New Year! New Teardrop!

As I end 2021, I reflect on how different things are from this time last year. Even though there is another strong wave of Covid across the world and the economy is still not in a great place, thankfully, I am in a better place. Because of that I will get to start a new year of adventures in a new Teardrop! I did stick with NuCamp because I like them as a company and they really are the best at making small lightweight, functional, off-grid (self-contained) campers. After looking at all the options in the their larger Teardrops I went with the T@B 320. I did order it and had to wait a few months and of course I went through Princess Craft RV in Round Rock, Texas.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved the T@G and it was a game changer in my life, but all those life changes made it time for something bigger. One of the best things about my career change this year is that I can travel and work, but after working on my long trip over the summer, it was clear that the T@G just was not going to work well. One of my biggest issues was the weather and not having a self-contained bathroom and kitchen. My job requires me to attend a number of video meetings throughout the day, so I really can’t choose the times I have to go to the bathroom or cook. While I did have options for an external bathroom and ways to cover the kitchen, the weather and wind were so bad at times on that trip that I couldn’t use any of them. I chose the T@B 320 because it has a kitchen and full bath inside, but is still small and lightweight. It is actually the same external width, but the inside it a foot wider because the wheel wells are internal. It is 3 ft longer and about 2 feet taller and only weights around 900 lbs more, the T@G was 1200 lbs. I did go with the Boondock edition, so it is higher and has the sturdier axle which makes it taller than the regular T@B.

One of the reasons I liked the newer T@B models is the new split back design of the dinette set. This will allow me to have a bed on one side and a table and seating on the other side. When I picked it up the Lagun table was not in it, but considering the supply chain shortages and stories of things missing from other new campers, that was minor. It actually showed up at Princess Craft the days after I picked it up and they shipped it to me.

I actually picked it up a Thursday and went directly to the Fall Tiny Trailer Rally, so my first set up was done quickly, just to get it livable for the weekend. I was able to use all my bedding from the T@G, which I think helped Bella with the transition, because let me tell you, she was very distraught when we left Princess Craft and left the T@G there. Over the years of travel it had become her safe place and I honestly was surprised at how upset she was. But as you can see once I got our bedding and pillows and other stuff in the T@B she did ok. It’s cute how I thought by have the dinette seating beside the bed she would have a place to sleep and give me more room. Note that she is between me and the wall in the bottom right picture.

As I said, the initial setup was not great, but I’m putting them in this post to show the difference a few organizational items can make. But even before adding more, the kitchen is a lot more functional than the T@G with a lot of cabinet space. One thing I also love about the T@B is the build in storage compartments all around the top.

It became clear after that first weekend is that I had to change the end I put my head on. The way it’s set up my head was under the cabinet and I need to sleep with my head somewhat elevated to be able to breathe. That first weekend I felt kind of trapped under the back cabinet. My plan is to leave a bed made up and I also needed a topper because I could feel the separation of the cushions that make the bed. When I added the memory foam topper it raised the bed 2 inches so there was no way I could put my head at the cabinet end. Moving my head to the other means I can’t watch TV laying in bed but I don’t really do that anyway. The move also leaves the foot of the bed free to reach all the storage compartments behind the seats easier. The only real problem is that it’s designed to put your head at the other end so there’s a USB port and place for your phone. There is a USB plug under the other end of the seating, by the bathroom door, but it has made having a phone close to use as an alarm an issue. After I made this change, I stayed in it for 2 weeks in my parent’s yard to work our kinks and ended up leaving sticking between the mattress and wall. Not ideal, but I’ll figure out something.

I also got the Lagun table installed during that time at my parents. You can see in the bottom right that I can have the bed made up and have a fully functional sitting area with table. This is the part of a new teardrop I am most excited about. I had figured out how to make the T@G work, but after 6 weeks, having to get up and make a bed and transform it into a somewhat useable office was a hassle. Plus, I have lost track of the times food ended up spilled in my bed because I had nowhere to sit and eat. I love the Lagun table because it has 2 pivots points and spins all the way around easily, no matter where I sit. So it can be a desk and table as well as nightstand.

Organizing the kitchen turned out to be challenge. I tried to order some things from Amazon but they didn’t fit. I ended up finding trays that fit in the top cabinets at Dollar Tree as wells as ones narrow enough to fit around the stove and sink with grippy feet on the bottom. I was able to repurpose the towel rack I had across the stargazer window in the T@G as a towel rack as well as a place to hang my organizing buckets I was using in the T@G. My dish drainer from the T@G also works over the sink to give me more counter space while still being able to use the sink. Most of what I had in the T@G works well in the T@B, the only thing I needed to buy was a way to make coffee. I really don’t have a place for the breakfast center and I want to move to an Omnia oven so all my cooking can be done off grid, so I needed a way to make coffee off-grid too. I had actually been looking for a better off-grid option already because the percolating pot really doesn’t work unless you make a full pot and I don’t need that much coffee. I found a great option thanks to a fellow tagger at the photography workshop I went to. It’s a press that is made for camping so it can be put directly over the fire. If you are interested, here is the link on Amazon.

Although it has great storage, if I am going to be living in it for a month or more, I needed better ways to pack and organize everything I will need. The white bins are staple among T@B owners and I completely understand why, they are great! I can still easily access the built in cubby behind it and find things much easier by giving them their own bin. You can get the white bins from Ikea but I actually found them from Amazon.

I also found a great over the door organizer that fits the bathroom door. It took some time to find because most are the width of a regular door or so long and deep that you can’t open the door completely.

About the bathroom…….first I am thrilled that I have one. I get that a lot of people don’t like this one and I get it, if you are tall, it is basically unusable, but for me it’s perfect. The faucet for the sink also acts as the shower head but I just use it as a handheld shower. There is not a lot of room and you are definitely not leaning over, but there’s enough room to make it work and being able to take a shower indoors when it was cold and go to bed with my feet clean, was amazing! One thing I will note, I thought I could buy suction cup organizers for the bathroom, but the walls are actually textured and they will not stick, so save yourself the time and money.

I did have to make one, somewhat of a modification after a week in it. While I added a mattress topper to make the bed more comfortable, I was still having issues from moving my head to the other end. The bed is made from the dinette cushions so it’s not one continuous piece, which was causing a couple issues. First, the cushions from the back that lays down are permanently attached to the back and are a little firmer and fuller than the ones that were velcro’d on the sides. If you are putting your head at the end they intend it’s not a big deal, but I felt like from my waist up was sinking in more, which is really uncomfortable and made it impossible to lay on my side. On top of that, the way the cushions were made they are contoured around the edges, so there was what felt like a hole where the they met and I kept sinking into the gap between the two side ones as well. To fix this I found a 2″ piece of super firm foam and cut pieces to go under the memory foam topper. I started with one piece to go across the long section of the side cushions to add support along the contoured edges. Then I cut a piece to just cover the entire end where I’m putting my head, over the entire section with loose cushions. The combination was just what I needed to make the surface firmer and more even. There is a slight slope at the foot now, but that is ok. After making this change I slept much better.

Overall me and Bella both are comfortable in the new Teardrop, as you can see she has already started making her own nests out of the bedding. I am looking forward to new adventures in 2022. Happy New Year to everyone and happy travels and adventures!

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