Part tent, part RV, the NASA-inspired Cricket Trailer is the go-to camper for the modern road tripper.
Garrett Finney, a Houston entrepreneur, is the architect behind the adorably minimalist Cricket Trailer.
Finney, a former space architect with NASA, said he wanted to make a camper trailer that took the outdoor and recreation vehicle industry in a new direction.
In 1999, architect Garrett Finney landed a dream job at NASA. As a habitation module designer, he mocked up rest-eat-sleep spaces for astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
Four years later, however, when he realized his capsule would never see the light of day, let alone the dark of space, he left NASA and turned his attention to a new venture, reports Dwell.
Combining his small-space expertise and backpacking background, Finney designed the Cricket Trailer, a small, self-contained pop-up camper. It’s his response to bigger-is-better RV culture.
“People are buying the biggest thing they can afford instead of buying the thing that best suits their needs. People are not buying a house on wheels. The whole point is to have an adventure,” Finney says.
The Cricket is a kind of hybrid tent and trailer, made of aluminum, wood and steel, with a pop-up style roof.
“It’s not a house on wheels but a portable adventure living space,” he says.
Each trailer weighs between 1,000 and 1,500 pounds and costs from $10,000 to just under $18,000 depending on how heavily it’s outfitted.
Customers can dictate exactly what they want in their Cricket, but it appears a tiny dining table, couch/bed, shower/toilet, stove, and sink seem to be the standard.
The hard shell exterior is also strong enough to allow a couple of hammocks to be strung up inside for extra sleeping space for kids.
I love them for their slightly ramshackle nature, almost like they’ve been built piece-by-piece by different people.
“I fabricate the shell and you make the dozen decisions that make the trailer work for you,” Finney says.
The name Cricket was inspired by an early design sketch, in which the lifts on the pop-up looked like the legs of the insect.
Finney said most of the people who are buying Cricket trailers have never bought a trailer before. In describing the company’s philosophy, he harkened back to the old 7-Up ads from the 1970s.
“We thought to ourselves, ‘What kind of camping trailer would an REI customer buy? The RV industry is big and bloated in a way. We’re trying to be a un-RV,” Finney says. “We have fewer amenities, but we like to think they’re the right amenities. You can leave your house at home.
“We want to be the thing that’s coming at this industry from left field. We can build a better mousetrap. There are all these systems that we didn’t build into Cricket because you already own the gear. But that doesn’t mean the form needs to be generic.”
And it takes just 20 seconds to set up once you’ve arrived at camp, which basically involves popping up the roof which is made extra easy with the assistance of automatic gas pistons.
In January, Cricket found its first distributor, Princess Craft, a woman-owned business out of Pflugerville (Texas) that specializes in smaller, unique campers, trailers, and RVs, the Houston Press reports.
Finney said that since partnering with Princess Craft they sold out of trailers two months in advance and they’re now trying to catch up to orders.
PJ Buerger, owner of Princess Craft, said Cricket fills a need she’s seen develop over the past few years.
“I think the lightweight trailers have become a much broader market in the past five years. There are RVs that have everything and do everything—Cricket is not one of those. It’s made to give you all the basic things you need. It really appeals to people who don’t want a set of nice curtains and a granite-looking countertop,” she said.
“(Cricket) is another piece of gear.”
Although the Cricket is earthbound, the results are out of this world.
Cricket is a lightweight pop-up trailer, a covered wagon for the New Frontier. Let Cricket take you on a versatile, stowable, affordable, environmentally-thoughtful, outdoor adventure.
Address: 3110 Houston Avenue, Houston, Texas 77009
Phone: (713) 861-2540
Find what brings you joy and go there.