Starling Travel

March 5, 2012

Teardrop Showdown: Little Guy Silver Shadow Vs. Camp-Inn 550

Filed under: Camping,Teardrops & Tiny Trailers — Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am

The two biggest producers of teardrop trailers are Little Guy Teardrop Trailers and Camp-Inn Teardrop Travel Trailers. Both of them make retro-styled trailers, but which one is better? Is it worth it to drive all the way to Wisconsin to buy a Camp-Inn? Is it better to just go to a local dealer for a Little Guy? Starling Travel is judging these trailers to answer just that using these criteria: Retro Styling, Kitchen Features, Pricing, and Availability.

Continue reading for the rest of the story:

Retro Styling

I’ve found that the whole reason I’m attracted to teardrop trailers is because of their retro style, but which trailer is the best for retro styling? The Little Guy Silver Shadow looks silver, like an old Airstream trailer, but in person, it doesn’t shine like one.

The Camp-Inn 550 Base Model, however, is VERY shiny with a lovely aluminum exterior.

The Camp-Inn 550 Classic (which has some cool extra features), however, has an ugly storage lump on the front, interrupting the streamlined style. Even though the Little Guy has less storage, it looks better than the 550 Classic with that lump on the front.

In the end, however, the shiny aluminum exterior and the uniquely shaped windows of the Camp-Inn wins the retro-styling section of the competition.

Retro-Styling Winner: Camp-Inn 550

Kitchen Features

Both Little Guy and Camp-Inn have minimalist kitchens on their base models. The Little Guy kitchens are simply a shelf in the back of the trailer.

Their upgraded kitchen has an 8 gallon water tank, a sink with pump, a 12V refrigerator and a pull-out camp stove (you can’t see it in this photo because it’s in one of the drawers).

The Camp-Inn kitchen is really where it shines, quite literally, with a stainless steel kitchen that looks like the kitchen in a fine restaurant. This is the base model, without any features, but it still is quite beautiful.

When you look at all the features of the upgraded kitchen, however, Camp-Inn has much more to choose from.

It has an 8 gallon water tank with a grey tank reservoir (the Little Guy just drains on the ground). There is a stainless steel wind guard for your camp stove.

There is a folding side table that gives you extra workspace near the sink.

There is also a cooler stand to the right of the kitchen to keep your cooler off the ground. Personally, I think this stand is a little too tall for a cooler. I would have a hard time reaching into it at that height. That table could be used for eating, however.

Camp-Inn even has a cutlery tray to organize your camping dishes.

What they DON’T have, however, is a small refrigerator, like the Little Guy upgraded kitchen does. Even without the fridge, Camp-Inn wins on kitchen features because they look better and have the options for tables that attach right to the trailer.

Kitchen Features Winner: Camp-Inn 550

Pricing

Pricing was quite difficult to come by. The Little Guy website doesn’t mention prices, so I had to find a local dealer, Mark Miller, to see what I could get, but their website was down. I had to keep looking until I finally got to Bretz RV in Montana. They had a fully upgraded Silver Shadow for $11,995.

Last month, at the RV show, Mark Miller offered a fully upgraded Silver Shadow for $8495, so it’s possible to get the best Little Guy has to offer for under $9000 if you’re looking carefully.

Camp-Inn, however, has their prices listed on their website here: Camp-Inn Teardrop Pricing

The Base model of the 550 is $8891, which doesn’t include any of the cool kitchen features. If you want those kitchen upgrades, you’ll pay something between $11,951 and $15,790.

As far as pricing goes, the Little Guy Silver Shadow is the clear winner.

Pricing Winner: Little Guy Silver Shadow

Availability

Not every state in the United States has a dealer for Little Guy, but more do than don’t. You can find your closest dealer here:

Camp-Inn, however, doesn’t deal with RV dealers. To buy one, you must pre-order it and wait 5-7 weeks while it is built. They will deliver it to you wherever you are, but you can’t just walk onto an RV lot and pick one up (or even look at one to see if you fit in the sleeping chamber). If you live in Wisconsin, however, you can visit their site and they probably have a couple of units to look at.

Availability Winner: Little Guy Silver Shadow

Conclusion: Which Is Better?

It’s a hard race to call. The Silver Shadow isn’t quite as pretty as the Camp-Inn 550, but I can walk into my local RV dealer and buy one off the lot without having to order it and go to Wisconsin to pick it up. The 550 isn’t as inexpensive as the Little Guy, but it has some cool things that the Silver Shadow doesn’t.

In the end, it’s a decision of beauty over convenience. Is it more important to you to be able to buy your trailer within driving distance of your home? Is it more important that your trailer reflect the sun like a WWII bomber? Only you can make that decision, but for me, I think I’ll stick with my tent.

All photos via:

24 Comments »

  1. Just curious if you have seen either a Little Guy or a Camp Inn trailer in person or if you are making the comparison based on photos pulled from the web.

    Adding this information to the review would help with whether this is really a credible review or just some internet surfing musings aimed at getting some blog hit.

    Comment by Curious — May 7, 2012 @ 6:53 pm

  2. I personally don’t currently own either, but I am familiar with both brands. This is my take. Quality of product/ Camp Inn hands down Custom order camp inn (thats all they make) design of product camp inn communication with manufacturer, designers Camp Inn customer service I don’t have experience here, as I haven’t had to contact either. Camp Inn does respond very quickly answering questions and you aren’t talking with someone hired off the street. You actually get to communicate with one of the owners.

    Those items mentioned above make Camp Inn’s higher selling price actually a better value. Oh yes, the price isn’t paying for dealer commision, or middle man commisions. Besides the trip to Necedah is a worth while trip. One gets to camp coming right out of the “Nest”

    Comment by George Hickox — May 7, 2012 @ 7:55 pm

  3. Camp-Inn does have a dealer and we are it. Poplar Hill RV. We sell only Camp-Inn and that is strictly because of the quality and customer service. We are located in Maine. We attempt to keep Camp-Inn models in stock for customers to see and purchase. that being said I will say that it is difficult to keep these in stock. A little more research would have enhanced your article. Thanks, Alan Hill

    Comment by Alan Hill — May 8, 2012 @ 6:56 am

  4. We have seen both campers. Little Guy is a nice unit. For those who want an economical, bare bones trailer you can trick out yourself, this is the one for you.

    We have a Camp-Inn.

    After seeing one in person, the quality and amenities plus the wonderful personal service and support makes it well worth the extra cost. The Camp-Inn folks don’t just sell a trailer then leave you hanging in the ozone. Support is a phone call or e-mail away.

    By the way, you can get a refrigerator unit and as for reaching into the cooler when it is on one of the tables…well, I am five foot three and I have no problems.

    Sue and Jim

    Comment by Sue and Jim — May 8, 2012 @ 2:18 pm

  5. “as for me I will stick with my tent” I have been a tenter all my life but now in my 70′s with some handicaps I love my Camp-Inn. 2 women traveling together we feel safer in a locked cabin that is comfortable and beautiful. When traveling we can pull up at a campsite and be in a comfortable bed in 15 minutes or ready to eat pretty quickly. Our Camp-Inn makes it possible for us to enjoy our country.

    Comment by Pat — May 8, 2012 @ 3:32 pm

  6. I researched both tears before finally settling in on a Camp-Inn which by the way was purchased from an RV dealer Poplar Hill out of Maine. Poplar Hill arranged for a factory pickup in Necedah, WI.

    While you pay more for the Camp-Inn in our case a 550 Ultra, you get what you pay for in this case QUALITY. Not to mention after point of sale service. The only issue I have had was a defective kitchen light, and with one Email I had a replacement on the way and installed in less than a week.

    The Camp-Inn isn’t just the Cadilac of teardrops, its a Rolls Royce. Most people I know rarely are able to purchase the best of class whether it be an automobile or anything for that matter, Camp-Inn is the exception. I have had owners of $300,000 motor homes spend an hour ogling the Camp-Inn amazed at the quality and finish, I am not sure if that would happen with the Little Guy. Last but certainly not least, at the end of the day when rain is in the forcast, I can relax on a very comfortable bed, turn on the built in LCD TV to watch a vintage Western, or read a good book, while of course feeling bad about the people lying on the hard ground in their damp tents.

    Comment by Leo — May 9, 2012 @ 10:51 am

  7. @Curious: I have seen the Little Guy trailers in person, but not CampInn. Since I live in the west, it’s nearly impossible to see a CampInn trailer without driving out to Wisconsin.

    @Pat: I actually lost that argument with myself and we now own a teardrop trailer as well. I talked about it in detail, here: http://www.starling-travel.com/2012/03/31/teardrop-american-outbacker-our-dream-teardrop-trailer/

    @Sue and Jim: I didn’t see that a refrigerator unit was available. Thanks for the update!

    Comment by Laura Moncur — May 10, 2012 @ 10:40 am

  8. Actually, it’s pretty easy to see a Camp-Inn, no matter where you live. Just call Camp-Inn & they will put you in touch with an owner in your area who is happy to show you their teardrop. There are about 200 Camp-Inns scattered around west of the Rockies, with 6 of them in Utah, 3 within easy driving distance of Utah Valley (one in Spanish Fork).

    Looks like you had a great time at Utah Lake State Park. We’ve camped there several times. Very nice facilities. It’s really changed over the years & has much nice facilities now.

    Really enjoyed reading some of your travel blogs!

    Comment by Betsey — May 10, 2012 @ 7:35 pm

  9. Laura,

    Thank you for the clarification. I apologize for the sarcasm of my first comment. It is my belief that if you had actually seen a Camp-Inn, they would have won on price as well. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. I also live in the West and am a Camp Inn owner. Prior to my purchase it was very easy to arrange to see a Camp Inn as Betsey describes. I think it would have been interesting if you had compared the teardrop you purchased with ones you have seen like the Little Guy including the reasons why you chose your teardrop.

    Comment by Curious — May 16, 2012 @ 9:25 am

  10. @Curious

    No problem. I realize it’s really difficult to make a decision about anything if you haven’t had a chance to see it and I’m a little embarrassed that I didn’t mention that fact in the original review.

    Thanks for reminding me!

    Comment by Laura Moncur — May 16, 2012 @ 9:43 am

  11. I did my research for at least 3 months before deciding on a Little Guy Silver Shadow. If you have unlimited funds and can afford a Rolls Royce, then you are much different than me. The folks at Little guy helped me a lot, while the Camp-Inn people seemed like snobs.

    Comment by Larry Scott — June 9, 2012 @ 12:15 pm

  12. Larry,

    Glad to hear you have joined the ranks of teardroppers & found one that meets your needs. Part of the fun of it is seeing the variety of teardrops in use, whether they are original, home built or manufactured.

    It sounds like you had a bad experience with Camp-Inn. I’m curious as to what left you with an unfavorable impression. Would you be willing to share?

    Comment by Betsey — June 11, 2012 @ 10:07 am

  13. I have a little guy base model, and I am upgrading to the 560 raindrop ultra. Yes its a big jump but I want the best of the best.

    Comment by Cindy — June 25, 2012 @ 8:34 am

  14. I am very interested in the article that you wrote. To provide inspiration and knowledge to my order. Continued to write. I like your writing

    Comment by Pin Bot — July 22, 2012 @ 1:41 pm

  15. HI, I have a 550 Teardrop and love it. We just returned from Canada and have used it for several trips. I agree that the Camp-Inn may be more expensive, it is very well built and can stand up to the use during camping. The kitchen is awesome. I take issue with the comment that the Camp-Inn guys are snobs. I found them to be quite nice and very helpful. I have no trouble getting into the cooler when it is on the table.

    Comment by Lee Kirk — August 3, 2012 @ 5:23 pm

  16. I also take issue with the poster who considers the Camp-Inn folks to be snobs. I’ve had several discussions and correspondences with them and they could not have been more receptive and helpful. They are known to be completely supportive of all teardroppers, and gladly offer any needed advice to people who wish to build their own. To me, that sort of exemplifies the kind of business I like to associate with.

    Comment by Timothy — September 2, 2012 @ 8:18 am

  17. Little Guy Trailers are cheaply made, will fall apart and their headquarters customers service is terrible!! I bought my little guy retro in GA. and then drove it across the county to my home of san Francisco. The trailer started to have a weird smell in it only 2 weeks after I got it. It became worse and worse and I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. Finally I pulled off the cheap particle board that was covering the tail lights to find black and orange mold covering the entire back end about 5 inches deep. I had been sleeping in that trailer on a regular basis and was experiencing a lot of health problems. I called the headquarters to speak with the head guy there..he told me that they had a lot of reports of the back tail lights leaking AND then reported that they were not obligated to fix it. Finally after getting a lawyer involved I was issued a new trailer 8 months later that I had to pay another 1000$ for and now this one after it’s first trip in the desert, the molding is falling off because the putty they used has melted. These are very cheaply made with shoddy workmanship..stay clear if you want a trailer that will last.

    Comment by cinthia — May 14, 2013 @ 12:43 pm

  18. To Cinthia above ^^^ – Baloney! Little Guy stands behind their product line and will go above and beyond to help their customers and remedy any problems! I have owned two Little guy’s a 4-wide and a 5-wide and have not only exceptional customer service, but have thoroughly enjoyed both trailers and have traveled upwards of 25K miles around the US with no major issues. Show me a company that will help customers after the warranty has expired as I know the president, Joe Kickos and Joe has gone above and beyond repeatedly to help satisfy customers. Since you are from California, the land of fruits and nuts, maybe you would be better suited for a 40′ behemoth, gas guzzling motor home with your snooty attitude!? Seriously, you sound like a pampered, whiny individual and I seriously doubt that anyone or anything would ever satisfy your selfish little wants! Your issue is random, not something experienced in every Little Guy and I know many folks who have purchased these units, are fully satisfied and have had years of enjoyment with these units because they are made by the Amish and made with pride!

    Comment by Mike — July 23, 2013 @ 5:56 am

  19. I am in the process of reviewing and selecting a camp trailer. While I have not seen the Silver Shadow line in person, I have seen the T@G and T@B (which are both made by Little Guy) in person as well as a Camp Inn 560 Ultra.

    From a price perspective, the Little Guy stuff is cheaper but still start at $9K and go up from there and seem to peak at about $15K (at least at dealers near me). So, the actual difference in comparable units is not a vast as you might think.

    From an availability, yes, you have to wait for the CI to be built where you can buy Little Guy off the lot.

    From a quality perspective? Vastly different levels of quality. The CI product was significantly better in terms of materials used and quality of finished product. The Little Guy felt like a smaller version of a typical trailer or RV. It did not feel solid at all. The CI product on the other hand felt completely different. It was extremely well made and amazing attention to detail.

    As for service, both seem to provide good service. What bothers me is the quality control issues. I have yet to find any critical reviews from owners of the CI product…while it might seem odd, if you look at the quality of construction, it fits. Quality build will have little to 0 negative reviews from owners. However, doing a search on Little Guy, I found a number of critical comments and videos on poor quality control issues. The good news is that Little Guy responded quickly to resolve issues and owners were then happy. I get things might break over time but I am talking about brand new trailers that have issues before ever being used. This is the distressing part to me. I am glad the company responded so quickly and favorably but if you are spending $10K+, do you really want/expect to have issues before you even take it out camping?

    Just my thoughts. And yes, I am leaning on spending the extra money to get the CI because it just seems like a much better product.

    Comment by Javabri — February 4, 2014 @ 10:56 am

  20. Those Camp Inns look fantastic, there’s a guy “Doggonerunning” on youtube that does some video’s with his Camp Inn. Super nice!!! I am also debating about a Little Guy Silver Shadow or another brand “Tex’s Teardrops” here in Texas.

    Comment by RufusEarl — March 10, 2014 @ 9:14 pm

  21. Mike above ^^^^^ “Since you are from California, the land of fruits and nuts, maybe you would be better suited for a 40′ behemoth, gas guzzling motor home with your snooty attitude!?” WTF? How is that comment relevant?

    Comment by Boston Phil — March 30, 2014 @ 12:20 pm

  22. Prices, please on say, camp-in 550?

    Comment by Mick Addington — April 12, 2014 @ 5:14 pm

  23. camp-inn 550 ultra just sold for 19k plus on ebay – and that was sold by camp-inn (themselves), their comment was that if you wanted one of these new, you would have to wait until August 2014 to pick it up and it would cost at least 21K. They look like they’re very well built and with great reviews – but to put everything in perspective, I could buy three new LG models for that price – and yes, I understand the LG may not have the same “bells and whistles”, or even the same “attention to quality” build.

    Comment by Frankster — May 27, 2014 @ 2:53 pm

  24. follow up, I’m not looking for a Rolls Royce teardrop, I’m looking for a place to sleep the night, kinda like a motel 6 on wheels…

    Comment by Frankster — May 27, 2014 @ 3:05 pm

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