Over the year we’ve been asked many different questions regarding the Cricket trailer. So many in fact that we decided to included this FAQ for those interested in purchasing a Cricket. We hope this helps in determining if the Cricket is right for you. If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask and we’ll do our best to answer them. As a quick background, both of us have done a lot of tent camping before buying this trailer. Because this is our first pop-up, or camper of any short, we don’t have much to compare it to. At the time of writing this, we have put over 25,000 miles on the Cricket in a years time.
I am interested in this fun little trailer. Anything you could tell me about your experience with the Cricket would be greatly appreciated!
Alexis: We love the Cricket, but we’ve learned its limitations too. Overall our experience has been mostly good. The Cricket is great for 3-season camping when you want to get way out in the wild and still be comfortable. Especially if your prior experience is with a tent! It is less good for extended travel living, because it is small and can be cold. Still, we’ve made it work about a year now — if your needs are simple, the Cricket can get all of them met.
We are currently taking a vacation form the Cricket, renting a room for two months, and seeing how we like it as a weekend camper instead.
What do you love about the Cricket?
Chris: Overall I think it’s a well designed and built trailer that should last a long time. We’ve taken it on all sorts of roads and its held up great. So far we’ve put 25,000 miles on it! If or when you do have issues (nothing’s perfect) they have great customer service. It’s a real eye catcher too and we always have people asking us about it while we are on the road.
Alexis:, One of the things we like about the Cricket compared to many other kinds of pop-up campers, is that you can go inside (to hang out, make lunch, sleep, whatever) even when the camper is closed for travel.
What don’t you like, or what are things you didn’t consider prior to buying the Cricket but wish you had?
Alexis: Living full time in the Cricket has definitely been a reality check for me, as far as living outdoors and in small quarters. Despite much research and consideration, I didn’t fully understand how many creature comforts we would be giving up by choosing the Cricket.
Chris: At first, I was surprised at how noisy the water pump was for the sink. Though now I think that is pretty normal for this style of trailer. Also see “Comfort” below.
How do you typically use the Cricket? How much time are you spending in it?
Alexis: We lived full time in the Cricket for about a year, while road tripping around the American west. Occasionally we checked into an Airbnb or a lodge (in cities or extremely cold places, for example) and sometimes we stayed with friends. We try to find free camping out in dispersed areas, but we also stay in campgrounds when we need to. (usually because no other options are available).
How comfortable is the Cricket?
Chris: As much as I’ve enjoyed this trailer, my biggest complaint is its comfort level if you’re just sitting inside of it. I don’t think it was designed to really hang out in and relax or work. Its table is small, specially for two people, and sitting is a bit awkward. This is especially true for long periods of time like if it’s cold or rainy. We usually prop several pillows up to lean against when sitting. It doesn’t bother Alexis as much, so it might be personal preference.
Do you have issues with the size?
Alexis: Sometimes the Cricket does feel small, although we find ways to deal with that — probably the best is being in beautiful, relatively warm places, and spending lots of time outdoors. We’ve mostly figured out how to both sit and work in the bed at night while not bothering each other too much. Headphones help me. It also seems like we’ve gotten used to it over time, so while it felt smaller at the beginning, it’s pretty comfortable now. We also find places to spread out and work (with wifi), like coffee shops and libraries.
Chris: I agree with Alexis, it can feel small for two people at times. I’ve used it for some solo trips and it’s great for one person. When two people are standing trying to do something, elbows start bumping, better to alternate with one standing and one sitting.
I’ve seen some of your posts on being cold… can you tell me more?
Chris: It’s definitely a three season camper. It’s definitely warmer than a tent but probably not as warm as a regular RV. We bought a little portable propane heater for very cold nights which takes the chill off and helps a lot, but because of the canvas top, the heat quickly escapes.
How do you cook?
Chris: I do most of the cooking outside on a two burner propane camp stove. We also bought a small fold up table to cook on which has been great. To save money and have less waist on propane, we use a 15lb tank instead of the little portable ones. We’ve had to refill it maybe only four-five times over the year. It’s much cheaper to refill the tanks than to exchange them. The few times we have cooked inside the trailer because of extreme weather, went ok. It’s always made me a bit nervous to cook inside with two burners. The space inside suddenly gets much smaller and I become much more aware of how quickly a fire could become disastrous. The fire detector works too well in this situation as well. Even when we have two candles burning on the counter, the heat will set the detector off. You either have to really open up all the screens or remove the fire detector.
How do you have the Cricket set up? Have you made any customizations?
Modifications that have been great include:
- We bought some bungie cargo nets to strap to the ceiling above the bed to store miscellaneous clothes and jackets. We don’t have the above-bed sleeping cot so I don’t know what that is like.
- Chris built a small open wooden box on the counter that we use to keep bottles of oil, alcohol, and other cooking liquids upright and in place so we don’t have to worry about them leaking somewhere else. We also attached a magnetic knife rack to the box so the knifes don’t rattle around and get dull.
- A slightly larger metal base in the front tongue-plate area so that we could keep our 15lb propane tank and a couple of ammo boxes (for extra storage of misc things) besides the storage box that comes with the Cricket (which has also been great). The only trouble with this is that we occasionally crunch it into the car’s rear bumper when making very sharp turns backing up.
After the first few months, it turns out we rarely use the small table and just keep the Cricket in bed mode.
We bought a padded mattress pad to lay over the bed cushions for extra comfort but only because this was going to be our home for over a year. Most people could probably do without that, especially if you are using sleeping bags in the Cricket.
Something we also pretty much never use is the hot water heater. It takes too long to heat up which also drains the battery faster. It’s faster to just heat up some water on a propane stove.
Chris also modified a tarp into an awning with some extension tent poles for a little extra shade. It is larger than the tarp that came optional with the Cricket.
See more detail also under cost & options.
How are you managing the toilet and fresh/gray water?
Chris: We opted not to get the composting toilet and instead when boondocking we just dig a hole and do our business. I realize this style isn’t for everyone.
As for the water, the cricket holds about twelve gallons and also has a twelve gallon grey water tank. We carry an extra ten gallons of fresh water in two five gallon cans which we use for drinking. If you don’t regularly clean out the fresh water tank in the Cricket, the water can taste a bit off. Even the in the manual, they say to use caution when drinking this water and if you do, to clean it out monthly or more.
We’ve found that it’s the grey water tank filling up that prohibits longer stays off the grid. We only do dishes in the sink and wash vegetables. If you do that outside you could stay out even longer. I think overall we don’t use much water so depending on how much you’re use to using you may get different results. You have to clean out the grey water tank somewhat regularly or else it will begin to stink, but that is easy to do. At the end of our year, I finally realized you could just place a bucket under the grey water drain and just let the water empty out directly into it instead of storing it in the tank. Then you just disperse the water as it accumulates. I’m sure this would keep the tank cleaner and resolve the issue of it getting full.
Alexis: The drain smell ended up becoming a bit of a problem, which it seems Chris solved by more rigorous and frequent cleaning and emptying of the tank, especially in really hot weather.
How long can you stay off the grid?
Chris: Between two batteries and a solar panel, we can keep a charge indefinitely in sunny weather. We bought a different solar panel than the one they sell, larger than the one you can get from Cricket. When conserving energy, we can stay out about 10 days without having to recharge or use the solar panel. The fridge is great by the way. Really energy efficient and we turn it off at night to save energy and things stay cold until morning. We were given three inflatable solar LED lights which work great. We use those every night instead of the trailer lights which helps save a little power.
COST & OPTIONS
What was the full delivered cost to you?
We paid a $21,500 for ours in January 2015.
What options did you order, and what do you recommend now?
Chris: Looking at their website, it looks like they’ve made some improvements in design so what we have might be a little different than what they’re selling now.
Alexis: The model we special ordered is described here. That includes the basic kit, a freight charge, and extras of a tongue box, roof rack, fridge, second battery and road kit. No child berths or toilet.
We love our fridge, it is super energy efficient and large enough to be functional for everyday needs. It also serves as a bedside table inside the Cricket, which is incredibly handy.
We would highly recommend the second battery, we find that the camper can run the fridge for at least a week without recharging if you have the second battery. If we are using more electricity (charging computers, for example) it goes sooner.
We also find the tool box (tongue box) to be very handy for storing things. My dad and Chris actually built a slightly larger storage platform on the tongue area and added a couple other boxes and a harness for our propane tank.
Chris thought the canopy they sell was somewhat small so we use our own tarp as a canopy outside, and that works well. Chris has rigged up ways to fasten it with cord that holds against most wind.
We bought our own solar panels (larger than what they sell with the Cricket) and a more powerful inverter, too. For our full time use this made sense, but probably isn’t necessary for someone doing just weekend trips.
Is the Cricket worth the expense?
Alexis: Because of the good design, I still think the Cricket was worth the cost. We have also found the company to be easy to deal with when we needed repairs under warranty. I like the Cricket so much better than any alternatives we have seen.
Have you had any issues with the Cricket?
Chris: We did have to do a little extra caulking on some seams after the first big rain, but since then we haven’t had any leaking.
We’ve only had one real problem with the trailer and that was both hinges for the roof cracked. We emailed their office in Houston and they immediately replied to us saying they would send us some heavier duty steel hinges. They said they would pay for someone to install them if we wanted but I just did it myself. If you’re handy with a drill and pop-rivet gun, you can fix just about anything on this trailer. The customer service was really good. They mailed us the hinges, a pop-rivet gun, rivets, and instructions on how to replace them. I have a feeling the steel hinges come standard now, so this shouldn’t be an issue anymore.
Another issue we’ve had is with the foam sealer/gasket between the roof and body. At the back, where the roof hinges, the seal has shifted, allowing water and dust to get in. Twice now, I’ve reattached it with heavy duty double sided tape, it’s held up so far after the second time. I think because this is where the roof moves the most, the foam sealer gets a lot of wear and tear. If it happens again, I might replace it with a new seal, just in the back.
I don’t now if this is standard with trailers or campers, but the Cricket didn’t come with its own tire wrench. I just assumed the tire wrench I had for the car would work for the trailer. I only realized later that I was wrong and needed to buy the correct size for the trailer tires.
How is the Customer Service?
Chris: I will say their customer service is great and any issues we have had, they are quick to reply and help fix.
Alexis: We found the company to be quick, responsive, and helpful.
What is the durability during typical 60 mph desert sand storms that rip apart tents like tissue paper?
Alexis: On the several times it’s been REALLY windy, we sleep with the top down because it’s quieter when the canvas sides aren’t flapping around. It’s perfectly comfortable with the top down. Once we left the Cricket popped up and unattended in 20-30 mph winds on the coast. We returned to find the tent siding had been pulled from the roof (it attached by velcro) and a kind camp neighbor had lowered the top for us so that no more damage would occur. Nothing was damaged and we were able to reattach the tent siding once the wind died down.
VEHICLE & TOWING
What do you tow the Cricket with?
Chris: We started towing with a 4 cylinder Subaru Outback and the Cricket did ok but struggled on the hills and we were limited on the type of dirt roads we could get on because of the car clearance. The Cricket actually had a higher wheel base than the car. Backing the trailer up into primitive camp sites with a standard transmission also put extra wear on the clutch sometimes. Now we use a Honda Ridgeline and feel like we can go just about anywhere and I can’t even tell I’m pulling anything.
How well does the Cricket tow?
Chris: We haven’t had problems getting the Cricket into any locations yet. The Cricket pulls really well even in strong side winds. We do find things get a bit discombobulated inside (clothes in the overhead nets fall down, for example) if we drive for very long on washboard dirt roads, but that’s no big deal.
I am wondering about the issues you had with your subbie in Wyoming. I also have a 4 cylinder subbie but we live at 7200 ft. half the year. No-one can tell me if the subbie will pull it up the mountain!
Alexis: The Subaru works just fine if you don’t plan to be in too many mountainous areas or off-roading. Or if you don’t mind going slow up steep hills. Still, we are glad we switched to a truck, there are places we have been that would have been challenging or impossible in the Subaru.
The issues were small though. Mostly, on our first big mountain pass, we went very slowly. Then we got off the main road, onto dirt forest roads, and at one point I stopped on an uphill because I wasn’t sure which way to go. That was a mistake, I had a hard time getting going again! (My guy did a better job of it. And we were driving a stick, which made it more difficult for me.)
We definitely worry less about “can we get in there” or more importantly, “can we get out” with the truck instead of the subbie. The peace of mind is nice.
Chris: As Alexis said, you can get by with a 4 cylinder 4WD but in the end, I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re just camping in developed campgrounds that are easy to get into. If you like to do dispersed camping or boon-docking which requires exploring dirt roads, you’d be better off with a 6 cylinder vehicle with a little more clearance. When we did our vehicle switch, it made a HUGE difference.
CRICKET VS. TENT OR RV
I’ve been keen on the Cricket for awhile as there’s little chance I’d want a white box camper, well, Ever. Part of me feels as though I should be okay with tent camping still. What do you think?
Alexis: We brought a tent with us, and we store it under the Cricket bed. We have only used it once, when we did one night “back country” in White Sands. We have both done a lot of tent camping in our lives, but we are getting older and the experience reminded us how luxurious the very basic Cricket bed is compared to the ground. We also are grateful for the Cricket on rainy or windy or cold nights and days — there have been many a moment that we look at bedraggled tents in a campground and feel grateful that we have something a little more substantial. And that’s not a white box!
Chris: The Cricket is the perfect hybrid between a tent and camper/RV. If your main reason for camping is to get outside and enjoy the outdoors without the hassle of a big heavy trailer but you prefer a little more comfort than what a tent can offer, then the Cricket is for you. Setting up camp is a breeze, freeing you packing and unpacking all the time.
We saw the Cricket trailer at a RV show. We’ve been considering downsizing from our RV to the Cricket so we could get to many more places. We find we don’t use most of our RV and we tow a Jeep Wrangler – so why not it ditch the big RV and take our Jeep/trailer anywhere we want to go? That’s our thought anyway. What do you think? How livable it is long term?
Chris: I think the Cricket is meant for people who plan on spending the majority of their time outside. It’s basically a hybrid between a tent and RV. Because of its small size, low weight, and high clearance, the Cricket is suited for people who want to get off the beaten path and want to spend more time outdoors than in their trailer. It is much more low maintenance than a full sized RV or fifth-wheel. It would work great for weekend trips or even a week or two for that extended camping trip. I’m concluding that for me, it’s best as a vacation camper, not a place to live.