For several reasons we decided to sell our Turtleback Expedition trailer and try something new. Turtleback makes great trailers. The kitchen and water setup in the Expedition are as close to perfection as you can get. We decided we wanted to try living indoors for a change. I tend to do a lot of winter camping trips and was getting tired of heating an RTT tent.
So with the sale of the Turtleback a search was on for a budget friendly teardrop style trailer which would also allow for some DIY modifications over time.
After a lot of research and some good options I decided to go with the VRV Flyer. I am 6' 5" tall. Many of the good teardrop designs out there just didn't fit well with me. Or better put my tall body didn't fit well into them.
- Off-road capable
- Ability to modify as I see fit
- Around $10,000 or less
- Queen sized bed
- Electric brakes (optional)
Like to have:
Kitchen and water or ability to add on my own.
Currently VRV offers two trailer styles. The Eco model and Flyer. I was initially attracted to the Eco but when I saw how much room was in the Flyer it drew me in. After multiple conversation with the owner of VRV I sent a deposit. We met in New Mexico for delivery.
- Tongue box (completed)
- Larger tires (completed 30" Hankook All-Terrains with 15x5" rims vs factory rims and 27" tires
- Lock-n-Roll full articulating hitch (completed)
- Solar Controller (completed)
- Water storage (possibly a tank with pump)
- Slide out kitchen or chuckbox for driver side storage area
- Rear roof rack for spare tire
- Awning on passenger side with optional walled room (completed)
- Jeep style fenders
- Small inverter to charge electronics which require 110. (completed)
- Propex Heater (Buddy heater works well but I want something with temperature control)
- Possibly add a solar panel to the front roof area. Although or portable setup works well and allows the trailer to be in the shade vs hunting sunlight
- Add a power port to the exterior side of the trailer and exterior storage area (completed)
- Add a bottle opener to the tongue box (completed)
- Add ArkPak XO Jack (completed)
- Replace couch cushions with a 5" roll up mattress. Couch mode is nice but the cushions are too firm for my liking (Ordered)
What I love about this trailer is the storage room and how comfortable the sleeping area is. I also added a magnetic bug screen to the back door. This was a off-the-shelf model but I have plans to order one that fits the exact size of the rear door area. I brought every piece of gear imaginable including an OZ Tent RV-5, double stove, grill, 3 chairs, water, gearboxes, you name it and it all fit in the trailer. We finally have a platform where we can have fridge and dogs in the FJ and the rest of our gear in the trailer. Best of all with the way the bed is designed you don't have to place anything on top of the bed to then move when you are wanting to sleep. Just crawl in and go to bed. If conditions turn poor we can convert the trailer to "couch mode" and hang out inside with the table setup.
What we love:
- Storage room
- Budget friendly
- Light weight (under 1000 lbs)
- Quick setup and teardown
- DIY mods easily made the trailer more off-road capable.
What would I improve on?
It would be nice if the tongue bar was 6"-9" longer. This would allow my rear FJ door to fully open. Now it opens to about 80%. We tried one method of extending the tongue and it failed. Thankfully on dirt, it was a bolt on DIY solution. We will look at possibly having a fabricator extending it but since this is an aluminum frame trailer that may be a bit difficult. (2018 Models have extended tongue bar)
I would make the tongue platform larger. So if you didn't want a tongue box you could still add a propane tank holder and jerry can mounts for either water or fuel. (2018 Models have a larger platform but confirm size with VRV)
I would have the trailer come with 10" hubs so they could easily be swapped to Toyota style bolt pattern. With my trailer this will require an axle swap. Per the manufacturer and my suggestion future models will have the option for the larger hubs. (Now available with 2018 models)
This is just a great camping platform. The trailer should be able to go to 75% of the places we went with our Turtleback and that's fine with me. With minor modifications it was easy to make it off-road capable.
I like the trailer so much that I am a part of the customer referral program and I am considering becoming a dealer in AZ.
There is no "perfect" trailer out there. Too many variables in the equation. Budget, size, weight, etc. After 2 DIY models and our Turtleback Expedition trailer we are going this route for now. I look forward to VRV's future designs and who knows we may switch to a different model down the road. Future posts will include the future modifications. As always sites like Overlandbound.com and ExpeditionPortal.com are excellent resources to do your trailer research on.
For More Information:
Other trailers I considered:
The Ambush by Teardrops NW. For those looking for a traditional teardrop with a rear galley the Recon model is an excellent choice. I loved the design of the Ambush but felt cramped inside. If you are under 6' tall I would consider this model. Not saying a taller person can't fit. It is a matter of your required level of comfort. I took the time to pay the factory a visit and everyone there was great.
The Hiker Trailer by Leaddog Motorsports - A generally nice design with options for a water tank. These are very popular now with lengthy lead times. What I don't like about the offroad model is the tongue design.
Both of these brands are worth consideration in addition to VRV.
6 month update (3/27/18): ok it's been 7 or 8... We are still loving the VRV. I have done a number of modifications to it including:
- Added a propane tank holder and jerrycan holder to the driver side step.
- Added a straight awning with room to the driver side (this was originally on my FJ Cruiser
- Added a awning rail to the driver side roof. I have repurposed a Foxwing tampered panel to use as a straight awning with 3 pole. 2 were included with the panel set from RhinoRack
- Added a Bluesea Fuseblock and a SAE power port to the driver side of the trailer. Also added a 12 volt plug to the exterior driver side storage compartment
- Added ArkPak XO Jack. If the trailer needs to be winched out of a spot this jack can handle it.
- Added a Disc-O-Bed Storage Cabinet (This is a rugged folding bag like a closet organizer) We will use this as a closet. It sits at the end of the trailer by the back door and there is still plenty of room to enter and exit from the back
This article includes a bit more information and photos.
I am designing a water system for the trailer although I may hold off on this design and just use Scepter jerrycans and Waterbricks.
In Progress Modifications:
- Designing a roof rack system for the spare tire. I am going to use aircraft tie-down cargo rails and then 1" square tubing for the cross members. This will keep the tire as low as possible. It will be strapped down.
- Adding same cargo track rails to the interior of the trailer to keep storage boxes from bouncing around while traveling.
Still under consideration:
- Adding a solar panel to the front roof