Introduction: Build Your Own Pop-Up Trailer

Picture of Build Your Own Pop-Up Trailer

This is our Pop Up trailer We call it the Tortuga.

Step 1: The Frame

Picture of The Frame

We used a harbour frieght utility trailer frame.  We just followed the instructions and built the frame like it suggested the only difference was that we did not put in the folding option,

Step 2:

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We built the frame of the trailer out of a mixture of materials and wood products.  The trailer bed is exactly 4' x8'  and we used a full sheet of 3/4 pressure treated plywood and then painted the underside with black penetrating paint.  we built the side with 2x2 spruce for the railing and the corners are made from 2x6 pressure treated spruce.  the beefer corners is to help with it lasting over time and to give the corner less flex. 

At the rear of the trailer this is where the door was added.  It is an actual popup trailer door i purchase in indiana at a salvage dealer but you can find them online on ebay.

Step 3:

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The side walls are made from 1/2 plywood pressure treated.  The height of the side walls are 2' tall to match the popup door.

the holes for all lighting was added now so to hide all the wires in the walls. 

Step 4:

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We added sheet aluminum that we bought at home depot.  This is any easy way to cover the unit and it looks great when it is finished. 

Step 5:

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This photo shows the folding of the bed unit.  The hinges are a long aluminum hinge that is like a piano hinge.

the bed fold out to rest on an A frame metal bracket that attaches to the trailer on the side at the top and bottom of the trailer bed.


Step 6:

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I added car scissor jacks to the front and rear for stability. Now the tent is just a normal 8 x 12 tent that i purchase at walmart and removed the floor.

also needed to put in a new zipper for the door.

Step 7:

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here is the trailer going up


Icuff4cash (author)2015-12-02

question I saw these tent campers sold for a few thousand but very sturdy. Do you use the hole for storage under the tent. Has anybody ever tryed to turn a popup to a hard side after there canvas dry rotted.

Galonii (author)Icuff4cash2017-12-25

seen this on pinterest

hootie007 (author)2015-08-30

Could not download the instructions even after I signed up for that Go Pro thing!!


hootie007 (author)2015-08-30

Too bad you can'r download the instructions!!!

hootie007 (author)2015-08-30

Could not download instructables steps even after I signed up.

Transomme (author)2015-01-11

Very innovative. Your basic design is very sturdy and utilitarian with the ability to 'mod' the design for one's own needs. 'Happy campers' indeed!

camper96 (author)2014-12-07

We really like your idea and are planning to build something very similar. I was wondering...what did your use for support under the beds?

homer35805 (author)2014-08-22


Looks great but have you thought of maybe using bungee cords to keep the sides down in windy conditions...would hate to be sleeping in there and have a storm come along and blow you all to Kansas...or the other side of the raindbow....just a thought because where I live we get bad storms in spring and fall.

popotus (author)2014-07-19

i added the extra struts just because of my kids jumping around but you dont need them.

TheGeek1984 (author)popotus2014-08-12

Sorry to bother you again, but can you explain a little more about the doors? Like, are they connected so if you were to open the trailer door, the tent door follows suit? or did you just add a zipper?

popotus (author)TheGeek19842014-08-13

I had too add a new door it all depends on the tent you buy.

TheGeek1984 (author)popotus2014-07-25

Alright, thanks. I was concerned about maybe if weight wasn't distributed evenly (a person on one side, nobody on the other) that it might tip.

Avey44 (author)2014-08-11

Very nice build I like the idea of wrapping it in aluminum. Also you alleviated any weight concerns I have had about that trailer, as I used it for something similar.

bennelson (author)2013-04-04

You should e-mail this to Harbor Freight. They were thrilled when they saw I built a Solar-Powered Power Wheels with their solar panels!

I built a camping trailer a while back, based on the same Harbor Freight trailer frame. Mine was a tear-drop.

Great job on your pop-up!

thebrad (author)bennelson2014-07-26

Do you have instructions on your teardrop? Looks great!

bennelson (author)thebrad2014-07-29

Sorry! I didn't document that project particularly well. However, I did base it on a set of plans I bought from Kuffel Creek ( which you can buy.
Also, the best place on the internet to learn about teardrops is at the Teardrops and Tiny Travel Trailers forum ( Lots of photos and good build thread there!

popotus (author)bennelson2013-04-04

Nice teardrop .... My plan for the trailer was a teardrop but then my mind started twirling and i ended up with this!!!! How did you send your project to harbour frieght.

TheGeek1984 (author)2014-07-19

I know someone else mentioned this, but how is the side-to-side stability? Is there a reason you added vertical struts to one aide in addition to the angled ones?

elaine26 (author)2014-04-21

My canvas is rotten on my pop up..How can i in close it and make it look good..?

elaine26 (author)elaine262014-04-21

Im not gonna take it out ..Just gonna leave it where it is and build to.

jchase12 (author)2014-01-20

Awesome build.. Do you have pictures of the side rails could show how they attach at the trailer and down rigors? As well what and where got the materials to make the rail system?

And any cut dimensions for the flooring, framing, walls etc..

Thanks alot its very cool build

vpalma (author)2013-10-07

nice very nice

Clermont Cubby (author)2013-09-14

I compliment you on a practical and frugel build. I have a 20+ year old Eureka Timberland tent that I have been interested in converting to a tent camper.

My major concern was adding a new door zipper to allow for egress. I believe you may have given me my answer.

FletchINKy (author)2013-09-12

Very cool! Can't wait to see this with more additions!

camping crazy (author)2013-05-06

Very nice job!! Ive wanted too do this for years but with a bicycle thanks for the ideas!!

paracordbylane (author)2013-04-14

I'd like to see how you added it to it.

paracordbylane (author)2013-04-12

What do you think about adding a small window unit ac. I live in Mississippi where summers are hot even at night.

popotus (author)paracordbylane2013-04-13

That was actually going to be my next addition to the trailer!!!!!lol

DDW_OR (author)2013-04-08

perfect example of "necessity is the mother of invention". excellent job!

could use an ez-up, or First-up, over the entrance for a breeze-way
use the Strait-leg version. then the bug screen that is made for it.

Here in AZ we put 3 or 4 of the 10x10 next to each other. then "weave", or role, the canopies where the sides touch to form rain gutters, sorry no photos.

DO NOT GET THE 10X20, the wind will destroy the 20 foot side. i have had trouble with the 12x12 as well.

popotus (author)2013-04-07

i will take more pictures and explain more later

darnott (author)2013-04-07

how did you attach the A-frame to the trailer and the (outrigger?) can you get them at harbor freight as well

dpaxton (author)2013-04-06

great project! how did you get the fold-out floors to fold-in level? wondering if you had to cut one of the walls of the trailer like 1/2 inch shorter than the other side? im thinking about trying this but leaving the trailer in the tilting configuration and adding ramps, so I could haul a go-cart or 4 wheeler on top... any suggestions?

popotus (author)dpaxton2013-04-07

yes one side is higher. You could build it so you could put the 4 wheeler on top when closed.

paracordbylane (author)2013-04-07

This is a great idea. I would like to see how you have everything stored on the inside. Thinking about something like this for my small family. How much storage room do you have.

popotus (author)paracordbylane2013-04-07

I fit everything in we need for camping except for bedding and food

Sparkfist (author)2013-04-01

About how much did the project cost to build?

popotus (author)Sparkfist2013-04-01

Around 500

mayagayam (author)popotus2013-04-06

Woof! Ok how much would you charge to make me one? :D

popotus (author)mayagayam2013-04-07

Well i am thinking of building another and would sell this one...LOL

Pervie (author)2013-04-06

What size Utility trailer did you use?? They have 5 different ones. Thanx

popotus (author)Pervie2013-04-07

4X8 900 lbs capacity

harthoppy (author)2013-04-06

I would LOVE to see the inside of it !!!

Wagging your Dogma (author)2013-04-05

Fantastic instruct. Now all you need you to do for me is to build something that pulls the Trailer and we are set to go!

popotus (author)2013-04-05

Any one interested in making a campfire grill That is a tripod and a pot hanger

popotus (author)popotus2013-04-05

here is the grill

javajoecool (author)2013-04-05

What's the investment? And how long did it take from start to finish.

popotus (author)javajoecool2013-04-05

Its about

It took me 3 weekends to build

boviac (author)2013-04-04

Love this build. I would love any addition detail you can provide.
And specifically like what you used for the side bed supports and how you attached them/store them?
Any other ideas of what you would do differently for model 2.0?
Anything special you use for your outriggers when the neighboring area may not be flat and level?

popotus (author)boviac2013-04-04

outriggers are all adjustable

maewert (author)2013-04-04

Very cool project!
Do the tent poles attach to the wood where they would 'normally' be fed through the tent floor loops and touch the ground? If the poles are connected by the tent fabric then I might think it could rip over time but could be solved by attaching the poles to the wood. Also I missed a part... I assume you cut the floor of the tent... did you leave the floor so the floor still covers the wood extensions and is only open in the middle for a walkway?
Thanks for the nice 'ible!

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