DIY Micro Camper

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About: www.facebook.com/i.hate.karl.kilburn - I am 'that' Karl

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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302 Discussions

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droy2004

Tip 7 months ago on Introduction

I built the same 4x8 camper, here’s some heads ups: floor use 5/8-3/4”. Are use truck bed spray liner to water proof the sides & top (2) run all electrical wires in a sub floor of 2x3’s layered on top w/ 1/2” plywood,(3j instead of paint on outside skin, roll the same truck bed liner over all outside skin ( buy it by the gallon) spray or roller (several coats water proof very good), used 3/4” rigid foam in walls, floor & ceiling (use foil back ) chamfer both ends of camper for roof water drain, use of corner trim is good, I used rubber tape like used on RV windows underneath the trim,metal expands & contracts drawing water by capillary action to the plywood ends(4) running all elect. Wire together gives you advantage of remote dispersal camping without Genset noise all night , use 12v solar, mount on front chamfer or use hard cased solar panel on 20’ tether onground to chase the sun. A 100w flexible solar panel w/ 1 100a/h bartery will give you 12hrs of fans & lights (led) but u need a 2nd battery to run fridge all night, just in case, (5) on 5 gal toilet, for simplicity use 1/2” foam rubber pipe insulation & rim bucket for comfort, line w/ double bags, try to use separate urine container, smells less.(6) Locke an area to mount a 14”x14” power vent on roof, I hve roof rack for bikes or kayak. I weighed metal studs vs wood, metal weight savings is abt same , rusts unless aluminum, & harder to work with than wood, you can use 2x3” for studs but space them at 14” or use 2x4” spaced 18” I use a small (1000w) Genset (HFT) on cloudy days during the day to top off batteries (2) for night use, i use a trucker type 12v ice chest with 2 - 12v double bayonet fittings for iPad & phone charger,120v for Tv & 2-120v outlets ,12v is my mainstay, runs lights, fridge, 12v demand water pump, LPG small bottle for cooking. I cheated w/ Windows, used my old RV trailer widows that I demo’ ed, door is home made using the lock set off the RV trailer door gives me a dead bolt at night & defeats clowns from locking me inside. I needed ground clearance so I changed out my 13” rims for 15” & wider tires. Your build is very clean unit...by the way your finished trailer should be abt 900#, mine bc of a small kitchen sink, batteries, propane bottle, fridge, 10gals water,stove & food I weigh in abt 1000#

Good Luck

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SlingshotFdroy2004

Reply 6 days ago

I am asking you since your post was super informative and there has been very little activity on here. I do hope I receive a response. What were your final inner dimensions? I am using this as a base for reference but I’m in the process of working up my own camper design with some modifications. Been pricing materials and such. I am disabled and this is my only option for a self sustaining life on such a tiny income. My Jeep can only tow so much and in budgeting for space and comforts it would be useful to know what I’m looking at as far as interior space. Every inch counts. Thanks in advance. I’m more of a backpkpacker than a camper so despite car camping between gaps for a night or so to recoup, most of my time was on the trail and my gear reflects that.

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droy2004SlingshotF

Reply 6 days ago

I don’t know quite what your asking cubic interior space, interior floor space ??? I’ve several trailers in different sizes, so I’ll go with the 4’x8’ in the article… with 2x4” studs interior will start with 96”L-8”=88”, 48” W-8”=40”, 88”x40”=3520sq/in➗144 sq/in=24.4sq/ft , best I can do, hope that helps, Shalom!

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SlingshotFdroy2004

Reply 6 days ago

I mainly wanted a general estimate of floor space. I appreciate the response. 88x40 seems about right. I found another comment after asking you that said about 90x42, I think. So very close numbers. Thanks so much. :) Here’s to a new adventure!

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Dangerclose23butchie50

Reply 2 years ago

I want to make one possibly a little bigger and install a small wood burning stove or was thinking some solar panels installed on top

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TeresaL58Dangerclose23

Reply 8 weeks ago

If you will have access to 110 power you could use an electric blanket for heat. There seems to be just enough room for a five gallon pail toilet. Line with trash bags and use either a toilet seat for foam pipe insulation for the seat. you can use the top of the five gallon pail to contain the smell at night and put bag in trash in the morning. (You might also be able to use a diaper pail top)

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Deepblu505

Question 3 months ago on Step 13

I would be towing with a Jeep Wrangler and was wondering how much does it weigh empty, and how is it on wind resistance on the high way?

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MeaghanF6

Question 10 months ago on Step 13

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

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TwikiRMeaghanF6

Answer 3 months ago

I find trailers every day on craigslist. I have a popup camper I bought for $200 and a 16 ft boat trailer i bought for $150. Neither had titles, but here in VA it's very easy to obtain an abandoned vehicle title.

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allen0621

Question 11 months ago on Step 2

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

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Dana1988

Question 11 months ago on Step 4

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

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DavidG911Dana1988

Answer 3 months ago

Well...hope you see this.. Height is what you make it, matriss is say 8 in. You want to crawl on your knees. How tall are you from knees up to top of head. Figure 1\8" 2x4 top..etc total measure measure again add 2" not to bump heads & build.

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JimF136

Question 4 months ago on Step 3

What is the height of the walls on the DIY Micro Camper? Thanks

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MeaganT2

Question 10 months ago on Step 6

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

1 answer
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RichardA124MeaganT2

Answer 5 months ago

Use aluminum framing for 1 and there are a lot of different types of ext and interior finishes that are lighter than plywood and sheet rock.

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kastmaster2105

Question 8 months ago

Was bigger tires put on at some point?

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kastmaster2105

Question 8 months ago on Introduction

Would this be considered a home made trl? Camper trl? RV? For LP/State registration purposes.