Teardrop campers v. Vanlife v. RV

Modern-day camping has entered a new Booming era. No need for an academic researcher to spend a semester proving it. Just grab some popcorn, head onto Instagram or Pinterest, and watch the battle of adventurers take place. The Internet pitfall in search of the ultimate nomadic lifestyle is endless. The adventuring lifestyle trend is growing, and the marketed mobile accommodations are multiplying. Teardrop campers, ultralight tents, computerized vans, pop-top campers, and RVs are all gaining popularity and feeding one dream: TRAVEL FREEDOM.
While all of them are attractive at first, Which one suits your lifestyle best? Where do we stand with DROPLET in comparison with other market alternatives? From Vanlife to Teardroppin’, here’s a basic rundown on the cost, limitations, and advantages of each general concept solution.img-6659_1_orig


I’ve always been a fan of camper vans. I looked at Westfalias, Sprinter vans, and Delicas with envy for many years, and I even used to own a Chevy Astro for a few happy years of ski-bumming, crashing in empty parking lots or on the side of the road, eating oatmeal and granola by the open backdoor to refuel before my next adventure (Good ol’ days). Here are what I’ve found about Vans: the two major advantages of Vanlife: Anywhere you park it becomes a potential discrete campsite for the night. Also, if the weather goes south during your trip well… You’re still much happier inside it after a few nights than you’d be in a soaked-up tent.

Mitsubishi Delica pulling a teardrop. Probably one of the coolest rigs out there.
Mitsubishi Delica pulling a teardrop. Probably one of the coolest and versatile camping rigs out there. | Photo by Glenn Ross

While Vanlife is very seductive, I’ve come to realize that it comes with a few drawbacks:

  • Initial Cost: $$ Unless you are looking for an old beater on Craigslist, a new or used camper van in great condition costs a pretty penny. If you buy a cheap van, get ready to get your elbows greased up. Comprising a Van is also a costly endeavor, both on resources and time.
  • Running Cost $$ Repairs aren’t cheap, they will consume more than your everyday car: rares are the vans that consume less than 12L/100KM. If you also use your van as your daily vehicle, the overall cost of running it will add up over time.
  • Usability 7/10. If you cook inside your van, at best, the cooking space will be tiny. Unless the van has a high top, headroom will be tight and moisture ventilation is never powerful enough. If you cook inside with lots of curry and hot spices, don’t expect your van to smell any other way afterward.


An excellent option for those who live extensively on the road, RVs & conventional trailers offer comfort and space, sometimes with more luxurious amenities inside than a conventional 1bedroom apartment. It might even be possible to get a fully functioning, high-speed Internet connection from somewhere like infinitydish.com, but that might take some added effort! Additionally, nobody wants to get scorched in the summer heat while having a good camping experience. An RV may have a good air conditioning system as stock, on the off chance, there is no stock A/C, one may want to get RV air conditioners for pleasant camping. These air conditioners may come in a small and compact size that can easily fit in your RV. My experience with RVs is limited to a couple of winter trips, but here are my thoughts:

A really sweet camping rig (dog not included). Until you have to bring it to the next gas pump. | Photo – Wikipedia
  • Initial Cost: $$$ RVs are awesome for road tripping with a group of friends or a family. Reduce the number of people below 4 and the operating cost gets out of hand quickly.
  • Running Cost: $$$ RVs/large trailers with a truck are pigs on gas. If you think driving them on the flat is bad enough, try taking them up a mountain road. You’ll see your preciously saved up dollars go by the minute.
  • Usability 5/10: While luxuriously comfortable, traditional RVs are limited as to where they can go. They REALLY shouldn’t go off-road ever (not even on a friendly FSR). Bulky and heavy, it also takes a while to adjust to driving and parking them.

#Pop-top camping Trailer

A bit more of a niche, It is much more affordable than an RV, and a definite upgrade from a tent. That is until the timing of your trip coincides with crazy winds and undesirable rain storms. If the weather Gods are against you, be prepared to battle when setting it up in the wind. Parking and maneuvering take a bit of practice in comparison to driving a regular vehicle with no trailer, but it’s easy to get used to it. For those seeking all-season camping options, Insulated teardrops with a rigid shell-like DROPLET, or a well-built camper van with a high roof and no pop-top would be best.

Decent and affordable setup for the summer, very limited for all-season use. | Photo – Wikipedia
  • Initial Cost: $$ Much cheaper and lower profile than an RV or a Van, the pop-top has similar cost advantages to a Teardrop camper
  • Running Cost: $ Poptop tents are light and roomy. It’s a decent affordable option for summer camping, but not ideal for all-weather camping, or all-season camping.
  • Usability: 5/10 Pop-up trailers, while light, aren’t luxurious. Durability is also sometimes questionable, with the inside getting moldy quickly if not well looked after. If you’re only camping spring and summer, and interior space and price remain your two dominant criteria, pop-tops are a great alternative option to consider.

#Teardrop Campers

A great versatile option, perfect for those who already have an everyday vehicle. Obviously, we are biased, but we still think it is one of the best compromises for a viable, compact, and cost-friendly solution in the longer term. Tie it to your small/medium-sized car, and you got yourself a luxurious resting pod with a sheltered kitchen following you. The initial cost upfront is almost on par with that of a second-hand Van, but the gas-saving over time will add up.

DROPLET – Don’t be scared borrowing mountain roads, or by the fuel bill. | Photo – Pascal Pillon
  • Initial Cost: $$ Similarly priced to a second-hand Van in good shape, Teardrop campers such as ours (DROPLET) offer a significant added comfort compared to a tent while saving the precious space of your car trunk for gear. One thing that might need considering is the car you attach it to. If your current car does not have towing capabilities then you may possibly need to purchase a car with this capability. Although this might be slightly expensive, you could potentially click here, where you may be able to find out more information about different car prices, if this was something you did want to consider.
  • Running cost: $ Our measurements with Droplet showed that the added weight and drag ~adds roughly an extra 1L to 1.5L/100KM on the FWD 2009 Toyota Matrix with Droplet. That’s still below 10L/100 fully equipped. Aside from a mild clean-up once in a while, no serious maintenance is needed. You won’t even suffer from any unwanted smells at night from cooking or drying gear. Your bedroom stays dry and clean. Furthermore, cooking in the sheltered space of Droplet with a dual stove burner is safer, and more cost-efficient than an inbuilt cooking system inside a van or an RV.
  • Usability: 8/10 Driving with a towing trailer takes a bit to get used to, but more often than not, we have to remind ourselves that we are actually towing a charge. The turning radius remains the same. Backing up is a bit more interesting, but spending time practicing in an empty parking lot at first will make it a breeze in no time. Resistance to the weather is on par with RV’s and Vans, with the exception that a smaller space takes less to maintain a pleasant temperature inside. A camping and surfing trip to Tofino in the rain no longer has ended prematurely with your gear, tent, and clothing soaked and miserable. With a small electric heater in the back, you get to step into a pre-heated pod before even snuggling under the blanket, or inside your sleeping bag. Tiny from the outside, spacious inside. If taking a full family on a camping trip with nothing but a small Teardrop camper could show itself ambitious (bring a spare tent!), You will find yourself having ample space inside, even if like Pascal, you measure 6ft5. Teardrops look tiny from the outside, but cleverly designed options offer a great sense of space inside.

Hopefully this has been a comprehensive rundown of the different types of vehicles that can be used for camping. If any of these interest you, then you might be able to find them in your local area. If you’re local to Portsmouth for example, you might be able to source one of the above throughout searching something such as campers in Portsmouth. If you are not local to that area then substituting your own nearest town or city could also bring up some results.

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below!

8 thoughts on “Teardrop campers v. Vanlife v. RV”

  1. Great article. Thank-you. As someone actively considering all these options, it was a helpful read. One further disadvantage of most tent trailers: most of them are still too big and heavy for small 4cyl cars.

    • Thank you for your feedback Blake! Glad you found it useful. If you have any questions in mind to help narrowing down your options, don’t hesitate to reach out to us anytime. Ultimately, we’d recommend you renting 1 or 2 desired options prior to purchasing, so you are sure you get the best rig for your needs 🙂

  2. But what about a toilet or wet-bath?
    Does it have a fridge?
    And what about storage?
    Solar options?
    How does it compare with the other small teardrops on the market, like the Scamp, Jayco hummingbird, the Lil Guy MAX, Luna Teardrop, Bigfoot, and the other 6-8 small teardrops on the market (and more to come)? I really want to buy one but it’s all so confusing right now.

    • Hi,
      Thanks for commenting!.
      You can carry a portable toilet if you wish to.
      DROPLET has a 12V portable fridge. You can fill it up and clean it up at home. You can also use it for your picnics.
      The battery can be charged with a solar panel (Optional). It’s a plug and play (no headache!). Like most devices in DROPLET, the solar option is portable to track the sun better and leave your teardrop camping trailer in the shade.
      DROPLET is 3 times lighter than the Jayco for example.

      I hope I answered your questions.
      Cheers. Pascal

  3. All depends on where you want to travel and how long your traveling plan is. Cost is a huge factor for anyone considering a camper. Teardrop is going to feel mighty small on a rainy day. Excellent article! Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you for your comment. It all depends on what you are looking for. You can always buy a much bigger camper, but you won’t be able to tow it with your everyday small car.
      DROPLET offers the most spacious interior of all teardrop camping trailers and the best overhead coverage thanks to its trunk hinge positioned far back.

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