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Picture of The MicroCamper a.k.a
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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.

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UPDATE1:

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!

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UPDATE2:

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.

 
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jakestreats26 days ago
Hi just got a kangoo and without your help I would be lost ...I'm so glad I found you thanks
dtextor (author)  jakestreats25 days ago

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.

timwikander2 months ago

Looks like you had a ton of fun! Awesome and inspiring project. Kudos!

JoSte04212 months ago
brilliat. thank you. ;)
foobyj4 months ago

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.

mclancer4 months ago

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.

jcookester4 months ago

Unbelievable! Thanks for sharing! I plan to use some of these ideas for a summer cross country trip!!!

AlienSKP5 months ago

You can't imagine how much you inspired me. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you !!!!
I think I'm gonna start building my personal version of it as soon as I can

dtextor (author)  AlienSKP5 months ago

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.

AlienSKP dtextor4 months ago

I've just bought a 2014 TC titanium !!!
I guess you REALLY inspired me ;)

I have thought of a slightly different design. I'll keep you updated on my build.

dtextor (author)  AlienSKP4 months ago

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!

AlienSKP dtextor5 months ago
It's a sad news to hear about her death. Live by the road, die by the road..
I'm not sure about that Skoda being a right choice, but it is yours :)
I think the most inspiring in this project Is the inside tent against bugs. I'll definitely steal the idea ;)
Cheers from Canada
Peace
ysabet7 months ago

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.

dtextor (author)  ysabet7 months ago
Nice that you like it, thank you.
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 "burrito roll" 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.
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Hi!

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?

Thanks!

Audrey

dtextor (author)  AudreyDesjardins10 months ago

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!

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!

IdahoDavid1 year ago

Wish this vehicle was more readily available in the US. But this would work with the mini Ford Transit and some minivans. Nicely done.

The Wapusk1 year ago

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.

Prost!

dtextor (author)  The Wapusk1 year ago

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:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Camper-in-a-box/

Wish you all the best!

dimdiode1 year ago

Looks great, and very versatile. It has made me seriously consider this as an option, thanks

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!

dtextor (author)  inspiredwood1 year ago
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! :)
azolina31 year ago

amazingly inspirational. wouldnt work for my growing family though. may need to upscale to a short bus...

great job super!

TSDMB1 year ago
Amazing!
rc jedi1 year ago
great ideas.
Nice work.
Very nice job..
Thanks
northwest1 year ago
Awesome!
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!
RangerJ1 year ago
This is a great project.
parisusa1 year ago
So much thought and work you both put into this! Great! Voted for you. Good Luck! Hope you enjoy more micro-trips! :)
dtextor (author)  parisusa1 year ago
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

Best regards, sphaera
dtextor (author)  sphaera1 year ago
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 :-)!

http://forum.mykangoo.de/index.php?id=277573

sphaera
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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!
alhall1 year ago
Beautiful work! I love the utility. You have my vote too. Good Luck!


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.

You can locate the second battery anywhere in the car and just run wires it to the switch.
dtextor (author)  alhall1 year ago
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.
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. :)
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