The origins of earthexplore

In the fall of 2016, I had only recently returned to the midwest after living and traveling all over the world. But I had most recently lived in Idaho, where camping is a full-on, expansive and amazing experience.

I wanted to refamiliarize myself with camping in the midwest and so started searching for a modest pull behind camp trailer. At that time I had a VW TDI wagon, and I really wanted to find something I could pull with that car so I would not need to buy a truck. Also, living in an HOA, I wanted something that I could keep in my garage. I found a single unit, The SylvanSport Go. It is a lightweight, versatile trailer. The problem is, that is has virtually no functionality. It has two small very thin beds and a shaky fold down table. No storage; no kitchen; no pantry.

So I got the bright idea to design and build my own trailer.

As these things go, the project started in my garage. First in my tiny one-car garage in New Albany, then to my sisters garage in Somerset, and finally to my two-car garage in Columbus, where this proof-of-concept concluded. Brian, my current partner, took a week off to come help and that’s when he got hooked on the idea.

This first design failed in two key ways–1) it was several inches too tall to fit into my garage and 2) it was too heavy to pull with my car. I had used a steel trailer and wood infrastructure with marine grade wood used as the outside panels. 

But, the basic design held together in that it had a terrific slide-out kitchen and lots of storage for pantry items, coolers, water, a bar area and camping gear. A freespirit tent was mounted on top.

To test the POC (I always knew this 1st version would not be commercially viable), I took it to upstate New York and Pennsylvania for a week of camping. My parent’s came along in their motorhome.

October 2016 – This is the first mock-up with no cutouts or interior. Just basic design.

 And the camper performed well. Of course it was not the ideal unit I had visualized, but it was more than adequate. So with that basic design in mind, I started formulating a plan to try to build a commercially viable version.

I did actually chop the first version in half to make it overall smaller and lighter and so it would fit in the garage.

Of course work and the need to make money for food and traveling and drinking took a lot of time, so it was 3 years later before we really started to dive in more seriously. When COVID came along, I had a 4-week break between gigs and Brian decided to throw his energy full-time into the project. So starting in April of 2020, we got real serious about R&D and slowly worked through every facet of design to come up with a unit that is light, very practical and accessible, durable, all with a sleek and simplistic look.

Below are some pictures from the proof-of-concept in construction and in use. 

This was version 2.0, with the top cut off. Worked very well and was much lighter and easier to use
1st mock-up. There is no internal cabinetry or infrastructure–just wanted to see what it would look like when done
Getting the aluminum top on was a hassle. I had bought too thick of a sheet of aluminum. But we got it done.
This is a shot with the full two-story version.

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