Picture of Homebuilt Camper Trailer
Safari BaseCamp 10 is a homebuilt camper trailer that my dad and my brother and I built, with the help of some nearby craftsmen. One of the goals has been to create a self-sufficient system that facilitates a complete set of commodities without the need for hookups. Although many details were worked out during construction, there was quite a bit of prior planning and dreaming involved. It's probably been over two years since the building began, and we're still not done tweaking it. We took BaseCamp 10 on its first camping trip about a year ago.

Since Dad did most of the work and we boys helped with some things along the way, I may use "we" to refer to all or any of the the three of us throughout this instructable.

The project was based on a 4x8-ft. aluminum trailer frame. We replaced the wooden floorboards, the jack, the coupler, and the taillights and added other lights on the sides and rear of the frame. We also had it outfitted with a new 2,000-lb. axle, new alloy wheels, and new tires and had the fenders repainted. We would eventually have a local machine shop reinforce the tongue and mount a K & W diamond-plate-style toolbox above it.

Dad designed and built a 34-in.-high exterior-plywood box that would eventually sit atop the trailer. We painted the box olive, inside and out, and spray-painted a camouflage pattern in flat colors around the outside. More than one try was needed before the camo was satisfactory, but we finally settled on a simple hand-sprayed design under a stenciled Reelfoot bark pattern.

The box contained three main compartments. For the one in the front, Dad built a slide-out kitchenette featuring an Atwood WedgeWood two-burner cooktop, a sink, a faucet, a paper-towel bar, two drawers, and a storage area under the sink. The box and lid of the kitchenette are plywood, and the countertop is stainless steel-style Formica.

We outfitted the middle compartment of the main box with a 20-gal. water tank as well as a pump. One hose can be connected to the faucet in the kitchenette while the other is run outside for bathing.

In the area above the front and middle compartments, we installed a 12w 5a solar panel on a slide-out system. The panel charges two batteries located in the toolbox in front, and the batteries supply power to the water pump, five LED lighting fixtures, and three 12v outlets. An Amish craftsman helped to get the electrical system properly wired.

The largest compartment is the storage area in the rear of the box. A door on each side and in the rear allow access to the contents. A spare wheel and tire are mounted on the large rear door.

A protruding door opposite the one for the kitchenette allows access to some electrical components, including the the battery charger. A recessed compartment on the outside of the main box holds two small propane tanks–one feeds gas to the cooktop in the kitchenette, and the other supplies a portable Coleman water heater. An axe and a shovel are mounted on one side of the box, and a metal gasoline can is secured on the other. A Formica-topped table can be attached to the outside of the box on the same side as the kitchenette.

On a custom rack on top of the box, two 48x92-in. sheets of plywood provide the base for a folding rooftop tent that opens to nearly eight feet square. The aluminum frame, the canvas, and the mattress were fabricated by skilled Amish craftsmen. The results were exceptional, and the tent is capable of sleeping the three of us very comfortably. Two ladders support the overhanging side of the tent and provide access to the two doors on that side. Awnings protect openings on three sides, and a canopy extends out the other side to cover the kitchen area. Additional pieces of canvas can be used to further enclose both the kitchen area and the space under the tent overhang–that includes a floor for the kitchen area.

We also added these free-standing accessories: an Engel portable AC/DC refrigerator/freezer, a camouflage Honda EU2000i portable generator, and a fire extinguisher, and a Cabela's shower tent.

Using a homemade stencil, we sprayed the name Safari BaseCamp 10 onto both sides. We chose the name because it was 2010, and this particular camper happened to be about the tenth major camping unit my dad had used in his lifetime.

Here is a list of costs incurred during the build (note that this estimate does not include trailer chassis, shower/toilet, generator, and refrigerator, as well as flashlight, fire extinguisher, and shovel/axe with with mounts.

Wood: $666
Hardware: $1,195
Paint: $717
Plumbing: $255
Propane: $314
Electrical: $1,041
Miscellaneous: $355
Solar Power System (with associated hardware): $997
Tent: $3,869
Side Room: $2,029

Total for Basic Camper Trailer Build: $11,438

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wolfgang642 years ago
I commend your complete thinking.This is impressive one other thought, any ideas about keeping a freash water source and or filtration on board?

My brother-in-law, David Andres, in Clancy, MT, has an AMAZING self-contained, solar-charged water pump and filtration system that comes complete in a Toughbox that will pump and filter all of your water from any relatively nearby source. It would be a great water source for this application. I can email you the specs, if you would like.

Great trailer project. For a shower I use 12v pump and a zodi. A self contained pump, filter etc would be great. Could you share the specs?

anthonyschr (author)  wolfgang645 months ago

I think we have a hand-pump filter as well as a Big Berkey gravity filter, both of which could be used with our system.

mike.webersr7 months ago

where did you get the tent or was it made for you? I'm still trying to find one that is even close, of course I realize the flap is was added to the tent thanks

Hi, i have seen a rooftoptent like this on an australian webpage

to'bryant5 months ago

Wow Great build. How is it holding up?

johnybody5 months ago

Great project! Can you tell me more about how the table is attach to the trailer? It look like a quick disconnect system.

Muleagain7 months ago

I'm not sure this is going to be something I can get into. Wheelchair bound here. I can walk just not very far. I have been thinking about getting an equipment trailer and building up from there. Then again I may just go with a nice tandem axle 7.5x12 cargo box and build that way. Cost is going to get me tho. But nice job on your trailer, bit on the expensive side tho. I make this suggestion tho. Move the solar panel to the tongue of the trailer and put it on a long pipe. Where it is now, it doesn't get full sunlight.

chestef9 months ago


As an engineer I am amazed at how this camper was developed. I grew up with my best friends dad having developed a camping trailer that served his family of 6 to camp and stay off the ground (my friends mom was afraid of snakes). When it came time for my family of 4 to camp we were always ill after tent camping. Following the above example I adapted an out-of-the-box tent to a homemade trailer and solved the problem. The greatest compliment I received was from a camper that came into the camp grounds after dark with a new ($3,500 coleman camper) and having him walk around the periphery of our campsite. His comment was "...friend, one of us is doing something wrong"! Great project!

jexner9 months ago
That's wicked cool! Thanks for sharing :)
ehyofranky9 months ago

$11k is a lot of change for a plywood box on wheels.

ccooper3310 months ago
Wow.... Really impressive
alperock1 year ago
Tek kelimeyle mükemmel. ( perfect design )
downlod dosyasını indiremedim yardımcı olursanız sevinirim
z2868camaro2 years ago
Fantastic job! The only thing I can see is that 11K is a lot of money. I'd have to just buy something complete.
GrissleFist2 years ago
That is really cool. Can you post a video of you setting it up. That would help us understand how parts of it worked (which would help me engineer one of my own).
dman7892 years ago
camper trailer like this one in Australia for 40000 with just a few extras that if added to yours wouldn't be a necessary thing to do but it would still cost less than 40,000
compact2 years ago
There is a new forum out there for folks interested in Trailer Supported Adventuring called Tventuring. A place to discuss building, modifying, outfitting and using this type of tent topped camping trailer. Check it out www.tventuring/trailerforum/
cajundood2 years ago
hello.... great instructable by the way. your project as well as a couple of other teardrop trailer style camping units have me dreaming up all sorts of things. what i have settled on is a miniature camper/ toy hauler built from an enclosed 6x12 trailer. it will be an off-the-grid type and i will use it to camp as well as a BOL if the SHTF. i love the way you have the solar panel incorperated into the structure. i will use lots of your designs in mine. if you have any suggestions on how to best utilize my limited space, I am all ears. I don't have the carpentry skills to start from a flatbed trailer, so i am gonna start with a new 6x12 enclosed trailer.
anthonyschr (author)  cajundood2 years ago
Sounds great. I love your idea of starting with an enclosed trailer. That should save you a lot of labor and keep the weight down. Should we do a project like this again, we would definitely consider that route. With the weight we have to deal with, it would be nice if it were balanced closer to the axle, so keep that in mind when placing things like a water tank or batteries.
One thing you could try is to place certain things on the outside of the trailer. This saves interior space, but it also helps to establish the trailer as a "hub" for all the different functions rather than just a storage unit.
I'd love to see your finished project!
elktrip20003 years ago
I've been wondering where you found your tent for this project. It look like an 8'X8' floor is that correct? Please share the source.
anthonyschr (author)  elktrip20002 years ago
The tent frame and canvas were custom built by skilled craftsmen not far from where we live. They did a superb job.
Lorddrake3 years ago
2 questions ..

rough estimate ..for the materials, how much would it cost to build something like this?

how long does it take to set up / break down the camperer?

anthonyschr (author)  Lorddrake3 years ago
Two people should allow at least a 1/2 hour to position the trailer, unfold the tent, and erect the canopy as shown in this picture. That figure is rather a guess. I may update or supplement it later.

Expect a cost estimate in some form sometime in the future.
I've been wondering where you found your tent for this project. It look like an 8'X8' floor is that correct? Please share the source.

is it possiblefor just one person to set it up, or is that just too few hands?
anthonyschr (author)  Lorddrake3 years ago
I wouldn't rule out the possibility of one person being able to do it, but we've never tried it that I know of. Setup is quite manageable, though, with two people.

Also, an improvement on our design might just make the difference. Any ideas?
When you get a few more pics up showing the setup process and how everything looks opened and closed I might have some input on how to aid in making this an easy one-person job.

looking forward to seeing more of this awesome build.
I would also be interested in these two questions and add another to the list:
Do you know how much the trailer weighs roughly (fully loaded)?

I have a basic car license which limits the weight of a trailer to 750kg (approx 1650 pounds). Seeing how you use a 2000 pound axle (950kg) this kind of trailer might be right on the limit of what I could haul without need for a higher license.
anthonyschr (author)  FoolishSage3 years ago
Unfortunately, the trailer ended up being heavier than Dad expected. I understand it weighs a little under 2000 lb. unloaded and a little over 2000 lb. loaded (with at least some of our gear).

I'm afraid that would exceed your 1650-lb. limit. However, were you to build your own, you could probably get near that by slimming down the design. Since the box is one of the trailer's heaviest components, reducing the amount of plywood used could be one the first steps.
You can also reduce weight by using 3/4 plywood for the deck instead of PT 2x4's it would seem.When you consider that waterproofing is a bit more of a priority than the trailer being able to withstand branches and rocks, then you can add a skin if desired there.
I am planning a teardrop build this spring, in sections so I can knock it down and use the flatbed by itself to haul. Running rubbler gaskets made from a lot of discarded bike innertubes will encircle each side, top, front and back section. I have been buying parts for a year; using car trunk liner for sound-proofing as well as various vinyl floor mats, too. I am going to use 2x2's with Liquid Nails instead of all screws, and apply a sealer to guard against dry-rot on the inside.
I plan for it to look like a Woody, but stain it grey and hopefully fiberglass each panel individually. Been saving drawer glides from a nearby county school office furniture site; I take my drill down and get all the hardware I need after everyone else is done picking! I plan to coat the underside of the trailer in asphalt roof coating, I hear that is what they use and it works pretty good. My current project segment is figuring out the wiring/battery/solar setups; I am going to use solar heat and solar hot water. I have scavenged parts for that already and will test those this month.
A teardrop that could slide into a standard flatbed utility trailer could be a useful project. That way, you could remove the teardrop when you needed to use the utility trailer for hauling stuff.
I thought about that, but most aesthetically pleasing teardrop patterns feature a curved roof-line that is higher in the front and slopes towards the back for the kitchenette hatch, so that means it is curved. It will add too much thickness to be stored under the deck, so I planned on just 'dropping' all the separate pieces in a secure location and covering them with a tarp until I need to re-assemble it. I thought of splitting the curved parts right down the middle, which would reduce the thickness of the dis-assembled pieces, but when you start stacking pieces like this the depth adds up and would still be too thick to try to fit under the deck. A tambor radius, perhaps, with a rubber lining? Now you have me thinking about it again, rolling around more ideas. hmmm.

Also, more pieces means more seams that could potentially fail over time, and I don't want water getting inside, ever, unless it's from rain tracked in, or from being cleaned. I dream of making the interior of Ply-boo, but at $250.00/sheet, that is out of my range. Maybe they will have thin bamboo veneer by then. I would go for that.

Thanks for piquing my interest in the component design again. I have other projects going on right now that have to be done before cold wet weather sets in. Have a great day, and thank you for your input!
Check OutBack Teardrop Good forum and lots of good plans etc
Thank you so much, more ways to tweak my design!
Is it the license for the vehicle or the license for the driver that limits how heavy of a trailer you can tow? We don't have that concept over here. There are suggestions on the max weight that a vehicle can tow or carry, but I've seen that exceeded quite a bit by people who are driving slow for a short distance (e.g. from the building supply store to their home / work site). Some of the ones that I've seen have been a bit scary -- you really don't want to be driving near them.
hello sir
how are you doing ok? like know can infromtaion no this write at write or
thank you time
compact3 years ago
Anthony, very cool camping trailer. Like the slide out kitchen and solar panel. Nice job on the tent unit. Surprised with the aluminum frame and all that it came in so heavy.

If you haven't seen them, you should check out Compact Camping Concepts, lots of great DIY Tent Trailer stuff and ideas.

AWESOME man! I love this so much, too bad that this project is not suitable uses in my country, but i did done a trailer by used the rear cut of MR2 SW20 for storage all tools and uses it on my racing event :-) good job!
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