Introduction: Camper in a Box

Picture of Camper in a Box

DIY Camperbox for a mini MPV
With the Camperbox you can make within minutes a mini camper from a mini mpv. The camperbox has all the ingredients for enjoyable camping. You can sleep in the car on a foldable duo bed. So, passing the night in a city or in the wild is no problem.
Making the box is fun and using it is even better. Just with common tools and some wood- and metal skills you can do it; provided that you have a suitable car. With this Instructable I hope to encourage you to make your own camperbox. Not much space is needed. I made the box on a surface of 10 square foot (10 sq. ft. atelier). In an open veranda all the building was done. No workbech is needed. I used only a small table with a vise. So, minimal conditions for maximum results.


- A kitchenunit with gas cooker, gas bottle and space for pots and food.
- Jerrycans with tap, a kitchen sink, space for plates cutlery and cups
- The lid of the box can be folded down as kitchen table.
- A 12V diy fridge and a 12V powerunit with 3 sockets and 1 USB port.
- Storing space for a first aid box, pull rope, lamp, oil, air pump, etc.
- Storing space for 2 foldable chairs and a foldable table.
- A foldable bed soil of 1.90m by 1.12m. The matress is 2m by 1.20m.
- The Camper Box size is 1.12m wide x 0.7m deep x 0.40m high.

I drive a Renault Kangoo from the year 2001. It's family from the Citroen Berlingo, Volkswagen Caddy, Fiat Doblo, Ford T Connect, etc. The idea of a camperbox is not new. You can buy this kind of boxes for between 1500 and 3000 euro by different companies through Europe. There are also private persons making there version, most without building plan. This 'Camper in a Box' costs about 200 euro, exclusive content; cooker, fridge, chairs, etc. Everyone can buy that equipment depending money and taste. You can freely customize size and partition of the box. It took me about 2 weeks to make the camper box but this includes the making of a video, foto's, and a step by step building guide.

Step 1: In the Beginning

Picture of In the Beginning

A flightcase construction is strong, light and easy to build. In the beginning you need to measure the right dimensions of the camperbox. Do you have an other mini mpv; dimensions can differ. This project shows more the construction steps and the way the case is put together. I made the box of lightweight birch multiplex board and alluminium angular profile. All is nailed together with pop rivets. The back and front side, the left and right side and all the partitions are placed between the top and bottom board. That is easy to measure and to construct. Sawing the board I left to the professional of the diy market. Take care inside the box I use different thicknesses board. Put first bottom, left, right and back side together. Then make all the partitions with kitchen devices. All is open and easily accessible. Next make the top side and then the trunk lid at the front side. The cuttingplan pdf for download.

Step 2: Camperbox Construction

Picture of Camperbox Construction

Cutting aluminium profiles is precision work. Use a pair of compasses, square, level, scribing iron, caliper, big and small metal saw, a course and a fine metal file, blind rivet pliers, electric drill and jigsaw. Pre-drill first the holes in the alu strips before drilling in the wood. Round the sharp edges with a file that is save and looks nice. Foto's and video showing the process clearly.

Step 3: The Kitchen Drawer

Picture of The Kitchen Drawer

The sides of the kitchen drawer are of 10mm thick multiplex. Make the width of the drawer according to the width of the gas stove. Use construction glue with screws for strong connections. Connect the tray guides first on the side's and then fix the drawer in. It is a nice sound coming from good rolling slides. Keep some space above the stove for a support beam. Having a wind shield is more comfortable and save. Check the pressure regulator and the flexible gas tube before installing.

Step 4: Making the Layout

Picture of Making the Layout

The question is; what is important to carry with you in the camperbox? That is a question of personal taste and needs. So, you have to buy first the parts before making the lay-out. In my case I choose for 2 jerrycans with tap, 2 plastic bowls for cleaning and washing, 2 chairs and a small table. Because the camperbox is deep, you can easily put 2 jerrycans and bowls behind each other. The chairs I had to shorten a bit. The storing space behind the fridge is accessible from the back, as the rear seat is folded down.

Step 5: The Fridge

Picture of The Fridge

I decided to make diy fridge with door and good isolation. It is fun to hack a consumer product and customize it. I took the top of a 12V cooling/warming box and placed it in the back of the fridge. Styropor foam at 4 sides and at the door and you got a 'real' fridge. Only the sound of the closing real fridge door is missing. Important is the beer stays cold on hot days! I covered the styropor with thin isolation material. This is easy to clean by liquid spillage. Important is the outlet for the hot air from the cooling unit. I made a tube to an opening at the right side. A foto shows below the cooling unit the black tube. First you have to cut a hole that fits the unit.

Step 6: The Bed Base

Picture of The Bed Base

The bed base are 2 boards between aluminium T- profiles. You have to cut the 3 pieces for each side. Connect first the piece's on top of the box, then the first bed soil board of 2 by 4 feet can be made to measure and folded out. Then the second board can be installed. When you watch the foto's and video you see the folding system. It was the part what took most of the finding-out time and was made within an hour. It is good to round sharp edges from wood and alu profile. A flat air mattress on top of the bed base is the last I can use. The bed base is supported against sag by strips. The construction uses simple methods to save weight by using thin as possible board.

Step 7: Conclusion

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The only part missing are the curtains to blind the windows when sleeping. This is for later. For a good and save air refreshment during night I placed an air in-outlet dome on top of the car. With an electric fan mounted at the dome more fresh air can circulate. The test with the camperbox was positive. When passing the car you even don't see the box is in. The total back window is free even with some luggage on top. My wife followed 'the making of' with interest. Also the process of publishing an Instructable she followed over the last days. I got a good response of friends who like to have one but missed an appropriate car. Using a tent in combination with the mini camper is recommendable, it extends the camp space and protects for sun, rain and wind. I think I keep this box in the back of my car, that feels now like RV-ing all the time. Any place where my car can come is a potential camp place. Travel light; use a camperbox.


techitone (author)2017-09-12

Great work. Going to make one for my VW T5 Van ;)

AutumnM23 (author)2017-04-17

Your camper is wonderful! Its very inspiring. I am trying to design my 1997 MPV into a camper van. I was wondering what the height of your sleeping area is? Would you recommend that height?

Thanks so much!


Rensina (author)2016-10-04

Fantastic design!! I live in Australia and have been looking for a design for the back of my Land Rover Defender (ex Australian army with canvas canopy). I love your design. Thank you. I am going to make it. Rensina

ukwanderer (author)2016-09-07

Great instructions. I use a similar idea without sleeping platform. It was made in a hurry to fit in my Landrover Discovery. That was about 10 years ago. It sat outside under a tarp for three years and I used it for a recent holiday in Scotland. Mine was painted in a very practical waterbased black paint. Its an easy paint to add to whenever it needs tidying up.

I used it last week in the back of a citroen Picasso. The only changes I made were two drawers at the bottom for cutlery etc. I see under your bowl that you do not have a shelf. This Is easy enought to add too provided you have the height above bowl to waterbottle. Cut a piece of plywood to fit in space. Use your brilliant idea with the aluminium angle to trap it down. Might need to put a couple of coins to make spacers. These you can take out after riveting. Could cut a couple of holes near the front corners . These are for putting a finger in to pull shelf out.

You can get bowls that collapse for space saving.

I also use a duracell inverter for charging phones or laptops whilst driving only. Add on a 12v kettle even though I have two burner gas rings and a also a 12v lunchbox oven and your good to go.

Marty2b (author)2016-07-16

Brilliant! Just bought a 2002 Berlingo 2l hdi. Will definitely be doing this. Many,many thanks and for the terrific video.

CamperLoving (author)2015-06-03

That's quality! Just missing the TV and DVD :)

burntbob (author)2014-08-30

Awesome instructable and loved the video and the musical background. very practical ideas

runner406 (author)2014-07-23

that is awesome

steamdroid (author)2014-07-02

Great job! I googled Maastricht and believe it is a beautiful place. Enjoy!

janw (author)2014-06-25

Nice build, Berto! I have the same type of MPV and if I didn't had my VW T2 camper, I surely would build this as it is super practical.

IdahoDavid (author)2014-06-24

Well done and very adaptable for different kinds of vehicles. This would work for a number of US-made SUVs and crossovers.

paolobertoncin (author)2014-05-31

great JOB!

very smart


Megazord (author)2014-05-22

This is awesome ! I'm building my camperbox for a similar car and your tutorial gave me a lot of ideas. Thanks !

IamWe (author)Megazord2014-05-23

Thanks, you appreciate the project. Spreading ideas is more important than a precise reconstruction. Success with your camperbox!

gladys451 (author)2014-05-10

Thanks! Some great ideas. I'm building a camper in a Toyota Hiace and you've given me some good things to think about.

jbcol1 (author)2014-05-10

Very nicely done video! Cud ops on the project as well!!!

huseyinsafi (author)2014-05-10

Güzel ve kolay bir çalışma olmuş. Tebrik ederim...

Jagstah (author)2014-05-09

"...passing the night in a city or in the wild is no problem..." Except if you do this in the USA !!

Make sure you check local ordinances first to see if urban/wild camping is actually legal. Otherwise you must take special precautions to avoid encounters with law enforcement (aka stealth camping). Also, some states in the USA have new laws which are so vague that it's possible to get convicted for drunk driving just by being intoxicated in your parked car! For example, after having consumed a couple bottles of beer or a bottle of wine and going to bed you could be arrested in the middle of the night for DUI !! Read this:

IamWe (author)Jagstah2014-05-09

Jagstah, in a way I like stealth camping. I quote the-secrets-of-stealth-camping :

- "Stealth camping is the act of quietly finding a place away from people
where you can camp for the night and then quickly slip away in the
morning without being detected. The key to stealth camping is to remain
hidden at all times and to leave no trace of your existence during or
after your departure from the site". -

Whether by bicycle or by car: its adventurous to camp at hidden places. We did it also with our camper, and we were never caught. I plead for a new camping infrastructure for mini campers. Many countries in Europe and almost every big city has a RV parking where you can camp for average 5 dollar a day for max. 3 days. There are minimum conditions; water, toilets, waste water, and often electricity. France is the best. It stimulates tourism and income for local trade. I hope private people (farmers) pick-up this idea to share there ground for a minicamper park. Most people who camp are willing to pay a small price for a peaceful stay with their small camper.

Jagstah (author)2014-05-09

Beautiful and informative video, by the way! Thanks!!

npap (author)2014-05-08

i have seen many camper boxes. But no one had a fridge!!!! I am speachless! Well done! Hope you enjoy it!

tcarney57 (author)2014-05-08

Dit is de beste Instructable ik ooit heb gezien, en de video is ook geweldig. Thank you so much for the appropriate and tasteful background music in the video. Ik weet nu zeker dat mijn volgende auto een SUV zal zijn zodat ik deze kan bouwen in het. Thanks, too, for demonstrating the construction without a lot of shop equipment . . . or even a shop at all, for that matter. Veel dank!

joe_keim (author)2014-05-08

Well done instructions! Thank you for taking the time to be so detailed in your instructions. It is greatly appreciated!

The Wapusk (author)2014-05-08

I like it! Reminded me of the "Big Berta" build I saw here last year, might fit
one into my Mazda 5/Mazda Premacy. Thanks for the injection of
enthusiasm! Though I'm not sure if my wife will let me cut a hole in her new car's roof. ;)

toezter (author)2014-05-08

That is the most adorable video I have seen in a long time. You guys have inspired a summer project for me. Thank you.

Makedo (author)2014-05-08

Boy scouts of America has plans for a camp out box that can stand on it own feet or be used as yours does. you can make it fit any size space or needs. it uses a lid that would fold down and become a work surface. and secure it out side when you want to make room in the back to lay down. I would add a way to keep the bedding from ever accidentally coming in contact with the cooking area. It can happen if someone was digging around for something on the other side.

lalunette (author)2014-05-08

Goed gedaan !! (Well done)

While I never did make it down to Maastricht, I did live in The Netherlands for a year back in the early 80s.

I'll be applying some of your building skills/ideas to the mini camper I bought last year.

Tot ziens !! (See you)

rafanand (author)2014-05-08


wsecomp (author)2014-05-08

We have three of these for our Boy Scout Troop. A family member of one of the boys made them to have legs so that they can be accessed from both sides. They are great for keeping all of your camp cooking needs in one spot. They are quite heavy, though.

meerar (author)2014-05-08

heel goed berto !!!

we have the same berlingo, so i will pitch this idea to my husband too as we go camping from time to time.

nlinventor (author)2014-05-08

Great design and work with minimal tools - lots of incentive to get out there and enjoy.

donholiomac (author)2014-05-07

Awesome design. Keep them ideas coming...

wrsexton (author)2014-05-07

Nicely done and interesting frig idea.

amajchrzak (author)2014-05-07

Very nice. I have a similar build for the bed and storage, minus the fridge and stove, for the fj cruiser. I really want to try.

wazzup105 (author)2014-05-06

Nice work !

Tech4All (author)2014-05-04

Exiting stuff! I'll copy it and soon will be on the road...

l8nite (author)2014-05-03

very nicely done ! friends without a van can still use the box if the have a trunk or back hatch/door and use a tent for sleeping

nerfrocketeer (author)2014-05-03

Very cool! I'm sure this could be a good survival tool as well.

About This Instructable




Bio: Tinkerer from childhood on. After my retirement, together with my wife, fully committed to creative production. I prefer simple solutions for non-existing problems.
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