By Tony Barthel
What do you do if you want to go camping but you only are sporting a small car? For example, a Fiat 500? If you’re Angel R. Irlanda, you just invent your own travel trailer. And to be sure that it really is “light as a feather,” you make it out of just that – feathers. Seriously. Enter the Earth Traveler.
New Mexico-based Earth Traveler is building extremely light but very innovative teardrop-style trailers that are, indeed, partially made of chicken feathers. The company collaborated with Los Alamos National Laboratory SBA to devise a method using the substitute material for all non-structural elements. The feathers are reinforced with fiberglass and resin, resulting in an ultra-lightweight, cost-effective, insulating and weather-proof structure.
The Earth Traveler is so light it can even be towed by motorcycles! The resin-reinforced feather-based material offers a strength similar to carbon fiber. The load-bearing structural elements are made of traditional composite and core cell.
“Our car at the time was a Fiat 500, so I decided to find an RV that our small car would be able to tow, but none were available on the market. Thus, I decided to design and create our own ultra-light RV with similar sleek curves and stylish design as our Fiat 500,” said Irlanda.
Flexibility in the Earth Traveler
Actually, Earth Traveler builds two trailer models: the Earth T300 and the Earth T250LX. Both of these are, essentially, a bed with some storage underneath, but there’s much more to the story than that.
I have long been an advocate of an RV company providing more flexible space to let the buyer craft the RV in the way that suits them. Apparently, Earth Cruiser agrees with that sentiment. When these were in the design phase, Angel Irlanda wanted to be able to sleep four people in this small space but also, again, tow it with his Fiat 500.
I wonder if he used to like those Transformers? I write that because that’s almost what this trailer is.
The Earth Traveler trailer
Stick with me here. This trailer is so unusual that it defies most expectations.
There is a structure on each side that can drop down and form a bed. Angel Irlanda wanted these fold-down wall structures to be strong enough to be a bed for a person. With the interior of the trailer being able to sleep two, you can ultimately sleep four people, one on each sidewall/door structure and then two in the trailer body itself.
But wait, there’s more! Each of these drop-down panels also has a pair of doors on it when the panel is up so you can open the doors and access the interior of the trailer. The doors are “suicide” style doors and, when opened, provide uninhibited access to the interior of the trailer.
On the front and back of the trailer are “hatchback”-like doors that open so you can stand up in the trailer when they’re lifted open.
Finally on the Earth Traveler, there is a small door on either side of the front of the trailer which affords you access to the interior and some under-floor storage. Panels lift up to reveal under-floor storage under the entire trailer.
You can get tents to cover those open spaces – so there are tents for the roof hatches and tents for either side. While the trailer will work for a single person or maybe even couples without the optional tents, with those it becomes a pretty large space overall.
If you love doors of all sorts, this is the trailer for you.
The basic unit is just that, a space to utilize however you want. But the company does have a portable kitchen module if you want to add that on. It’s a clever design featuring a lot of bungee cords to keep the contents contained. Water comes from a dispenser that simply uses a valve to pour into the sink.
You can also get a folding interior table and a cot as well.
Considering that this is under 300 pounds, it’s one of the lightest trailers we’ve come across, which makes sense because of the feathers and all.
But the design and flexibility of the unit are impressive. Granted, there isn’t a water or propane system standard, but this isn’t the only trailer like that.
Furthermore, the shape, much like a computer mouse, would seem not to put a lot of strain on the tow vehicle. There are some interesting bits of engineering going on, here including the use of Timbren axle-less suspensions.
I think Earth Traveler has a unique concept that is worth looking into if you’d rather keep that smaller tow vehicle but still have a sense of adventure.
These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. We receive no money or other financial benefits from these reviews. They are intended only as a brief overview of the vehicle, not a comprehensive critique, which would require a thorough inspection and/or test drive.
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