How to Build Your Own Small Light Camper Trailers

by Zach Lazzari
Small travel trailers are light and easy to tow.

Small travel trailers are light and easy to tow.

Small camper trailers provide a comfortable living space and numerous advantages over large trailers. They are lightweight and towing is possible with small vehicles. The small camper also fits into small camping sites and is capable of navigating narrow roads. Constructing a small camper is accomplished with basic tools and minimal materials. The enclosed cargo trailer is the most expensive piece, and scrap materials are easily obtained to reduce building costs.

Purchase a small cargo trailer with enclosed walls. Look for a trailer that has standing room but a short body for easy towing. Cargo trailers are lightweight and ideal for converting to a small camper.

Clean the interior of the trailer with a pressure washer. Park the trailer on a slope and allow the water to drain out of the interior. Let the trailer dry for three hours.

Purchase a 14-by-14 camper roof vent. Mark the 14-inch square on the camper roof with masking tape. Use a jigsaw to cut out the roof section. Apply a bead of silicone caulking to the exterior edge of the hole and set the top section of the roof vent in place. Use a 1/8-inch bit to drill through the vent holes and the trailer roof. Insert the vent screws through the holes. Enter the trailer and align the bottom section of the vent with the screws. Attach the nuts to the screws and tighten with a crescent wrench to complete the installation.

Build a bed to fit the width of the front section of the trailer and the length of your body. Construct the base with 2-by-4 lumber and 3-inch wood screws. Attach a vertical 2-by-4 to each corner and one vertical 2-by-4 for each foot of perimeter. Use 2-by-4 lumber and 3-inch wood screws to create a perimeter support around the top of the vertical posts. Cover the top of the bed with 1/2-inch plywood. Attach an L-shaped metal bracket to the base of the bed to secure it to the floor.

Build a table using the remaining length of wall space on one side of the trailer. The bed doubles as a sitting area, and the table is for cooking. The remaining space is used as a small living area. Build the 1-foot-wide table with four 2-by-4 legs, connected at the top with 2-by-4 lumber and 3-inch wood screws. Cover the top with 1/2-inch plywood and 1-inch wood screws. Secure the table to the floor by attaching an L-shaped bracket to each leg and to the floor.

Items you will need

  • Cargo trailer
  • Pressure washer
  • 14-by-14 camper roof vent
  • Masking tape
  • Jig saw
  • Silicone caulking
  • Drill
  • 1/8-inch drill bit
  • Screws
  • Nuts
  • Crescent wrench
  • 2-by-4 lumber
  • 3-inch wood screws
  • 1/2-inch plywood
  • 1-inch wood screws
  • L-shaped bracket

Tip

  • Store extra gear and kitchen items in plastic storage bins. Leave a gap in the vertical bed posts large enough to store the bins beneath the bed. Do not build extra furniture, as it will add unnecessary weight to the small camper.

Warning

  • Secure all of the furniture to the floor and use bungee cords to secure gear to the furniture. Failure to secure gear may result in damage while driving.

About the Author

Zach Lazzari is a Montana based freelance outdoor writer and photographer. You can view his work at zachlazzari.com

Photo Credits

  • Andy Reynolds/Lifesize/Getty Images