I tend more towards backpacking than car camping, yet the ability to bring a basecamp—a home—with me on trips has always been appealing to me. I am lucky enough to be married to a wife who has shared that appeal, and so a little over a year ago, after watching the progression of small camping trailers becoming more and more popular, we finally decided to dive in and purchase a trailer I’d been following for quite a few years now, the Cricket:
I had always fantasized about TAXA Outdoor’s Cricket Trailer. This little gal was a perfect home away from home. And we chose it for a few reasons.
- Weight. The Cricket starts at around 1500 pounds. With 125 pounds of water weight, and around 200–300 pounds of gear, that kept it under 2000 lbs, and safely within the weight class of our Subaru Outback.
- Size. Like weight, we wanted something that would be easy to tow. The Cricket is about the size of a car, which means we can often fit in tent camping spots. And even if both our Cricket and Car can’t fit, often we can park elsewhere and just walk back to the Cricket
- Toilet. Specifically, a lack there of. We are backpackers, so we don’t shy away from pooping in the woods. And we’d rather that than having to deal with emptying a black water tank. And much of the time, we are camping at state and national parks, which have facilities there.
- Focused on the Outside. This camper has only the basic indoor supplies: a bed, a small table, a counter, a sink, a stove, and a furnace. It’s a place for us to come back to and rest, not the place we will be spending out time. Our goal with the camper is to get outside and see stuff.
In the little over a year we owned our Cricket, we took 23 trips, from quick trips to Dash Point, to a two week road trip through Jasper, Banff, and Glacier National Parks. We towed the Cricket 7,076 miles and spend 55 nights sleeping in our small home away from home. We camped through snow, rain, wind, and sun. And we loved every minute of it.
Since then, we have moved on to a new member of the TAXA family, the Mantis. You can read more about our first trip with the Mantis. And keep a look out for our more in-depth tour of and initial modifications to the Mantis in the near future. But for now, I wanted to take an opportunity to remember our Cricket and why we loved her so much.
Why the Cricket was Better
First, let’s talk about some advantages of the Cricket over the Mantis
1. Smaller IS Better
Size and weight are definitely one of the advantages of the Cricket. It was so compact that it was easy to get it into tight spots, including rough narrow roads. It’s size also made it very easy to see around. We never had tow mirrors attached to our Outback, and had no problems seeing around it (though I do appreciate the tow mirror for seeing what is directly behind the trailer). And the Cricket is so light, if you have trouble getting it somewhere, you can simply disconnect it from the car and push it around. If I don’t line up the hitch perfectly with the coupler, I can even just give it a lift and put it in the right position.
The Mantis, on the other hand, is a bit big to easily push around. Although it may be possible, I’d definitely want some extra bodies to help. Additionally, it does take some more agility out of our movement when we are towing it. That can be a challenge, and I definitely appreciate the Cricket more now that I’ve towed the Mantis.
Along the same lines of weight, the tongue weight on the Cricket was also perfect. Our new Mantis drags the back of our car down too much, so we need a weight distribution hitch to keep things even keel.
2. The Swing Up Back Door
Oh the beauty of that back door! The swing up door in the Cricket is a marvel. For starters, it makes getting gear in and out of the Cricket a breeze, especially big things like the mattresses. It also allows for a lot more access to storage from the outside for things like hoses, power cables, chocks, and supports. The small compartment that can be accessed from the outside on the Mantis is too small, especially making it difficult to get coiled up power cables and water hoses from in and out of there. And to make matters worse, the lock on that compartment is different than the door, so I now have another key I need to carry.
But the swing up door is also great for the views. On sunny days, with a good view out the back, you can swing the whole door up and let the fresh breeze regenerate you. The Mantis still does a really great job letting you feel outside even if you are inside, but I do still miss that door. I will note that on rainy days or dusty roads, the door was not great at funneling water outside the Cricket. When open, we would often get a puddle of water, and once a pile of dust, on the ends of our mattresses.
3. No Toilet!
Yes, you read that right. A lack of a toilet was a plus in our book. We did not want to deal with cleaning and emptying black water tanks on a regular basis. We appreciated having only a gray water tank to deal with. Now the Mantis does not have a black water tank, it has a cassette toilet, which is probably one of the two toilets I’d rather be dealing with in a camping trailer, and we have chosen to avoid going #2 in it, but it still has the potential to be a gross mess. (The other toilet I’d consider, by the way, is a composting toilet. They really appeal to me.)
4. Keep it Simple
There is something to be said about merely keeping the Cricket simple. It was a bed that converts into a small dinette, a kitchenette, and that’s about it. The simplicity of the Cricket meant that our creativity was focused more outside than in. The Tiger Moth is like a tent on wheels. The Wooly Bearis at tent on wheels. The Mantis is a mobile home. The Cricket lies between those. It’s nice because you can cook dinner inside, staying warm when it’s cold outside, but there isn’t a focus on the inside. That’s not to say the Mantis is makes us lazier, but with two fold up couches, counter space, room for people to sit on computers, it’s a little easier to be able to stay inside. The Cricket struck a nice balance, and we will definitely miss it.
So, to whoever ended up becoming the new owner of our Cricket, we wish you the best of journeys together. We will miss her, but we are glad for the time we had.