Camping Trailer Adventure

Buy  ||  DIY

Buying is easier but when have I ever tended to choose the easy route? Making one will have some barriers for me because of the wheelchair … so where’s a good place for me to start?

Utility trailers. These have all the stuff built in that I can’t really do myself; frame and axle, elec brakes, walls, ceiling, etc. They also tend to be built MUCH more solidly than camper trailers AND can come with back and side ramps of various types. Score! But they tend to cost more too …

My first attraction to campers was CampInn’s Raindrop camper. I love this thing but at $25K for a decked out model 560 it makes me think of doing it myself. I think the folks making these do an excellent job and I’m betting they’re well worth the money spent on one … so they stay in my list of options and keep the bar high for features and quality. They are beautiful for sure, but are more for the efficient traveler because they have no bathroom or toilet facilities. Everything else is there though and some cool stuff no one else has.

Camp Inn Raindrop 560 Ultra

So, what do I want to use a trailer for?

  • Get away from the winter
  • Reduce living footprint and costs
  • Hmmm …

What do I want in a trailer?

  • Ten feet in length, maybe 12 or more.  My van can tow 3500lbs.
  • Bed, queen size
  • Couch, benches
  • Table for eating and stuff
  • Stove (inside trailer)
  • Refrigerator
  • A/C and fans
  • Sink, filtered water
  • AGM Batteries and shore power with monitoring meters
  • Solar hookups
  • Lots of windows with curtains … I mean LOTS.
  • Efficient lighting (LED?)
  • Stereo AM/FM/XM/CD
  • Electrical, AC and DC
  • USB power ports along side AC outlets
  • Networking, RJ-45 Cat6e
  • Storage / cabinets
  • Electric brakes
  • Parking brake
  • LP
  • Either a ramp to get me and my chair inside or a vestibule tent thing
  • Seating and grab bars at tactical spots so I can move around easily
  • Seamless aluminum exterior as much as possible
  • Rounded roof
  • 3500lb axles at least
  • Powder coated A frame
  • 15″ Aluminum tires
  • Leveling jacks
  • Screens for all the doors and windows
  • Gutters over windows and doors
  • Water heater and pressurizer
  • Hmmm …

What things would be nice to have but maybe not top priority?

  • Toilet
  • Shower
  • Microwave
  • TV and DVD
  • Antennae
  • Furnace
  • Hmmm …

A Utility trailer takes care of the A frame, axle and tires, electric brakes, aluminum exterior, and wall integrity.  Possibly initial venting and electrical too as well as a main door.  Windows can be purchased, so cutting the trailer wall to fit them would be easy enough … but stressful … gotta get it right the first time!

Once windows are installed it really just the interior left … yeah, just.  I’m thinking I may get an electrician to do the wiring.  Linking in battery charging, solar charging, shore power, and all that is currently beyond my skill set.  I can do the basic outlets and lights and all that.

First things first:  I need to figure out how thick I can make the walls.  Windows will need to fit in so I’ll have to find out how thick the windows are and stuff.  Hopefully they are thick enough to where I can put in a layer of solid foam insulation in to the walls.  2×2 wall joists are what I bet I’ll end up using, maybe 2×4’s so I can get 4 inches of width.  Not sure, but a guy has to have something to attach stuff to.

I’ll have to plan out a floorplan I suppose.  I’ll likely use birch or something similar (wainscoting maybe) for the internal cabinets and coverings.  gotta save weight where you can.  there are tons of plans out there so I have good resources to pull from.

One option is to start on a smaller scale, sort of a Proof of Concept phase, so not too much money is wasted in the case where I suck at this.  Kinda like Japanese Capsule Hotels … Dave’s Capsule Camper.  Everything you want but on a smaller scale, for one person, and enclosed in a comfy little coffin … er, capsule.  Water?  Check.  TV? Check.  AC and ventilation fan? Check.  Lights? Check.  Windows? Check.  Bed? Umm, check.  Electrical? Check, including USB and networking.  Garbage bin? Check.  Battery? Check.  Solar power? Check.  Shore Power? Check.  I suppose this is where pop-up trailers started.

So how is my Capsule Camper any different than just sleeping in the back of my van?  Interesting question.  I suppose the electrical is one big difference; with shore power I can be comfy all the time without running out of gas.  With solar + battery I can be mostly comfortable without running the vehicle.  Water storage on hand.  A bed I don’t have to disassemble.  Larger TV (computer monitor most likely).  Wifi and internet access.  With a portable water heater and a camping shower-tent-thingie I can stay clean.

So how is the Capsule Camper different from a TearDrop style?  Well, the Capsule is smaller and more compact.  No cooking area no extra head room.  It would assume the user has camping gear to accomplish cooking and the like.  It has far less storage because, again, it assumes a certain level of minimalism on the user’s part.  Fewer windows, one door, no fridge or any of that fancy stuff.  Basically, smaller and cheaper.  RV shy lights can supplement windows space AND let me see the night sky :-)

So I think the Capsule Camper has merit … I’ll ponder it along side my naval.



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