I discovered the distinctive and groundbreaking designs of TAXA Outdoors a couple of years ago at The New York Times Travel Show in Manhattan.
I found myself captivated by a quirkily shaped vehicle called a Mantis Camper with a birch plywood interior, large windows and pop-up screened roof. It was immediately appealing and also exciting and thought-provoking, as good design should be. The gentleman manning the display asked if I had any questions. He turned out to be Garrett Finney, a former NASA engineer and the CEO, founder and inventor behind TAXA Outdoors.
Taxa creates what they refer to as “mobile human habitats,” a.k.a. travel trailers, but they look nothing like your typical VW van, Airstream or Winnebago. I wrote about Taxa and Finney for Forbes back then. Now, in 2020, when everyone seems to be craving an outdoor experience in an RV, the company’s designs seem more prescient than ever. These aren’t gigantic mobile family rooms with carpeting, flat screen televisions and hermetically sealed environments. These are, to quote Le Corbusier, “machines for living.” They are simple, easy to customize, practical and capable of standing up to the rigors of outdoor adventure.
Now TAXA has has unveiled the new 2021 models of their Cricket and Mantis habitats
“At TAXA, we strive for continuous improvement,” said Finney, who has a BA and MA in architecture from Yale University and was awarded the Rome Prize in Architecture in 1994. “We listened to customer feedback to make thoughtful changes that we hope are reflected in our 2021 model year update. We can’t wait for people to get out, relax and explore the outdoors in these two new models.”
The changes to these vehicles are based on the fact that Taxa owners like to customize their own living space. So the 2021 Cricket and Mantis habitats offer more simplified cabinetry, with a metal frame that gives customers more access and better ability to configure their cabinets to their liking.
The Mantis is the larger model and offers more living space for families. I especially love the open-air design that is intended to bring the outdoors inside and instead of keeping it out. For the 2021 model, they’ve upgraded the air conditioner to an 8,000 BTU unit, made some smart updates to the kitchen area, and increased storage throughout.
The kitchen improvements include a separate Dometic sink and Dometic 2-burner stove, as well as more space to cook. There’s a new open shelving concept, using Baltic birch plywood and powder coated steel, for increased kitchen storage. The new high density polyethylene (HDPE) backsplash panel behind the sink and stove offers more durability in what TAXA refers to as the ‘splash zone.’ Practically speaking, the redesigned kitchen cabinetry concentrates electrical and plumbing systems in one spot, making maintenance and repair that much easier.
In a hallmark of TAXA design, they’ve added storage with two storage towers made from a milk crate drawer system. Each of the towers comes with three milk crates that act as drawers. They’re secured with bungee cords during travel and can be removed for loading and unloading. It may sound low-tech but it’s part of the practical genius of these rigs.
The 2021 Mantis starts at $46,200 MSRP.
The new Cricket is what Taxa refers to as “a NASA-inspired human habitat” that fits two adults and two kids. It has integrated plumbing and electrical systems for trips off the grid.
Like the Mantis, the kitchen cabinetry in the Cricket has been redesigned to concentrate electrical and plumbing systems in one spot, allowing for easier maintenance and repair. It has a similar HDPE backsplash panel, uses the same birch plywood and high-pressure laminate countertops. They also added the separate Dometic sink and two-burner stove. The Cricket also utilizes a milk crate drawer system.
The 2021 Cricket starts at $31,800 MSRP.
Visit TAXA Outdoors for more details.