Instant Side Tent, Changing Tent, Shower Tent, Privacy Tent, Potty Tent




About: airplane nut since forever, rower since high school, airplane mechanic since '94, Pastor, father of four

I built a teardrop trailer ( not mine but to give the idea) in 2011, this year my wife and I camped in it for a couple nights for our anniversary. While the trailer was great and allowed us to sleep peacefully and dry through 1" of rain dropped by a thunderstorm (try that in a tent) I still had to bring our changing tent as we didn't have a place to stand up for changing. Thanks to camping mid week we didn't have any real close neighbors at the campground, so the short step from the trailer door to the changing tent was no big deal, but if the spaces around us had been full, getting to the changing tent would have been a pain.
I had this idea in my mind but didn't have time to construct it before our trip, from now on we will both have a changing room outside our doors. if the weather is rainy I figure a golf umbrella over the ring would keep us dry.

4/15 Since this I'ble was written we have gone on many trips, the side tents are great! they almost double the private space of the tear, allow us to sit in the open door and get changed, just like the bed at home. We also use them as a potty tent, and have showered inside them as well.

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Step 1: What You Will Need

here is what I used to make one side
10 foot 3/4" EMT electrical metal conduit
conduit bender
drill and bits
small screws
tape measure
two ring-less cloth shower curtains, any shower curtain will work, but the ringless give privacy even above the hanger rod, a regular shower curtain hangs an inch or two below the rod. shower curtains were chosen as they are meant to get wet without trouble and are designed to give privacy.
flat aluminum stock
two stainless bow eyes (big U-bolts for attaching the bow rope to a boat) I got mine at Lowe's, a steel U bolt would work also but could leave rust stains, my bow eyes are rated for 6,000 lbs each, I should be able to lift the trailer by them!
a heavy rubber floor or welcome mat to stand on, something that will allow water and dirt to fall through easily . My store bought shower-tent floor tends to pool the water even with "drains' in it, a thick rubber mat with plenty of holes is more comfortable to stand on and dries quickly.

Step 2: The Hangup

you need a place to hang this ring tent from, in my case I wanted it to cover the area outside the door, and allow the door to swing open fully.
I attached the two bow eyes on either side of the door frame, but due to the curved roof of the trailer I ended up with one ring almost 3 inches lower than the other. These rings didn't get used as tent hangers on our trip, instead they made great tie-down points for my mouseboat . In all we traveled 1,400 miles with the boat tied down like this with no problems.
To install them figure out how wide you want to go, locate the area that is strong enough to anchor to in the wall of the trailer, in my case I know there is a 1x2" board all the way around the outer edge of the sidewall.
take the legs of the U-bolt and put their ends against the wall where you want it to go.
whack the bottom of the U with a hammer.
drill a hole through the wall of the camper at each mark you made.
install washers as needed,
push the U-bolt through the holes, ( I put RTV in the holes to make sure they wouldn't leak)
install the inner plate and nuts.
tighten the nuts firmly.
repeat as needed, in my case I put four U-bolts in.

Step 3: One Ring To...

measure the conduit, mine was a hair under 10 feet but close enough
mark the mid point
measure the distance between the forward and aft attachments, go from bow eye center to bow eye center.
divide that distance in half.
take the half distance and measuring from the half way mark on the pipe, mark the pipe,
now measure the other way from the center mark and mark the pipe agian
lay the pipe on a surface you can stand on
put the conduit bender on the pipe, lined up with the 90 degree mark on the bender
step firmly on the foot peg of the bender and bend the pipe toward the middle mark until the end of the bender channel is on the pipe (90 degrees)
put the leg of the pipe that is bent up against a wall or other vertical surface, install the pipe bender on the other half mark you made,
make sure the bender is going to bend the pipe up at the same angle as the first bend
bend the pipe until it forms a square letter U.
-Measure how far the door swings open, in my case the door swings open 31 inches from the side of the trailer, I added two inches for clearance
lay the U shaped pipe so the bottom of the U is against a wall or board,
measure and mark the distance you just decided on, in my case 33 inches
install the tubing bender at the mark you just made and make sure it is 90 degrees to the floor,
bend the tube until the end of the channel on the bender head meets the pipe. (bend toward the bottom of the U)
repeat the bend on the other tube.
you should end up with something like I did

My "legs" didn't quite end up square to the floor, I used the tubing bender to help them both point straight up better, the whole ring is flexible enough to allow you to force it into place.

Step 4: Keeping It Even

since the forward bow eye is lower than the aft one I installed a conduit joining union. it isn't meant to slide over the tube, it has a dimple in it to keep it from doing that.
drill the dimple out, now the tube should slide over the conduit, it may need a little help, I had to use the vice grips on one of them to make it go where I wanted to.
slide the union over the forward leg of the support ring.
put the ring into the bow eyes, you may have to tweak the ring a little to make it fit correctly
find where the union needs to sit on the bow eye to keep the ring level, and tighten the screws

Step 5: Under Pressure

the weight of ring will be focused on the area where the lower leg rests against the side of the trailer, since my trailer wall is only 1/4" plywood I added the aluminum plates to the walls to spread the load out better and protect them from damage as the ring is put in place.
I started with 36" long piece and cut it to four equal lengths,
sanded the cut edges smooth
drilled four mounting holes and mounted the plates to the wall of the trailer.
If I had planned a head a little better, the forward plate would be shorter, and the aft plate would be longer.

4/15 SInce then I have removed the plates, the side of the tear is strong enough to hold with no issues. The next time I build a teardrop, I will just make a built in roof rack to carry boats or bikes on, the rings will slide inside the bars of the roof rack. I would also put powerfull magnets inside the teardrop walls, and attach washers to the edges of the curtains, along with a snap or two, just to keep the edges tight against the teardrop. This really hasn't been an issue, but would give us more peace of mind.

Step 6: Setting Sail

install the ringless shower curtain on the rod, I overlapped the end where the two curtains met to keep it from gaping. The curtain is a little long, I may sew the bottom into pockets, then add sand or stones to the pockets to keep the curtains from flying in wind.
When it is time to go, unhook the curtains, remove the rings, and set them inside the trailer. ready to go on a moments notice.

Instead of a normal tent floor that will get sandy, wet or dirty, we each have a heavy rubber mat for a tent floor. these are the large ones they sell at the big box stores that are full of holes. They are meant to go in kitchens and work spaces to cushion the floor. They are large and heavy, but keep the dirt out and let water run right through. Any dirt or sand washes or shakes off and they're ready to go.

Step 7: Put a Lid on It!

My wife and I found these tents to be perfect. The first use was at a campmeeting, having a private space we could stand inside to change made the Teardrop's limited space the perfect bedroom for us. We have four kids, and the camp meeting cabins are very small, by parking the Teardrop next to our cabin, we had a private bedroom, but could still hear the kids if any problems or fights happened.
We were there for 12 days and most of the days it rained at least once, by adding the beach umbrellas we had a dry private space. During the day when we didn't need the privacy we would fold the curtains back and sit in the shade of the umbrellas. When it wasn't raining it was hot and muggy, being able to keep out of the sun, and have shade over the Tear drop doors was great!

We have used the tear on a few trips now, since I didn't have time to put up curtains on the TearDrop windows as I was making new leak proof doors , we used the side tents as curtians. This actually worked so well I won't be adding window curtains to the TearDrop, Window curtains just get in the way and impeed airflow and when we are camping we want as much airflow as possible, since the Tear Drop is a small inside space and it gets hot and humid quickly without good ventilation.
Every time we camp it rains at least once while we are camping, I put up the beach umbrellas, and we have a dry area to step out into. If The ground was too hard to drive the sand screws into, I put the umbrella pole through the doubled loop of the shower curtain to hold it in place and stand the point on the ground, which works fine. One morning we also found the side tents were perfect for observing a family of wild turkeys heading across our campsite without spooking them, being taller I could just peek over the top, my wife watched between the curtains.

The side tent rings are also great for drying towels or clothes also.

Step 8: Potty Tent

We also found the perfect potty set up, a 5 gallon bucket with a snap on toilet seat . Put a small kitchen can garbage bag in the five gallong bucket, press the air out, throw in two or three handfulls of wood pellets or cat litter. Snap the seat on and clost the lid. Each time you go, throw in another scoop of litter or pellets.

In the morning you tie up the bag and toss it in the trash (also works well as an emergency potty for traveling). The pellets or litter absorb any liquid and take care of most smells, unlike a chemical toilet that still has you dumping smelly waste, while trying not to get splashed!

We left the bucket inside my wifes side tent the whole time and it worked out fine.

Step 9: Shower Tent

I ended up getting two shower systems that don't requre anything to be hung. One is the which I was lucky to get on clearance at wallyworld for $75,
and the other is .
The solar shower pump bottle works if you have one for each person, or have a way to refill it with warm water.
The Zodi works when the whole family needs showers. The only thing you need to add, is a five gallon bucket, D cell batteries and your propane cyclinders. Fill the bucket with water, then recirculate the heated water back into the bucket until it hits the temp you want. Shut off the gas and take a shower. One 5 gallon bucket full will get us both a good shower.

We have used the side tents as showers, since the tear is waterproof enough to stand up to rain, showering is just fine. The side tents provide enough room for two in the shower :)

For canoe camping we us an instant pop up tent and carry the Zodi. I bought a $40 changing tent from wallyworld, it was designed to suspend a shower bag inside it. However even with larger diameter steel poles and anchor ropes at each corner the tent twists and sways like a shower bag is about to make it colapse, I will be giving it away.

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17 Discussions


6 years ago on Introduction

I was looking for a way to install a curtain around a NextBed wall bed when I spotted your post. It worked out really well. Thanks so much.

Wallbed curtain.jpg
2 replies

7 years ago on Introduction

Great add on to your tear drop. I enjoyed reading that ible also. This would also be great to "hide" a small portable toilet if you don't want long walks at night to the restrooms.
Great job.

7 replies

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

my wife didn't like the hike through dark woods to the bathrooms at night, working on a plan to fix that...


Reply 5 years ago

Couldnt u just get 2 potties, w lids of course, then u could use them to sit on while showering or dressing. In the daytime just move them off to the side so they aren't blocking the path to the door.


Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

I could have two, but I don't mind walking to the other side. I enjoy the walk in the dark, and sometimes walk up to the bathrooms, just to enjoy the dark camp ground.


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction has several nicely priced alternatives for toilets. Perhaps you can find something there for the wife. Can't say I blame


5 years ago

What a great idea! Good job


7 years ago on Introduction

I have thought of doing this every time I go camping! I was going to use PVC and have it so I can dismantle it and store in an old tent bag. You gave me some great ideas, thanks!


7 years ago on Introduction

My question is, where do you store it when moving about? It's kind of an odd shape.

Any plans to make it foldable?

1 reply

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

on the last page in the I'ble is a picture of the rings stowed on the bed, the hump in the middle is the air conditioner, since there is plenty of room inside they ride there. When we get to the campsite we just set up what we need and put the rest in the car. I expect the rings will be the first thing we set up and the last to come down on future trips. when prepping to leave, I grab the top of the mattress topper and roll it up until it is under the shelf (about knee level lying down) leaving my packing foam mattress to store wet/dirty/bulky items on.
My first idea was a ring that was attached to the top of the trailer on hinges. when stowed for travel it would go all the way down under the door and clip in place, I gave up on the idea due to the different heights of the anchor points, and the rather ugly loop being out there all the time. It also would have needed a prop rod of some sort, all of which goes against the lighter cheaper idea of my tear build.
at least two other people on have slide-out rings. one with holes in his sidewall and another with a roof rack that the ring slides into. the first design makes me wonder how water proof it is, the second would cause air resistance all the time, and detract from the look of the trailer IMO.
A sectioned design using pins at each corner would work but is not what I need, and may not be as strong.


7 years ago on Introduction

Nice addition to a cool camper. I grew up on the Barnaget Bay in NJ, fishing swimming going to the ocean etc, Gpa had an outdoor shower behind the house (with a small open to the sky privacy room) he used fishing swivels and snaps to attach fishing weights to the bottom of the curtain to stop its blowing in the wind. Another idea might be velcro patches on the curtain and camper sides.