet videos.”