The teardrop trailer is a masterpiece of mobile minimalism. The towable camper in its smallest, lightest form factor became the rage on American roads back in the 1940s, when a car with 100 horsepower was still a novelty. They were affordable (even homebuilt), slept two comfortably, and often included a chuck-wagon kitchen under a rear hatch. And they were adorable.
In the ensuing decades, tow vehicles became more powerful, campers became bigger and more lavish, and in 1966, Iowa-based Winnebago Industries rolled out its first motorhome, the cheap and cheerful F-17. Tiny teardrops pretty much dried up the United States.
Lately, though, a new generation of ecologically minded, SUV-averse campers has rediscovered the humble teardrop’s undeniable virtues. They’re buyers who wouldn’t be caught dead in some shag-carpeted Class A monstrosity, but they have places to go and money to spend, and as the 21st-century teardrop market matures, factors like bespoke craftsmanship and thoughtful design are becoming differentiators. Enter the Hütte Hut, possibly the most exquisite, intelligently designed, and expensive teardrop camper ever built.
The Hütte Hut’s body is made of gorgeous marine plywood from Joubert Okoume
, attached to a fully exposed aircraft-grade aluminum space frame structure. The floor panels and interior trim bits are Baltic birchwood, and there are fine Western cedar trusses overhead. The whole thing rides atop a clever trailing-arm independent suspension, which offers more predictable towing manners and greater ground clearance than an old-fashioned beam-axle setup. And because the Hütte Hut tips the scales at a manageable 850 pounds, it’s pullable by all but the lamest modern cars (you know who you are).
While the typical teardrop interior is as dark and breathless as a birdhouse, the Hütte Hut is all about blurring the line between the cozy indoors and the great outdoors. Large trapezoidal windows define the rear end, the port side features two long rectangular windows, and the camper’s entire starboard flank opens up, barn-door-style. It’s a convertible, too: The roof is a retractable canopy made of water-repelling canvas. Even closed, the cream-colored fabric roof diffuses sunlight like the translucent top of a UPS delivery truck, giving the interior a bright, vaulted feeling during the day.
Mindfulness and inner peace were guiding influences in the Hütte Hut’s creation. The pair behind the camper, husband and wife Brian and Katrina Manzo of the California-based design shop Sprouting Sprocket Studio, describe their camper and its raison d’être in terms typically reserved for wellness retreats and magic-mushroom experiments. “The holistic, integrated approach to design makes for a functional, clutter-free space that helps to declutter the mind,” says Brian, to which Katrina adds: “We conceived the Hütte Hut as a moving sanctuary, a womblike place for presence and mindfulness.” We dig.
Of course, such enlightenment—and craftsmanship—will not be had on the cheap: The made-to-order Hütte Hut starts at an ouchie $63,900, and options — including a cooking package, a fridge/freezer, an LED lighting setup, and dual 40-quart aluminum water tanks—can bump that figure by as much as $10,000. To compare, such mindful money might purchase an Airstream Basecamp
a really nice Chevrolet Colorado
with a tow hitch.
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