You may remember our previous post, “How to Turn Your SUV into a Camper” by Erin Sullivan aka Erin Outdoors. We received an overwhelming number of responses to that story outlining a whole world of creative solutions and with those came some great ideas. In order to keep the conversation alive and inspire your project ideas, we’ve got six of the most creative rigs. Find tips, tricks and challenges to help get you into your next nomadic adventure.
1. 2006 SUBURU LEGACY TURBO HATCHBACK CAMPER
Katy Stuck | Buffalo, NY
Katy made this Subaru Legacy her home for 3 years while she traveled for work. She likes the gas savings she got using the Subaru vs. an SUV and finds it just big enough to work.
Q: Where did you travel to and for how long?
A: “I lived in my car for about three years primarily in the US West (Oregon, Nevada, Idaho, California, Arizona, and Utah) while traveling for work as an archaeologist. I’ve also slept in it in New York and Massachusetts while in grad school or while camping. I most recently slept in it three weeks ago on a short work trip.”
Q: What were your biggest challenges along the way?
A: “ I can’t charge any electronics inside due to some wiring issues, so I have to spend a little time at a plug everyday or hook up an inverter to the battery. Also, it holds its heat in the summer, so even with the windows down, it can be a little toasty on hot nights without AC.”
Q: Any advice for those looking to build their camper?
A: “Pick something reliable, with good gas mileage and all wheel drive, and you’ll never need another place to call home.”
Katy also added, “I’m adventurous and not afraid of going it solo, but also aware of a level of vulnerability as a woman traveling alone. You can lock a car, you can’t lock a tent. The sense of security is freeing and I feel comfortable staying pretty much anywhere.”
2. 1992 Toyota land cruiser fj80
Jonathan Richard Franson | Salt Lake City, UT
Jonathan built his custom camp setup to travel around the Western US and has lots of cool ad-ons including Cascadia Vehicle Tent (CVT) Mt. Calee and an Eezi Awn awning.
Q: What is your biggest challenge with the camper setup you’ve made?
A: “Biggest challenge is keeping up with preventative maintenance on a 25 year old vehicle with 300,000+ miles. Land Cruisers are a large vehicle, but using space wisely is key. Everything you need, use, want, or might need; all has to fit somewhere in the vehicle.”
Q: Any advice for someone who wants to build a custom camper?
A: “Start with a platform you love and plan to keep indefinitely. A lot of time and money goes into a long distance truck, and putting it into a vehicle that you don’t plan to keep is setting yourself up for a loss in the end. Secondly, focus on vehicle reliability. Making it back to your own driveway, under your own power is the only thing that matters each time we leave. Massive heartaches and expenses can follow if you are stranded remotely.”
3. POOCH not included
Tyler Anderson | Denver, CO
Q: What was a major challenge you faced in building your camper?
A: “The biggest challenge is deciding what design features are going to work for you and your needs. I didn’t want to sacrifice the ability to use my back seat, so I chose to create a design that folds up to allow for more passengers without the hassle of removing the platform. I plan to build a locking drawer to finish it off.”
4. 1999 HONDA CRV GLAMPER
Eric Mitchell | Rochester, NY
Eric created a glam shack that touts shelves to store food, plates and a camp stove and features counter space with a cutting board to make it more cozy.
Q: Where and for how long did you use your setup?
A: “Two years all around the country”
Q: Biggest challenge?
A: “Curtains are a pain”
Q: How do you keep everything secure?
A: “leather straps to secure the shelves to the wall and i use velcro strips to keep things like the cutting board and mason jars down and have never had anything fall or slide around so it works well”
5. 1986 chevy suburban 4×4
Jennifer Walenski | Nomadic
Jennifer used her camper to travel around the Rocky Mountain regions of Colorado while she and her husband worked, making a super easy way to pick up and move to remote areas.
Q: What were your biggest challenges while camping?
A: “There were a lot of little challenges, things we would have to learn from and adjust on the next trip, but that’s what we love about this. The adventure. We took this truck miles upon miles, hours into seclusion and camped under the stars, woke up to the most incredible views. The biggest obstacle I think we continuously ran into was the lack of internet or a real good electrical source. We run an online based company and that can be difficult doing what we were doing! We had battery power and solar devices out there, but perhaps not the greatest…or better needs to be invented.”
Q: Any advice for others trying to do the same?
A: “It was pretty easy to put together. Didn’t take us very long. Do alot of research, make a plan, and go for it! It was an incredible adventure we won’t ever forget…we loved it so much, we are planning to do it again soon!!!”
6. 1996 dodge cargo van
Scott Brink | Charleston, MO
Q: What is your setup like?
A: “The vehicle is a ’96 Dodge cargo van, we just have a roll up mattress from Cabelas and zip together sleeping bags, camping stove, chairs, etc, a tarp for the awning, a hitch rack for firewood, coolers etc, and we carry jugs of water with us. It has a/c but that’s about it and we love it, it’s a go anywhere anytime way to frugally travel”
7. adventure haven of recycled material
Kelly Battaglia | Ferndale, MI
Kelly made her camper conversion all from recycled material she had lying around the house.
Have questions about the setups? Post them in the comments below!