The GO camper by North Carolina-based SylvanSport is nothing like your parents' fifth-wheel. In fact, the one-of-a-kind mobile adventure trailer is billed as being "more versatile than a Swiss Army knife." At 800 lbs, the combination trailer-camper-hauler can be pulled around by even the smallest of car. The trailer is so light that when you get to your campsite, you can un-hitch from your vehicle and maneuver it around by hand into that perfect—yet hard to reach—camping spot.
"In 2004 I saw what was going on in the outdoor recreation world," explained SylvanSport Founder and President Tom Dempsey, who I recently spoke with via telephone. Dempsey, who has a long background in kayak and RV design, joined forces with Tom Reeder and Kyle Mundt and in 2005 began designing and experimenting with campers that were lighter, easier to hitch and tow, and appealed to the gear-loving adventure-seeking set that had been all but ignored by mainstream RV manufacturers.
"The RV industry was not responding to some of the big changes happening," said Dempsey, siting skyrocketing fuel prices, changing attitudes towards the environment and a desire to have efficient, multi-purpose designs that allow the camper to do more than collect dust when not in use. And in 2007, after quite a bit of testing and refining, SylvanSport unveiled the GO camper in its current form.
Designed like a piece of gear you would find in an outfitters store like a backpack or a kayak, the all-aluminum frame of the 840-lb. GO is so small and light just about every vehicle on the road can tow it. But the light weight doesn't mean the trailer bounces around. With a high quality suspensions system and a torsion axle that is designed specifically for the trailer's weight range, the GO does not bounce around, meaning it is safe for even the smallest of vehicles. And for people who have never towed anything before, the automatically-engaging hitch coupler makes towing a snap. LED lights embedded that shine on the wheels that not only look cool at night, but they allow the driver to easily check the cargo and see the wheels.
The Kelty tent structure sets up in about ten minutes, though with some practice, Dempsey tells me the tent can be set up in about six. For added coverage in the event of rain or sun, the GO's awning can be spun around and zipped to the back of the tent, creating a large shaded vestibule area. Inside the tent structure, a self-inflating air mattress equal to a King-size and a half of sleeping surface feels nothing like that hard and lumpy tent bottom you might find with a traditional tent. When not in use the tent stows cleanly into the roof's storage box.
So this thing would be cool even if it was just a camper, but it's not.
The camping pod can be removed in a matter of seconds with no tools. A simple twist of the post and you have a utility trailer that will tow 1,000 lbs. of gear, construction supplies, heavy equipment, or anything else you might need a trailer for. It is that utilitarian edge that Dempsey says sets the GO camper apart from any other camper-trailer out there.
The GO requires no packaging, no prep. For $6,195 it literally rolls off the truck and into your driveway, ready to go. Dempsey tells me the GO has been appealing to a couple different groups, thus far. First, there are the people who are active adventurers who want more simplicity in how they carry their gear but don't want to go the RV route. In some cases, the GO trailer has even allowed for better vehicle mileage with gear and bicycles in tow than that same vehicle was getting with the gear on the roof.
The second group of buyers who have shown interest in the GO are at the opposite end of the spectrum. These are the folks who are downsizing and simplifying out of the RV world.
By employing a direct selling approach, meaning not selling via a network of dealers, means that Dempsey and his crew have direct interactions with everyone who has bought one of the campers. And so far, the feedback has been quite positive. "Every single one we've sold," says Dempsey, "I cannot think of a single customer who has not been happy with their purchase.