One of our readers, Jean-René Rodrigue, wanted to share his homemade micro camper with you.

It’s a custom built teardrop trailer designed to be 8′ in length, 5′ in width, and 5′ in height on the interior.

Outside it’s length is actually 11′ 8″ and it’s overall height is 6′ 6″.

It weighs an estimated 750 lbs and has a 2,000 lbs axle on it for support.

The flooring was built using fir plywood. The walls are a composite material made out of epoxy-fiberglass and polystyrene foam.

When he added the roof Jean-René went with ultra high molecular weight polyethylene plastic. Interesting!

jean rene micro camper teardrop trailer project how to build your own 16   How to build your own ultra lightweight Micro Camper Teardrop Trailer

The trailer framing is all welded steel and as you’ll see, he painted it a really cool lime green color. It’s got a nice shine to it.

Jean-René added a 4″ thick queen size foam mattress.

He brings along plastic containers and an electric cooler to store food and other camping equipment.

Why would you want to build your own micro camper teardrop trailer?

Here are the reasons that Jean-René did it, and it makes a heck of a lot of sense.

  • Cheap to tow because they’re easy on gas and you can pull it with a car
  • Inexpensive to build or buy
  • Small enough to go through remote roads
  • Light enough to be pulled by 4-cylinder vehicles
  • Just big enough to sleep two people
  • So much better than a tent as they protect you from the elements and save you set up time

How to create your own trailer

I was impressed to find that Jean-René designed and created his own trailer.

He made the 5′ x 8′ trailer out of steel square tubing and angles along with a jack stand for each corner.

Jean-René got 8″ steel wheels and a 2,000 lb axle with leaf springs.

He followed up by painted it an aluminum color to make it look nicer.

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How to construct walls for your teardrop trailer

For this project, Jean-René used composite materials for the walls. He actually put this together in his apartment.

Inside there’s 1.5″ of foam sandwiched by two layers of epoxy coated fiberglass. This material is much lighter than plywood which are usually used for projects like this.

Another benefit of using this material is that if exposed to moisture, it won’t rot.

The walls are held together thanks to screwed planks at each end which you can see in the pictures below.

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How to add a roof to your teardrop camper shell

Jean-René chose ultra high molecular weight polyethylene plastic for the roof which he attached to the edges of the wall with stainless-steel screws.

This material is great for resisting cold temperatures and it’s very flexible and is less likely to dent, ding, or kink. It’s also lightweight compared to plywood.

Nothing really sticks to this material so it can’t be painted but this also means that bug splatter won’t stick either.

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Adding necessary accessories for your home built micro camper

If you’re building your own micro camper or teardrop trailer, you’ll need:

Jene-René built his own door with a window and door latch that he ordered. See below.

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Painting your teardrop trailer after construction

To paint the micro camper, Jene-René took the walls apart and used a green urethane-based paint.

He kept it white on the inside, then he put it back together and sealed everything with silicon and butyl tape so that it’s water tight. See below.

jean rene micro camper teardrop trailer project how to build your own 15   How to build your own ultra lightweight Micro Camper Teardrop Trailer

Jene-René’s Teardrop Trailer / Micro Camper Project

The finished product looks great and he is planning on doing it again so be sure to visit his blog.

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All Photos Courtesy of Jean-René Rodrigue

If you want to see more pictures visit his Picasa photo album and for more details on his project visit his website http://www.teardroptrailerkit.com/.

If you enjoyed this post share it using the buttons below and talk about it in the comments. Thank you!

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Alex

Alex has been living in small spaces for more than 7 years, he's the founding editor of TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter, and has passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. Send in your story and tiny home photos so we can share and inspire others towards simplicity too. Thank you!

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{ 44 comments }

  • Deek February 2, 2012, 4:41 pm

    Great project- congrats!

    Alex, you still considering a tiny-house road journey at some point?
    -Deek

    Reply Link
    • Alex February 2, 2012, 4:53 pm

      Deek, yes, I still think about it and want to.

      Reply Link
  • sesameB February 3, 2012, 4:46 pm

    Splendid. I just love this!! Great photos. 4 stars! Go girl!!

    Reply Link
  • Sebastien February 4, 2012, 3:26 pm

    Just to correct something. It’s a HE and not a SHE ;). Jean-René is a friend of mine. The girl you see in the last pictures is his girlfriend.

    Reply Link
    • Alex February 4, 2012, 3:40 pm

      My fault. Thanks Sebastien. I’m fixing it now.

      Reply Link
    • Alex February 4, 2012, 3:44 pm

      Ok fixed it, so sorry about that..

      Reply Link
  • Lynn February 5, 2012, 6:26 pm

    We, too, built our own Teardrop – but ours is a woody! Can’t go anywhere without lots of questions. Great way to meet people. (I’ve even started a blog of our trips: dlvent-teardropper.blogspot.com.) Learned a lot along the way.

    Reply Link
    • Alex February 6, 2012, 4:15 pm

      Thanks, Lynn. Nice to meet you!

      Reply Link
  • Mariah Pastell February 5, 2012, 6:48 pm

    This is so cute! I love the color and the fiberglass construction. I’m always looking for the best way to make the lightest camper to tow…nice job!

    cometcamper.wordpress.com

    Reply Link
    • Alex February 6, 2012, 4:25 pm

      Glad you liked it Mariah!

      Reply Link
  • Jean-René Rodrigue February 7, 2012, 10:15 pm

    Hi Alex,
    Thanks for the article. I’ll keep you inform when I will do modifications ans upgrades on my teardrop trailer. I am also looking forward to read about other stories of DIY micro campers.

    Regards,

    Jean-René

    Reply Link
    • Alex February 8, 2012, 2:18 pm

      Thanks! Looking forward to your updates and thanks so much for sharing your project with everyone.

      Alex

      Reply Link
  • Dave Cuthbert April 5, 2012, 9:56 pm

    I would be careful with that one. According to my rough calculations it will blow over in a 35 mph crosswind.

    I’m designing a teardrop and my target is to survive a 74 mph crosswind.

    Reply Link
    • Alex June 20, 2012, 7:36 am

      Thanks Dave, never thought of this, so great to know.

      Reply Link
  • Dave Cuthbert April 5, 2012, 10:27 pm

    Here are more exact calculations on wind tipping.

    I am modeling the profile of your trailer as a half-circle having a radius (r)of 5 feet. The area is Pi(r^2) = 79 sq feet.

    The center of effort (where the wind force appears to be concentrated) for a half circle is (4r/3Pi) = 2.1 feet from the bottom.

    The bottom of the trailer is 1.5 feet above the ground which puts the center of effort of the trailer wind load at 2.1 + 1.5 = 3.6 feet.

    The center-to-center tire spacing is 5.5 feet. The trailer weight is 700 lbs. The torque needed to begin to tip the trailer is 700 lbs. X 5.5 feet X 1/2 = 1925 ft-lbs.

    What wind force does it take to produce a torque of 1925 lbs on this trailer?

    The wind torque is equal to the wind force X 3.6 ft. When this equals 1925 ft-lbs it will begin to tip. So, a wind force of (1925 ft-lbs)/3.6 ft = 535 lbs will do it. With an area of 79 sq ft the force per sq ft = 535/79 = 4.5 lbs.

    The wind load in lbs/sq ft = 0.0033 X V^2 where V is velocity in mph. Solving this equation for V we get

    V = (force/0.0033)^0.5 = (4.5/0.0033)^0.5 = 37 mph.

    I have been trying to find out if there are regulations on industry standards on this so I can design my camper without over designing it. My target of 74 mph might be on the high side. Due to this target my trailer designed length is 6.5 ft with an inside height of 4 ft. It weighs 500 lbs. A cut-out feature in the back gains me 3 mph in wind survival.

    Reply Link
  • Dave Cuthbert April 5, 2012, 11:27 pm

    I ran calculations on several commercial light weight campers such as Lance and Scamp. Their tip over wind survival works out to be 62-65 mph. I’ll take that an an “industry standard” and design accordingly.

    Shooting for 62 mph lets me build a 5′ tall (6′ ground to top), 6.5′ wide trailer if I make it 600 lbs. To do that I add two group 31 batteries for power and ballast. It’s sort of like ballasting a sail boat.

    Reply Link
  • Jean-René Rodrigue April 7, 2012, 8:04 pm

    Hi Dave,
    I have review your calculations and they are quite interesting. I haven’t check tip over torque during my design. But, I’ve seen a mistake in your calculations, side area should be 79sq.ft/2=39.5 as side wall is half a circle, not a complete one. Also, by checking my autocad drawing, I can say that the side wall is exactly 32 sq.ft. That way, tipping would occur at a wind of 91mph.

    Thank you anyway for sharing your calculations.

    Regards,

    Jean-René

    Reply Link
    • Alex June 20, 2012, 7:38 am

      Glad you cleared that up, thanks!

      Reply Link
  • Dave Cuthbert April 8, 2012, 10:26 am

    Good catch on my error. With an error of 32 sq feet rather than 79 sq ft the wind force has decreased by a factor of 2.5. Force produced by wind is proportional to the square of the velocity. So the tip over wind velocity is now 37 mph X (2.5)^0.5 = 59 mph.

    Much better and this is in line with the small lightweight campers available on the market. And it’s what I’m aiming for with my tiny trailer.

    Reply Link
  • thomas June 20, 2012, 7:14 am

    I got plans for the tears drop camper years ago, and couldn’t find anyone to help me build it. I have no build knowledge and wish to build one soon. Currently TN.

    ythomas61@gmail.com

    Reply Link
    • Alex June 20, 2012, 7:39 am

      Thanks, Thomas, wishing you the best in finding some help with your project.

      Reply Link
    • Jean-René Rodrigue June 25, 2012, 10:41 am

      Hi Thomas,
      Maybe I can give you some advices about the construction of your teardrop trailer. Feel free to ask me specific questions.

      What kind of plans do you have? I would be curious to see them if you want, maybe it would help me give you better advices as well.

      Keep me inform about your project.

      Regards,
      Jean-René

      Reply Link
  • veronica June 23, 2012, 1:02 pm

    Hi i was wondering how much this cost to build it. How long would this take to build as well?

    Reply Link
    • Alex July 24, 2012, 2:39 pm

      Hi Veronica from what I’ve seen it everyone takes a different amount of time to build and it depends on how detailed the interior is going to be, how skilled you are, and how much time you can spend on the project. I’ve heard of these costing as little as $1500 or so to build, sometimes even less, and as much as $8000.. Just depends on what you want it to have. Hope this helps and thanks!

      Reply Link
  • Nick July 16, 2012, 7:46 pm

    What a great idea. I’ve been interested in travel trailers since I was a little kid. I like the whole lightweight trailer concept that can be pulled by a car and I enjoyed reading about your project very much and I think it turned out very nice. Where would this world be without smart creative men who can pretty much build anything!

    Reply Link
    • Alex July 24, 2012, 2:39 pm

      Thanks Nick!! Glad you liked it!

      Reply Link
  • Chris July 24, 2012, 12:54 am

    Outstanding build, you guys did a terrific job on this camper. I am impressed, i like the color, very unique. Inspiring.

    Reply Link
  • Kevin November 17, 2012, 5:15 pm

    Jean-Rene, I left a comment on your blog but thought I would here too in case you see it here first. : )

    Love your trailer…a few questions. What thickness of plastic did you use for the roof? I’m assuming there was not any insulation added to the roof…is it warm enough when the tempurature drops? Do you sell the plans or step by step instructions on how to build this? Thanks!

    Reply Link
  • gerrymortellaro February 14, 2013, 3:07 am

    Great little trailer! You guys did an awesome job. Love the shape and colors. Wish I was going to be close enough to see it in person tp get ideas for mine. Keep up the good work and enjoy your creation!

    Reply Link
    • Jean-René Rodrigue February 15, 2013, 1:05 pm

      Hi Gerry,
      Thanks for your good comments. Where are you living? At what stage of designing your teardrop are you?

      Reply Link
  • Brandon May 14, 2013, 12:07 pm

    Looks GREAT! I’ve welded up a very solid 6’x14′ platform that I’m going to be putting a teardrop on. I’ve had the idea for composite walls for a long time. Saw how it is used in aircraft and thought it would carry over to a camper nicely! My plan is to glue together the foam board and then layer up 3 or 4 layers of fiberglass per side and then screw on some wood framing around it to give it some more rigidity. The wood frame would double as the mounting point for my cross members for my roof/front/rear. Thanks for publishing this article!

    Reply Link
    • Alex May 14, 2013, 1:00 pm

      Glad you found it helpful Brandon. Thanks!

      Reply Link
    • Alex May 14, 2013, 1:01 pm

      Would love it if you’d share your project with us now or in the future. :)

      Reply Link
      • Brandon May 14, 2013, 1:09 pm

        I’d love to! I’ll see if I can put something useful together. Right now I just went out and bought steel, cut it, and had a buddy help me weld it. Still sourcing an axle and maybe this weekend I’ll build up the walls. There is a plan, but right now it’s very much changing as I try things and get new ideas on sites like this! There are power plans and sleeping plans and water plans as well… we’ll see how it all comes together. :)

        Reply Link
        • Alex May 14, 2013, 2:41 pm

          Can’t wait to learn more Brandon. Feel free to email me at tinyhousetalk [at] gmail [dot] com whenever you want. :)

          Reply Link
    • Jean-René Rodrigue May 14, 2013, 3:13 pm

      Hi Brandon,
      I’m glad you liked my design. 6feet by 14 feet, it’s gonna be a huge teardrop! You’ll see, fiberglass/foam walls are really strongs. Do one layer of fiberglass on each side first, then you’ll see how strong it is, maybe it will be enough!

      Post pictures of your project when you’ll got some.

      Regards,

      Jean-René Rodrigue

      Reply Link
      • Brandon May 14, 2013, 3:20 pm

        Maybe instead of calling it a teardrop I’ll call it a waterfall? Who knows maybe it’ll be the next wave of campers between 5th wheel and teardrops! Early on in this design I convinced myself that I needed the interior space, but also wanted the benefit of aerodynamics from the teardrop shape. I’m curious to see how it turns out too. It’s one thing to look at a drawing, and another to see it in person. Thanks for posting your work, really motivated me to stick with my foam board idea.

        Reply Link
  • David October 16, 2013, 11:51 pm

    Great post on Teardrop Trailers. Our kits make them really easy to build !

    -The Teardroppers

    Reply Link
  • Glema March 10, 2014, 5:50 am

    Ty Alex. Say Deek, think you could use that Tuftex stuff on one of these? Just askin. Happy Trails and God bless you.

    Reply Link
    • Jean-René Rodrigue March 10, 2014, 10:47 am

      Hi Glema,
      I’m the builder of this teardrop trailer. I believe the Tuftex sheet could do the job. But, be carefull not to build yourself a greenhouse on a trailer. My plastic used for the roof was white, but was not blocking 100% of the light, so I had to add a layer of plywood inside the trailer to block light.

      I like to see teardropr trailer from others, send me pictures if you build one.

      ciao,

      Reply Link
  • Josh July 13, 2014, 2:50 pm

    If I wanted to build a teardrop that is 7 ft in height, would this cause any problems?

    Reply Link

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