Carbon Lite Trailers is Setting its Sights on Bigger Targets – RVBusiness – Breaking RV Industry News

LAKEWOOD, Wash. – Not one to rest on his laurels, Chris Durham jumped into the teardrop-trailer-building business after a career in the sporting goods, automotive and aerospace industries. Durham, who introduced one of the first wakeboards to the market, uses his 40-plus years of composite expertise constructing teardrops that are about half the weight of the industry’s standard.

Based in Lakewood, Wash., Carbon Lite Trailers manufactures its base model Rift Utility Camper with a weight of only 485 pounds with standard features, and its off-road Rift Adventure Camper that weighs just under 1,000 pounds. Durham is also looking for a potential partnership with an established RV manufacturer since he’s confident his company can build larger lightweight trailers as well as lighter-weight slideouts for RVs.

Durham’s credentials include starting Wake Tech, a leader in the wakeboard industry, and then with his family, starting a retail ski and board shop with a custom manufacturing facility that led to working with numerous different companies and industries “applying our knowledge and technology to a variety of products. The commonality in all the companies we worked with was the goal to produce lighter and stronger products. We developed carbon-fiber wind turbine blades, kayak paddles, race-car and hydroplane parts, composite snowboards, skateboards, longboards and more.”

Durham’s motivation sparked from when working as a consultant for a major RV manufacturer and being told that one of the main obstacles RV retailers face is the need to upsize their customers’ tow vehicles. “That statement spurred me to design and produce a lightweight, strong, durable camping platform that almost any vehicle can tow,” he said. “The fact that top-selling vehicles in the U.S. cannot tow most trailers is astounding. The need for the RV industry to move to new materials and manufacturing methods is not just for EVs but for all small vehicles. The market for small, lightweight trailers continues to grow and the company with the foresight to see the future of this industry will come out ahead. Those people want to tow trailers, too. It is too big a market to disregard.”

Carbon Lite Trailers is a family business with longtime business associates. Said Durham, “The experience and depth of knowledge of our team is remarkable. My son Matt has a degree in manufacturing technology and is responsible for design and CAD engineering for the company. Matt designed, produced and sold his own carbon-fiber longboard at the age of 16. My daughter Katie has her MBA and advises on marketing and technology, while my wife Nancy, with 30-plus years of experience in administration and management, keeps it all running smoothly. Stockholder Jay is a composite engineer and materials expert who worked with Kenworth on the development of their composite trucks. And stockholder Austin is a journeyman toolmaker and our production manager who comes with 20-plus years of experience in composite production, including the manufacture of armored clothing.”

Carbon Lite’s teardrop trailers have foam insulation sandwiched between outer layers of 100 percent carbon fiber and fiberglass and have a powder-coated aluminum frame. The shell is one piece—from the walls, roof and floor—so there are no seams for moisture to enter. A Yakima sport rack is standard, as are marine carpeting, a ceiling fan, a queen-sized trifold mattress, a cooler and a power system. Wide, windowed doors on either side of the trailer open upward. Options include a pass-through from the outdoor galley to the interior, a solar-charging battery system, a refrigerator/freezer and an awning.

The Utility, as the name suggests, converts from a camping trailer to a utility trailer by removing the 20-pound galley wall. The Adventure is geared for off-road with a larger frame and Timbren axle-less 2,000-pound suspension. A surrounding nerf bar protects the outside and there’s a front storage box.

The company’s recent innovations include building the structural components for a prototype VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) aircraft for ZEVA Aero and designing and producing a camper for the importer of Kei trucks.

“We are innovative thinkers with a long history of developing new products and manufacturing techniques,” said Durham. “We would enjoy the challenge of integrating our knowledge and technologies within the wider RV industry. We have a lot to offer and are looking forward to contributing to the future of this industry.”


COMPANY: Carbon Lite Trailers, Inc.
LOCATION: 9425 Lakeview Ave SW, Lakewood, Wash.
KEY PERSONNEL: Chris Durham, Founder, President/CEO; Nancy Durham, Cofounder, Vice President Admin; Matt Durham, Vice President Sales & Product Development; Austin Greenfield, Production Manager; Jay Newton, Materials & Procurement
PRODUCTS: Teardrop trailers
EMAIL: [email protected]
PHONE: (253) 229-8761