This morning I found a gem among the hundreds of campers crowding Indiana’s RV Open House. Located far away from the giant Class A buses and the innovative Airstream eStream sits nüCamp, a little company that takes European camper designs and produces them for its American customers. One of its latest campers is the Barefoot, and this lightweight fiberglass cutie will soon be hitting dealerships.
My experience at the RV Open House in Indiana has been that of wonder. I’m like a kid in a candy store and I already have lots of stories to write for you over the coming days. Just when I think that I’ve seen all of the cool stuff, I see even more.
The RV manufacturers making the biggest splash at the show are goliath conglomerates like Thor Industries. This show is not really for the public or the media, but to get camper dealerships to buy these companies’ new RVs. The dealerships will then sell them to people like you or me. And to help facilitate those deals, Thor has alcohol tents everywhere, catered food, and tonight, Florida Georgia Line is having a concert with Nelly in Thor’s display.
Outside of the huge event at the RV Hall of Fame sits a bunch of independent and small companies banded together on a cul-de-sac. These displays can be visited by the public, and if you find the time, you should stop by, because there’s some cool stuff out there.
One of those smaller companies is nüCamp, a company that has cleverly repurposed a European camper design and builds it in America. The company was formed in 2005 by Joe Mullet. [Editor’s Note: Wow. – JT] Back then, the company was called Pleasant Valley Teardrop Trailers. At the time, Mullet had been a plumber for years before getting into building lawn furniture. But he wanted to build something unique, and the lawn furniture wasn’t really cutting it. That’s when an acquaintance asked him to build a teardrop trailer, and Mullet got the idea to build his own teardrop trailers.
As nüCamp RV notes, Mullet opened up an eight-man, 3,000 square foot shop where its retro-styled teardrops were hand-built. Their goal was to create quality trailers, something that some companies may struggle with even today.
Like many companies, Mullet’s company didn’t survive the initial hit of the Great Recession, and closed its doors in 2008. But a lucky call from a distributor the same day meant that his company’s fate wasn’t sealed. The company reopened and started building campers again.
Around this time, nüCamp started a new product line with its Tab teardrop camper.
This trailer was originally designed by Knaus Tabbert in Germany before it was bought by Thor Industries’ Dutchmen RV. Dutchmen then sold the license to nuCamp, and nüCamp continues to make the trailers today. It also makes Cirrus truck campers and used to make tiny Little Guy trailers.
This strategy of buying that European design has made nüCamp stand out in the field of campers. The company’s trailers are small, but big on Euro-style flair and low on weight.
Back in 2019, it was reported that nüCamp was coming out with a fiberglass camper called the Barefoot. Like the Tab, it was a design originating from across the pond. It was supposed to release in 2020, but the pandemic disrupted that. Now, nüCamp is ready to give it another go, and expects to begin production at the end of this year.
The adorable nüCamp Barefoot started life as the Barefoot Caravan. As Curbed notes, Barefoot Caravan was originally created in England by Cathy Chamberlain. She didn’t like the crop of campers (or caravans, as they’re called out there) and decided to make her own. Chamberlain worked with students from the Automotive and Transport Design Course of Coventry University for three years to see her dream become a reality.
And what did they create? A trailer that might be the cutest camper that will soon be on the American market.
The Barefoot comes in at 16.5 feet overall, with the living space taking up about 12.5 feet of that. It’s small, but the incredible thing is that it doesn’t actually feel as small as it is.
When I stepped inside I found ample headroom, and my big frame didn’t get caught on stuff as I moved around.
The Barefoot utilizes the little space it has well, and in that retro style that people love so much today. And for the big question that I bet a lot of you have, yes, the materials feel pretty good in there. You know how you sometimes feel like the materials in a camper are so flimsy that you’d wreck the interior if you just fell down in one? You don’t get that, here.
It even feels like you could cook a full meal in there without damaging the kitchen. I dig it, and could totally see myself camping in something like this during a trip.
Perhaps just as impressive is that is has almost full facilities. This little 16-foot camper has a shower and a toilet as well as heating for you and your water. I tried fitting into the bathroom, too.
It’ll be tight for another bigger person like me (5’6″ and 245 lb) and really tight for a tall person, but considering the camper’s overall size, it could be way worse. There are campers from major brands at the Open House that have worse bathrooms.
As for construction, the body is four sections of fiberglass molded together.
It all adds up to 2,006 pounds, which means that the camper can be towed by darn near any car. The only thing that it appears to be missing is an air-conditioner, and I bet that you could add one through the existing roof vent.
The other good news is that it’s not too far out there on price, either. It costs the equivalent of $32,500 out in the UK. Sadly, nüCamp’s people didn’t give me a pricing estimate on what the U.S. version will cost.
But assume it’s similar and that’ll make it slightly more expensive than an equivalent Scamp 16 fiberglass camper, which can cost around $24,000 or more for a similar configuration. That’s not a bad proposition for something that looks this pretty.
[Editor’s Note: These taillights and color remind me of my Pao! – JT]
At this time, nüCamp also doesn’t have firm production estimates. It says that it’s expecting to begin production on a small amount of them late this year, before scaling up at a later date. When that happens, I’ll be sure to update you on it. And hopefully I get to try this cutie out for myself one day.
Perfect match for Torch’s Pao.
“The other good news is that it’s not too far out there on price, either. It costs the equivalent of $32,500 out in the UK.”
That is crazy expensive for a camper this size. I get that these are better-built than the ones from the bigger manufacturers, but there’s got to be a happy medium between the two where price and quality are both reasonable. It’s the same problem I always had with the Little Guy trailers – they wanted full-size trailer money for a bed with an attached camp kitchen. I guess these at least come with bathrooms and such, but they’re also 3x as expensive, and it’s hard to believe that extra cost is entirely justified. Especially without even an AC unit, which is one of the more expensive parts of most trailers.
In fact, looking again does this even come with a refrigerator? I don’t see one in the interior shots and there are no vents on the outside either. A $32.5k trailer with no AC and no fridge is a no sale for me.
Dang I love it, but for that price I’d just build me a camper, it a toterhome, or buy an RV or well….do ALOT more for less…
I’ve been looking at this trailer for a couple of years. It’s cute, and if they used the same build process they do in the UK then it should be sturdy. Watched every walk-through video multiple times, read everything I can find about it, and even looked at overhead shots of the factory on Google Maps to determine if they had any units in the yard.
My gripe is that the company keeps trotting out the same demo model and the same promise of ‘real soon now’. I get that perhaps they are testing market demand, dealing with supply chain issues, and inflation is a concern, as is perhaps even preventing competitors from thinking about developing their own clones but sheesh, IT’S BEEN THREE YEARS.
Pick a production date and set a price. Barring that, actually do something with your waitlist (or even just respond to emails?).
@Andrew – I have never seen anyone remove the handles. I’d think they need to be securely attached to the frame so making them removable could be tricky.
The issue w/ pricing on this little guy is fiberglass uses petroleum products. Since grandpa Joe declared war on petroleum companies in his inaugural address, pricing on oil has been slipperier than the product. I would think all aluminum construction would be price competitive.
I could see myself buying one of these. The price should be reasonable, and it won’t take up too much space when not in use. A true toilet is a big deal for me, as my irritable bowel syndrome likes to make its presence known whenever I dare to stray from my usual routine.
I solved this by getting a “bumper dumper” and a single person changing tent to put around it on Amazon.
That is an amazing use of space and light weight. Laden with dishes, water, food, and gear it would be closer to 3000 lbs but that is still light enough to tow with a fun car.
Tow this with a wood paneled Buick Roadmaster for the ultimate retro look
Florida Georgia Line and Nelly in Indiana at a RV trade show? And they say culture is dead.
I have friends who wanted to tow a similar little camper with their Prius across country to visit us. I said I could just see them savoring each others nocturnal flatulence in their little cocoon.
They decided against it.
Ha, it might be worth a try to tow with either a Pao or a Smart, regardless of towing capacity, just to see if it can be done. As already noted, somebody does have a Pao that already matches.
Are the handles for moving the camper upon detaching from the tow vehicle? If so, that’s a great idea.
Also because I hit enter before finishing my thought, I love the euro trailers. Whenever I am over there, I am amazed at how many wagons are out there hauling a little camper like this. They really know how to caravan in Europe.
Unless you are stuck behind them in your sports car.