It was a desire to pull a camper that sleeps four with a Fiat that led a Santa Fe couple to an idea to create a super lightweight trailer.
Angel Irlanda and Laura Esteves have created the Earth Traveler teardrop trailer, a 300-pound towable camper with different options, including a pop-up top or sides to make more interior room.
Exploring with different materials, including creating a pulp of chicken feathers and an epoxy resin, it took a couple of years to come up with the right mixture that was durable but lightweight. They were able to test the material with technical assistance from Los Alamos National Laboratory through a business grant program. Irlanda, an artist and framer who had studied architecture, now uses a fiberglass and carbon mixture.
The next step now that a model has been standardized is to start manufacturing the product, which has gained popularity from buyers through Internet searches and journalists writing about the trailer’s uniqueness. The couple, who came to The Loan Fund for capital for manufacturing investment, builds each trailer from scratch.
“We have a full year of orders now, but our goal is to industrialize the product,” Esteves said. “We’ve had two manufacturers approach us and we want to outsource the parts but we’ll still assemble here and build minimally.”
The couple also would like to design a modular kitchen to fit in the trailer, yet continue to keep it lightweight.
She said success hadn’t come easy because it was a lot of trial and error.
“But if you focus on building a good, good product, a product that’s relatable to people, people will want it. We were a family that needed four people to sleep in a trailer and we needed it to be lightweight. When we took it camping, people loved it and some said they would love to have one,” Esteves said. “That’s when we realized that it could be a business.”
Read more about Earth Traveler at earthtravelerteardroptrailers.com.