Every now and again, something pops up in the recreational vehicle world which is a real surprise. In the case of the Smidge Teardrop Camper, manufactured by Suncamper Motorhomes, it wasn’t so much what it was, but where it was, like in the middle of the Suncamper Motorhomes' stand at the recent Queensland Caravan, Camping & Touring Supershow in Brisbane.
Although the diminutive little teardrop was overshadowed by much larger Suncamper motorhomes, it still drew a crowd, including the likes of yours truly who had a few what fors and where fors in mind.
It turned out that the Smidge Teardrop Camper was the personal toy of Cameron Harrison, MD of Suncamper Motorhomes. Harrison had wanted a weekend getaway machine and used the facilities of the Suncamper factory to design and build the Smidge seen here.
It was meant to be just a one-off but such was the interest created at both the Sydney and Brisbane RV shows, that orders were taken and the Smidge has moved into the production line.
Not long after the Brisbane show I was able to get my hands on the Smidge.
Given that this was numero uno, chances are that future models might have a few minor changes but from what I saw they will mostly be minor.
Relative dimensions and space
Let’s make sure a few things are understood here first-up. The Smidge is designed as a lightweight camper so whilst it will have most of the basics, it may be missing a few of those little luxury 'essentials' that we often take for granted.
I mentioned lightweight and that’s a point to make here. The Smidge has an ATM of 900kg and a Tare weight of 550kg, giving it a payload of 350kg, better than some full single-axle caravans. Consequently, it can be towed by just about anything apart from small sedan vehicles. Indeed, for the ute I was using, it was effortless cruising.
Another factor of interest for those into lightweight travel, is the external length of just 2.8m (9ft 2in) and an overall towing length (including drawbar) of just 3.66m (12ft) meaning the Smidge can be parked just about anywhere.
In some ways, the Smidge is like a conventional caravan. It does have a steel RHS chassis, slightly downsized using 75mm x 50mm (3in x 2in) components and two-pack painted rather than galvanised finish.
Being designed for general touring, the Smidge has leaf spring suspension and 14in steel wheels. Even though the camper is quite short, you still get a couple of corner stabilisers at the rear.
Also looking familiar is the drawbar complete with 4kg gas cylinder, fold-up jockey wheel, spare wheel and ball coupling. I have to say that the drawbar does look a bit short and on tight turns, a little bit of caution is required when reversing around.
In many ways, a teardrop is just like a camper trailer, except that in its base form, it doesn’t have any flapping canvas. One of the differences is the overall shape and the wheel mudguards that give a somewhat retro look. The walls and one-piece roof are made of insulated fibreglass panelling and the doors on both sides doubling as windows. External awning-style lights are fitted on both sides and there are brackets on both sides that will accept a clip-on table.
For the 4kg gas cylinder, a gas bin is built in at the rear offside corner. Between the camper body and the chassis, the marine ply floor has a waterproof membrane.
Ready for a weekend escape
The Smidge Teardrop Camper aka 'The Drop', has a layout that divides in two, the front area being both a bedroom and lounge area, (if the weather is not great) and the rear area accessed by a large ‘boot lid’ being both a kitchen and general storage area. Simplicity is the order of the day.
The fitout might be a bit basic but all the essentials are there. All the cabinetry work is made from European Birch plywood, strength and lightweight being important. It’s finished in an organic hard wax coating for durability during usage.
With windows on either side and a roof hatch as well, the cabin area is quite well ventilated if needed. In the cabin area, the high-density foam mattress measures 1.86m x 1.5m (6ft 1in x 5ft 2in) and is designed so that it folds flat by night but can be rearranged to form a backrest by day. That faces the rear bulkhead area that contains a couple of cupboards, a hinged support for a tablet/iPad, a couple of USB charger outlets and a Bluetooth radio. The centre shelf area is also large enough for a small evaporative cooler. Wand-style reading lights are fitted on either side of the bedhead with additional USB chargers. No sense in ‘roughing it’ completely, I reckon.
In keeping with the rest of the Smidge layout, the kitchen area follows the same theme — a place for everything and everything in its place.
Both the Bromic two-burner hob and grill and the Waeco 60L chest-style fridge are fitted on a slide-out trays, so there when needed and away when not.
A stainless-steel sink complete with 12V pumped water from the 80L tank fits neatly into the generous benchtop area while the rest of the area is taken up by cupboard space. OK, so you are not going to fit a container load of gear in here but that is not the point. The Smidge is more designed as a weekend escape machine.
Electric power is quite simple, being mostly 12V, that is being supplied by a 120Ah deep cycle battery that’s kept charged up by a 100W solar panel.
Apart from the lights, charger points and radio, the heaviest load on power supplies will be the Waeco fridge.
The Bottom Line
It’s not hard to see why this little camper attracted much show attention.
There aren’t many teardrop camper manufacturers around and whilst it does not have quite the same living area space as your conventional camper trailer, it’s ideal for those who want a lightweight camper but don’t want too much fiddling around at setup or pack-up times.
For those who don’t have particularly large vehicles, it’s a more than ideal towing proposition.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
Overall length 3.66m (12ft)
External body length 2.8m (9ft 2in)
External body width 2.2m (7ft 3in)
Travel height 1.75m (5ft 9in) Internal height 1.12m (3ft 8in)/0.98m (3ft 3in) above bed
Ball weight 30kg
Cladding Fibreglass panel
Chassis 75mm x 50mm (3in x 2in) RHS, two-pack paint
Suspension Leaf spring
Brakes 10in electric Wheels 14in steel Water 80L and 12V pump
Battery 1 x 120Ah
Solar 1 x 100W
Gas 1 x 4kg Sway control No
Kitchen Bromic two-burner and grill, stainless steel sink and tap
Fridge Waeco CFX 60L
Hot water N/A
All options fitted to review van
PRICE AS SHOWN
$28,990 drive away
To enquire about the Smidge Teardrop, phone 1300 416 854