What do TAXA Outdoors adventure trailers and the International Space Station have in common?
Finney is the founder and head designer at TAXA, which makes a range of trailers named after insects — Mantis, Cricket, TigerMoth, Wolly Bear — and designed for outdoorsy-types who are looking for something more rugged than your traditional camper trailer.
A former senior architect for the Habitability Design Center at NASA Finney has applied his know-how designing small space habitats to creating highly functional camping trailers — which he prefers to call “habitats.”
I met Finney at the TinyFest Expo in San Diego and he told me a bit about his philosophy on building adventure trailers and gave us a tour of the inside of the Mantis, the largest trailer in TAXA’s lineup.
“We call them habitats because, unlike RVs which generally try to be houses on wheels, we are adventure equipment that you sleep in,” Finney said. “Which means we’re really good at boondocking, we’re really good at going down a dirt road, and if you buy our overland editions, you can go even further down the dirt road.”
More below on what Finney highlighted about the Mantis and here’s video of the tour he gave me of the inside:
Finney explained that each of the habitat models comes with a more rugged suspension system than your typical camper trailer. For people looking for a full-on overlanding trailer, they offer options for each model with a beefed-up, axle-less suspension and Lock-n-Roll hitches for more articulation on rough roads, among other upgrades.
The Mantis, which has a pop-up roof, sleeps four people, feels airy inside thanks to large windows that run along both sides and the back of the trailer. It’s 19-feet long and, thanks to a lightweight steel and aluminum frame, weighs just under 3,000 pounds, meaning it can be towed by a fairly wide range of vehicles, including my Jeep Rubicon…
True to Finney’s background in space habitat design, the Mantis looks like something NASA would create. Clean, functional lines without a lot of unnecessary ornamentation are defining factors on the outside, and that aesthetic extends to the interior.
The design vibe inside is IKEA meets REI meets NASA — call it industrial chic. It’s a nice departure from the dated interior design that seems to plague many RVs and campers. The cabinetry is made of baltic birch and the exposed metal frame offers up plenty of places for hanging gear and connecting additional modifications to the camper.
Other than the modern design aesthetic, what stood out for us was Finney’s approach to gear storage. TAXA’s habitats are designed with outdoors enthusiasts in mind, which meant allowing flexibility to stow a variety of gear.
“It’s all about milk crates and duffel bags, it’s not about closets and drawers,” he said. “All of our customer’s like to be outside.”
Instead of fixed drawer systems, the Mantis has several modular racks and stow spaces where milk crates and bags can be easily stowed and removed.
You can read a lot more about the Mantis on the TAXA Outdoors website. Overall, I really liked Finney’s design approach and it looked like a solid expedition trailer, especially if you had the upgraded overlanding suspension package.