Author Topic: My camping / bug out trailer plans and progress  (Read 7079 times)

Offline Erigorn

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My camping / bug out trailer plans and progress
« on: June 16, 2013, 01:01:34 PM »
After what has felt like forever I have taken my first real step into building a camping/bug out trailer.  I had debated about converting a school bus but cost and space pushed me towards the trailer. I plan to use this as a show and tell post for anyone to see and hopefully benefit from. To start out though I’d like to get some ideas from the collective brilliance of the forum.


Here is the front/side view. See explanation below.

Here are some details and plans:
6’ wide 8’ long enclosed Wells Cargo trailer
It is very unique or at least uncommon in that a 53x88 panel pops up on each side to form an awning and reveling 11” deep shelves. The walls are welded aluminum. Some holes are already drilled in it. (I was told it was used to house 3 pay phones on each side when the Olympics where in SLC.  A pair of 4’ fluorescent lights are installed on each side as well.

That leave about 4’x8’ on the inside with a few pockets under the lower shelf in front and back of the wheel wells.

Door is on the front end rather than side and back.

It has 3 (one is missing) scissor jacks in 4 corners. The tongue is removable as well.

My initial plan so far are to build a kitchen area into one side. Near the bottom would be a fold down counter top maybe 18-24” deep (because the current pockets are only 11”). Inset into the counter would be a shallow sink (Like RV style). Water would be supplied by 1 or 2 5 gallon jugs on the top shelf that gravity feed to the sink. A simple 2 burner standard coleman style stove would have a pocket to sit in for travel or when unneeded but could be placed on the counter for use. Would like to put in an ice box or rv fridge but would required cutting through the back wall for the depth needed and might interfere with inside plans. Thinking about a small microwave as well but same issue with depth and of course power. The rest of the area would be used for storage of food, utensils, etc.

The plan for the other side is a full sized bed/futon. Something that could be used as either a bench during the day and a bed at night. Hang some mosquito netting and possibly canvas to be like a little tented area. There should be room on this side or the kitchen side for a power center. That would include the basics of batteries, invertors, plugs for cell phones, AA/AAA battery chargers, etc.

On the roof I would like to put in solar electricity in the 100-200 watt range (depending on how large of a battery bank I use which is dependent on if I end up with the microwave and fridge or not). Also on the roof I’d like to get some solar hot water that would also gravity feed to the sink and possibly an outdoor shower. Unsure the gallons of hot water but probably in the 10-20 gallon range. Probably punch an hole in the roof for a ventilation hatch.

Inside I’d like to build a couple more beds for the kids. Either fold down from each side to for one 4’ wide bed or both from one side bunk style. The rest of the area would probably be storage.

The one thing that I know I am missing is a bathroom or toilet. I’m leaning towards self contained toilet or 5 gallon bucket with lid to be used either inside or taken outside with a privacy curtain.

There you have it, the rough draft of some thoughts I have had.

Please post back any ideas, comments, concerns, thoughts, etc you have. I’d really like to get some more ideas.

My progress so far is to just get the thing cleaned out since it was very dusty/dirty with a few cobwebs inside. It is currently storing supplies on site for my snow cone business while I am in the planning stage. I hope to get most of the plans done during the summer and then do most of the work in the winter when I have significantly more time than in the summer.

Offline VeggieDog

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Re: My camping / bug out trailer plans and progress
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2013, 01:08:53 PM »
Fantastic!!!!  Please keep us updated with pictures. 

Offline MTUCache

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Re: My camping / bug out trailer plans and progress
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2013, 02:53:26 PM »
Looks like a good start. I'd tend to agree with you on the plumbing ideas... not quite big enough to worry about how to fit a running toilet and/or sink in there.

4x8 enclosed bed area with enough room for some clothes, plus a portable pantry sounds like a minimalist version of a pop-up RV. But if you've got a way to regulate the temperature while you're sleeping, and you can keep some critical stuff secure while you're bugging out, it's a nice low-profile way to get around. Assuming you're pulling it with a decent sized truck you've got room for some BOBs and other storage in the vehicle that's towing it.
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Offline Freebirde

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Re: My camping / bug out trailer plans and progress
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2013, 04:42:42 PM »
Maybe some solar panels on the side hatches with a sheet of lexan to protect them from rocks and road debris.   As far as the inside beds, decide what you are going to use as a mattress/pad and let their sizes help you decide the size and style of beds.
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Offline TLBones

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Re: My camping / bug out trailer plans and progress
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2013, 06:04:10 PM »
Wow, a really unique trailer you found!   I like your kitchen idea on one side.   If it were mine I'd try and find an square RV style water tank for fresh water that would fit inside or on the bottom exterior shelf and an old RV size sink and make a way to get running water going for cleanup and cooking.   Maybe even work up some sort of exterior shower hose supply for an outside shower if you were to have access to running water hookup.   

I'd also consider cutting in a small window in the back and/or the front door for ventillation, roof vents with 12V fans also.   
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Offline 4bull

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Re: My camping / bug out trailer plans and progress
« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2013, 07:08:20 PM »
Looks cool to me. I thought a 2 horse trailer would be sweet to build from. 

Offline Erigorn

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Re: My camping / bug out trailer plans and progress
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2013, 10:50:25 PM »
I'm not very familiar with RVs/Pop up trailers or similar. I hope to hit up a local RV retailer and look at a few to get ideas. I want to fit my needs but not completely reinvent the wheel.

Freebirde- i am debating with the PV panels on the roof or the sides. Sides would be cool since they pop up but wouldn't charge as well during transit (depending on time of day and direction of travel). Roof would be simpler i think...just have to worry about keeping it good and sealed. I think either way some sort of protection from road debris/rocks will be important.  As for the beds I am hoping to stay with standard sizes just for simplicity on finding sheets, but I guess isn't really that important if sticking with sleeping bags. Basic idea would be some foam on a sheet of plywood. More elaborate would be some heavy fabric stretch around a frame like co,t with or without a pad. Toyed with hammocks too which make the space more flexible

MTUcache- For the foreseeable future ill be pulling with my Tacoma. Should have room in the bed for the BOBs and other items without overloading. 4x8 should be room for storage along with the beds inside. Have debated on forgetting the inside beds and  just bring a small tent instead. That would make storage planning inside much easier.

TLBones - I hope to get solar hot water on the roof via a 12v pump and put ambient temp water up high either in 5 gallon jugs or with the pump and then just let gravity feed the small sink and possibly shower. I'm looking around for used and damaged pup up trailers that I can salvage parts (like the sink or water storage or stove) from. You bring up a point I was unaware of about making sure I can take on fresh water if a pressurized system is available. (I've camped a ton but not with a camper of any kind so lots of that is new). Venting is definitely a concern. I may vent out to each side by just drilling or cutting some holes and when the walls are up venting is going too. Sides might work well for cross breezes. A roof hatch/vent is on the to-look-into list.

Keep up the good ideas. Thanks for the replies. If anyone has any tips to camper camping please pass those along as well.

Would anyone worry about insulating the walls/ceiling? I've seen some people do it on bus/trailer conversions but am wondering about how hot/cold it will get. I don't expect any extreme temperatures on any camping i will be doing. Obviously want to be as prepared as possible. With the size i don't think a heater is a serious option; though i do have a couple portable propane heaters. Cooling won't be an option as far as actual AC so fans and venting will be all I have to keep it cool. Hopefully the solar hot water, PV cells and wings up will prevent too much heat from turning it into an oven. I guess I'll really need to plan on some good venting and/or fans.


Offline TLBones

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Re: My camping / bug out trailer plans and progress
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2013, 09:22:40 AM »
Not sure if it's feasable: consider putting a used RV door in the back and use that as your primary entrance and screen in the "front" door entrance.   I would think that would really maximize your ventillation.   I agree if you have enough solar panels etc. on the roof it should shave off the worst of the heat.  I'm not sure how much insulating you could really do with your strange trailer layout. 
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Offline Erigorn

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Re: My camping / bug out trailer plans and progress
« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2013, 12:21:55 PM »
The next step is upon me.
Based on some great suggestions in other posts I looked into salvaging parts a from an old camper. Found an old pickup bed camper with propane fridge, stove, stereo, 2 propane tanks for under 200 bucks. Might have some windows or door that I can salvage too. My wife won't be happy until I gut it and get rid of the remains but its a great find I think.

Offline ttubravesrock

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Re: My camping / bug out trailer plans and progress
« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2013, 04:42:48 PM »
Two ideas.

1. The side panels are PERFECT for an outdoor kitchen. Check out teardrop trailers for inspiration here.

2. Pop-up. This will help your ventilation drastically while allowing you to bunk your sleeping area. Like this.

Offline scoob

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Re: My camping / bug out trailer plans and progress
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2013, 06:02:46 PM »
Nice score on the parts!

That is a pretty interesting looking trailer.  If there is a side door on both sides, one might consider knocking the box, or shelving area out of one side to open it up, and doing a fold-out or slide-out, something like a tent trailer on that side, and keep the other side as the 'galley'.

For ideas on how to do your galley, do a search for tear-drop trailers.  Those tear-drop people have got ALL KINDS of ways to maximize space, function, and comfort in a really tiny package. - ETA:  Looks like ttubravesrtock got that covered as I was typing! :clap:

Cutting in another door:
Pros -    better egress, you have a 'back door' to bail out of
   more ventilation
Cons -    cost(if you had to buy one separately)
   one more opportunity for something that can leak water when traveling
   one more way to lose heat, etc.
   one more thing to maintain (hinges, seals, latches, etc.)
   overkill, how many doors do you need into a 4x8' space?
   it will suck up wall space that could be used to mount something else

I've had experience with many different rv floor plans, and the ones with multiple doors always seemed to be a waste of valuable wall space.

I would think about an operable window that's designed for/or large enough for egress in the rear.
   
Ventilation:  This goes for anyone with an RV...  I would cut a good fan/vent into the roof.  I can't recommend highly enough, one of the efficient fans from Fantastic Vent or Shurflo Fans.  They are low-amp-draw, quiet, and move a lot of air.  I installed the Shurflo Platinum in our rv trailer and I'm glad I spent the extra money on it.  I'd prefer it without the remote (more batteries to keep track of) but the reversible, variable-speed, thermostat, and rain sensor are well worth the price.  We can leave camp on a hot day for a bike ride and the fan will kick on automatically, yet close automatically if it rains.  It barely sips any power, even if it's been on all day.

If you pick up a vent cover for it, you can leave the vent open in-transit without worrying about rain or wind tearing your lid off.


Solar panels:  Roof - period.  Out of sight and mostly difficult to reach by scumbags that think you bought it for them.  More versatile when it come to aquiring sun angle.  Charges, even if not at optimum angle, while driving or when parked at any angle.  I think you can get a decent mount that lets you tilt the panels side-to-side for a decent price.  A four-way tilt or swivel system would be expensive if you could even find one.  Sealing the roof:  Just use a high quality sealant, such as Vulkem, and find or make a hidey-hole to store extra sealant tubes and a caulking gun.

Bedding/Mattress:  1 word - "Novaform"... or memory foam I guess, if you can get one in the size you need.  Our rv has that thin, springy-pokey mattress that many rvs have.  We bought the Novaform topper from Costco and threw it on top... about as comfy as the bed in our house!  I think an upgraded rv-sized mattress would've cost us a few hundred $$$.  The memory foam was just over $100 for the queen-size.

Storage/beds:  I would consider beds, or bunks that fold up against the wall.  That way you can stuff the trailer full of totes for travel, but unload the totes at your destination, drop the bunks, and have the security of the hard-side to sleep in.

Tires: Have you thought about where you will mount the spare tires?  Yes, I said tire(S).  Having multiple PhD's from the School of Hard Knocks, I have learned to keep two spares for the rv trailer.  More than once I have had a blowout on the way to the mountains.  If you use your spare on the way TO your camp, you no longer have a spare while driving those winding, and sometimes rocky roads, when your tires are even more at risk, and you're even further from a repair/purchase source.  Changing a tire on the side of the road sucks.  Dropping the trailer on the side of the road to go get a tire really pegs the suck meter!  When you store the trailer, be sure to protect the tires from the sun.  They will last much longer.  That reminds me of another tip...  buying a used trailer, you may observe that the tires look brand new.  Heck, they might even have the little tentacles still on them.  If the tires weren't covered, the UV will break them down from the inside, and may cause a premature blowout.  Ask me how I know this... or see the 3rd sentence of this paragraph.

Privy:  A Luggable-Loo or bucket with the seat is probably your best bet, given the amount of space you don't have.  You can buy the $100 pop-up privy/shower tent from Cabela's or similar, or you can make one out a tarp and pvc pipe and a tarp.  If you plan to do the solar shower:  1.  Get a couple - they don't take up much space, and they work as extra water storage.  2. Buy or build some kind of shower mat for the ground.  It kinda defeats the purpose of showering when you're standing in a mud puddle.  You can buy a purpose built small wooden fold-up platform at camping stores, or just pick up a small piece of indoor/outdoor carpet.

I didn't mean to write a book, but you got me started!  ;)

Offline TLBones

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Re: My camping / bug out trailer plans and progress
« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2013, 07:29:33 PM »
I second scoobs idea of blowing out the shelving on one side.   That would really open it up and make it easier to create a bunk area inside for the kids.   
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Offline Erigorn

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Re: My camping / bug out trailer plans and progress
« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2013, 10:35:24 PM »
fantastic work and idea. I am liking the idea of blowing out one side. Just need to figure out how and how to get all the beds back in. Great idea on the tear drops trailer kitchens. Vents are a must.

So the Pickup trailer i just got is loaded but in horrible shape. Should be a lot I can take from it. I wasn't expecting a shower/toilet and not sure i have the room for it either. There are lots of sliding windows in it which should come in handy. There was even a hard hat and cowboy hat inside...who knows what other treasures await.

Number 1 task now is to gut the thing and get rid of the remains...before my wife gets too angry.

Offline scoob

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Re: My camping / bug out trailer plans and progress
« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2013, 11:08:37 PM »
So the Pickup trailer i just got is loaded but in horrible shape. Should be a lot I can take from it. I wasn't expecting a shower/toilet and not sure i have the room for it either. There are lots of sliding windows in it which should come in handy. There was even a hard hat and cowboy hat inside...who knows what other treasures await.

Number 1 task now is to gut the thing and get rid of the remains...before my wife gets too angry.

Ok man... ya gotta show us a picture of that trove! 

Offline Freebirde

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Re: My camping / bug out trailer plans and progress
« Reply #14 on: June 18, 2013, 04:48:59 PM »
I go to find you a camper to salvage and you already have one.    There were a couple of problems with the one I found http://www.govdeals.com/index.cfm?fa=Main.Item&itemid=56&acctid=2973 .   One, it in Kenton OH and two, you would have only nine days to get registered before you could bid.
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Offline lowland farmer

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Re: My camping / bug out trailer plans and progress
« Reply #15 on: June 19, 2013, 08:28:40 PM »
That’s an interesting trailer setup. Unless you’re going to use it in cold weather, I think you’d be better off sleeping in a tent with lots of ventilation and use the trailer’s main compartment to stow your stuff, including folded tent/tents, and tarps. The shelving could be where a sink, stove, food preparation counter, utensils, food, etc would go (build cabinets). It looks like you don’t have the room in that shelving area for an LP frig, so it probably would have to go inside the main compartment. Also, I don’t think that rig is large enough to have a toilet in it. A five-gallon bucket lined with a plastic bag and a toilet seat on top would work (with a tarp for privacy). Same for a shower. Just a five-gallon bucket hung from a tree with a valve on it.

It just seems to me the trailer isn’t large enough to have too fancy a camper rig. Check out the You Tube vids of off-road camper trailers and see how they’re designed. Those things are small and can be towed anywhere with a Jeep or 4X4 pickup, but they use a tent on top of everything else (the whole trailer) that must be put up for sleeping. With your trailer, you’d have to set up a tent or two nearby.

I found an abandoned popup camper in a national forest many years ago with the tent cloth rotted and simply removed the tent part and installed bug netting all around, using a large tarp over the whole thing to keep rain and the sun’s heat out. It has worked well, and I’ve got almost nothing in it and very little time invested. Even the tires were in great shape. It works great for hot weather, and it can be towed with an ATV. In cooler weather, the sides can be covered with a tarp to hold in heat.

Just my thoughts.

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: My camping / bug out trailer plans and progress
« Reply #16 on: June 19, 2013, 09:17:18 PM »
Looks like a great start.  For the toilet, take a look at the cassette toilets that are in popup campers.  Or the porta pottie.  The bucket and seat will work, but the porta pottie makes it a quicker clean up and can easily go in a "shower tent"  For water, I wouldn't worry about hot water or if you do, look at the camping instant hot water heaters like the Coleman hot water on demand.

I'll read over this thread a bit more to see what else I can come up with.
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Offline Vulcan

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Re: My camping / bug out trailer plans and progress
« Reply #17 on: June 19, 2013, 11:06:23 PM »
:popcorn:

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: My camping / bug out trailer plans and progress
« Reply #18 on: June 20, 2013, 06:43:03 AM »
For the bed, I would have some way of sleeping inside of the trailer without having to put up the sides, not just for the kids.  If I was forced to bug out, there certainly would be times when I'd need to sleep but wouldn't want to sleep outside protected only by some mosquito netting.  Sure once you are at your final destination I would set up normally, but while in transit, I would want to not be reachable.  Maybe have several "shelves" that are strong enough to put the storage stuff up above the people for sleeping, but not necessarily while in transit.

This brings up the entrances.  They should be lockable, but also unlockable from both inside and out.  But you should also have some way of locking yourself inside for protection while sleeping.

Don't worry too much about the battery bank.  You will need that for lighting and water pumping.  However, you won't be able to run a microwave for long off of a battery.  You'd need a generator for that.  But I was able to run the lights and water pump in my popup for over a week off a single type 29 deep cycle battery.  You have to be conscience of turning off lights when not in use and switch over to LEDs to conserve power.

The RV fridge would be best run off of propane.  A small fridge like in a popup camper will run for months on a single 20 lb. propane tank and requires no electricity at all.  You could also plumb that in so that it runs to your stove and to your water heater.

For temperatures, I'll second the fantastic fan.  Works great.  For heat, look at the Mr Heater Buddy heaters.  They are usable inside a structure.

Water pumping, the SureFlo water pumps are awesome.  They are a pressurized system, so you'll need to put in a fresh tank of some sort, but that can just be a 5 gallon jug.

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Offline rikkrack

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Re: My camping / bug out trailer plans and progress
« Reply #19 on: June 20, 2013, 07:03:43 AM »
Tagging but also to add a point about solar. Could you have 3 panels on the roof? One on top stationary. Two under the stationary one on rails to slide out on the awning when in use. While it may be cost prohibitive to buy 3 panels, it was an option to get more power when you needed it. While pulling the trailer, more than likely you don't need the extra power. Stopping you can roll them out and gain the extra power. Or there is the new flex panels that can coat a curved surface.

I liked the idea about scavenging parts from good deals. Wouldn't have thought of that. We have thought about getting a trailer, this may be a way to do it and make it the way we want. Thanks for posting, and the pics and info.
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Offline Sushidog

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Re: My camping / bug out trailer plans and progress
« Reply #20 on: July 07, 2013, 09:05:20 PM »
When I look at the raised side door I can just visualize a fold-out bunk end similar to a hybrid travel trailer. This would free up tons of interior space for other uses and give you a huge, well ventilated bed area.

I would add a small window-unit ac in the back too. I have an Aliner which has a factory installed 5k BTU ac (it's well insulated) that I run with my 1,200/1,500 watt camping generator. You could easily power a 8-10k BTU ac with a little Honda eu2000, which could recharge your batteries quickly on those sunless days too.

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Offline doublehelix

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Re: My camping / bug out trailer plans and progress
« Reply #21 on: August 10, 2013, 12:40:01 PM »
Two things I did on my BOT were to have a small Class 3 receiver stub welded on the rear frame so you can carry additional storage like this:

and


Or mountain bike carriers like this:


I also welded one sideways on the Y shaped tongue to carry spare tires inside the tongue.

Looks like a great platform.  Just be VERY mindful of weight in your material selection.  Especially if it doesn't have electric brakes.

Offline TLBones

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Re: My camping / bug out trailer plans and progress
« Reply #22 on: August 10, 2013, 01:54:44 PM »
Time for an update erigon!  Any progress?   
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Offline Erigorn

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Re: My camping / bug out trailer plans and progress
« Reply #23 on: August 10, 2013, 02:08:15 PM »
I am well past due on an update. It is still acting as a on site storage unit for my snow cone shack. Not much to see yet but some updates to the preparation and planning.

1) i finished gutting the pickup bed camper that i bought cheap. all in all i pulled out a fridge/freezer (120,12 or propane), hot water heater, space heater, some windows, sink, power invertor, 2 propane tanks (still half full but old style without some new safety valve), radio with speakers, 12v water pump, fresh water tank, roof vent hatch, stove/oven and maybe a few things i'm forgetting. Problem is with the small size of the trailer I am unsure how much of this stuff will fit. If all else fails i could bring propane powered appliance to a small off grid cabin.

2) i just got back from my first camping trip with my wife and both kids. it was pretty low key since our friends were either feeding us or we were going out to eat so it was a good intro trip. boy i either forgot how to camp or how to camp with kids. Plus our friends had a 33' fully equipped camper. Got some cool ideas and a tinge of jealousy even though i don't have a truck to pull something that size even if i could afford it. Baby steps

I hope to post pictures/sketches of 2 alternate designs soon. Get some more feedback and then settle on one or the other  or something new and then start construction early September. Stay posted for the 2 alternative designs.

Offline iam4liberty

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Re: My camping / bug out trailer plans and progress
« Reply #24 on: August 10, 2013, 07:47:04 PM »
Two things I did on my BOT were to have a small Class 3 receiver stub welded on the rear frame so you can carry additional storage

This is very good advice.  Since you won't have a lot of tongue weight with this type of trailer, an easy way to achieve this is with a dual hitch receiver like this one:



This will give you the added capability of using a car carrier, bike rack, or any other carry system which is compatible with a 2" receiver.






Offline Erigorn

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Re: My camping / bug out trailer plans and progress
« Reply #25 on: August 11, 2013, 10:49:24 PM »
Ok here are 2 designs that I am considering. I welcome comments on what you would do or any advantages/disadvantages/concerns for the designs.



This is the design I am leaning towards.
Features:
2 Beds inside 30" wide. They would be folded up during transit or when access is needed to the internal shelves that are 18" deep. A 54" wide bed (standard Full/Double width) that folds down when one wing is opened. protection from bugs/weather with canvas/mosquito netting. Windows for ventilation/natural light between the inside and outside beds.
Bed could double as outdoor lounge area when not sleeping.
Kitchen on other side (some areas that need depths greater than 12" could be cut into the indoor shelving unit)

Main advantages are:
sufficient width on all beds.
more storage
open air lounge/bed
possible deep areas for kitchen

Main drawbacks are:
the internal shelves are hard to get to if beds are in sleep mode
outdoor bed is not as weather proof
folding beds are more complicated then fixed but not terrible



The other design i am considering Features:
2 beds inside. one 48" wide and one 60" wide (60 for wife and I, 48 for two kids)
shelves accessed from outside
kitchen on one side
outdoor fold out bench

main advantages are:
easy construction of fixed beds
best protection from bad weather
less obvious camper

main disadvantages are:
less storage (both depth and number of shelves)
kitchen depth limited to current 12" pocket
48" wide bed will become an issue as kids get older

After finally drawing these up and looking at the advantages/disadvantages I am leaning more and more toward the first design with beds inside and out. seems to have the most space and flexibility for design and use. However, please comment if you have anything to add.

PS both designs can have the same or similar kitchens, solar PV, battery bank, Solar hot water, etc. just mostly looking at the sleeping and storage areas. thanks



Online GreekMan

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Re: My camping / bug out trailer plans and progress
« Reply #26 on: August 12, 2013, 12:52:05 AM »
how about the firs tone with wider beds and thinner shelves
But no matetr yuor combinations you should design it another way. You have a fixed volume.
Some will have to be taken by the "sleeping quarters" and some by storage space.
Start by calculating them first
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Offline Sushidog

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Re: My camping / bug out trailer plans and progress
« Reply #27 on: August 12, 2013, 09:14:34 AM »
I guess which design you choose depends on how you intend to use the camper. If you plan on urban stealth camping then I'd say the inside only sleeping arrangement is best (with proper ventilation and climate control). If on the other hand you plan on using it as a wilderness camper (as I would) then the second design is better, especially if you need 3 beds. Only you know your intended usage. I think the inside only bed design will get very hot and humid inside unless you only plan on using it when it's cool. What are your space heating/cooling/ventilation plans?

If it were mine, I'd only use the external bed and possibly one internal bed (if needed, as using 2 internal bunk style beds is too coffin-like for me) and use the additional space for storage. You could even add a cassette toilet/shower area or porta-potty area if you chose to do without the inside sleeping area. Your external bed can also be fully or partially enclosed with light weight, aluminum framed, solid walls made of 1/4" plywood or homemade SIP panels (filon or 1/8" plywood inside skin and aluminum outer skin glued to Styrofoam core (like my Aliner is constructed). This makes sturdy, insulated, lightweight walls, floor and roof. You would be amazed how strong they are - stronger than 3/4" plywood with the weight of 1/4" ply. I would have the floor and walls of the external bed area hinge and fold out. Also, I would make the bed self supporting - possibly with braces tying into the trailer rather than on the ground as the ground will never be level causing you to make the drop legs adjustable. Far simpler to brace the bed from a fixed point on the camper if necessary. I would use a cable or chain support from the top to hold the bed. Just some ideas for you. :)

It looks like a great project! Regardless which direction you choose to go, try too imagine yourself using it in all sorts of weather and climate scenarios. Consider self contained bathroom, hygiene and energy needs for lighting, cooking, heating and cooling, such as adding a 3-way fridge/freezer, propane tank, sink, water heater, etc. as you never know.....

Just for reference, here's my cassette toilet/shower unit:

The 3 gallon tank holds  about 5 days worth of human waste for 2 people before needing to be dumped in a nearby toilet or RV dump station.
 
I bought my Aliner as a bug out trailer after Hurricane Katrina and have used it to successfully evacuate during Hurricane Gustov. The self-contained features of my camper were important to my family. On this trip I discovered I needed an inverter to get limited AC power out of my battery (to run my TV for news/weather reports) when running my small generator is not feasible or desirable for stealthiness. You will quickly discover things you wish you had during actual use.

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Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: My camping / bug out trailer plans and progress
« Reply #28 on: August 12, 2013, 12:27:25 PM »
Keep an eye on the weight that you put on that receiver on the back of the trailer.  First off, trailer frames are not very strong.  But the biggest thing is that putting weight on the rear can lead to sway.

Sway can kill you.
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Offline Erigorn

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Re: My camping / bug out trailer plans and progress
« Reply #29 on: August 12, 2013, 02:11:40 PM »
Hey guys, thanks for the feedback so far.

I'll be using it mostly for wilderness camping for wife and 2 kids (currently age 4 and 2), urban stealth mode isn't really too much of a concern. So 4 sleeping spots is a high leven requirement. The outdoor bed provides a lot of ventilation for that bed for sure and with sliding windows or permanent openings would help the inside a lot.

I am just getting back into camping since we didn't do any while kids were younger. Anything is a step up from the tent we have but I've never really had the luxury of all the ammenities a camper provides.

I definitely like the idea of a cable support to hold the outer bed up since as you say the ground level will change at every location.

As for toilet/shower I think we'll be stuck with a portable toilet (5 gallon bucket to start and something self contained later on) and a curtain rod off the back and a simple solar shower type setup. Again this is more of a camping trailer than strick bug out trailer and our trips will be probably max 4 days at a time.

I do have the 3 way fridge/freezer that i'd like to include using propane to keep it running as well as plumbed to a 2 burner stove. Since trips will be mostly pretty short (3-4 day range) I might just get a good cooler. I have a hot water heater i pulled from camper but I like the idea of solar better since it won't be used very often anyways.

Again we are just gettting back into camping so we'll be limiting our trips to pretty fair weather excurisions. I don't plan on any heating or cooling options expect just open air. maybe a fan or 2 to move some air.

I do plan on a small 2 cell battery bank with all the plugs to keep the essentials (flashlights, lights, fans, radio, etc) running/charged up. Solar to keep the bank charged. Maybe small honda generator when funds allow.

For inside beds I was thinking of making out of fabric stretched between the 2 sides along the length. A small pad or foam on top and i think it would be pretty comfy.