Road Test of Oregon Trail’R TerraDrop Alpha and Ford Bronco Raptor
Venturing off the beaten path requires a sturdy trailer, and TerraDrop Alpha fits the bill. As an RV and automotive journalist, I was very happy to have the opportunity to test out the TerraDrop Alpha (TDA) off-road teardrop trailer from Oregon Trail’R.
We used it as our mobile Airbnb in the backcountry on a recent boondocking trip and towed it with a 2023 Ford Bronco Raptor. Let’s put both these trailblazing vehicles to the test on the rugged terrains of Oregon’s Coast Range and delve into their craftsmanship, performance, and comfort.
The Oregon Trail’R TerraDrop Alpha: An Overview
Oregon Trail’R’s TDA is a durable and comfortable overlanding and off-road teardrop trailer ideal for off-grid camping. Boasting a sturdy construction, it has a base MSRP of $24,000, and most AWD and 4WD vehicles can easily tow it. In addition, it offers ample ground clearance and a compact yet ingeniously designed wooden body that incorporates innovative storage solutions.
If you love to venture down secluded dirt paths or off-road routes, this camping combination fits perfectly. It’s also ideal for those who enjoy a variety of outdoor activities while having a certain level of comfort while camping.
Unique Construction of the TerraDrop Alpha
What makes the TerraDrop Alpha somewhat different from other off-road teardrops is the way it’s built. Instead of the body made from fiberglass, aluminum, or stainless steel, Oregon Trail’R uses the highest grade Baltic Birch available.
“Our trailers are essentially built like giant custom cabinets,” says founder and co-owner Jon Christianson, “We use dado and rabbet joinery everywhere possible to create an ultra-strong and stiff body.
Then the TerraDrop exterior is sprayed with their Alpha Coating, which is a special blend of Platinum Line-X bedliner material. It seals and protects the body from UV rays, seals the surface from water intrusion, increases the sound reduction in the cabin, and adds an armor-like layer that doesn’t crack or chip and resists abrasions and impacts.
“We also borrow a lot of our processes from the boat-building community,” says Christianson, “such as using void-less Marine-grade Birch plywood, waterproof glues, and sealing all seams and end-grain [edges] with penetrating epoxy. To us, one of the most important aspects of overlanding camper production is water-proofing.”
While black, tan, and grey are the common colors for the TerraDrop Alphas, the coating can be ordered in a variety of other colors to meet custom trailer buyers’ preferences.
Interior Comforts of the TerraDrop Alpha Off-Road Teardrop Trailer
This 13-foot trailer has an insulated body on a 5×8-foot floor plan. This provides over six feet of Queen bed space. The interior is 48 inches tall. It’s equipped with two thick bed cushions.
There’s a spacious array of cubbies and storage cabinets. It features 12V/120V plug-ins and charging outlets. A 3-speed ceiling fan and adjustable LED lighting are also provided. Comfort inside this teardrop is easy to achieve.
Another unique feature of the TDA is all the cabinet doors, storage trays, mole racks, and even the special accessory hangers are made using CAD and laser cutting. Many of these snap and lock together to form light yet very strong components.
TerraDrop Alpha Galley’s Functionality
An important aspect of any teardrop is the functionality of the galley. Oregon Trail’R has done a great job designing the TDA galley that’s located under the rear cover. The galley is roomy with lots of storage. The galley cover is heavy and well-sealed against dust intrusion, and a pair of robust springs hold it open instead of more traditional hydraulic struts.
The base model, which we were camping in, didn’t have a built-in two-burner propane stove. Instead, we used a Camp Chef Mountain Series stove fed off a small gas bottle, both of which are stored in the big storage space located under the Formica countertop. We also used a fold-up sink when it was time to wash our hands and dishes.
Oregon Trail’R offers many options in their Alpha builds, including a built-in flip-out two-burner propane cooktop. A propane tank is conveniently mounted on the trailer’s side, and a built-in sink adds to the convenience features.
The Alpha galley is well-equipped with ample storage for utensils and cookware, catering to the needs of a family of four. A unique feature is a slide-out tray under the galley that holds a deep-cycle AGM battery. This battery is responsible for powering all the interior and exterior LED lights.
Exterior Capabilities and Accessories
Of course, the TerraDrop Alpha can be equipped with a number of exterior accessories. Such as a multi-bike rack mounted in the two-inch receiver hitch. It can accept a wide range of roof-top tent systems mounted on the trailer’s standard heavy-duty roof rack.
Oregon Trail’R even makes a number of its own specialized/unique accessories that can be found on the company’s website. We made use of a couple of their creative wooden mole grids and top-shelf baskets on our outing. We also tapped into some kitchen gear.
Performance and Handling of the TerraDrop Alpha
We towed the TDA over a variety of highways and backroads. The trailer’s independent torsion-style suspension kept the items we had stored inside and on top of the roof rack from the big impacts as it absorbed potholes, rocks, ruts, and other abrupt changes in the road surface.
The trailer we tested rolled on 31×10.50-16 all-terrain tires and steel wheels. This gives the trailer nearly 20 inches of ground clearance. That is more than enough for the average overlanding user to navigate backroads and moderate 4×4 trails.
Another nice aspect of the 3,500-pound GVWR TerraDrop Alpha handling is the 2×2-inch tubular frame was equipped with a multi-axis trailer tongue coupler, which takes some stress off the tow vehicle’s hitch in more severe off-road situations. The trailer also has a welded-on heavy-duty tongue jack and manual-deployed rear stabilizers.
Final Thoughts On TerraDrop Alpha
Overall, my take on the Oregon Trail’R TerraDrop Alpha is it’s a very well-built, well-designed, affordable off-road teardrop trailer. It would be a fine trailer for overlanding or off-grid camping. It’s ideal for a single person or a couple as is. However, the addition of a rooftop tent would serve the needs of an outdoor active young family.
The build quality of the trailer is top-notch. Birch plywood is light yet incredibly strong, and when the exterior is covered in Line-X, this trailer should be able to be passed down for several generations to enjoy.
Lastly, it’s a light enough trailer to be towed by a wide variety of vehicles, including most AWD or 4WD SUVs, crossovers, and small pickups. Let’s not forget—you can also rent a TerraDrop Alpha to try before you buy.
The 2023 Ford Bronco Raptor: A Powerful Tow Rig
Ford’s 2023 Bronco Raptor, a full-featured, powerful, and seriously capable four-door 4×4 with a 4,500-pound tow rating, pulls the 1,600-pound (UVW) Alpha like it wasn’t even locked on the hitch ball.
The Raptor handles the terrain and trailer with elegance and ease thanks in part to a phenomenal suspension, 413hp on tap from the 3.0-liter EcoBoost V-6, and a superbly geared 10-speed automatic.
The Raptor version boasts an array of standard features. It offers multiple four-wheel-drive modes for various terrains. The vehicle comes with 37-inch all-terrain tires for better grip.
It has driver-selectable front- and rear-locking differentials for better control. There’s an electronic disconnecting front stabilizer bar for improved stability. Multiple steering and exhaust modes allow for a customized driving experience.
The state-of-the-art off-road suspension ensures a smooth ride. The 360-degree camera views provide great visibility. There’s even a setting for extra-sharp turns in 4×4 modes.
The top-of-the-line Bronco Raptor package is one of, if not the most, capable 4×4 that any manufacturer offers. If you are serious about off-roading, the Bronco Raptor is your ride!
On-Road Performance of the Ford Bronco Raptor
Surprisingly, Ford’s top-tier Bronco also has great highway manners. Set the 5,700-pound Bronco’s ride to “Normal” and steering to “Comfort,” and you feel like you’re tooling around in a luxury vehicle.
When the open road gets twisty, reset the same settings to “Sport” mode, and the wide-tracked Bronco tackles corners like a much lighter and sport-tuned SUV with exhaust sound to match. Like the settings? Save them so you can touch the button with the Raptor logo to recall them.
The Bronco Raptor is a heavy SUV, weighing around 5,700 pounds. That gives it a really nice highway ride and a solid feel when towing. The 3.0L EcoBoost V-6 is strong, too.
Hammer the throttle, and the twin-turbo’s 3.0L EcoBoost in the Bronco Raptor will set you back in the seat—and turn a few heads from other drivers around you. Test results from fastlaps.com, for example, show the Raptor can cruise through the ¼-mile in 14.4 seconds at 94mph and rip from 0-60mph in just 5.6 seconds.
But the weight hurts it on the fuel-economy front. Ford has the EPA numbers at 15 city/16 hwy/15 combined. I saw the same over more than 350 miles of highway and off-pavement driving, with 13.5 mpg towing the TerraDrop Alpha.
Overall, if you are looking for one of the very best 4×4 SUVs on the market, the 2023 Ford Bronco Raptor (MSRP: $86,080) would be very hard to beat. It’s comfortable, well-equipped, powerful, and a great tow vehicle for trailers with a GVWR of less than 4,500 pounds.
Final Verdict: An Excellent Off-Road Teardrop Trailer Towing Duo
In summary, the Oregon Trail’R TerraDrop Alpha and the 2023 Ford Bronco Raptor form an unbeatable off-road duo. The TerraDrop Alpha impresses with its unique design and comfort, while the Bronco Raptor stands out with its power and versatility. Despite the Bronco Raptor’s fuel economy, its performance makes it a worthy companion. For those seeking a reliable and enjoyable off-road adventure, this pairing should be a top consideration.