By Tony Barthel
There seems to be a trend in the RV world where RVs are getting larger and larger. Companies that, before now, made tiny trailers are upping their game by upping the size of their offerings. An example of this is TAXA, that makes the Tiger Moth that we looked at previously. Today, I got an email about the TAXA Mantis, which is a significantly larger model.
What is it?
The TAXA Mantis is a trailer that has more of the features some folks are looking for in a travel trailer, but which can still fit into a typical household garage. It’s also towable by smaller vehicles. It accomplishes this by having a pop-top. However, the trailer can still be used almost completely with the top down.
And with the top down, it sits more conveniently behind the tow vehicle, causing less aerodynamic drag. This trailer also has TAXA’s signature styling, which is nontraditional flat surfaces in almost a lunar explorer type of look. At least to my eyes.
This is a trailer with all the essentials, basically. There’s a dinette at the back that makes into an 80” x 54” bed. There’s a couch at the front with an optional flip-up bunk system. So there’s sleeping for two additional people on the front couch. Lastly, you can get a hammock that hangs from the ceiling for day-time lounging. It can even be a fifth sleeping place if you need it. There are also rooftop tents available if your crew is a large one.
Storage inside the trailer is either innovative or rudimentary, depending on your perspective. There are places where TAXA has included milk crates that stay in place with bungees when the trailer’s on the move. These are removable crates so you can take them outside or load them in the house before a journey. In total, there are nine of these crates in various places.
There is a toilet and shower configuration, which might be familiar to pop-up owners. A curtain is your privacy. This, again, might be good for some but not for others. That’s this whole trailer – it is a design for the adventurous. That said, some traditionalists just aren’t going to dig it. The wet bath and toilet is an option ($2,250), so you don’t have to have it if you don’t want it.
Building the TAXA Mantis
The Mantis looks unusual and it’s built unusually, as well. Some things we’ve seen before, such as a powder-coated steel chassis and torsion axle independent suspension.
The walls are aluminum composite and painted with a substance called Kynar®. The hinge for the pop-up roof is made of stainless steel, so it should be around for as long as you want. The interior is made primarily of Baltic Birch plywood. The flooring in this trailer is a nickel-patterned flooring which is pretty impervious to damage. There’s even an 8-foot awning.
All over the Mantis are metal brackets and attachment points where you can hook bungees and attach things. I have often liked the idea of flexible spaces and surfaces and the ability to define uses yourself. TAXA agrees, based on what I see here. In fact, they’ve taken it further than I could imagine.
The windows are dual-pane flip-up European-style Lexan panes with day-night shades and screens built-in. The windows can flip up to be perpendicular to the trailer wall and you could literally leave them open and use this as a pass-through to hand things to people outside. There’s also a large hatch in the back with struts for either loading or just leaving open.
Heat and hot water come from a Truma AquaGo system. This is essentially continuous hot water and heat in a single unit.
There is an automatic brake system such that you don’t have to install a brake controller in your tow vehicle. This can be a big advantage on some vehicles.
There is a window-style air conditioner, but you have to push it out when you get to camp so that it will drain. There’s a large metal door on the outside to protect it when it’s in transit.
What there isn’t in the TAXA Mantis…
There are a few things that you won’t find in this trailer, the first of which is a traditional refrigerator. However, there is a platform where you can put an ice chest or you could use a 12-volt chest-style cooler if you choose.
There also isn’t a radio of any sort – hallelujah! Yes, I truly dislike the typical iRV radio and there isn’t one in here.
This is a well-thought-out trailer in so many ways. But it’s also one that will have a unique appeal to only a certain number of people. There are many innovative spaces in this trailer that have multiple uses. An example is the step on the back that can also hold a five-gallon can of water, which also has bottle openers on the bottom.
It’s almost become a joke in my office (I work remotely, often on the road) where I get a press release from a company that makes a lot of noise about how innovative their new RV offering is. But, really, it was more innovative before they copied the ideas into their own design. This is truly an innovative RV in so many ways and, for those who will enjoy and appreciate it, it will reward with a unique and well-built experience.