If you want to travel through a country on a budget and still sleep in a dry place while it rains, a small camper is perfect. However, I wanted to have a fuel efficient car that could be used as well on a daily basis. I decided to go for a used white Renault Kangoo 1.5dci mini van. It's highly fuel efficient (5.2l/100km - 45.2mpg / effective range around 1000km - 621 miles), pleasant to drive and if you take the seats out it is an astonishingly big transporter for sport or daily use.

I planned everything to be modular:

  • While camping you take the back seats out and are left with two seats and a camping mobile.
  • You can leave the back seats in the car and install the kitchen box and you have your kitchen with you if you want to go climbing with your friends.
  • Or you take both boxes out and your car is a normal mini van again.

The main goal was to build a small camper that is very fast and easy to put into a sleeping position.

I had 9 days between the end of my exams and the beginning of the road trip with my girlfriend. Not everything was finished by then, but it was enough to be used without any problems.



Berta was on the road again. For a journey through southern Sweden last summer, we added or altered some items to make it even more practical. I added the instructions as additional steps and not as a new instructable to keep the whole project in one single place. I hope you'll enjoy it!


Berta met an untimely end and rests now in the vehicle heaven. She got a too close encounter with a Ford on the highway and will not recover from her wounds. We are sad for the loss but also happy that some of her parts will live on and help other cars to survive.

Should you happen to live in or near Switzerland, the whole camping setup (without fridge, gas stove etc.) including the boxes, the matress and the inner tent will be for sale. It should fit any Renault Kangoo prior 2008 perfectly and might even fit similiar cars (VW Caddy, Peugeot Partner, Fiat Doblo, Ford Tourneo Connect, Citroen Berlingo, etc.) with some minor alternations. Feel free to contact me via PM.

Step 1: The backside box

All the wooden parts are made of 1.9cm (0.75inch) 3 layer wood sheets. The box is exactly as wide as the trunk of the car and reaches from the back door to the backside of the back seats. I divided the box into 3 parts. On the left side is a compartment for the kitchen box (coming later in the next steps). On the right side is an opening for the cooler. And in between is space for everything that doesn't fit somewhere else.
To be honest I would prefer the hole setup to be a bit lower to have a bit more space while sitting in the car, but space was limited due to the cooler (Waeco Tropicool TC-14FL). The cooler is mounted on a plate that rests on drawer linear bearings. Like this you can slide the cooler out to have access to it. To keep the cooler in place while driving there are magnetic locks on the back side of the plate that holds the cooler.
Hi well I'm about a month in in copying your build and I've got to say "your good " even with your help it's still a challenge ! you made it look easy (but it's not) can I ask ..did you need too insulate the floor or was it warm enough ...I think it's a fantastic idea as I would never have the money for a caravan ect ....I'm running power from two new leisure AGM 120 amp batteries and a 1000 watt inverta...the ikea led lights are great plus mood lights...just having trouble finding the locking hinges ...will update later ...many thanks jake
<p>Hey, thanks for the kind words! :) These comments always make my day.</p><p>The floor wasn't a problem, but I have to admit that we didn't use it in very cold seasons. Since the Kangoo isn't really insulated, you lose most of the heat over the metallic side-parts and especially the windows. The inner tent helps a bit and the thermal flaps really make a difference! About the brackets: Try and google for &quot;Folding Shelf Bracket&quot;. They're used for foldable shelfs and sometimes for benches. You should be able to locate some easily.</p><p>Good luck with your conversion. Since Berta is dead, our new car has already been converted (although in quite a different style) and successfully tested in France. </p><p>Best regards, Dominik.</p>
Hi just got a kangoo and without your help I would be lost ...I'm so glad I found you thanks
<p>Hi! I hope you have tons of fun with yours and more luck with the longevity. The new setup with our Skoda Yeti (I guess that would be Berta 3.0) has been finished recently and just gave us a home during a few weeks through France.</p>
<p>Looks like you had a ton of fun! Awesome and inspiring project. Kudos!</p>
brilliat. thank you. ;)
<p>Love this! Big inspiration and made me realize that my little 60MPG Citroen Nemo panel van could actually be quite a practical stealth camper for two short adults and a small dog. I shall be implementing your modular box system and our road trips will be much comfier.</p>
<p>You could save even more weight by cutting a large hole in each divider and the bottom of the rear box (just like you did on the sides.</p>
<p>Unbelievable! Thanks for sharing! I plan to use some of these ideas for a summer cross country trip!!!</p>
<p>You can't imagine how much you inspired me. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you !!!!<br>I think I'm gonna start building my personal version of it as soon as I can</p>
<p>I thank you. Comments like yours are the reason why I really enjoy posting my projects. And yours motivated me to finally upload the major upgrades that we implemented for our last journey. And sadly it really was the last. The car got totalled three weeks back and I'm in the process of designing a new setup for our new car. A Skoda Yeti 1.6 TDI Greenline. However I posted the last changes for legacy reasons. The ideas might still inspire someone to do something great. Thank you again for your kind comment.</p>
<p>I've just bought a 2014 TC titanium !!! <br>I guess you REALLY inspired me ;)</p><p>I have thought of a slightly different design. I'll keep you updated on my build.</p>
<p>Ha, that's really cool. That one tempted me as well! My design for the new car will be different too. The kitchen box is already in production. :) You know, lessons learned and such nonsense! Enjoy your car and may she live by the road and die of old age in a garage!</p>
It's a sad news to hear about her death. Live by the road, die by the road..<br>I'm not sure about that Skoda being a right choice, but it is yours :)<br>I think the most inspiring in this project Is the inside tent against bugs. I'll definitely steal the idea ;)<br>Cheers from Canada<br>Peace
<p>This is a freaking thing of beauty, and *exactly* what I would like to have. I have a much smaller vehicle (a Dodge Calibre Hatchback), but there's just me; I'll have to see how I can adapt it. I particularly liked the mosquito tent and thermal screens, since I live in the Sonoran Desert and we get every type of climate there is (including tropical-style monsoons at least part of the year.) One suggestion: It seems to me that there are possibilities for a pull-out table on top of the storage compartments but under the mattress; it'd take some extra work and add in some more weight, but it's a thought and would make a nice worksurface, even if it's just one storage compartment wide and slots into the top of the compartment. Maybe kind of like an old-fashioned baker's surface that pulls out from a kitchen countertop? Like that. </p>
Nice that you like it, thank you. <br>Considering the thermal screens: For the last journey I made a few improvements that aren't covered in this instructable (yet..). So you get a personal peek preview.. :) I replaced the velcro patches with a few inches of Duct-Tape and a small flat neodym magnet. The top magnets keep the screens in place. The lower two magnets double up to fix the screens when they are rolled up (make sure that the lower two magnets stand out of the &quot;burrito roll&quot; when rolled up. Otherwise it doesn't work..). This makes it super easy to roll them down in the evening! And they do not obstruct your view while driving. Worked like a charm and cost only a few dollars for all the windows. Maybe that will help you.
<p>Hi!</p><p>Super cool project you have there! I am doing something similar with a Sprinter van and we are planning the seating - bed area. I was wondering if you feel a lot the spaces between the cushions when you sleep. Did you ever fall between the cracks? Do the velcros holding the two pieces in the center hold it up good enough?</p><p>Thanks!</p><p>Audrey</p>
<p>Hey, long time since the last comment on this instruct able! :) I never had any problems with the spaces between the pieces of the mattress. For one, the velcro does indeed a good job in holding the two middle parts together. And I built the pieces slightly too big, so that you have to push them a bit together to place them side by side. I would make sure that you divide the mattress in a way that you have one solid piece under your torso/shoulder. In my setup the grooves are between the sleepers, under the neck (where the pillow covers it) and down by the leg where they aren't problem. Hope that helps and best wishes for your home on wheels!</p>
<p>Wonderful! Thanks for such a detailed answer! This makes a lot of sense. We will work on this this weekend, so this is great news and good help! Have a good one and hope you are enjoying your MicroCamper as much as possible!</p>
<p>Wish this vehicle was more readily available in the US. But this would work with the mini Ford Transit and some minivans. Nicely done.</p>
<p>First saw this instructable when it came in my e-mail last year. Loved it then, love it now. I thought I might do something for my Ford Focus wagon but it met an untimely end... Half thinking of this I bought a Mazda 5, taller and longer, not as big as Berta, but I keep the dream alive.</p><p>Prost!</p>
<p>Hi there. Strange to think that you buy a car with something in mind I built on an other continent! :) With a bit of adaption I'm sure you can make something unique and useful! However, if you want to always keep your seats in, I've just seen a very nice instructable for that:</p><p><a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Camper-in-a-box/" rel="nofollow">http://www.instructables.com/id/Camper-in-a-box/</a></p><p>Wish you all the best!</p>
<p>Looks great, and very versatile. It has made me seriously consider this as an option, thanks</p>
<p>I saw an old Renault built like this when I was a kid and have been wanting to do one ever since. Thanks for the inspiration and the pictures. Now I can show my wife up front, how I want to go on holiday... Thanks!</p>
Thank, that makes me happy. I'm planning to do a mayor update for a trip to sweden this summer. Regards to your women and tell her that it is really fun to travel like this! :)
<p>amazingly inspirational. wouldnt work for my growing family though. may need to upscale to a short bus...</p>
<p>great job super!</p>
great ideas.
Nice work.
Very nice job.. <br>Thanks
I think Rick Grimes would be proud. This is amazing! You should keep adding to it, make it even more useful! If only I had the time to do this!
This is a great project.
So much thought and work you both put into this! Great! Voted for you. Good Luck! Hope you enjoy more micro-trips! :)
Thank you! Every vote is highly welcome!!! (I'm eyeing that solar panel/battery set that one can win. Somehow a solar panel is just missing on the roof of the car! :D )
Well done, I like your concept! Check out my German instruction on placing a swiss solar cell on my Kangoo. You might find my fastening solution quite helpful : http://www.reise-forum.weltreiseforum.de/viewtopic.php?t=31536 <br> <br>Best regards, sphaera <br>
I just did that. Looks like a very nice option!! However, you should really post some pictures of the solar mount / car / interior even if it's not all the way finished.
Alright then! Feel free to check out these pictures as my first step on documenting the highly versatile camper. Hope, you'll love it as much as I do :-)! <br> <br>http://forum.mykangoo.de/index.php?id=277573 <br> <br>sphaera
This is very good! I've had a similar idea, and I think you've inspired me to go forward with it. Thanks for sharing!
Beautiful work! I love the utility. You have my vote too. Good Luck!<br> <br> <br> Back in the '60's and '70's I did several campers out of English Thames vans and also a Landrover 109. The one bit of advice that I'd second is to get a back-up battery for when the motor is off. There's a little switch with a diode in it that isolates the primary battery when the motor is off. It's always fresh for starting the car the next day and then the second battery recharges when the motor is on.<br> <br> You can locate the second battery anywhere in the car and just run wires it to the switch.
Oh, I really would like to have an old Landy! REALLY!!! (Girlfriend, if you read this...) But they drink so much that I would become poor even if I could afford one in the first place. <br>Secondary battery is not that much an issue for me, since I don't use many electrical devices. Cooler cools down while driving and phone is loaded when it's night. But maybe I will eventually implement one. :)
Thanks for the thoughts on the ply, and as for Landy's, I've had a few series II's. <br>They are pretty clunky by today's standards, but there's something very lovable/tactile about all of them. <br>If it's cost of fuel you're worried about, the best thing about a Landrover is that there is sooo much space under the bonnet to up-convert to a more 'modern/cheaper' to run motor. <br>I had an old short wheel base Landy many years ago that would cruise on 80 mph with its different motor and changed diff ratios. <br>Raised a few eyebrows when it whistled and rattled past other cars (;-&gt;
:D Very cool! But sadly even the broken Defenders are quite costly here and tinkering with the engine is legally quite nerve consuming. Maybe one day I just have to buy one! :)
LOL. They weren't really built for fuel economy but they'd climb a wall if they could get some traction! <br> <br>What I really loved about my 109 was that it was really built for safari, far from the nearest service station. With a few wrenches and screw drivers you could take the whole thing apart. <br> <br>In those days I lived about 200 feet from the Pacific ocean and being made of Aluminum I didn't have to worry about rust. When the weather was nice I'd remove the roof and side windows and have a convertible. <br> <br>They looked BAD ASS too, sort of the Hummer of their day.
Just brilliant! I voted for you.
Thank you!
Great Instructable on an awesome design and thoughtful implementation. Applied simplicity? Absolutely!
Hey, always nice to hear from South Africa! I really wish we had your climate right now. :)
Very attractive and well-integrated work. <br> <br>An additional &quot;coach&quot; battery (as they are called in the US, which is a deep-cycle rechargeable battery dedicated for use for the living space) would extend the life of your engine battery, which is not really happy with any discharge beyond what it takes to start the vehicle). <br> <br>The coach battery is typically isolated from the engine battery, but uses the engine charging system when the engine is running. <br> <br>If you add a coach battery, there are numerous details to deal with, depending on the battery technology you adopt, but you appear to be careful and methodical, and I think you would do a good job with your research. <br>

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Bio: applied simplicity
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