Those who needed ADA-compliant RVs had to find creative solutions to enjoy the camping lifestyle throughout the many years. It is only in the past 10-15 years manufacturers could offer RVs for all campers, including those physical mobility limitations. DROPLET Trailer provides a great alternative to the massive wheelchair-friendly motorhomes. It is a travel trailer that will not get in the way of your essential budget concerns and allows an independent RV living experience.
Like Wally Byam, Ray Frank, and the other legends of the RV Industry, Pascal Pillon developed his 950- pound (431 kg) DROPLET Trailer for personal use. As an engineer with over 20 years of experience and a #TentLife camper, he learned what the best-constructed travel trailers use. He wanted an RV with some creature comforts, but it had to be an ultra-lightweight camping trailer he could tow with his mid-size car and still enjoy dispersed camping sites.
Wherever he went, people would ask him about his opus trailer and ask if he would build one for them. As word spread around the teardrop camper community, a partnership opportunity with a mobility-impaired community organization showed Pascal the full potential of his creation: A teardrop camper that is also an affordable wheelchair-friendly RV.
The DROPLET Trailer is a mini camper trailer that allows mobility-challenged and disabled campers to have an independent RV experience through:
- Participation in the whole RV camping experience
- Accessibility to the components on the teardrop trailer
- Unhitching your dependence on the coach
- Limitless enjoyment in all conditions
If you have underlying health conditions and are thinking of getting into the RV lifestyle, we encourage you to consult your medical professionals. Only your doctor and licensed medical experts who know your situation can assist you with the details on how to prepare for a safe trip. The best camping trips are those filled with happy memories where everyone returns home without incident.
A RAD Way to Learn About DROPLET Trailer’s Wheelchair RV Design
Before her injury, Tanelle Bolt lived an active lifestyle. Camping, watersports, and biking were some of the adventures that fulfilled her life. After her injury, she realized there was plenty of life to live. Despite her paraplegic problems, she was going to move forward.
Tanelle created the RAD Recreation Adapted Society in British Columbia, Canada. Her organization allows independent mobility challenged youth and adults to rent equipment to continue an active outdoor lifestyle. Through donations and partnerships, she has helped many people fulfill their dreams despite their physical challenges.
That is why Tanelle immediately jumped at the opportunity of partnering RAD with DROPLET Trailer. She was the first mobility-impaired RVer to experience this wheelchair-friendly teardrop trailer and see how adaptive it was for someone in a wheelchair. It was this partnership that made Pascal and his team realize the full potential of the DROPLET Trailer.
Watch Tanelle’s review on the trip that started it all in the Yukon Territory, outside Dawson City.
Tanelle found her DROPLET RV camping experience in line with the message of her RAD organization’s goal: To help independent living individuals with mobility challenges enjoy recreation and outdoor activities through mobility assisting equipment. During the setup process, she was able to adjust the mini trailer’s position herself. One of the benefits of the DROPLET Trailer is the ultra-lightweight of the camper. You can pick it up by the hitch and roll it into position.
As Tanelle enjoyed her weekend in the RV, she loved the easy transfer from her wheelchair to the camper bed and having full use of the kitchen. She ended up leaving her wheelchair outside for the night, but now DROPLET has an optional awning to protect it from the weather and direct sunlight heating the metal.
We asked Tanelle what she would like to say to those in the mobility impaired community considering a DROPLET Trailer. Her advice was to buy it and get involved with the rental program. Help others discover the joys of the camping lifestyle with your wheelchair-friendly RV. Not only does it put some money in your pocket, but you are also paying it forward by showing your community this is an outdoor activity they can participate in with friends and family.
What Makes the DROPLET Trailer the Best RV for the Disabled?
There are over 61 million Americans that live with a disability, according to the Center For Disease Control and Prevention. Half of that number requires special equipment like a wheelchair due to mobility or physical impairment.
A government study, reported over 6 million Canadians over the age of 15 make up 22% of the total population with the same challenges. Wheelchair-friendly RVs give people access to the coach, features, and as much independence as possible through design methodology. While the RV industry does not fall under the American Disabilities Act, Title III, RV companies use the requirements to create their products.
You will see wheelchair lifts on motorhomes and large travel trailers. RV builders will lower cabinetry, countertops, and tables at wheelchair levels. Inside control panels that contain slideout switches, holding tank monitors, and other essentials are reachable.
Participation in the Whole RV Camping Experience: Setting Up
Wheelchair-friendly RVs allow campers to experience the RV lifestyle as much as possible. That includes the setup and breakdown of the camp. Once your DROPLET Trailer is parked, almost anyone with fine motor skills in their hands can unhitch/hitch the teardrop camper to the tow vehicle: That includes mobility challenged RVing participants.
Once you position the trailer, place the wheel chock in front of the wheels. Lower the tongue jack with its single wheel in place, unhook the safety chains, and ball hitch lock. Use the tongue jack crank to lift the micro camper off the hitch. When your tow vehicle is clear, leveling devices like bubble level stickers can be your guide as you lower the coach to a level position. Finally, use a dowel or your reaching device to set the tongue jack brake to keep it in place.
Keep your traveling companion with you for safety’s sake and as a witness for this independent accomplishment. You may want to keep the gloating to a minimum; you have a whole trip of opportunities – pace yourself.
Accessibility to Everything on the Teardrop Trailer: A Comfortable Kitchen
The majority of teardrop campers use leaf springs and 13-inch tires for their suspension. Off-road teardrop trailers use heavy-duty suspensions and tires that measure as large as 15-inches. Wheelchair users would find these compact campers challenging to access without assistance.
When Pillon built the first DROPLET Trailer, he thought about why travel trailers are so high off the ground and the issues that come with it. Pascal installed Flexride torsion axles and 12-inch tires (but you can choose to upgrade to 13-inch tires) on a powder-coated steel chassis (or optional lighter aluminum version), avoiding these problems.
These decisions make the DROPLET a low-rider teardrop camper. The equipment choices not only made the tiny travel trailer safer to tow, but it is also one of the big reasons this teardrop is a wheelchair-friendly RV.
The rear hatch that houses the kitchen uses dual gas struts to hold it open. Once you release the lock, it lifts one-handed. Inside, you will find an easy-to-clean acrylic countertop and backsplash. The counter is deep enough to hold large pots and cooking devices yet shallow enough to reach wall mount dish racks and other storage items.
The sink basin is large enough to wash oversized dinner plates, and the hand pump sink maximizes the 2.6-gallon freshwater holding tank. Many DROPLET owners have returned home with enough water in the tank to keep the lines from drying out.
The DROPLET Trailer’s kitchen components are within reach for those in a seated position. A popular feature is the electric chest refrigerator. You will find the 18-liter electric fridge worth its upgrade price to store your food and temperature-sensitive medication.
If you need something on the bottom of the fridge that you cannot reach, go ahead and remove it from the drawer. Once you have what you need, plug the 12v cord back in, set the electric fridge back in place, and you are all set. The low wattage technology keeps your items at the set temperature quickly and efficiently.
The two-burner propane stove works on one-pound propane bottles. It fits securely in a designated pull-out drawer and is simple to clean. When you have the drawer pulled out, you have an L-shaped kitchen similar to many travel trailer floor plans, but you will have more counter space than many of those large coaches.
While you are busy in the kitchen, you will not have to worry about rain or the bright sun since the teardrop galley hatch acts as a protective shade. The kitchen counter may end up as your dining table, or you can bring your food inside the sleeping space. Whatever you decide, you will know that the elements did not destroy your culinary masterpiece.
With all of this accessibility, you will have no problem showing off your culinary skills. Although, you will not have any excuses when it is your turn to do the dishes either. At least you will have the touch on/off LED lights that are flush-mounted to see what you are doing as it gets dark.
Unhitching Your Dependence on the Coach: Essential Accessories That Come With You
Accessible RV manufacturers enhance their coaches for the best indoor experience for all RVers. Yet the outdoor living space and life away from the RV does not get the thought it deserves. Without additional equipment, this can leave you with the same imprisoned feeling you have at home.
The key to the small RV lifestyle is multi-purpose features. Pascal took the idea to heart when he designed the DROPLET Trailer. Instead of a dorm-size refrigerator and a standard house battery, he added a portable electric fridge and a 500-watt battery pack to power the camper. The stove packs up if you plan on making a meal away from your trailer.
More importantly, if you need to bring temperature-sensitive medication, electric devices to aid with your condition, or other essentials, you have a portable electric fridge that stays cold when you plug it into the mobile battery pack. You can find all-terrain folding camping carts online or at any camping store to make your adventure complete. When you find that perfect spot, break out your favorite gear so everyone can relax when you reach your hiking, beach, or other destination.
DROPLET offers a 150-watt solar panel that recharges the battery pack. There are 110v and USB charging ports both inside and throughout the kitchen space. If you are at a campground using the utilities, you will have unlimited electricity that does not rely on the solar generator.
You can recharge the generator in your car, but it is always a good idea to charge it up at home or the campground before you leave. That way, if you need it on the road, it is fresh and ready to go.
Limitless Enjoyment in All Conditions: The Sleeping Space
Most tiny campers make disabled RV living challenging at the front door. The entryways are usually narrow, may have a lip, or have rear entries. It takes a lot of body manipulation to get in place with most RVs in this category.
DROPLET has extra-wide doors on both sides, giving you plenty of open space to maneuver into position comfortably. For those that need a little extra help, there is plenty of room to get inside quietly and with dignity. For Pascal, the doors made entry easier for his over-6-foot frame.
When you are ready to transfer from your wheelchair to the bed, you will find the DROPLET Trailer sits at the best height. Including the 6-inch memory foam mattress, it measures about even with the average wheelchair height of 19 inches. You will find that the 60 x 80-inch residential queen mattress is the thickest in the teardrop category. It also hangs a little over the edge making the process comfortable.
You can reach the two overhead cabinets and center shelves at the back of the living space in a sitting position. There are long narrow vents on the side for ventilation and a roof vent that cranks open. Many choose to add the solar vent fan to circulate fresh air inside.
We also recommend the Road Shower roof attachment when you need to wash off the day. The long tube absorbs solar heat to warm up the 4 gallons (15.14 liters) of water inside. Using your white RV drinking hose and some privacy tarps, you can rinse off your wheelchair, dishes, or yourself. While the tarps are up, it is also a great space to set up a cassette toilet.
Inevitably, you may wake up one day and find you are having a bad day. It could be a pain day, a flare-up, or your body is not cooperating. Most RVs give you the same choices you have at home: stare at the TV screen (or mobile device) or the ceiling. DROPLET gives you a third option.
The front wall has a large acrylic picture window that takes up most of it and arches up into the roof. With the vents open, you can still enjoy the sights and sounds of the natural scenery around you. The 26 percent bronze tint acts as a UV barrier, protecting your eyes from direct sunlight and prevents radiant heat from raising the inside temperature.
If you prefer your privacy, you can purchase a curtain and covers for all windows. Whether you need time to yourself or it is a cold night, this 13 and a half foot teardrop trailer will see you through all conditions.
DROPLET Trailers are ideal for two people. If you plan on traveling alone, we recommend taking all safety precautions seriously, have experience camping, and ensuring you have reliable communication for emergencies.
Do you have any questions about the wheelchair accessibility of the DROPLET lightweight trailer? Feel free to reach out to us via the contact form or the live chat in the bottom right.
This article was written by an external writer.