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Their Cargo Trailer Camper Conversion And How They Built It


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This is the story of one couple’s enclosed trailer camper project.

They took a used 6 x 10 cargo trailer and turned it into a mini-camper with lots of amenities. I’m pretty sure you will find it impressive. It not only has loads of amenities, but it can also still function as a very useful cargo trailer. Take a look below!

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Couple’s 6 x 10 Enclosed Trailer Camper

Couples Cargo Utility Trailer to Camper Conversion 001

Cargo Trailer to Camper Conversions: Turning Utility into Adventure

If you’re looking for a cost-effective and customizable way to travel and explore the great outdoors, converting a cargo trailer into a camper might be the perfect solution. Cargo trailer conversions have gained popularity in recent years due to their versatility and ability to be tailored to individual needs. In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about cargo trailer to camper conversions, from trailer sizes and weight capacities to insulation and value retention.

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Trailer Sizes and Weight Capacities

One common size for cargo trailers is 6×12, which refers to the dimensions of the trailer. A 6×12 enclosed trailer measures six feet wide and twelve feet long. These trailers typically offer ample space for conversion projects, providing enough room for sleeping quarters, a kitchenette, and storage areas. The weight capacity of a 6×12 enclosed trailer varies, but a typical model can carry around 2,500 to 3,000 pounds of cargo.

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It has slim rooftop solar panels on it.

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Take a look inside the enclosed trailer camper. In this mode, you can easily use it as a cargo trailer.

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Here it is in camping mode. Ready for bedtime.

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There are other ways to use it, too. Here it is as a workspace.

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And back to sleeping mode!

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Did you notice the overhead storage cabinets?

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There’s also some space under the bed for storage too.

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The camper even has a tiny ceiling fan.

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What do you think of the floating desk system?

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Another look at the ceiling fan. And yes, there is a shower!

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The instant hot water heater is located here in the kitchenette area.

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Overhead ceiling/vent fan.

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The toilet is portable, but stored in the shower.

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The wardrobe. Very simple!

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Here is a look at some of the systems of the camper.

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Want to see what’s outside? Just install one of these.

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Construction / How They Built It

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The Importance of Ball Hitch Sizes

When it comes to towing a cargo trailer, it’s essential to match the trailer’s ball hitch size with the towing vehicle’s receiver. For a 6×12 U-Haul cargo trailer, a ball hitch with a 2-inch diameter is commonly required. However, it’s always advisable to check the specific requirements of the trailer and consult the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure a proper fit.

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Understanding Cargo Trailer Weight Capacities

Cargo trailers come in various sizes, and their weight capacities depend on factors such as trailer dimensions, axle ratings, and construction materials. A 6×10 trailer, for example, can typically carry a payload of around 2,500 to 3,500 pounds. However, it’s crucial to remember that weight distribution and proper loading techniques play significant roles in ensuring safe towing and preventing overloading.

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Conversion Potential: From Utility to Comfort

Cargo trailers provide a blank canvas for converting into campers, allowing you to create a comfortable and functional living space. The size of the enclosed trailer dictates the possibilities for the conversion. For example, a 6×12 enclosed trailer can accommodate a bed, kitchenette, bathroom facilities, and storage cabinets. With careful planning and creativity, you can transform a cargo trailer into a cozy home away from home.

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Insulation and Comfort Considerations

When converting a cargo trailer into a camper, insulation is vital for maintaining a comfortable interior temperature and reducing noise levels. While cargo trailers are typically not insulated, you can add insulation materials such as foam boards or spray foam to the interior walls, ceiling, and floor. Proper insulation helps regulate the temperature and enhances the overall camping experience, making it more enjoyable in both cold and hot climates.

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Cargo Trailer Brands and Quality

Various cargo trailer brands are available on the market, each with its own reputation for quality and reliability. Popular manufacturers include Continental Cargo, Cargo Mate, and CargoPro. Researching the features, construction materials, and customer reviews of different brands can help you determine which one suits your needs best.

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Financial Considerations and Value Retention

One significant advantage of cargo trailer conversions is their potential to hold their value over time. Unlike traditional RVs or campers, cargo trailers tend to depreciate at a slower rate due to their multifunctional nature. Additionally, converting a cargo trailer into a camper is generally more cost-effective than purchasing a ready-made recreational vehicle. Costs for conversion materials, appliances, and furnishings can vary, but many DIY enthusiasts have successfully converted cargo trailers for under $5,000.

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Legal Considerations and Practicality

Before embarking on your cargo trailer conversion project, it’s essential to consider legal and practical aspects. Ensure that cargo trailers are allowed in the campgrounds you plan to visit, as regulations may vary. Additionally, check local laws regarding the use of converted cargo trailers as living spaces or permanent dwellings. It’s also crucial to evaluate the dimensions of the trailer to determine if it will fit in your garage or storage space when not in use.

In conclusion, cargo trailer to camper conversions offer a cost-effective and customizable way to venture into the world of camping and exploration. With the right planning, materials, and creativity, you can transform a utility trailer into a comfortable and functional living space tailored to your needs. Whether you’re embarking on a weekend getaway or a cross-country adventure, a cargo trailer camper conversion opens up a world of possibilities for your next outdoor journey.

Highlights/Features

  • On-demand water heater
  • 2-burner stove
  • Mini-refrigerator
  • 15-gallon swappable freshwater tanks
  • An external gray water tank or hookup
  • Shower and sink
  • 12v water pump
  • 12v lighting
  • 120v connections and sockets
  • Solar panels and charge controller
  • City water connection
  • Mini-wardrobe
  • Split fold-down beds (1/2 can be used for bench seating)
  • Fold-down table
  • External remote-controlled air conditioner and heater
  • Powered roof vent
  • Fully insulated

Learn more: http://www.sound-expressions.com/Camper2017/

Our big thanks to GR Horst for sharing!๐Ÿ™

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Alex

Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 47 comments… add one }
  • David S Laker
    October 18, 2019, 6:27 pm

    Congrats on a lot of work well done. Unfortunate truth is, you can buy a similar, used travel trailer cheaper than a used Haulmark.

    • Ann
      October 18, 2019, 6:43 pm

      It’s practical. Maybe they didn’t pay much for the trailer. I lived in a travel trailer for 2 years and was going to turn it into a tiny home, but things changed and I sold it for half of what I paid for it. If I were to do it again, I’d opt for starting from scratch on a used trailer frame. : )

      • Jerry Dycus
        October 23, 2019, 8:06 pm

        I’d build a small houseboat on boat trailer travels better and a lot of places to live free on the water. Or live cheaply in expensive downtowns.
        This is a nice one though I’m more for the couch-bed/settee, storage under on each side so you don’t have to move stuff to sleep and a full lounge chair for each using cushions or a hinged bed board to make the couch-bed into a lounge chair.
        A seat back can fill the in between to make full size if wanted.
        Alex can you cut the number of photos to enough to show well as more often I just click away to somewhere else instead of going through so many. I only did all these so I could write this note as was ready to leave before 1/3 way through.

  • Robert
    October 18, 2019, 6:46 pm

    Not bad at all! Looks like you touched all the bases and made it work. I would change two things for your own needs down the road. I can see you are not an electrician. Make a common box for power distribution including the main 120/240v breaker and branches (I see a 120v two breaker box near the floor and an outlet), solar, and 12V. Now, all that cannot go into one box or pipe. Create a panel with terminals fused for 12v would be nice and run power to type and voltage in one direction for in and the other for out. I would encourage using EMT and stranded wire like THHN instead of Romex. If you have an electrical issue you can pull and replace it with one pull without additional wall damage. Plumbing the same, run the plastic pipe through EMT into a duel manifold – hot and cold, each has its own stop valve. If something breaks or freezes causing an issue just pull it out and slip another in the pipe. Two things that are not thought about in a build. Keep it simple, neet and easily repairable. I still like the trailer, a great idea!

  • Richard L Herrington
    October 18, 2019, 7:22 pm

    The main thing I do not like about this cargo trailer is the fact that it is not sitting in my driveway ready for me to use to go camping & fishing.

    • Kurt
      October 19, 2019, 3:18 am

      LOL!!

  • Kurt
    October 19, 2019, 3:17 am

    What a sweet setup; I love the on demand water heater.

  • Sandra J Hedlund
    October 20, 2019, 3:35 am

    Beautiful build. I loved every picture until I saw the fuse block under the water hoses and my heart stopped. Water goes under electricity not over it. It could cause a tragedy.

    • Terry Thrasher
      September 30, 2020, 8:02 pm

      Nice job, has inspired my project in process. Learned from Roberts post as electrical mechanicals has me a little frustrated. Did you run mechanicals under trailer or along the wall ? Thx

    • GR Horst
      November 29, 2020, 9:49 pm

      Sandra, thanks for the comment. As noted on the web site, some changes were made in this regard after these photos were created.

  • Teri P
    October 23, 2019, 7:57 am

    Love it๐Ÿ˜โฃ

  • Samantha Nichols
    May 14, 2020, 7:34 am

    That’s great! I really like your content, it teaches me step-by-step how to turn a cargo trailer into a camper. This is useful for a new RVer like me. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • May 25, 2020, 8:58 am

    I also have a way to cargo trailer and someone can reference it. Firstly, you should set up plumbing and electrical lines, followed by floor and wall treatments. Lastly, you can start shopping for doors, window frames, kitchen counters, cabinets, and other furnishings that will make your new travel trailer feel like home. I hope that it is useful for someone.

  • Susan
    June 13, 2020, 9:04 pm

    We also have the same trailer that has been converted as well. Would love to know where you found the upper cabinets, and the tall cabinet. I know they are RV cabinets as we live full time in a 5th wheel. Our toy hauler does have a water hookup but no shower area in the toy hauler, but are looking to renovate it some.
    Thank you for the inspirations.๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š

    • GR Horst
      November 29, 2020, 9:46 pm

      Susan, To answer your question, I hand made all of the cabinets. I have a half-decent wood shop in my basement and some basic skill. But the cabinets are not real fancy, but quite functional.
      GR (camper owner/builder)

  • Jon
    June 24, 2020, 11:46 pm

    Very nice overall, I too am in the process of a build. The electrical components and locations should be looked into. Minimum NEMA 3R for the main in that location. Another for the cord we plug our trailers in with should be at least 12awg for 15 amp feed. 12 awg sow cord minimum, although I used on sale outdoor extension cords(christmas extension cords at home depot) for my runs, 12 awg for 120vac and 16 awg for 12vdc inside my rig. And by all means bond the main breaker box to the frame of the trailer. Be safe have fun, we are all in this together!

  • Amanda
    June 28, 2020, 11:19 pm

    I love your trailer. Thanks for sharing. Do you have any pointers on where I can get more in-depth information On your solar set up?

  • RBryanP
    September 1, 2020, 5:16 pm

    Amanda,
    To learn about electricity, mobile solar power systems and their components, how to calculate what size system you need, and have a source of information for pre-configured types of mobile solar power systems based on the amount of power you require, I recommend that you check out, “Mobile Solar Power Made Easy!” by Will Prowse. It is available at Amazon in either digital or paperback versions.
    https://www.amazon.com/Mobile-Solar-Power-Made-yourself/dp/1546567119/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1QTE3K76DWW8Q&dchild=1&keywords=will+prose+solar&qid=1598994342&sprefix=Will+Prose%2Caps%2C162&sr=8-1

    I’m not affiliated to Will or his book in any way. I just like the book and what it has to offer.

    Very Respectfully,

    Bryan

  • March 30, 2021, 10:08 pm

    I am sorry if I missed this information but where did you get the beds or the mechanism to make them? Cathy

    • March 31, 2021, 6:48 pm

      Cathy,
      Thanks for the question. The bed is a simple design of my own. I purchased the mattress on-line, but sorry I don’t remember where. But they are a 4″ structured foam (different materials glued together to make the mattress) that have worked out well.

      As far as the bed construction, there is 2″x3″ wood for frame and support legs with a 1/2″ plywood top and a few cross-pieces for additional support. The wall side has a small support area 4″ deep so there is room for the 4″ mattress when the bed is folded up. The hinge is a long “piano-hinge”. I don’t think stores commonly carry a hinge this long, but most on line hinge suppliers have them.

      Let me know if you need more details or pictures.
      GR

      • Chantel
        May 4, 2021, 11:15 pm

        I would love more information/pictures ok how you build these beds!? I am trying to do a similar set up in a. 8โ€™x16โ€™ trailer I just picked up.

        • GR Horst
          May 5, 2021, 12:12 pm

          Chantel,
          I think I have some additional information and pictures of the beds the make the construction easier to decipher. I would need to email these to you or perhaps they can be uploaded?
          [email protected]

      • WW Turner
        April 20, 2022, 1:58 pm

        I too would love more details or pictures regarding the bed construction. My spouse and I are trying to do something similar in our 6×10. Thanks.

        • April 21, 2022, 8:23 am

          I can forward you a PDF with additional info on the fold-up beds. If you want to contact me via email I could return the pdf which has 4 pics and some additional descriptions.
          [email protected]

  • Marsha Cowan
    April 28, 2021, 3:59 pm

    Clever! You have everything you need and still have a lot of moving around space. Very nice job!!

    • Marsha Cowan
      June 8, 2021, 5:59 pm

      One more thing, I love the versitility of this build, especially the bed set up. Very clever!

  • victoria
    April 28, 2021, 5:45 pm

    It’s not House Beautiful, but, I’ll tell ya, it’s House More Than Useful. My favorite of the whole thing is the split bed/bench/table system. You get all the bed space for sleeping, and all the convenience of having it out of your way for anything else and leaving back door open.

    • Natalie C. McKee
      April 29, 2021, 1:53 pm

      So true. Well-thought-out.

  • Mari Quinn
    November 21, 2021, 11:23 am

    This is EXACTLY WHAT I WANT ……i am not a builder but i really want to do this …..did you draw plans or have more info ??? Something a newbie could try to copy

  • Lucy Medrano
    April 23, 2022, 9:16 pm

    Where did you buy the switches that are installed in the cabinet in the kitchen? Can I please get information on that? Thank you.

    • GR Horst
      June 26, 2022, 11:01 pm

      Lucy, I don’t recall where I ordered the switches. But it was on-line after searching a bit. You may want to look for switches intended for marine (boat) usage. I seem to recall that it was intended for use in a boat 12-v system.

  • Michael Clark
    May 13, 2022, 9:43 am

    Creating a camper from a cargo trailer necessitates taking measurements, drawing a plan, locating and purchasing necessary components, and finally installing each component. It may appear to be a difficult task, especially for novices.

  • Natasha
    June 4, 2022, 9:57 pm

    Do you know about how much it weighs?

    • GR Horst
      June 26, 2022, 11:04 pm

      Natasha, It’s a common question about weight. However, I don’t have a definite answer. My best guess is 6-800 lbs. I pull with a Toyota Tacoma with the V6 motor which pulls it fairly comfortable.
      GR

      • James D.
        June 27, 2022, 12:36 am

        Well, if you want a definite answer you could always just take it to a weigh station or truck stop using CAT scales, there’s a fee, usually $10-$15, but it’s how truckers, RV’ers, etc. check their weight… May have to go through twice if you don’t know your vehicle weight to subtract from the total…

        • GR
          February 2, 2023, 3:47 pm

          I should weigh it one of these days. I hope I can find a free scale someplace ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Bertrand Nadeau
    February 1, 2023, 5:21 pm

    Where is your fresh water tank, where is your gray water thank for the sink and the shower

  • Bertrand Nadeau
    February 1, 2023, 11:15 pm

    Where is the water tank ? And where is the gray water tank.

    • James D.
      February 2, 2023, 2:30 pm

      Click the link to their website (if it allows you, it’s not a secure site) > Click Construction > Water… and it’ll show you the water tanks under the counter and explain the set up…

    • GR
      February 2, 2023, 3:45 pm

      Bertrand,
      The fresh water tank(s) are under the stove in the left cabinet door next to the shower. There is a 10 gallon tank that is permanent. Above that tank is a 5 gallon removable. The 5-gal connects to the lower 10-gal via a quick-connect garden hose type connector. If we are not where we are connect to a water supply, we can carry these 5-gal containers, place one on top of the 10-gal permanent tank and it will drain down to the lower tank. This provides up to 15 gallons of fresh water that is refillable in 5-gal increments.

      The gray water from sink and shower drains through an external faucet and into a wheeled gray water tote so we can easily take it to a dump station. If there is a sewer hookup, we connect a short hose to the campground sewer connection. We carry a hose-to-4″ adapter for this purpose.

      GR
      Camper builder

    • Fred & Brenda Rouse
      February 12, 2023, 6:06 pm

      No reply on the fresh water and gray water tanks locations.

      • Fred & Brenda Rouse
        February 12, 2023, 6:09 pm

        Sorry I didn’t read far enough.

  • anthony Hutchinson
    April 11, 2023, 7:11 pm

    when you installed your shower im assuming you had to drill down through the floor. I also have made a conversion but have never drilled through the floor, What did you use to cut the drain hole?

    • April 12, 2023, 6:05 pm

      Anthony,
      The shower pan (bottom) has a drain hole already. The bottom of a utility trailer is usually just 3/4″ plywood. I just used a hole saw attachment on a drill to make the appropriate sized hole down through the plywood floor, then caulk around the drain pipe. The only caution is to make sure the drain hole is NOT where there is a metal beam under the trailer. Check this first. If there is a beam there in the way, then you will need to move the shower a few inches to locate the drain hole where it won’t hit it the metal frame of the trailer.

      I connected the sink drain and the shower drain under the trailer, then have a single 1 1/4″ drain pipe that drains both the shower & sink water into either an external wheeled RV dump tank, or the sewer at a full-hookup camp site.

  • GR Horst
    September 29, 2023, 10:39 pm

    I had a number of inquires about the weight of this trailer. My estimations, ok they were bad guesses, were way off. I finally took this trailer to a certified scale, unhooked the camper, and pressed the weigh button. It came in at 2400 lbs. This is as it stands completed and with beds, a few light things (coffee in the cabinet) plus the standard items such as the cube fridge, solar, battery, a few gallons of water etc. So there would not very much to add to that when traveling. Just some clothing and food. In my case also a guitar and banjo.

    Speaking instruments, one issue I had is that we also like to take my upright bass along to bluegrass festivals. But although we loved this little camper, we decided we needed some more room, particularly for the upright bass (what they call a doghouse bass down south). So we have sold this camper and are considering our next one that will have just enough additional room for the bass.

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