You’re probably familiar with the iconic silver bullet of the Airstream travel trailer. It’s as much an American symbol as Coca-Cola or Ford. They’ve always been top-quality and kept true to their vintage look.
But there’s another high-quality option for campers out there that offers a similar retro-inspired aesthetic: the molded fiberglass camper.
Let’s learn more about why you should consider one of these egg-shaped shells for your next camper purchase.
What Is a Molded Fiberglass Camper?
A fiberglass camper features two shells joined together with glue. These two halves form in a mold by spraying a gel coat and then a fiberglass and resin mix onto the gel. This process is different from traditional travel trailers constructed with staples and wood, much like a house. The result of this molded fiberglass shell is an egg-shaped travel trailer.
Molded fiberglass campers have fewer seams and better durability than other materials. It has a lightweight, water-resistant body, which means more vehicles can handle the towing load. Fiberglass is also easier to clean and more rust-resistant than aluminum.
Are Fiberglass Travel Trailers Better?
Overall, fiberglass campers retain their value longer, which would indicate that they’re better than their aluminum counterparts. They’re less prone to dents and provide great insulation.
When camping in harsher weather conditions, a fiberglass shell will provide better protection than an aluminum one. Another advantage is aerodynamics. The construction of a fiberglass shell is more sleek and smooth, which means it zips through the air more easily. This increases fuel efficiency.
Fiberglass travel trailers tend to cost more, however.
So even though they retain their value, you’ll pay more upfront for one. Another con to owning a fiberglass camper is the UV damage. If left in direct sunlight for too long, the fiberglass shell can wear down, and the paint can fade.
What Are the Best Molded Fiberglass Camper Brands?
When searching for the best-molded fiberglass camper brands, you don’t have to look beyond these four companies. You won’t find dozens of brands like traditional travel trailers, so your research and buying process should be simpler. The hardest decision you may have to make is which brand to go with because they’re all top-notch.
About: Scamp has manufactured travel trailers in Minnesota since 1971. The company focused solely on 13’ campers for a few years before introducing the 16’ camper in 1978. Still needing diversity, Scamp started making a 19’ model in 1981. For the last few decades, Scamp has been one of the leading manufacturers of molded fiberglass campers.
Models and Floorplans: The 13’ model weighs about 1,500 lbs with a tongue weight of 200 lbs. The 16’ model weighs about 1,900 lbs with a tongue weight of 300 lbs. Finally, the 19’ model only comes as a fifth wheel but is still much lighter than others on the market.
The Scamp trailers come in standard and deluxe floorplans. It has two standard 13’ options, three deluxe 13’ options, five standard 16’ options, and four deluxe 16’ options. Additionally, you can choose from three 19’ fifth wheel options. All three fifth wheel models feature a bathroom with a toilet and shower.
Features: The best-selling feature of the Scamp trailers is their towability. You can tow all Scamp trailers with vehicles you may already own, such as a sedan, an SUV, a minivan, or a standard truck. This cuts down on higher fuel costs for a heavy-duty truck.
Also, you can easily maneuver Scamp trailers because of their compact size. Finally, the resale value remains high. You can find older models still retaining their value after decades of use. This also indicates a high-quality product.
MSRP: A standard 13’ Scamp trailer could cost around $15,000 without upgrades or add-ons. Depending on the options, a deluxe 19’ Scamp trailer could cost about $30,000. It doesn’t have a set MSRP because each Scamp trailer is made to order and comes equipped with different features based on the customer’s needs.
Join The Debate: We compared Scamp vs Oliver to determine Which Fiberglass Camper Is Best?
Casita Travel Trailers
About: Inspired by the idea of a fiberglass camper shell at Boler, a former Canadian fiberglass travel trailer manufacturer, an employee left that company to start Casita. Casita has manufactured travel trailers in Texas since 1983. This classic lightweight, egg-shaped trailer features a retro-inspired design that owners love.
Models and Floorplans: The Casita line of travel trailers includes the Spirit, the Independence, the Freedom, the Liberty, and the family-friendly Heritage. All models have standard and deluxe options. Plus, customers can customize their units to include amenities, from an electric tongue jack or a trailer cover to a microwave or folding kitchen shelf.
The 17’ Spirit includes two dinette areas you can convert into sleeping spaces, one in the rear and one along the driver’s side. The Independence contains two twin beds in the back that you can also use for bench seating at the dinette.
The 17’ Freedom features plush upholstered swiveling chairs for a comfortable lounging experience on the driver’s side. The Liberty features an extended dinette in the back that converts to either a king bed, a double bed, or two twin beds.
The 17′ Heritage features the most sleeping spaces, making family travel easier. It has a rear dinette that converts to a double bed and two sets of bunk beds. The deluxe eliminates the front bunks to include a bathroom and wardrobe closet.
All of the standard units have a dry weight of 2,210 lbs. They feature double bunk beds with storage underneath, and the deluxe models feature a bathroom and wardrobe closet instead.
Features: One of the best features of a Casita is the customization. Each owner can choose from a long list of options and add-ons to enhance their camping experience. Although the fiberglass shell comes standard, you can modify the interior to suit campers’ needs.
The large screened windows make it easy to enjoy breezes and beautiful scenery. And with almost 50 cu ft of storage space, you have plenty of room to store your kitchen utensils, clothes, and hiking gear.
MSRP: The Casita Spirit, Freedom, and Heritage standard units start around $25,000, while the Casita Independence and Liberty standard units start around $27,000. Depending on add-on features, the price will increase. Deluxe units start about $2,000 higher.
About: In 1993, Reace and Tammy Harmatuik started renovating old fiberglass campers and turning it into an RV rental company. In 2002, they hired their first employee and began customizing fiberglass trailers. Escape Trailer Industries was born. Over the years, the company has expanded its buildings and trailer line to accommodate the growing needs of its customers.
Models and Floorplans: You can choose from six Escape travel trailers currently in production: the E5.0, E21C, E21NE, E19, E17A, and E17B. A seventh model, the E23, is in the planning stages. Although the interior is customizable, the floorplans are set. The interior design is available in maple, oak, or contemporary.
The E5.0 is the only fifth-wheel model. It features a bed over the front cap and a rear dinette. The E21C comes with a wet bath next to the bed, taking away from the bed size but providing additional kitchen space.
The E21NE has two floorplans. One features a rear bedroom and front dinette space, while the other makes the back bedroom a second dinette space. Both areas can convert into sleeping areas.
The E17B has three floorplans. One has the double dinettes in front and rear like the E21NE, another has a rear bedroom with a booth dinette in the front, and the third has a front bedroom with a back booth dinette.
Features: All Escape trailers come equipped with electric brakes, 3,500-lb torsion rubber ride suspension, a 12,000 BTU furnace, and a 12V demand water system. They also have wrap-around overhead storage compartments. Available upgrades include lithium-ion batteries, an air conditioning unit, a second MaxxFan, and a three-burner stove to replace the standard two-burner option.
MSRP: The E5.0 starts around $37,000, the E21C and E21NE start around $35,000. The E19 starts at around $32,600, and both the E17A and E17B start under $30,000. Like all RVs, the add-ons and upgrades will increase the price.
Oliver Travel Trailers
About: The youngest company on the list is Oliver, which began producing fiberglass travel trailers in 2007. It’s also the most high-end, luxurious lineup of fiberglass travel trailers on the list. You’ll find the prices twice as much as other brands. The double-hulled fiberglass shell comes with a five-year limited warranty. The custom chassis also comes with a five-year limited warranty.
Models and Floorplans: The Oliver Legacy Elite is an 18’5” trailer that seats up to six and sleeps three people. It has a dry weight of 3,700 lbs. The full bathroom features a porcelain toilet, tinted mirror door, and molded vanity with storage. The rear booth dinette converts to a 74″ x 52″ bed. An additional smaller dining area on the driver’s side can also convert into a bed.
The Oliver Legacy Elite II is a 23’6” trailer that seats up to seven and sleeps three people. It has a dry weight of 4,900 lbs and two floorplans. One features the convertible rear dinette, and the other features two twin beds in the rear with a nightstand in between.
The Legacy Elite II also comes with a full bathroom and the same features as the Legacy Elite. The Legacy Elite and Legacy Elite II feature a 32-gallon freshwater and gray tank and a 15-gallon black tank.
Features: Standard features include a Dometic air conditioning unit, a furnace, an awning, three powered stabilization jacks, a stainless steel microwave, a flush mount dual burner stove, a two-way refrigerator, and an entertainment system. The Oliver travel trailers can withstand temperatures and conditions for all four seasons.
MSRP: You can now order the new 2023 models, which start at around $65,500. You can also add the Lithium Power Package to the Legacy Elite II models.
Do Fiberglass Campers Leak?
The design of a fiberglass camper reduces the chance of leaks and rotting due to water damage. Plus, the rounded edges also help reduce the amount of water that sits on top of the unit. However, it’s not 100% leak-proof. Water can still get between the fiberglass and wood surface. When this happens, it may have delamination. Cracks, waves, or bubbles will indicate a water damage problem in the unit.
But with proper maintenance, you can reduce the chance that leaking will occur. Additionally, you have a much higher chance of avoiding water damage with a fiberglass travel trailer.
Pro Tip: Like the look of a fiberglass camper? Here are the 5 Best Fiberglass Camper Trailers (with Bathrooms)
Is a Molded Fiberglass Camper Worth It?
For the amount of space you get in the camper, fiberglass trailers are quite expensive. But in the long run, the maintenance and repair costs should be less. And the units retain their value and resell at higher prices than their counterparts. If you can afford the steeper price tag for a smaller space, these fiberglass camper options are well worth it. Owners rave about their retro-feel and quality construction.
You can’t go wrong with purchasing a fiberglass camper from these companies. They’ve proven through the years to produce top-quality trailers. Which brand will you go with when you step into the world of egg-shaped, vintage-looking fiberglass camper shells? Tell us in the comments!
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