One thing about trout fishing in Michigan… the fishing always seems best when the sun goes down. Blame it on the fussy brown trout and the habit of the larger ones to come out hunting for a high-calorie meal after dark. Or the Hex Madness — which always gets really good at about the time you’re reduced to fishing with a little headlamp on your hat, the tiny cone of light bobbing here-and-there as you try to get your shaking fingers to tie big, crunchy flies to thin fluorocarbon tippet.
Anyway, if you’re a night angler — and you probably are — you also probably do your fair share of camping along the trout streams of Northern Michigan. I’ve slept in my car, slept under my car, in tents (good ones and leaky ones), and even once just slept on the ground with my bag up over my head. You do what you gotta do, right?
Having turned 40 this year, I have to admit that my days of sleeping on the ground are about over. I wake-up feeling sore and stiff all over and still feel that way two days later. I’m ready for comfort camping with all that entails.
I bring all this up because there are some new (and not-so-new) products on the market that have grabbed my attention as of late. I’m not ready for a Winnebago yet, but the new SylvanSport ‘Go’ is sure looking interesting. Branded as ‘moble adventure gear’ the SylvanSport is basically a pop-up camper on Steroids. Retail priced at just over $6,000, the ‘Go’ offers up the ability to function not only as a camping trailer/tent, but is designed to be accessorized in ways that expand the functionality of the trailer. I like the look and feel of this trailer, and I really like the fact that it weighs only 800 lbs. and offers over a foot of ground clearance, making it an easy and fuel-efficient item to tow with most any vehicle.
The ‘Go’ also offers an integrated roof rack system to take some of the load off your car’s regular rack, self-lubricating hubs, diamond-floor plating, an 800 lbs. load capacity (sure can get a giant pile of fly rods in an 800 lbs. space!), and lockable waterproof gear storage. Plus it looks kinda cool.
Another somewhat more robust option to consider is either the T@B Microlite teardrop trailer or the T@DA trailer. My wife was the first to spot these on the road, and the design and feel of them harken back to the classic look of 1950s and 1960s camping trailers, but with a very contemporary flair.
T@Bs and T@DAs are just plain cool-looking, or at least I think so. Although the T@B is substantially heavier than the ‘Go’ it is also much more durable, and — here is something to consider — if you also fish Out West (like Yellowstone National Park) then you really need to consider getting a hardshell solution like the T@B because the National Park Service restricts many areas to campers whose equipment can handle the interests of a grizzly bear.
The T@B has some other things going for it as well. The interior ceiling height is 5’9″ — I’m over 6′ tall, and so I would still have to stoop a bit, but for most people this height will be very comfortable. Also the ‘AluFiber’ skin of the T@B covers foam insulation, which means better temperature regulation on chilly Michigan nights.
The T@DA is even more robust and standard gear includes a 22 gallon freshwater tank, an interior SNEV sink and LP stove combination, a wet bath with integrated toilet, and hardwood-framed cabinets. Options include a shower system in the bathroom, a 12,000 BTU LP furnace, a Cool Cat air conditioner with heat pump, an AM/FM/CD stereo system, a 3-way refrigerator, microwave, rool-away screen door, bike rack, and even a 15″ flatscreen TV/DVD combo so you can watch ‘A River Runs Through It’ when you’re not actually fishing.
The price of the T@B and T@DA is not for the weak-hearted (the T@DA seems to come in at around $20,000), though when you compare it to other products of the same class it is certainly in the ballpark, and certainly cheaper than a trout cabin on the Holy Water.