TAXA Outdoors: Campers For 21st Century Off The Grid Explorers
By Everett Potter
Of the all displays at the recent New York Times Travel Show, a sensory assault of colorful destination booths, swarming crowds and chatter, one of them really caught my attention. In a far corner, away from the action, was the most beautiful travel trailer I had ever seen. The shape was quirky but the cool looking birch plywood interior and the large windows and pop up screened roof made it feel airy and open. I climbed in for a look and a guy poked his head in and asked if I had any questions. His name was Garrett Finney and he turned out to be the founder and inventor behind TAXA Outdoors.
I’ve peeked into conventional RV ‘s before and to my mind they look like fairly mediocre and claustrophobic motel rooms, with carpeting, giant TV’s and elaborate kitchens but nothing remotely outdoorsy about them. The Mantis Camper that I was standing in looked like a far smarter version of a VW van I had cannibalized with my best friend when we were teenagers.
It was 18 feet long, designed to fit inside a standard length and height garage. It was capable of sleeping four adults, with a wet bath and kitchen, and an orange roof panel that popped up to yield headspace. There were simple storage compartments and removable milk-crate style boxes for more storarge, not to mention cargo nets and bungee cords. It pretty much screamed let’s hit the road with our bikes and kayaks.
It appealed to the lingering hipster in me and it had the sleekness and smarts that I associate with Scandinavian design, as imagined by a particularly astute designer. That would be Finney, who has a BA and MA in architecture from Yale University and was awarded the Rome Prize in Architecture in 1994. Finney worked as a senior architect for the Habitability Design Center at NASA for a decade, which helped devise the International Space Station’s interiors. The Houston-based Finney brings the mind of an inventor to a business that has been in the design doldrums for decades … more >
Taking #VanLife to new levels (as the owner of a 1985 VW “Westy” camper with 60,000+ miles on it since the summer of 2016), I appreciate what Garrett Finney is doing. Many of the reconstituted Vanagons and more than a few Sprinter vans feature the new plywood look inside. And we all know and love the bin storage system.
If I ever need to retire my beloved “Morrison” (a phrase never uttered before and done with the full knowledge that I am inviting a large repair job by even doing so), I will certainly consider this “best of both worlds” solution.