ALNA — Forrest and Sydney Faulkingham waited years to buy the camper that would allow them to see the country in their retirement years. When they finally saw the used teardrop trailer they planned to buy in a driveway in Ohio, Sydney Faulkingham already had buyer’s remorse.

Until she looked inside.

“When I first saw it, I thought, ‘How can I live in that tin can?'” she said. “We had been tenting for years. But I wasn’t prepared for just how small it was. But when I opened the door and stepped inside, it was like a ballroom. It was huge inside.”

The Faulkinghams are part of a new breed of campers purchasing teardrop trailers, the tiny retro trailers of the 1930s and ’40s that are small on space, and big on character and fun.

These compact campers are roughly 6 feet wide, 10 feet long, generally less than 6 feet tall, and shaped like a teardrop. And even with a queen-sized bed, kitchenette, storage cabinets, toilet and shower, they weigh as little as 1,600 pounds, making them easy to tow.

“I’ve actually seen a motorcycle towing them,” said Sheila Buck, co-owner of Beaver Dam Campground in Berwick.

Maine campground owners say they’ve seen an increase in teardrop trailers in the past five to six years, a growing trend in one of the nation’s most popular outdoor activities. Forty-four percent of North American households go camping at least once a year, according to a 2015 report sponsored by Kampgrounds of America.

“We’re seeing more and more teardrops year after year,” said Jim Wakefield, owner of Hemlock Grove Campground in Kennebunkport.

“They are easy to back up and you don’t have to deal with the setup like with a pop-up trailer. Those used to be the popular campers. It’s funny when you look at teardrops, they look small, but when you look inside, they really are utilizing every single inch of the thing.”

Teardrop trailers are not inexpensive, running as much as $20,000 and up. They are in hot demand on the second-hand market.

“They’re finely engineered,” said Rick Harrington, manager at Moody Beach RV Resort in Wells. “They’re beautiful. When you see them at an RV show, there are always people going in them. They’re cute as heck.”

Jeffrey Parsons, co-owner of Bethel Outdoors Adventure Campground, believes “teardrop folks” are a breed apart, campers who put a high value on adventure and waste no time with creature comforts.

“Unlike their Big Rig cousins, they leave the kitchen sink behind,” Parsons said. “They’re great folk. We enjoy them a lot. And they are the kind who will park in the parking lot of the Appalachian Trail and spend a day hiking.”

The Faulkinghams, who live in Alna near Maine’s midcoast, fit the profile.

On their journey early this fall, they never stayed at a motel and never took a day off from traveling. They had everything they needed in their teardrop.

“She had coffee in bed every morning,” Forrest Faulkingham said, smiling at his wife.

“He made coffee in bed every morning,” Sydney Faulkingham said with a smirk.

For eight weeks the couple lived in an 11-foot-by-6-foot camper that held their queen-sized bed, a small kitchenette, a toilet and shower, and minimal storage space. They bought it used for $14,000.

Family and friends placed bets they’d never make it as far as Michigan camping in it.

But to the Faulkinghams, married 47 years, it was a tiny piece of heaven.

“She’s always been my best friend. But I think this two-month trip brought us closer,” Forrest Faulkingham said.

They stayed near Michigan’s Mackinac Island, they took a boat cruise along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Lake Superior, camped near the buffalo of South Dakota and went inside the giant Redwood trees of California.

Then they fell in love with the landscape of Kentucky and Tennessee when they arrived back east during fall foliage.

“It is unbelievable what a wonderful country this is,” Sydney Faulkingham said. “Everyone should see it. We were amazed.”

The Faulkinghams look back with wonder after their two-month trip across the country – and can’t wait for the next one. They were dumbfounded at the vast expanse of Kansas, the remarkable rock striation of the Badlands and the unparalleled view from Devils Tower in Wyoming. The teardrop trailer, which they named “Little Poo” after the dog that died before their trip, has become their ticket to great adventure.

“The only problem,” Sydney Faulkingham said, “we took far too much stuff. I brought six pairs of shoes, three pairs of sandals, two pairs of Crocs. No. You don’t need it. All you need is a pair of sneakers and a pair of sandals.”

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