Minimize the setup, maximize the fun. That’s the key to getting a family camping trip off on the right foot. The sooner the shelter goes up, the sooner everybody’s in the boat or on the trail. And while self-pitching tents like the Qube or RhinoWolf are nice, nothing quite beats the ease of backing a trailer right up to the site and calling it a day. Maybe you pop a latch or push a button to set it up, maybe you walk in a door. Either way, there’s no futzing with tent poles and nobody wakes up in the middle of the night with a tree root jutting in their back. “The great outdoors aren’t so bad after all!”, exclaim the kids.
With that in mind, we rounded up 10 of the coolest mobile rigs for your next outdoor family adventure. They range in price from $2,000 up to $100,000, and include everything from a fiberglass camper that turns into boat, to a customized van built for the apocalypse, to a rooftop tent that’ll keep the whole crew off well off the ground. Hopefully one can go toe-to-toe with your wanderlust.
Sealander Amphibious Trailer
The Sealander Amphibious Trailer goes full Inspector Gadget when you roll it into a lake, transforming from tow-behind camper into calm-water cruiser complete with a 5HP electric outboard motor and fold-down stainless-steel swimming ladder. The six-person (13-foot by 5.25-foot) trailer is made of a single piece of fiberglass-reinforced plastic, weighs around 1,100 pounds, and can be towed by most vehicles. It boasts a convertible roll-up roof, large picture windows for plenty of light, and two bench seats that convert into a bed. Table, toilet, and shower are optional, as are a fridge/stove, electricity, and LEDs ⏤ it just depends on how much cash you want to drop.
At first glance, the Skycamp could be mistaken for any hard-shell rooftop car carrier. It’s sleek and aerodynamic, comes in glossy black or white, and stands 12.6-inches tall closed; slap on a ski resort sticker and nobody’s the wiser. Pop the 250D polyester roof tent, however, and prepare to be blown away. Set up is as easy as opening the case, sliding out the integrated telescopic ladder/extending floor, and raising the entrance canopy. It sleeps four (two adults, two kids) on a high-density memory foam mattress, rocks a waterproof skylight for stargazing, and can be expanded with an attachable three-walled (10-foot by 13-foot) annex or awning.
Taxa Cricket Camper
Here’s what you need to know about Taxa’s new NASA-inspired 2017 Cricket Camper: One, it sleeps two adults and two kids, and everybody gets a bed. (No need to ship your youngest off to a tent.) Two, at only 15-feet long (you’ve driven moving trucks that were bigger) and 1,450 pounds, you can pretty much tow it with your Camry, or any other 4-cylinder vehicle. And three, boy does it come with a view: 10 windows all told — four swing, five mesh, and one one 32-inch by 20-inch picture window certain to provide stunning panoramas of the campground bathroom. There are two models available ⏤ the Camp and the Trek ⏤ and both come with under-bed storage, pop-up table, 120V water heater, and LED lighting, not to mention an electrical system that can go off-grid for three days.
Outside Van is a made-to-order mobile home for outdoor explorers, family campers, and paranoids prepping for the zombie apocalypse. It comes in three levels of customization (starting at $48,000) with edgy names like the Timber Den and the Van Awesome, and it is completely customizable. Three-panel beds, lighting, and a fully-insulated interior come standard; from there, you choose the options: Everything from bunk beds, a drop-down TV, and a stainless-steel shower, to a full galley and rooftop-mounted A/C. The only catch, the price tag doesn’t include the actual van ⏤ those are sold separately. You’re just paying to have it customized.
Vistabule Teardrop Trailer
Admittedly, the interior of the Vistabule Teardrop isn’t huge; it’s only as big as the queen-sized bed inside. So while it sleeps two-to-four people, it’s obviously better if two of those four are not big. That said, thanks to a large front vista window (with a pleated privacy shade), extra-wide doors, and a bed that converts into a couch, the trailer feels much larger than it seems. It’s also equipped with space-saving amenities like built-in floor storage, drop-down nightstands, and a collapsible table for a rousing post campfire game of Pie Face. Plus, the kitchenette ⏤ which features a pull out two-burner stove, space for a cooler, and a sink with running water (a 9-gallon water tank is built in) ⏤ is on the outside, and there’s a convenient pass-through into the cab for handing in plates full of hot dogs and baked beans.
Autohome Air Top Tent
Again, the faster the tent gets set up, the sooner the outdoor fun can begin. And with the Autohome Air Top, a sleek Italian-made rooftop car tent that sleeps three, the fun begins eight seconds after parking at the campsite. Simply unfasten the latches and let the four gas-ram powered lift arms do the work. If you still want the feel of setting up a tent, you can opt for the additional changing room that attaches to the side and extends to the ground. The three-season Dralon fabric tent stands 36-inches tall and comes standard with a comfy six-foot, eight-inch mattress made of 3½-inch thick closed cell foam. It also offers campers stunning 360-degree views of either the surrounding landscape (and/or campground parking lot), thanks to both side and rear doors, and a front window.
The Air OPUS Inflatable Camper
Push a button on the new Air OPUS and in less than 90 seconds it transforms from tow-behind trailer to a six-person pop-up tent. Instead of tent poles, it uses air tubes (dubbed ‘air pole technology’) similar to those in your self-making bed, that inflate using an integrated 12-volt compressor. Once up, the Air Opus boasts eight-foot canopy ceilings with skylights, screened windows, and a kitchenette that includes both a stove top and sink. The dual double beds sit at opposite ends of the tent, so the groms aren’t sleeping right beside you, and optional amenities include interior LEDs, a home theater, fridge, leather sofa, and even a portable, heated solar shower.
The sleek 16’8″ Nest is Airstream’s inaugural foray into the fiberglass market (having just acquired Oregon-based NEST Caravans last year) after almost 100 years of building the world’s most iconic aluminum trailers. And talk about a debut: The futuristic-looking compact camper actually boasts an industry-first, single monocoque fiberglass shell (so it isn’t built on a metal frame) complete with wrap-around windows and a tilt moonroof. It weighs in at a paltry 2,400 pounds and can be towed on its 16-inch alloy wheels by any mid-sized SUV or crossover — although they still recommend a V6. While Airstream is busy tweaking the interior, multiple floor plans should include a queen-sized bed, full-height closet, wet bath, dual-burner cooktop, fridge/freezer, and large counter/desk for eating or sending work emails when you should be out fishing. Only catch, the camper doesn’t leave the nest (aka, their Ohio factory) until early next year. Sign up for Airstream’s email notices to keep tabs on its progress.
Tepui Kukenam Sky
Rooftop tents are basically portable treehouses. Tepui’s Tepui’s Kukenam Sky makes the setup easy. It bolts to your roof rack crossbars and flips open when you reach camp. Flip it open, unzip it, adjust the included aluminum ladder, and stake out the window covers, and you’re ready for occupants. It takes a pair to install the tent on the car, but once it’s on the bars, it’s fast and easy to set up. The tent has a permanent foam mattress inside that’s more comfortable than any air mattress and, because you’re off the ground, the tent usually stays cool. When the weekend’s over, the tent buckles into a low profile brick with a waterproof cover, so it’s always ready for an impromptu adventure.
Bliss Mobil Expedition Vehicles
Not really for your average Clark Griswold, Bliss Mobile’s military-grade expedition vehicles are what you get when you stack a luxury nuclear fallout shelter on top of an all-terrain transport. A survivalist’s (tiny) dream home, the self-sustaining units come with everything you need to stay alive/hidden from civilization ⏤ from solar panels and battery banks, to smart water systems and aerogel-insulated walls. There are currently five models available and they range in size from 11-feet for two adults, to 15-feet (two adults, two small kids), to 20-feet for four adults and/or all the American Girl dolls. And while you might be off-the-grid on the outside, the interior of these mobile bunkers is all 5-star luxury. Comfy beds, full kitchens and baths, A/C, heated floors, entertainment system, built-in WiFi ⏤ everything you need to put down roots in the middle of nowhere, assuming you’re willing to cash in your Roth IRA to do it.