By Tony Barthel
The original 13-foot Scamp travel trailers have been around for almost half a century. There are few RV companies that can make that statement. Even modern Airstream trailers are far removed from what was being built in the 1970s.
I have been encouraging folks to write in with what specific RV they’d like us take a look at, and the Scamp name came up. While I thought I had looked at these before, I was mistaken. So now’s the time to do just that.
What are Scamp travel trailers?
Scamp travel trailers are built more like boats than your typical RV. They are essentially a fiberglass “egg” into which the various trappings turn it into an RV. The shell is essentially molded in two fiberglass halves, then joined down the line by fiberglassing the two halves together and then riveting an aluminum strip around the beltline over the joint.
The steel frame is also built there in the factory and the whole thing is placed on a torsion axle.
The beauty of this kind of construction is that there are no structural aluminum or wood ribs in the frame – the fiberglass itself is the structural element. There are wood strips fiberglassed into the interior onto which are fastened the cabinets and some of the other fixtures.
A layer of insulating material is glued to the interior of this shell and then a layer of a “furry” fabric is glued to that.
Inside cabinets can either be made from fiberglass with wood door fronts or entirely from either oak or birch in the case of a “Deluxe” model.
The original Scamp travel trailer is 13 feet in overall length and is still in production. At some point they added 3 feet to that design and, even more recently, came out with a small, single-axle fifth wheel at 19 feet in overall length.
It’s funny to watch the company’s videos because they compare camping in a Scamp to tent camping, extolling the virtues of having one of their trailers over a tent.
Surprisingly, even in their 13-foot travel trailer, they talk about three people enjoying the space. There’s even more sleeping space available in the larger 16-foot model.
I can’t really describe any one Scamp model as the company is pretty flexible in how it’ll configure one for you. Options include several refrigerator types, wet baths and a variety of seating and dinette options.
One thing all Scamp trailers have in common is a dinette at the back that can seat four. From there, the 13-foot models feature either a front dinette with no restroom or a front restroom model.
Interestingly, almost all the 16-foot models have a choice of either a restroom or just more closet space. I guess that’s why some call this a water closet.
No matter which model you get, if you’re getting one with a restroom, you’re getting a wet bath (where the toilet and shower are in one room). With the nautical nature of these, that makes sense. You’re not going to ruin a fiberglass wall with water.
The basic Scamp models all have a two-burner propane stove and a 12-gallon fresh water tank. Options include a six-gallon gas/electric water heater, a propane furnace, air conditioning, a manual awning and more.
Owners of Scamp travel trailers
One of the pluses of having a Scamp is the company itself. They’ve been building these for years and years, and parts are readily available even for older models. They’re also so simple, in many ways, that you don’t necessarily have as many complicated systems to fix.
If you do have a question, you have a legacy of owners to speak with and Scamp travell trailer owners tend to be Scamp enthusiasts, owing to the way these are built.
Another advantage of these Scamps is that the top fiberglass shell has almost no voids in it that need attention. In a typical travel trailer, all the vents, antennae and other things that require a void in the roof are also potential sources of leaks. A lot of people aren’t so great at maintenance and that’s where you see so many issues with water damage. Leaks destroy the wood and other materials that a trailer is made with. That doesn’t happen when there are fewer holes and the structure is almost completely impervious to water damage.
As such, older Scamps are sold now and then but not often – people tend to keep them. If you do find one, it’s likely almost as functional as it was when new. There are advantages to keeping things consistent and minimalistic.
However, the same consistency and minimalism is also a bit of a downside. Modern RVs often have plentiful USB charging outlets, bright lighting, and other features. I think what would really make a difference to Scamp owners is if the company adopted something like what was highlighted in the RKS Off Road trailer, where the sink and shower drain into the gray tank and that is used to flush the toilet.
Speaking of the toilet, it essentially sits right on the black tank so it’s higher off the floor than some.
There are no outside storage compartments. Period.
Scamps aren’t all-season campers at all. The tanks aren’t enclosed, so you won’t want to take one of these where it freezes without draining the water out of it.
I thought it interesting that the Scamp is, essentially, a direct descendant of the Boler trailer. The folks who made the Scamp were licensees of Boler, which originated in Canada. When Boler America went out of business in 1972, the Eveland family continued producing the trailers under the new Scamp name. In Canada, a company called Trillium is producing trailers in the same place as the Bolers were made. The Armadillo Backpack trailer is also an homage to the Boler.
Ray Olecko, a car salesman who also invented the first fiberglass septic tank, was also one of the three who brought the Boler to market in 1968. Olecko and Sandor Dussa were given a Design Award in 1969 by the Manitoba Government Department of Industry and Commerce for the Boler trailer.
It is estimated that more than 10,000 Boler trailers were produced through 1988, the year the company ceased operations.
For more than a few reasons, Scamp has quite a following. While they’re certainly not for everybody, the iconic shape and long-lasting build make them popular within a certain group of campers. The outstanding video manuals along with events and such just help to fuel the fire of enthusiasm
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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