As the kids play “store” out of the cottage looking “farmer’s” half-swing door I can’t help but smile at their playfulness and imagination. “Just be sure you don’t touch any of the buttons!” I remind them from beside our smouldering fire pit (the firewood was wet – of course). If they touch the wrong button there’s a good chance the trailer batteries would stop charging or worse, the power be drained altogether.
Our Homegrown Trailer sits cozily under a tall, gangly pacific northwest spruce tree in Ocean City State Park, Washington – about 2.5 hours southwest of Seattle. You can hear the faint roar of the surf not half a mile from our campsite – number 174 in Loop 4.
We’ve been given the Homegrown for a few days mid-August. The model’s name is Woodland (although the kids and us ended up naming it “Willow” for its abundant use of wood and, well, just because) the little guy is a 19’ travel trailer made by a bunch of cool cats out of Kirkland, Washington. It’s the kind of thing you’d see in “Cottage Life” magazine. Super cottagy from the outside, rustic on the inside. Well built, and very modern in it’s thinking all around.
Our relationship with Willow began the Monday morning of August 14th where we picked him up from Eric and Cory at the Homegrown manufacturing facility – a single bay commercial shop fitting snugly among other commercial businesses in a brown, single story and nondescript industrial building.
Saws and air-compression tools were abuzz in their workspace. We get a personalized tour from Eric as the kids take a bathroom break. “So how did this all start,” I ask him, checking out a newly constructed Homegrown that looks nothing like the one we’re getting. Apparently it’s the next generation version, the Timberline, that we should mention looks super cool, but only just launched. (For info check out their website homegrowntrailers.com)
“Cory wanted a different, more sustainable trailer to take his kids and family camping with,” says Eric. “No one out there made quite what he was looking for, so he built it himself. In his garage.”
Local and sustainably sourced timber make up the inside frame and exterior tongue-and-groove siding. A resin coating covers the entire unit protecting it from the elements. The rear of the trailer is low and sleek, making it very aerodynamic. Two-thirds of the roof pop-up from the rear, providing headroom for anyone under about six-foot, three inches at the back of the trailer. Makes sense, right?
Four flat, wafer-thin solar panels grace the top of the pop-up roof connected to a two-battery power bank and inverter, providing electricity for the entire unit. Immediately apparent are no signs of vents, exterior storage compartments or excessive decals and logos.
The farmer’s door has a keypad lock — kinda nice, actually. No fumbling with door and deadbolt keys necessary. But no door latch. “It’s an option,” says Eric, but something I could see being more useful as a standard feature.
“We offer the customer the ability to outfit as they’d like. When they get the trailer as a base package there’s a lot of customizing they can do to it.” That makes sense. And I can see how that could keep costs down and allow for more personalization.
On to the inside. Reclaimed hardwoods form the countertops, a single sink at the back of the trailer. No stove but we were provided with an electric induction cooktop. Three drawers and a couple of small(ish) shelves make for storage. Dimmable led lights throughout. Two super-stable lithium ion 1.2kWh batteries with the option to add up to five. A bunk bed that converts to a couch line the wall opposite the entrance door. A Queen bed graces the front of the trailer beside which is a divider and a composting toilet that faces into the trailer, right beside the entrance door.
It’s clean. It’s chemical-free. All the electrical outlets (with USB ports) you’d need. It’s refreshing!
We hit the road and head west. 2.5 hours later we’re scoping out our new home for the next three days and setting up camp. The kids are loving it.
Parking the trailer was smooth and uneventful. We had it levelled, popped the roof up, unpacked our gear and were sipping cool Washington State Pino Grigio in no time. But as we settled in and put things away, we couldn’t help notice the lack of storage. Many of our dry goods that wouldn’t fit in the two drawers or shelves had to sit on the countertop, which took counter space down to a minimum. There’s always the option of adding storage bins under beds.
Another negative I have to mention was the electrical system. We had no hookups, opting to put our Homegrown solar system and off-grid camping to the test. Even after a full bright sunny day followed by one cloudy day and minimal use of the cook-top, the system seemed stressed. So much so that our refrigerator kept overloading and shutting it down. I’m sure it was just a glitch, even Eric thought it was odd, and maybe more time with Eric learning about how it worked would have helped us troubleshoot it better. But still, no power after two days?
Ok, since we’re talking about pros and cons. Here’s a list of items we noted along the way:
- Great looks
- Homey feel
- Everything you really need in a trailer
- 400 watts Solar power
- Light weight at 2500 lbs (before gear)
- Composting toilet
- Mini fridge
- Outdoor prep/cooking area (this is what doubles as exterior storage or a bar)
- Sheep wool insulation
- No off-gassing
- No roof vents
- No A/C or furnace
- Minimal exterior and interior storage
- No gas/propane
- No awning
- Low ceiling height at the front of the RV
- Low entrance door (I hit my head numerous times)
- No grey water tank (must store in a container and then drain)
One thing was absolutely certain, we were the talk of the campground. We were amazed at how many rubber-neckers made a point to slow right down or even stop at the site of the trailer. Numerous times we were asked if we had built it ourselves. One lady even said we won for “best looking RV.” We were smitten!
As we wound down for the second night, kiddos completely exhausted from a sunny day at the beach finding decrepit sand dollars and building “Paw Patrol” sand castles, we were ready for another days adventure, this time by car. Headed to Astoria, Oregon and The Goonies house.
The Goonies were the quintessential adventurers — always ready, willing and able to head out on their next adventure. Not perfect, these kids of discovery and eternal youth take on the official challenge of finding “One-Eyed Willy’s” treasure. It’s a cult classic and I’m reminded about those same times I was a kid camping with the family, running off, exploring and getting dirty. Some of the best moments of our lives.
Thursday we drove back to Seattle to drop off Willow, feeling like we’ve had quite the adventure ourselves. Our mission successful since having experienced the Homegrown trailer – a little treasure in it’s own right.
Big thanks to Homegrown for inviting us to take their little camper for a spin!