Built in the Blue Ridge: Silver Tears Campers

By Patrick McKee - Anchor

ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - Roanoke-based Silver Tears Campers builds a classic camper that's making a comeback and it's Built in the Blue Ridge.

Tear drop campers were popular after World War II because they were easy to build and lightweight, but when the Interstate Highways System was founded, people turned to larger campers and RVs.

Now tear drops are returning to favor partially because their aerodynamic design allows the car pulling them to use less gas.

“They are low profile. They only sleep two and their fuel economy is amazing, because of the low profile, you have a lot less wind drag,” said company President John Davis.

Davis built the first one for himself, not wanting to deal with the hassle up setting up camp.

“I got tired of setting up tent, food, two kids,” said Davis.  “I wanted to get on the trails and ride when we'd go to land rover meets.”

The next one he built was for Orvis.

After that, things took off and the company has been building more and more each year.

“What makes the camping trailer unique is it's only around 800 pounds," said Davis. “The body we actually make in our metal shop and one person can pick the body up and bring it across the street to our chassis and marry the two together with one hand which is kind of neat.  It has a ton of storage space.  It has storage in the front and the rear and a full galley in the back which is set up for a full kitchen, prep station, wash station, just about everything you need right here.  You just need something to tow it with.”

Prices range from about $13,000 for a basic model to $50,000 or more, depending on how you want it customized.

Customizations which include a camper for hunting and one for tailgating.

The tailgater is their most popular version. It's good for events or tailgating at ball games. It's easy to setup and it’s easy to tear down.  Once you finish your event, you take everything off the bar and you start pushing it back in.  Close everything up and then you're hooking it up to your car and off to your next location.

It's the specialty campers that has helped the company receive a lot of publicity, such as being featured in magazines like Garden and Gun, Vanity Fair and other national publications.

It even caught the attention of The Travel Channel.

"We did a great segment with those guys,” said Davis. “They even took one to the beach and did a whole beach bikini thing with them. That's really done us a lot of good. We're still getting mileage off of that, because they still run those segments.”

Much of the company's business comes from outside the United States in places like Germany and South America.

They are hoping to build their business in the states by spreading the word about the original tear drop camper.

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