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DIY Rooftop Camper Made From The Simplest Of Materials

This post was updated on March 15th, 2024

You’ll often find rooftop campers on international expedition vehicles or off-road SUVs. A roof top camper usually consists of a rigid bottom and heavily reinforced tent. The unit mounts securely to the roof of a car or SUV.

While you can buy these commercially (they usually cost over $1,000), a young couple decided to make their own!

The project lasted six months, and cost them about $600 in materials. Their build was based on this highly-detailed walkthrough.

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A single 4′ by 8′ sheet of 19/21″ plywood (cut in half) serves as the foundation for the rooftop camper.

Rooftop car camper

He said the hinges and other components needed for the build (like the special hinges you see in the photo above) are sold à la carte by Tepui Tents.

Adding the framing to the plywood base.

Roof top camper

The framing was a lot easier than it looks. Made out of conduit that i got at home depot. The conduit was cut to the size of the base plywood when closed. So they’re all the same size, so when it closes theyre enclosed underneath the plywood and dont stick out. I attached the conduit to the hinges by smashing one end with a rubber mallet so thats the end it flat, and then drilling the holes to fit the size of the bolt through along with some washers and nylon lock nuts to attach them to the hinges. Then six 90 degree elbows to attach the tops

He found a used Eureka Titan 8-Person Family Tent for $60.

Aligning the tent

Velcro straps hold the tent to the poles.

Positioning the tent

After staining and waterproofing the plywood base.

After staining the base

my garage has a lot of different wood stains lying around so i made a concoction of dark brown/red and stained it, then used a waterproofing sealer to coat it a handful of times until the wood was nice a sealed.

He said it took a lot of trial and error to position the tent canopy ‘just right’.

Rain shield

Since they wouldn’t be needing the bottom section of the tent anymore, they cut it away from the top and sides and sewed it to the roof for added protection from the rain.

Top of the tent

This homemade roof rack system cost only $50.

Mounting on SUV

Since we’re going to be sleeping on top of the Trooper, we had to put a solid mounting system on. I bought these 4″ High Rain Gutter Clamp(25$ each)from wildernessracks.com and make our own roof racks.

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