Picture of The MicroCamper a.k.a
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.

If you like it, feel free to vote for it in the FORT CONTEST. Every vote is highly appreciated!
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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?



dtextor (author)  AudreyDesjardins2 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!

IdahoDavid5 months 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 Wapusk7 months 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.


dtextor (author)  The Wapusk7 months 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:

Wish you all the best!

dimdiode7 months ago

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

inspiredwood8 months ago

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)  inspiredwood8 months 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! :)
azolina310 months ago

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

paolobertoncin11 months ago

great job super!

TSDMB11 months ago
rc jedi1 year ago
great ideas.
Nice work.
Very nice job..
northwest1 year ago
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 :

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 :-)!

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. :)
lexip dtextor1 year ago
Thanks for the thoughts on the ply, and as for Landy's, I've had a few series II's.
They are pretty clunky by today's standards, but there's something very lovable/tactile about all of them.
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.
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.
Raised a few eyebrows when it whistled and rattled past other cars (;->
dtextor (author)  lexip1 year ago
: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! :)
alhall dtextor1 year ago
LOL. They weren't really built for fuel economy but they'd climb a wall if they could get some traction!

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.

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.

They looked BAD ASS too, sort of the Hummer of their day.
sambajirao1 year ago
Just brilliant! I voted for you.
dtextor (author)  sambajirao1 year ago
Thank you!
TheManse1 year ago
Great Instructable on an awesome design and thoughtful implementation. Applied simplicity? Absolutely!
dtextor (author)  TheManse1 year ago
Hey, always nice to hear from South Africa! I really wish we had your climate right now. :)
dddddd1 year ago
Very attractive and well-integrated work.

An additional "coach" 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).

The coach battery is typically isolated from the engine battery, but uses the engine charging system when the engine is running.

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.
dtextor (author)  dddddd1 year ago
Thought about it but didn't do it until now. First, there isn't so much space left for a decent deep cycle battery. Second, the alternator is quite weak and thus not really capable of charging two blocks. Since I uesd a battery watch dog to prevent deep discharge, I didn't have any issues so far. A 50W Solar panel lingers in my mind...
maybe build a place to bolt it under the car somewhere, or in the engine compartment/glove box/under a front seat...
dtextor (author)  Madrigorne1 year ago
Well... Ground clearance is about 20 cm. Engine compartment is pretty packed and under the seats are drawers. That's the beauty of a small camper. Not an inch too much space.
so put the battery in a box and store it on the bed when you're driving but with enough cord to sit it outside when you're parked and ready for bed.
dddddd dtextor1 year ago
Your alternator will *not* be a problem. The 1.5 liter Kangoo appears to have at least a 70 amp alternator, and I have *personally* used an alternator of nearly identical size (mine is an 80 amp) to charge 200 amp hours of flooded lead-acid batteries.

I won't belabor the point, but if you start keeping a log of how long it takes from the time you turn off the ignition, and the time that your battery protector starts to complain, you will notice that the interval will slowly, and then more rapidly, decrease. Of course, if you're careful, and monitor the degradation, the cost/performance tradeoff is possibly entirely acceptable.

Speaking of solar power, I've designed and installed a number of small research solar arrays (including one on top of a 1975 motorhome), and if you are intent on installing solar on your cute Kangoo, 50 watts is not really enough. I can drone on and on about this, and back it up with real numbers if you want to hear it.

You've done a beautiful job on it, and I am a little envious of how small it is. The aforementioned 1975 motorhome is 2.7 meters tall, 2.4 meters wide, and 8 meters long, and weighs 5400 kg. I get tired of driving something so large and heavy.
jimbru dtextor1 year ago
Hi, the lead batteries used as startbattery in cars etc are suited for large currents in short bursts but will be permanently damaged by deep cycling and shorten the life of the battery. Normally you should not discharge it more than 10-20 % and if you go below 50 % there is usually a negative consequence in battery life(I have had the same issue in boats...)
One way to go if you don't get the second battery and solar panel solution is to get a different kind of battery when your current battery gives up :-)

Nicely done!
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