Introduction: DIY Micro Camper

Picture of DIY Micro Camper

I love camping, and I spend almost all my free time camping or building toys for camping. I am into all types of camping, but my favorite is getting back up in the mountains far from anything or anybody.

It is great to get back to nature... However as I continue to get older, I find I need a few things to be comfortable... The primary one being a comfortable place to sleep.

A couple of years ago I decided I needed a small trailer that would haul all my camping toys, it would also be nice if I could sleep in this trailer on a real mattress.

When I was thinking about what i would build, the primary rule was the trailer had to ride behind my vehicle and be no wider or taller than my vehicle so that it could go anywhere my SUV would go. So with that one simple idea in mind I built this trailer.

After I built the trailer, it turned out to be my favorite way to go camping!!!

Other people started noticing it in campgrounds and while I was out traveling. So I started building them for friends.

Several people have said they would like to build one. So without any further commentary, here is a overview of the last one i built.

Step 1: The Frame

Picture of The Frame

This trailer is built on a 4 foot by 8 foot Harbor Freight trailer frame.

I assembled the frame right out of the box. I did not install the lights or fenders at this time because I did not want them in my way while I was building the box on the frame.

To make the trailer extremely sturdy I laid 3/4" inch plywood on the frame, then laid a 2x3 stud around the outside edge of the floor. I then drilled through the 2x3, plywood, and frame and bolted them all together. This really stiffens up the frame, and it also gives me a good anchor point for the walls to the frame.

Step 2: Camper Materials

Picture of Camper Materials

The micro camper is built with 2x3 studded walls with 1/2 inch exterior plywood on the outside and 1/8 inch underlayment on the inside walls.

The roof system is 2x4 rafters with 1/2 inch OSB on the outside and 1/8 inch underlayment on the ceiling.

Step 3: Framing the Walls

Picture of Framing the Walls

I framed up the walls in the shop. The walls are framed 16 inches on center and laid out to have a window on each side and a door in the back.

Step 4: Installing the Walls

Picture of Installing the Walls

I installed the walls on the trailer. The walls are nailed to the 2x3 that is bolted to the frame. When I install the outside sheeting it will be fastened to the rafter system, the walls, and the 2x3 that is bolted to the frame, making it a very sturdy box. Notice the top plate that goes around the walls tying them all together.

Step 5: Installing the Roof

Picture of Installing the Roof

To install the roof I first laid a piece of 1/8 inch underlayment on top of the walls.

Then I framed the rafter system with 2x4 rafters 16 inches on center. I installed blocks in between the rafters to help tie everything together. The rafters are nailed into the top plate of the walls and into the blocks.

Finally I installed a 1/2 inch OSB piece to the top of the rafters. The camper is now framed up.

Step 6: Sheeting the Walls

Picture of Sheeting the Walls

Next up I installed the exterior sheeting. This is pretty straight forward. The walls are attached with 1.5 inch deck screws.

To cut out the windows and door I used a roto-zip. That makes the job go quickly and easily.

Step 7: Installing Aluminum Trim and Roof

Picture of Installing Aluminum Trim and Roof

After installing sheeting on the walls, the next step is to install aluminum trim and roofing. I used aluminum trim stock. It comes in a variety of sizes, and I used the 24 inch wide material. I installed aluminum on the corners to cover the exposed edges of the plywood sheeting. I also installed gutters over the windows and doors. Finally I installed aluminum sheeting on the roof with a double bend connection to make sure that it would be totally waterproof.

Step 8: Sheeting the Interior

Picture of Sheeting the Interior

Inside I ran some electrical wires for the interior light and outlets and then installed 1/8 inch underlayment on the walls.

Step 9: Door and Window Trim

Picture of Door and Window Trim

Next I made the door by gluing and screwing 3 pieces of 1/2 inch exterior plywood together.

I cut out the interior trim for the windows and door.

Finally I gave everything a coat of primer.

Step 10: Painting the Trailer

Picture of Painting the Trailer

Everything inside and out was given a coat of exterior primer paint.

Then I applied a coat of Semi-Gloss exterior paint.

Then I filled all the screw holes (all 4 million of them) with caulk and gave it another coat of paint.

That is 1 coat of primer, and 2 coats of paint for those of you keeping count....

Step 11: Electrical

Picture of Electrical

Next I did all the final electrical work. I installed a 110 volt 15 amp inlet on the outside the powers an outlet and light on the inside.

I also applied another layer of paint inside and out (That's 3 coats of paint!!!)

Step 12: Finishing Up...

Picture of Finishing Up...

Next I Installed the windows and screens.

I installed the interior window and door trim.

I hung the door. It has bolts on the inside and outside (the outside can be locked open or closed to help prevent 'accidentally' getting locked inside).

Finally the fenders and outside lights were installed.

And... One last coat of paint just to say I did it... 4 coats of paint in all.

Step 13: Finished!!!!

Picture of Finished!!!!

The entire project takes about a week of working evenings to build.

The final cost for the trailer you see here was about $700 for everything.

I delivered this trailer to it's new owners and they have happily been camping in it ;)

I am starting another one soon...

Thanks for checking this out!!!


Sergeant Jewell (author)2017-09-26

Hi. Could you please tell me if the sidewalls are 41"? I saw the measurement of what was cut around the window but I didn't see one of the other parts. I'm sorry to keep asking, but we are ready to start assembly and it would help tremendously to know. Thank you.

Sergeant Jewell (author)2017-09-23

Hello. Is the height measurement 41"? We have bought the materials and things, but it would help tremendously if I could have this question answered please and thank you.

Sergeant Jewell (author)2017-09-23

how tall are the walls? What measurement did u cut them at?

tomolo (author)2017-09-12

I like it. Thanks for the great photos.

SteveV36 (author)2017-08-30

What is the total weight?

Bigtimehunter69 (author)2017-08-17

I was curious on how you installed the interior paneling. Did you have to cut them into pieces to fit them through the doorway? Or were you able to fit the paneling whole?

NancyF54 (author)2016-08-10

Hey just curious, how did you go about getting it inspected and titled to go on the road?, and great job by the way...

DanM134 (author)NancyF542016-08-17

To my knowledge, most states will accept an application for tags for a "shop-made" or "home-built" trailer. Requirements would vary from state to state. In Texas, up to a certain weight, there is no inspection required. Check with your DMV or County Tax Assessor, wherever you get your license plates.

Galabb (author)DanM1342016-08-20

I am going to build one that I can slide on and off so I can still use my trailer when I need it. No extra licensing if it's just part of the trailer's load.

lowetom65 (author)Galabb2017-07-10

That is my idea as well. Did you ever do it? Would appreciate any details.

roadiez (author)Galabb2017-01-20

That's exactly what i plan to do as well. I have a 4'x7.5' trailer with a tall gate on the end. I think it's a "Snow Bear" or something like that. It originally came from HomeDepot. But I'm hoping to make one that will slide in/out with a winch or such. Best of luck & let me know how yours goes. Look me up on Fb(same name).

jhughey (author)2017-02-04

I'm building this in TN. I bought a used trailer off Craigslist, so I don't have an official bill of sale. Does anyone know what I need to do to legally drive one of these around if we build it?

jtheas (author)jhughey2017-06-27

I'm sure you have found out already, but just call your county sheriff and they will let you know what you need to put together as far as paperwork.

HeatherM229 (author)2017-06-18

I love this idea. A lot less scary than trying to make a teardrop and a lot more space. One question I have is did you pretreat/paint the bottom of the floor plyboard to shield from elements? I would like to make this with a few modifications like interior shelves and cabinets, roof vent, roof rack and different door placement and hardware. Thank you for posting this!

AnnS52 (author)2016-08-20

Would it help to create a slight pitch to the roof to aid in rainwater run off?

BrendaR72 (author)AnnS522017-03-04

Rubber roofing or liquid rubber would work, I would paint the entire thing with white liquid rubber to prevent mold and mildew, I'd like to keep it square for stealth reasons then I could park anywhere to sleep if I needed to and I'd like removable metal meshing over the windows for disguise, Maybe use Plexiglas instead of glass that can be removable on the inside.

Dangerclose23 (author)AnnS522016-11-23

Thats what i was thinking

PaulB555 (author)2017-01-25

Did you use the 1100ilb or 1800lb harbor freight trailer for this?

I honestly can't remember which frame was used for this build. I have used several frames for building. I would recommend using the heavier frame you can get...

butchie50 (author)2016-12-30

Is there a place to use the restroom? How about heat?

Dangerclose23 (author)butchie502017-01-06

I want to make one possibly a little bigger and install a small wood burning stove or was thinking some solar panels installed on top

DaviddE1 made it! (author)2016-12-30

I used your instructions and made some modifications on it. Thank you!

Thanhnhan2050 (author)2016-12-14

What is the measurement of the interior of your trailer?

roadie114 made it! (author)2016-03-08

Thank you for all the instructions, I finally completed my own version and will be taking it out for the first time!!! Great instructable!!!

Thanhnhan2050 (author)roadie1142016-12-14

I am making one right now. What is the measurement of the interior of your trailer? My came out to be 41.5x90

Dangerclose23 (author)roadie1142016-11-23

Love it how did it do if i may ask?

CamaroGuy (author)2016-10-24

Teardrop trailer construction exceeds my woodworking ability but... This I can do ! Excellent idea roomier than a teardrop too!

brewgoat (author)2016-10-03

Nice finished product with very good instructions. The only change you may want to consider is to use securty stud hinges with set screws on the door to prevent anyone from getting in using a screwdriver.

sadams16 (author)2016-09-06

I OWN a run away 4'x8'x36" my complaints are that the camper is way too narrow needs to slide but I love the track of the trailer it follows the foot print of my Prius and it needs an attachment added to it so it can save more fuel. I a slide but I think to make my camper work I will chop a hole in the floor that I can use to lower my feet into a foot well that allows me to sit up and watch tv and compute. If it had that it would be on its way to being ideal. Oh and if you get or build a camper like this get a REMOTE control AC small spaces get very cold very fast. I sleep in the winter with electric blankets and mattress toppers I am toasty but summer you need to have an AC that is remote controlled fan too. With gen 2 Prius keep it below 60 mph get 30 mpg towing easy. Drop trailer you got a 45-50 mpg car all day not bad.

ozzmoe (author)2016-09-01

I have a small utility trailer I purchased from Lowes. I plan on doing similar to what you have done here. I think you did a Great job!!

NancyF54 (author)2016-08-21

Thanx for getting back to me... not really sure where to start here in PA. Went to CYA and they said we need receipts and the instruction Manule, but it was built like 10 years ago, we don't have a clue where any of that is ...Your info was helpful just the same.. have a great week

caribe704 (author)2016-08-14

Im ready to sign up! Would you be interested in building another?


n5yzv (author)2016-01-28

10 months and comments are still going!

I really do like the idea of a "container" that sits on a flatbed that can be removed, maybe with trailer jacks or such. I have a boat trailer I have been converting, I may do this. Rather long, but since I can position the axel wherever I wish, it should pull nice. Building a V at the front, but from left to right, but also with a pitch downward should help pulling at higher speeds nice.

I recently moved from a large dually truck to a 4x4 Tahoe, so the 5th wheel of the past in in the past. Good instructable!!

madmichael001 (author)n5yzv2016-08-14

hello n5yzv I am building a similar trailer to enable my family to tow it behind our caravan to take our kayaks and safety gear away on holiday so I don't have to drive home to pick them up then drive down again. It is being built on a base of an old trailer that we have and will be an open utility trailer to start with for rego purposes then have a bow built to fit snugly inside the open trailer to load all our items of kayaking into it will have hanging space and shelves for life jackets and paddles also wet-suits and some wet area with a mesh bottom to allow for water drainage and to keep the rest totally dry. Then it will be able to lift on and off using drop down legs two in the back and two in front but the two up front are to be placed about 18 inches back from the front so I can drop them down before the front drops of the base . maybe do a instruct able on here to show all .................good luck in building yours

RalphW8 (author)2016-08-14

Nice design if in the front towards the hitch if you triangle the front would that make it a little more aerodynamic and also give a little more storage space.

ttolind (author)2016-07-11

Very impressive! With a few changes, I am applying your construction methods to building a compact slide-in camper for my pick-up..Hopefully it will turn out as good as yours.

WendyDudek1 (author)2016-05-26

I love this, but I think I'd redesign it with SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels). They're quick to build with and have insulation in them.

sabertooths (author)2016-04-12

I don't have a brake for forming the aluminum for the roof or the corners. I was thinking of a white roll on bed liner material for the roof top but I'm unsure how to properly finish the corners. Thoughts?

TimothyG20 (author)sabertooths2016-04-26

Go all wood, then buy some epoxy paint paint it with a good epoxy paint and you will have a waterproof roof. If you really want super waterproof and make it last forever. get some fiberglass cloth and fiberglass resin. coat the roof in resin, lay down the cloth then saturate with resin again. if you double up the cloth on the corners the whole camper will last longer than the next 3 cars you buy. then after all the resin has cured, paint with a white epoxy paint.

JoeZ24 (author)2016-04-11

How much was the Total weight!

JayS125 (author)2016-04-01

I'm wondering what you did about the registration on the utility trailer. Does it become a camper and will it have to be registered as a camper?

In Kentucky, utility trailers don't have to be registered but campers do.

Would appreciate any info on this? J

Dr LindaS (author)JayS1252016-04-08

Utility Trailers don't have beds (wink wink). Got it? Sometimes One off units may have to be inspected and weighed in some States. So if buying from a company (that makes micro-campers, you possibly can have just the trailer titled (with a certificate of origin) BUT one-of-a-kind or DIY you might have to get it inspected. That is my state (not Kentucky). Also at some parks, a utility trailer may not count as an rv unit...either. If that is of any benefit. Thanks a million for posting the unit.

TroyH26 (author)2016-03-06

I'm going to be doing the same thing, only I already have a 4X8 trailer with a tilt bed, open mesh deck, I'll be following the same general plan, only using 2X2 12" OC for the framing of walls and ceiling insultated with 1 1/2" foamboard and skinned with 1/4" plywood inside and out except for the flooe which will be 1/2" plywood.

I'll also be using epoxy to glue the plywood to the framing which will make for a fairly stiff structure, and I'll have 2X2 skids on the bottom 12" OC to slide the whole thing in and out on.

Iceman5353 (author)TroyH262016-04-05

Hi Troy, is it hard to get the camper in and out of your trailer? I was thinking of doing something similar with my trailer. Any info would be appreciated. Thanks Mike

TroyH26 (author)Iceman53532016-04-05

Haven't built it yet but it won't be any harder than getting an ice shack off a trailer

blknwhtcat (author)2016-03-01

What was the weight capacity of the Harbor Freight trailer you used? I have a 1100lb capacity trailer I bought for my Jon boat that I never used.

RichardS166 (author)2016-01-21

how tall are the walls? I saw no reference anywhere for that thanks

gabbygabs2 (author)2016-01-07

I Love it..

gareyn (author)2015-12-29

I am surprised to see you using OSB for any outside surface. When it gets wet it expands . For my money . Spend the extra $$$ and go with plywood. Other than that, NICE JOB

About This Instructable




Bio: - I am 'that' Karl
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