DIY Micro Camper

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Introduction: 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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...

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!!!!

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!!!

3 People Made This Project!

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9 Tips

0

A wind turbine with a couple of deep cycle batteries and only use led lights should be more then enough power. I would think an alternator hooked to a roof mounted cylinder fan would be a cheap solution.

you could inset the trailer lights in the back plywood panel and avoid braking the external lights off while camping also a 12 volt circuit or two inside would be great

So much effort to put the Lock Bolts on the door, but hinges really need to be on the inside because even locked you just need to unscrew the hinges to get in a steal all your valuables while you are out on a hike or something, otherwise it`s perfect. So much better than being on the ground in a tent and then also in a tent everything needs to be packed up and stored this thing is always set and ready to use, not to mention if insulated and a small bit of imagination you could heat it for free (solar or other) in climates where camping season would be done.
Scott

Hello: I would add insulation in the floor, walls and roof. Also tail lights would be nice. I used a regular locking house doorknob so I could lock my self in and others out. Carl.

Might want to add some type of waterproof underlayment to preserve the wood!

Given the low ceiling I would be tempted to do as much of the interior work as possible before putting the roof on.

I can see merit in using steel studs to reduce weight.

An alternative to underlayment would be wood paneling. It's cheap, and needs no further finishing.

Modification ideas:

* I don't like the flat roof. It needs a slope so that water doesn't pool on it when stored.

* I really really like to have one place where I can stand up. Both of these features could be done at once by making it somewhat wedge of cheese shaped.

* You have the triangle at the front that is unused. While making it more complicated, using this to create a storage box/camp kitchen would make the trailer more useful, and may decrease wind drag.

I'd switch out the location of the door and one window, putting the door on the long side of the trailer. Then, rather than a conventional door, I'd make it a drop-down ramp right over the fender, and hang patio-door-style $10 bug screen curtain on the inside. You'd need a simple pulley system to raise the ramp door, from the inside, but could lift it up from the outside and bolt it shut from either side. Such a door would make it much easier to load stuff because its wider than a conventional door and because it's in the middle of the camper. The bug screen means that you can leave the ramp open on warm nights without getting eaten up.

I'd add a mini platform to the frame's apex to hold a large canvas bag of stuff you might want access to in the middle of the night, or in bad weather, but don't necessarily want to store inside the camper (or don't have room for). Then, add a "doggie door" at that end of the camper so you don't need to go outside to get the gear..

Hi my name is Michael and I have built many trailers over the years mostly for boats and some for cargo your camper version is a real alternative I have never thought of . So here are a few tips of what I would have included in your version {1} I would have it wider than the wheels making the frame frame cover the with including the wheels this should give you at least another 12/18" depending on the width of the wheels.then when building the living area frame you could raise the bed level to cover the wheel on one side and allowing you to have storage under the bed you could also build a mini kitchen on the opposite side giving some home comforts like a portable cooker/sink/small fridge worked from the car battery and fitting mudguards would only have to be a length of aluminum to cover over the wheels and could be screwed into the frame or top.I will try and make up a plan and drawing of what I am thinking of if you like.here is my email address = micksermorgan@gmail.com let me know if you like my tips.Michael Morgan.

12 Questions

I LOVE this - where did you buy the trailer frame? I haven't been able to find any less than $600...

Can I build one of these that weighs well under 1,000 pounds? About 700-800 pounds? How feasible is that?

Why did you use full 2x4s? Wouldn't using split 2x4s reduce the weight by 50%? Sorry if this is a newb question.

What grade is the plywood?

What is the weight? how does it do on the freeway at 65 mph? where could I get the windows? how tall is this? Thank You and awesome job

Could you please tell me the height of the walls ?
Great job by the way !!

Would metal studs work as well? I would think it would save weight as well more durable.

Osb for roof? OSB is not waterproof do you coat it with something?

How did you waterproof the bottom?

267 Comments

Your job was brilliant! Ithink myself why you did not embed the door hinges. It would be safer... but it is quite good anyway!

Two observations, I don't see any type of insulation? I would have minimally added 2"foil covered foam insulation in all the walls and ceiling. Also, I'd be worried of some smartass locking me in by having a lockable latch on the outside as well. Maybe come up with some way to lock it conventionally? This is a very cheap trailer to begin with, so it will rust very soon. For a more durable trailer, but you'd be adding expense, try using aluminum or galvanized metal. Old boat trailers are galvanized and are no more than 5' wide and longer, thus adding more space for you... Good write up!

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

there are exterior (class 4) osb - it's waterproof. i think, it will be ok after painting.

Yeah Maybe there is waterproof OSB, but I'm a bit leary about OSB PERIOD. The surface MAY be waterproof , but what about the edges? That is where the moisture gets in. Paint may help for a while , but I would still go with plywood. I went so far as to use plywood on my house when I was building it . Sure it cost me a bit more, but I know what I have . I will not use OSB. It's a product made from wood scraps , you know , Garbage . And the lumber companies are profiting from it. Rubs me the wrong way . But to each his own rite?

The shiny side is the waterproof side

This is not your father's OSB. I recently built a big shed and was surprised to discover that all the pros now prefer OSB sheathing to plywood. Not only is it cheaper and stiffer than plywood (yes really) which allows thinner sheets to support the same load, but modern glues are much less sensitive to moisture than the crap from even a decade ago. The old stuff would swell if it even smelled water, but during my shed construction some of the cutoffs were left outside during several rainstorms and didn't swell at all. You still don't wan't to leave it permanently unprotected, but modern OSB is a good choice for outdoor projects.

The only OSB used is on the roof which is then wrapped with aluminum... the exterior walls are plywood... the last few trailers I have built have been plywood covered with aluminum...

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.

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