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Micro Camper With A Tiny House Look Built For Only $800

So, you’d like to have an RV, but you really don’t have $20,000.00 to invest or six months of your life to put into a time consuming renovation. What about $800 and a few weekends of your spare time?

Bob, the cool $800 camper built from a 40 year old cargo trailer.


When instructables user, Dustman0042 decided he needed a camper, that’s exactly what it cost him to produce this “tiny house” lookalike he nicknamed Bob.

Bob’s origins lay in this ancient aluminum box trailer.


To make your camper, first start with an old trailer. It really could be just about anything. In this case, it was a 40 year old cargo box trailer with an aluminum skin that was picked up from an ad. Craigslist and local eBay listings are both great places to find a simple trailer for sale.

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He used 2×3 framing for the new walls and insulated the surfaces with rigid R13 foam insulation.

floor frame and insulation

Since the aluminum skin held up well, the outside walls of this unit came in handy. The next step is to simply remove everything you don’t need. Dustman0042 left the two side walls and the front wall. Since the rear wall was built from access doors that didn’t fit the plan, they came off.

Roof framed from more 2×3 rafters ready for sheathing.

roof framing

Some trailer builders over think things. That was not the case here. Simple dimensional lumber was used for framing. It’s strong, it’s light, it’s easy to work with and it’s cheap and easily found. The walls and roof were framed from 2x3s, almost as strong as 2x4s but about a third less weight – and cheaper. Use nice, straight lumber for best results.

Roof framed and sheathed, ready for metal.


Since being able to stand full upright inside was important, a peaked roof got installed. On the outside, the aluminum skin stayed, but got a bright red coat of paint for a cozy look. The roof is corrugated metal, a long lasting and lightweight option that is also very inexpensive and fast and easy to install.

A couple of interior shots showing window curtains and storage loft.

interior window
interior loft

If you plan to camp where it’s hot or cold, insulate your camper! Rigid foam is best. It’s cheap, simple to cut and works well for climate control and noise reduction. Before you add your interior skin, wire for lights and other electrical.

The bed made up and ready for a good night’s camp!

standard mattress

To finish the project off, a cutdown RV door and a pair of salvaged camper windows took care of access and ventilation. The interior is paneled with bead board for a rugged, rustic finish that is also inexpensive and super fast to install. You can either paint or stain it for a classic cabin look.

Cedar rear wall with a cut down RV door.

rear door

Bob is a fairly basic camping unit that requires nearby showers and water for complete comfort. While an outside folding kitchen serves as the meal prep area, with a longer trailer you might build in a small kitchen and even add water and a grey water tank.

The cedar paneling and trim, along with the corrugated roof turned out pretty nice considering the $800 investment. The piece we like best? A real mattress, that’s a must for campers over thirty. I’m just saying. 😉

The Bob, at home at a campsite.

camper in camp

SEE ALSO: Bumper-Pulled 1968 Boler Travel Trailer Worthy Of Its New Candy Apple Red Paint Scheme

1 thought on “Micro Camper With A Tiny House Look Built For Only $800”

  1. I’m getting ready to build a slide in wood camper for my 2000 Ford f150. I’d love to see some pictures and ideas for the mechanicals. Can you help?

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