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How to Convert a Cargo Trailer Into a Camper

If you’ve shopped for campers lately, you’ve likely read about the problems with newer models. It’s tough to work out kinks during mass production. Converting a cargo trailer into a camper has many advantages, like quality assurance.

However, you may hesitate if you question your DIY skills. Change your mindset and look at your build-out as a learning experience. Building from the ground up means you know how to fix whatever breaks. So, are you ready to get dirty constructing your outdoor home?

Here’s how to convert a cargo trailer into a camper.

Select Your Trailer

Your first order of business is choosing your trailer. Here, your current tow vehicle helps

determine the best type and size. For example, a gooseneck lowboy trailer is ideal for THOWs

because the hitch sits in your truck bed, providing more stability for larger builds. However,

you’ll need a 1-ton dually to pull it without problems.

Cargo trailers come in assorted sizes, making them a solid choice regardless of your vehicle

size. Their enclosed nature makes them perfect for novice DIYers to build out because you

need not struggle with framing. They come in various styles, including:

● Wedge

● Flat front

● Round or flat top

Most cargo trailers feature lightweight aluminum framing similar to Airstreams, which hold their

resale value because of their quality construction.

Lay the Groundwork

Once you acquire your trailer, your next order of business is to hit the design studio. Building

without a plan means running out of room for all the features you want to include and space is

already at a premium.

Today’s world of software programs makes designing your layout easier than ever. Even better,

you have a free pass to binge-watch shows on tiny home design. You’ll learn many clever tricks

for increasing storage space while making your cargo trailer camper look tidy.

Run Plumbing and Electric

A huge decision you face when converting a cargo trailer into a camper is whether you want to

include plumbing and — if so — which amenities. You might not mind lacking a shower if you

typically stay at KOAs with a facility onsite. However, boondockers often appreciate a sink for

hygiene purposes. Mounting a freshwater tank is also smart — it’s far easier than lugging

around gallon jugs.

Here’s where all that tiny home binge-watching comes into play. What if you can’t live without a

shower and toilet, but your cargo trailer is small? You can find nifty all-in-one kits with

detachable composting thrones in the stall.

Powering Your Cargo Trailer to Camper Conversion

Installing plumbing will test your DIY skills, but many of today’s kits have easy-to-follow

instructions. Running an electrical system can be a bit more scary because of fire risks, but the

greener you go, the less frightening it becomes.

How will you power your cargo trailer conversion? Solar is the way to go:

It’s whisper-quiet: The racket a gas or propane generator makes can drive you mad.

It’s safer: Gas and propane are combustible. There’s far less fire and explosion risk with


It’s greener: Solar power produces zero emissions, helping the planet and making your

campsite smell fresher.

It’s renewable: Prepping for SHTF? Service-station gas pumps run on electricity,

meaning you might be unable to fuel up a fuel-powered generator during a power outage

after you exhaust your supply.

How big a kit you need depends on what amenities you plan to include. If you want a mini-fridge

and climate control, you’ll need a 1500-watt or higher system, which will set you back between

$2,000 and $5,000.

Perhaps you simply want something comfier than a tent for sleeping while hunting or living a bit

rough. In that case, all you need are a few quality panels and battery storage to keep your

laptops, GPS, and cellphone functional. These will only cost a few hundred dollars, depending

on how many devices you have to charge.

Finish Her Strong

Your cargo trailer to camper conversion need not look homemade. Designing your interior can

be the most fun part of your buildout.

While you could frame the interior walls with plywood, vinyl is more lightweight, lasts longer, and

resists water and mold. You can also use it for flooring. Sheet vinyl is easier to install, although

laminate planks provide a more upscale look.

Upholster bench covers and paint cabinets. You’ll also want to add invisible baby-proof latches

to keep the contents from spilling out during transit.

The Comforts of Home

You’ve converted your cargo trailer to a camper and are ready to hit the road. Wait — did you

realize how much more room you now have for equipment? Your days of roughing it in the wild

are over.

Stock your cargo trailer to camper conversion with the following to enhance your camping


A tool kit: For quick repairs you now feel more confident about tackling.

A first aid kit: Including a travel pack of any medications you take.

A mess kit: Including a small camp stove, utensils and a plate/bowl to eat from.

Extra blankets: You never know when you might lose or ruin one.

Fire-making tools: Including a shovel to douse that puppy.

Safety equipment: A fire extinguisher, triangles, flares and a signaling mirror.

Transforming a Cargo Trailer Into a Camper

Converting a cargo trailer into a camper is wise. You avoid many issues caused by mass-

produced campers in recent years and gain a world of know-how that can come in handy.

Follow this quick guide to converting your cargo trailer into a camper. You’ll enjoy the wilds

much more with a cozy place to call home.


Author Bio: Oscar Collins is the editor-in-chief at Modded, where he writes about RVs, auto

trends and similar topics. Follow him on Twitter @TModded for frequent updates!

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