Blaze Davies attributes an idea from his wife, Alicia, as the inspiration for his startup company, Moto Burly, which is gearing up to manufacture rugged trailers built for the backcountry from its shop in the Durango Tech Center.
Davies said: “When we were starting to camp a little more, she said, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if we had the kitchen in one bucket and you didn’t have to assemble everything and carry it all to the car. What if you had everything in one place you could just hook up to the car and you didn’t have to load any stuff?’”
The suggestion prompted Davies to begin searching the internet for something akin to the products suggested by his wife. What he discovered disappointed him.
“I looked at what was out there, and nothing really fit. I thought: I could change the suspension and the wheels, I could make it more rugged. Then I realized: Hey, I can make these things better,” Davies said.
Davies approached his friend, Keith Martin, who was rebuilding old-style Airstream-like trailers, with his business idea to build and sell rugged, high-clearance backcountry trailers, and Martin quickly agreed to form a partnership.
“He told me he had been thinking about the same thing,” Davies said.
Moto Burly has now developed two prototype models of backcountry trailers: the Joey, which is 6 feet by 7 feet and typically between 30-inches to 32-inches high, and the Voodoo, which is 4 feet by 4½ feet.
Each model, built from aluminum composite material, comes with a pullout kitchen with a stainless steel stove, a grill, a sink, a refrigerator/freezer, pressurized hot water, a workspace with cutting boards, a space for propane tanks (large and small tanks), a 270-degree awning, a roof-top tent and storage space.
“This is your base camp. You’re set up. You get to your spot and you’re ready to go play,” Davies said.
Most trailer frames are made of angular iron, but to meet the needs of backcountry roads, Moto Burly makes frames out of stainless steel.
Other features that allow the trailers to traverse Forest Service roads include Timbren axle-less independent suspensions from Canada that provide the trailers with 20 inches of clearance and a 2-ton articulating coupler, called the McHitch made in Australia, that replaces a ball-joint hitch.
Use of air suspensions allows the trailer to be lowered for camping, sleeping or highway driving. Davies eventually envisions creating a single button to allow users to drop the trailer with a push.
When production gets going, Davies said, trailers will be customized to each user’s needs. He hopes to be able to turn around manufacture of a customized trailer in about four weeks.
Prices for the trailers will range from $10,000 to $40,000, and Moto Burly has worked out a financing plan with First Southwest Bank for the trailers.
The financing plan requires payment of half the cost of a trailer in two installments, which allows Moto Burly to begin manufacture of each custom trailer, creating a VIN, or vehicle identification number, that allows First Southwest Bank to offer financing for half the cost of the trailer.
First Southwest Bank’s effort to create a method for financing the trailers was key to making Moto Burly possible, Davies said.
Manufacturing in Durango also helps.
“We want to focus on the whole experience of being in here. There’s a cool factor to being based in Durango. We want people to come here and experience the vibe, spend a night,” he said.
Davies envisions customers picking up their trailer, with Moto Burly picking up a night’s stay at the Rochester Hotel, and then planning a camping expedition in the San Juan National Forest to break in their new trailer.
“We want to build a community of people with trailers,” he said.
The key allure of the trailers is getting beyond the established, crowded campgrounds for farther-removed private sites.
“If you can get beyond one or two areas where most people can’t follow, you’re away from the crowds. You’ve seen what it’s like in Moab,” he said.
A participant in the Southwest Colorado Accelerator Program for Entrepreneurs, Moto Burly is seeking $250,000 in start-up capital, of which $50,000 has been committed to hire workers, purchase materials, set up manufacturing and expand marketing.
Davies and Martin plan to build 50 trailers for delivery in 2020, 150 in 2021 and 270 in 2022.
The partners are also working on a teardrop trailer designed for use with motorcycles.
“There are people out there doing this, but everyone’s unique and approaching this from a different angle,” Davies said. “What’s great is this is something that you can’t go on Amazon or eBay to find. It’s not like we’re making a different type of cooler that you can shop online.”