Weird material used to make eco-camper
BEING close to nature could take on a whole new meaning with a revolutionary camper trailer from American company Earth Traveler - and it takes featherweight to a new level.
The New Mexico-based outfit has created a compact, lightweight camper made from an innovative combination of chicken feathers and resin - and it's electric vehicles that could soon be towing them.
The customisable T300 van has various fold out tent sections, can sleep up to four people and is claimed to weigh just 135kg, which is a fraction the weight of popular camper trailers sold in Australia and tonnes less than larger, more lavishly appointed caravans.
At US$10,000 ($14,500) plus taxes it's also at the cheaper end of the scale, the feather composite material apparently quite affordable to produce.
Claimed to be bringing "new ideas to the world of recreational vehicles", the teardrop shape of the Earth Traveler camper trailers was inspired by biomimicry, ensuring the "organic shape is weatherproof and aerodynamic".
While there are few details on the innovative fusion of chicken feathers and glue - other than to refer to it as "resin reinforced feathers", the company can clearly see there could be questions.
"No joke, each component of our teardrops is sculpted and built by hand," says the Earth Traveler website. "The philosophy and design stems from avian structure."
Part of the inspiration for the lightweight camper trailers is the imminent rush of electric vehicles already popular in parts of America and about to flood the Australian market.
From Australian politicians to adventurous grey nomads, there have been valid questions about how electric vehicles will cope towing large loads, the answer usually centring on significantly reduced battery ranges.
Lowering the weight of the trailer reduces how much energy is required to tow it.
"Earth Traveler teardrop trailers are hand-built, custom-made and incredibly lightweight to bring for the first time the RV experience to the modern fuel-efficient and electric car industry."
For those after some Formula One technology in their camper trailer there is an even lighter, more advanced model called the T250LX.
Made entirely of carbon fibre, it's claimed to weigh just 98kg, making it relatively easy for an adult to manoeuvre it around a flat campsite by hand.
In using more advanced materials the T250LX is more than triple the price, at US$30,975 ($44,800) plus taxes.
It's not known whether there are plans to sell the teardrop trailers in Australia.
Either way, expect to join a growing queue, Earth Traveler warning that delivery times in America are upwards of five months.