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Cargo Trailer Stealth Camper Doubles as Bug Out Vehicle

Wanted to show you this interesting cargo trailer stealth camper.

The owner/builder of it built it as a bug out vehicle as well as a cheap DIY stealth camper.

He bought a 2012 12×6 cargo trailer for a little under $3000 and he started to convert it himself.

The under carriage and chassis was coated to prevent rust. He also sealed the roof to prevent leaks.

To insulate it he had to remove the plywood panels, install the insulation, and then put it all back together. Sounds like a pretty fun project, doesn’t it?

Related: Man Turns Cargo Trailer into AMAZING, Transforming- Stealth Tiny House


Photo Credit YouTube/NJprepper321

He finished it up by adding an electrical system and water. Everything is explained further in the video tour at the bottom of this post.

Video Tour: Cargo Trailer Converted Into Stealth Camper Bug Out Vehicle

Have you ever thought about building a stealth camper by doing a cargo trailer camper conversion instead of a tiny house?

I think it’s a great idea if you:

1) want to travel with your “home” and

2) you’d like to remain low key while you do it.

If you were traveling around the country what sort of vehicle would you like to do it in? An ordinary RV, a stealth camper similar to this, or a tiny house on wheels?

Also, have you ever thought about setting up a “bug out vehicle” in case things go wrong, an emergency arises, etc.?

Must See: Man Turns Cargo Trailer into AMAZING, Transforming- Stealth Tiny House

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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!
{ 28 comments… add one }
  • September 10, 2013, 9:05 pm

    This was my original plan before I discovered tiny houses and figured that would be a better option. I still want to build one of these so I can have a shelter that’s more mobile than my tiny house though. Probably in a much smaller trailer that I can possibly tow with my 4 cylinder car though.

    • Alex
      September 11, 2013, 3:47 pm

      That would be pretty awesome. Like a teardrop camper version.

    • Glema
      January 23, 2014, 8:54 pm

      You might consider one of these or something similar. I recall seeing an even tinier one for cars on you tube they were selling it out of Florida but i can’t recall the name. Personally, if i can’t get a Tiny House, then this might be my first “other” choice. A good one for bug out vehicle i think at least. There is also a rugged one for bug out on you tube. I’m pretty sure your small car can pull. Hope these help. Don’t be discouraged, they even have small campers for Motorcycles and bicycles. Happy Trails

  • RockyMissouri
    September 10, 2013, 9:13 pm

    You’ve done a great job…!! Nice sewing job too… Excellent, all the way around… Don’t have TOO much fun…!!!

  • Shele
    September 10, 2013, 10:15 pm

    This is very much what I have in mind for the plumbing in mine. I like the way you have thought this out. GREAT idea for the back door and patio. I hadn’t thought of that. Hoping to incorporate that in my design.

  • September 10, 2013, 10:50 pm

    There isn’t much DIY involved in this – but a basic camper van is simple and stealth in stock form. I’ve traveled cross-country in my van, and I’ve spent months in a few different small towns. When parked on a residential street, it just looks like grandpa is visiting the neighbors. There’s no neon sign saying that you’re asleep in there. All you need is a place to sleep and protection from the elements. I had no fancy accoutrements, and it was never a problem.

    I had a bed, a chair, a one-burner Coleman stove that could be put away, and a pee bottle. Vague plans to add an electrical system and other clutter always fell by the wayside.

    I still use the van for hauling stuff, but I have no doubt what my bug-out option would be. It wouldn’t take much convincing for me to “bug out,” seeing how I enjoyed that lifestyle so much in the past.

    • Molly
      September 11, 2013, 9:20 am

      I plan to create a camper van myself. I’ll probably make it a little more “fancy” than you did. I want a bucket toilet (since women like to sit and pee), and base cabinets down one side with a counter top to prepare food. I make everything from scratch and I plan to cook at parks. So many day use parks have grills to use for free, and I can keep any leftovers in a cooler. I also plan to add insulation to make it more comfortable. I don’t see any need for electricity, either.

      I love that it’s such an economical way to have a tiny “home” to travel the country in, and that it is so inconspicuous. It’s also a LOT easier to drive than an RV, and gets better gas mileage. There’s also the savings from not paying RV park fees.

      • September 11, 2013, 6:44 pm

        You are going to have a lot of fun, I would wager.

        My favorite aspect of my van – one that I have never seen in any other – was the comfy chair facing the side doors. I didn’t plan that. When I got the van, it was the only logical place I could fit the chair. With the van’s side door open, I had a perfect vantage point, and spending time in the van felt much less cramped than any other setup I can imagine. On a rainy day, I could still sit with the doors open. With my feet extended, I could just reach the raindrops with my toes. I sat in that chair – the “life is easy chair,” as I called it – and watched cruise ships arrive in Key West, and windsurfers on the Willamette River in Oregon.

        Camper vans are an excellent choice over a cumbersome RV. For me, it was the only thing I could afford – but I never wanted to live in anything bigger.

        Have a ball. I know you will.


        • Alex
          September 12, 2013, 11:33 am

          Hey Chris, cool site and I like your current tiny house project. Congrats on it. Would love to feature it here sometime, along with your van story. So interesting!! I’m going to the Keys this weekend. That must have been pretty awesome in the van. Alright man, peace!

        • September 12, 2013, 11:51 am

          Woah, thanks for the kind words, Alex!

          Feel free to email me if you have questions about what to see in the Keys. My time in a van in Key West was an adventure which helped shape who I am today. I learned what I needed and did not need. It is a beautiful island with fantastically creative people. I made friends and had excellent jobs as a pedicab driver and then a bicycle mechanic.

          I think of the island as a magical place. If I think about “bugging out” for personal reasons, Key West is the location. The vehicle to live in is almost secondary.

          Yes, please feature my house here. It will be at least a month until it is finished, but I have a lot of interesting details up my sleeve. I’ll keep you informed.

        • Alex
          September 12, 2013, 1:04 pm

          Thanks Chris. I actually couldn’t help to share some thoughts on your most recent post where you talk about how you and Kristen decided on a tiny house design. The post I did based on it is here: http://tinyhousepins.com/tiny-houses-your-lover-convincing-waiting-or-meeting-in-between/

        • September 12, 2013, 4:36 pm

          Thanks for the link and compliment!

  • Jimmy
    September 10, 2013, 11:08 pm

    Little of the Beaten track, but it’s a nice build!

  • Matt
    September 11, 2013, 12:28 am

    I have a similar project going on. I like some of his ideas but I went with solar panels and batteries for my critical systems. If you are trying to be stealth or need to bug-out then AC will be hard to come by… and firing up a generator would get you noticed. (Adding a rack with ladders on top allows you to hide your solar panels among the ladders and keeps it stealthy.)

    I’d go with a slightly larger, dual axle trailer. A 7′ x 14′ would offer a lot more room for emergency supplies and dual axles would increase carrying capacity significantly. His trailer with all the added stuff and 45 gallons of water would probably overload the single axle.

    • Alex
      September 11, 2013, 3:48 pm

      Hmm, good points Matt. Thanks!

  • Eric
    September 12, 2013, 7:39 am

    The fact that this build got you something you enjoy makes it truly wonderful, and I appreciate that. I have been around RVs most of my life, living near Tom Raper in Richmond, IN probably had something to do with that. Also wanting a sustainable trailer that has features unavailable in most RVs has driven me to want to build my own. A few suggestions here that make the trailer easier to tow, especially with a more fuel efficient vehicle: Move the water tank over the wheels, it manages the tongue weight that a more fuel efficient vehicle often cannot sustain. Mount detachable cables to the cargo door to keep it level with the floor of the trailer, eliminate the need for the wood blocks which may not suit the terrain. Also, the purpose of a p-trap in plumbing is to prevent poisonous, explosive gases from coming back in the structure. You don’t need one at all for this application. The hoses you used for the plumbing should be frost-proof, but the fittings are not, so you want to either get all the water out with air pressure or use RV antifreeze during the winter. I personally don’t understand the need to “bug out” or be “stealth,” so I would have some windows for light and ventilation. I might be tempted to use a screen curtain made for a sliding patio door to cover the cargo door opening and use that for great ventilation, maybe another for the “man-door” because it’s a cheap, easy fix that doesn’t require a special screen door. Also, I would have been tempted to buy a regular foam bed mattress in a commercially available size, make the bed to fit, and cut it in half with an electric knife. That should cost half or less what custom order foam would cost. I’m so cheap, it’s almost embarrassing. Almost. All in all, glad you got what you want, hope you enjoy it and if you decide to do another one day, I hope my suggestions save you time, money, and improve your enjoyment of the end result.

    • Alex
      September 12, 2013, 8:03 am

      Excellent tips here Eric, thanks for sharing w/ us.

    • September 12, 2013, 12:10 pm

      Eric – all those suggestions seem sensible. When I saw this post, my reaction was similar. I want to second-vote your idea about the screen curtain. I’ve had the same idea! Do you mean the magnetic screen curtains advertised on TV? That’s what I was thinking. They’re cheap, and they’re much simpler than a “real” door.

      The purpose of this comment is to voice my belief that the screen curtain has many applications that could add massive ventilation to many tiny structures with creative designs.

      I’m a super-cheapskate too. I love to see highly functional and inexpensive solutions to commercial products which tend to be impractical in some way because they are targeted to a different type of builder. A little bit of creativity can save a lot of money. (And conserve a lot of resources!) More important than the money saved, the creator will have a structure with a unique personality and a layout which is MORE functional than one that is cobbled together with 100% commercially available products. Sweet!

      I second the bed idea as well. I got some free memory foam that my sister was throwing out. It was the wrong size, but cutting it was easy. Presto – a mattress in whatever custom size you need.

      • alice h
        September 12, 2013, 4:25 pm

        I’ve got home made screens with magnets that fit over the windows of a car. They’re handy if you end up sitting around with the windows open in bug territory for whatever reason. You can keep them rolled up nice and small in the glove compartment. They’ve made life a lot nicer on several occasions.

  • di
    September 15, 2013, 2:02 pm

    Such meticulous, detailed, creative work! Thanks for all the explanations and possibilities.

  • J.R.McDowell
    September 16, 2013, 11:47 pm

    Nice job.. I dig it. Been thinking of doing this myself, you gave me a lot of insight in converting a travel trailer. By the way nice job on the curtains, my wife is a seamstress and she was impressed by your ability from a couple youtube videos. Hope you update us with the next upgrades.

  • Ric Stabile
    November 29, 2013, 2:50 pm

    Dear Tiny House (Or to whom it can concern).
    When I make contact with your On-line Link
    Your page is interrupted with…”Join now et.”
    Does your system not Know that I am a Subscriber ?
    The The “Delete x ” does not show until 2 minutes
    Later . During that time I cannot navigate or ….
    ? Until The ” Join email” is removed…..
    My IPhone is a 2009, Help Ric

  • Glema
    January 23, 2014, 9:05 pm

    I think you did a fine beginning! You clearly stated you aren’t finished yet 🙂
    I hope you enjoy it all and should the need arise, SHTF, you should be fine once you stock up. Happy Trails from the west cost 🙂

  • mary
    May 23, 2016, 8:05 am

    I have looked camper plans 7 months. Wow! Best plan I have seen!
    Work is superb! Most “finished work I have seen. Only have 6x 10, if I had your size trailer, I would have my husband do just lie yours, no changes!

  • mary
    May 23, 2016, 8:11 am

    Edited-best plans seen-most “finished work”. Would copy exactly if had 6×12 trailer. Great job!

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