Something that has long annoyed me about RVs is that they’re so expensive. You pay a ton of money for a box that you’re lucky to get ten years out of. That’s why I’m excited to see whenever a company comes up with an idea to make camping dramatically cheaper. Here’s another, and it’s called the miniB. This camping kit consists of a bed, an outdoor table, chairs, a two-person sofa, and a pull-out cooking surface that packs into a bag a little larger than a suitcase. It allows you to turn a practically endless array of cars anywhere into a small camper.
This camping kit comes from a European company called 123camp, an offshoot of 123labs. The parent company was incorporated in Poland in 2013 by Voytek Yozkov. In addition to camping box kits, 123labs sells professional printing machines and a prototyping machine. Its latest product pitches an interesting idea. What if you could turn your daily driver into a camper for a road trip? Or, even better, what if you could fly just about anywhere in the world and turn your rental car into a camper? That’s what 123camp wants to offer with a camping kit called the miniB.
Boxes That Turn Cars Into Campers
Camping kits are an awesome way to convert existing vehicles into campers without a ton of work. We recently wrote about the Ququq BusBox, a sizable case that you plop down into the back of a van to add gear like a bed, a cooking unit, and running water. These sorts of kits aren’t anything new and there are companies all over that offer different versions of the same thing. You get a box that expands out, converting a crossover, van, or SUV into a camping space with little time and effort on your part. Since setup and teardown are so easy, your vehicle can go back to being a passenger car when you aren’t camping. The best part, to me anyway, is that these kits aren’t outrageously expensive. If you’re handy, you could even build your own camping box for peanuts.
However, most of these things are pretty big and some of them are pretty heavy. For example, the BusBox 4 that I wrote about? It’s about the size of an instrument case and weighs 110 pounds on its own. The bed is a separate piece that weighs an additional 55 pounds. That’s not exactly easy for a single person to carry around. Voytek’s 123camp thinks it has the solution with the miniB.
Voytek says that the idea for the miniB sprouted up in 2020 during the pandemic. Hotels, resorts, cruises, and other popular vacation destinations were shuttered, which led a lot of people to get into camping. Being with others was a bad idea, so people decided to be with nature instead. Voytek and his crew decided to make something that people could use to camp out of a car with and could be taken on a plane. The company had already built its first camping box in 2016 and put it on the market in 2021. The team started working on the design of the miniB in April 2022 before testing began in June of that year.
The miniB is essentially a flat-pack camper kit in a bag. 123camp says that the kit is made out of waterproof European plywood. The kit is produced in Poland and the company says that it’s inspired by local furniture. A miniB kit comes with a bed frame for two people, mattress pads for two people, an outdoor table with adjustable height settings, a countertop for cooking, two outdoor chairs, and a sofa for two. All of it packs down into a bag that’s a little larger than a suitcase.
The trick to this is that when you pull the zipper, you’re presented with all of the wood pieces neatly packed into a pile. You get easy step-by-step video instructions to help you assemble everything. Those pieces are built so that you stick an end through a hole and twist it to lock it in place. 123camp says that the chairs, and table could be assembled in under a minute. As for the bed, it’s set up by folding down your rear seats, constructing the platform, and anchoring to the front seats using straps.
The bed stretches out up to 6.3 feet in length and holds 420 pounds. The chairs hold 200 pounds each. Padding comes from three mattress pads. When they aren’t being used for sleeping, they make up the padding of the sofa. The chairs have some minimal padding already on their plywood.
All of this is modular, so it can be adjusted to suit your needs. 123camp says that so long as your vehicle is larger than something like a Ford Ka or Fiat 500, the miniB kit should work.
Basically, the camping kit scales up or down depending on the vehicle that you put it in. The company says that the minimum trunk width is 37 inches and the minimum interior length needed is 69 inches, nice! 123camp has provided an expansive list of compatible cars from the Audi A4 to the Subaru Legacy. The list is very European, but I’m sure there are just tons of U.S. market cars this will work with.
You will note that this doesn’t come with any equipment such as a faucet, stove, outdoor shower, water jug, sink basin, or even blankets. 123camp says that when the kit is in its travel position, there is a storage compartment where you can put that stuff into. Just make sure you choose lighter and smaller options for that equipment if you plan to fly with your miniB.
The huge selling point, for me, anyway, is the fact that this can be deployed in a variety of cars quickly and easily. A number of camping kits out there are made for a specific vehicle. So, if you ever sell that vehicle or decide that you want to camp in another, you’re left trying to make the box work. This opens the door to turning many cars into campers.
All of this stores in a bag that 123camp says is air transport-ready. It measures 110cm by 65cm by 25cm. Now, for those of you who do international travel, you probably know that 62 linear inches (157cm) is the airline industry standard for the maximum size of checked luggage. Linear inches is just all measurements added as one. In this case, the miniB exceeds the limit just by adding up its width and length. The miniB comes in at 77 linear inches. If you’re an international traveler, depending on your airline of choice, you will be charged an oversize bag fee and depending on the airline and flight, the bag may be denied.
Airlines also have rules about heavy baggage. The miniB weighs 62 pounds, which is great because many people will be able to carry it around with some ease. It’s also under the absolute maximum baggage weight limits for many airlines. However, once again, you’ll likely be charged an overweight bag fee. For example, Delta Air Lines charges $100 each way on a flight between North America and Europe for a bag that’s too heavy. A bag that’s too large is $300 each way for the same route.
123camp is technically correct that its miniB camping box can fly while something like a Ququq BusBox cannot. But, flying it around will be expensive.
The miniB is backed using a Kickstarter campaign. 123camp asked for $21,919 and as of right now, it has received $36,710. The company says that it has the funding it needs to put these on the market and they will start showing up on doorsteps in Europe, North America, and Australia this summer. The first customers to get their miniBs will be Kickstarter backers. After that, they will go on sale for $1,440.
You may also wonder why would you spend this kind of money on a plywood camping box when a tent is cheaper. Voytek says that his product offers what a tent can’t. Sure, tents are cheap, but sleeping in a car is safer than a tent and tents don’t come with furniture like sofas or tables. As someone who regularly camps in both tents and cars? Yeah, I’d say sleeping in a car is better if you can make it comfortable. This seems to do the trick.
If you’re interested in getting your own miniB, as of right now the company still has a handful of backer slots open on its Kickstarter.
Update: 123camp reached out to me with this awesome message:
[T]his last week at Kickstarter users can back this project and RECEIVE within this pledge miniB set covering ONLY delivery which for USA main land should be around 200$.
For them as backers it is 35/25% cheaper than MSRP later – so no reason to wait – just to grab now! 🙂
(All images: 123camp)
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This is neat and all, but I feel like none of these kits address the biggest issue with sleeping in your car, that being the problem of privacy/blocking out light. Being fundamentally a longroof guy, I’ve slept in the back of various wagons over the years, and without fail it’s been a pain (or even an insurmountable issue) to achieve blackout conditions — particularly desirable for crowded scenarios like festivals, etc. where you really just need a dark and quiet place to sleep off a wild night.
Anyway, I’m not sure there’s any sort of one-size-fits all solution for the light-blocking thing, but that’s a huge reason I’ve kept a Westfalia camper around all of these years — Those heavy factory curtains are hard to beat!
one of our testers in France did total privacy in simple way – Please take a look at his video:
I am certain that the $963 pledge is the purchase. They just messed up on the Euro to dollar conversion or did it at a different time than Kickstarter did. The pledge says it includes the whole kit, just not shipping (which is estimated at $200). Also, the pledge in Euros matches the price they are listing. International Kickstarters are kind of a pain with conversion rates and such, and they’d be far from the first to get some of the dollar amounts wrong.
It’d be really weird to offer a discount, but only if you pay the price of the product twice. If it’s worth $1200 to you, after shipping and everything, now is probably the time to jump on it. Because that $1400 dollar MSRP probably comes out to $1600 or so with shipping.
I find this quite fascinating,an interesting idea.Does it have rubber feet?You’d of want that so you’re not scratching the car.
As i think about it more the click together pieces weren’t necessary.Maybe that’s why they’re selling it through kickstarter rather than their established business- because it looks cool in pictures?
Im from design team from 123camp – I can tell you there is NO RISK to scratch the car higher than with anything else you ormally are transporting while in use,
every element has smooth edges and soft (rounded) corners.
It is great to read that it looks cool on pictures – in reality MUCH better :))
KS was idea to attract more media attention and feedbeck from new users especially in USA
miniB is my favourite balance in camp boxes :)))
I can absolutely guarantee you that that twist-and-lock mechanism is going to loosen up in short order and make all the furniture annoyingly wobbly. Plywood just isn’t hard enough—it’s going to deform at the stress points, maybe not massively but certainly enough to loosen up the joints. It’s a neat idea but I don’t see it standing the test of time.
Also, what you’re getting here isn’t really very much. You could replicate the functionality of this with a folding table, an air mattress, a couple of folding camp chairs, and a hammock. You can fit all that in a lot of sedans, and certainly most wagons and crossovers. You also get the benefit of being able to hand-pick the components—there are plenty of cheap options that work well and last a long time, some of which many people already own anyway.
I wanted to consider buying this, but my station wagon is already beddable (bedable?) and I own most the camping furniture I could imagine requiring. If I was starting from scratch I might still consider it, in the hope that they use higher grade plywood.
Yeah, I don’t really see how wood makes a good temporary solution for car camping. If you’re not going to permanently install, inflatable and collapsible camping gear is the way to go. I did some car camping last year and all of my gear except my camp chair fit in a rubbermaid tote, and that included stuff that’s not in this kit like my sleeping bag and food.
Im from design team of miniB – no wobbly at all – even after many days of harsh tests –
it is top quality laminated material and special plywood for camper making.
… and this is simply different approach to camping – I used tents and recently also roof tents with my kids…
… but it is a huge advantage for me to stay inside of dry car after mountain trip or my running events
Plus this sofa mmmmmmm
I’d like you to test it after long day with the best views somewhere
Probably not wobbly at all..
I like the idea, but thinking about 62 lbs of splintering wood flying around in a bad crash scares the hell out of me. When I was 17, I rolled an Integra with skis in the back and they left my passenger with stitches and a concussion.
“If you’re handy, you could even build your own camping box for peanuts.”
I’m pretty sure a person with halfway decent skills with a jigsaw can replicate the miniB for way less than $1,000 bucks.
Probably not to the precision that this kit will likely provide. As someone above pointed out, loose connections will be very annoying.
Yes maybe, maybe not with this type of material, special mattress foam, transport bag…
plus with a lot of hard work and time affor
– but there is error in article at the end – backers are receiving whole set now for 878 plus delivery only – no need to pay 2x after KS end
I’m suddenly reminded of the American humorist S.J. Perelman’s essay, “Insert Flap ‘A’ And Throw Away”.
If you’ve felt a faint gust of wind as you were reading this, it was all Element owners of the world scoffing in unison at the idea of having to buy a table for your car.
Is that what that was? I thought that was the 1st gen Honda CRV owners.
1st gen CR-V owner’s husband here, it very well might be both, but my wife certainly does have a table, and what a lovely table it is.
I intend to build a sleeping platform for my Voyager this summer. These kits seem nice and of decent quality but I always figured the sort of people who want to camp out of their vehicle to be more of the cheap-ass DIY crowd. I’m curious how many of these kits are being sold based on that.
Clever but it really needs to refined down to 62 linear inches for air travel, or made a bit larger to allow stronger parts and some sort of work top
Are you a fan of jigsaw puzzles? Do we have a product for you! 🙂
Probably cheaper to ship it to your destination than fly with it. Mail it a few days before and have it fedex pickup at your destination. But i dont see how a bed over 6 feet fits in their minimal 5;9 space required. In cars does it fit in the back seat and trunk or is this SUV and hatchback only,? Either way my buddies at Ikea and coleman probably have all these components separately and cheaper.
I don’t mind the Cunen. It’s an improvement on the Holdall.
Please. Anything’s an improvement over the Holdall. I’d have taken and Emness or a Tristes over the Holdall. No, I didn’t get excited until I saw the Cunen.
This may work as tent alternative. However with not bathroom or kitchen, it is for those who don’t mind cramped quaters and spend most of the time outside of the sleeping area.
The way I travel would be better suited to a Class C or A (used to start). Sure it is more but there is not perfect camper, just the one perfect for you.
If this works for you, then go for it.
Hear hear for more options! And (hopefully) this joining the fray will potentially lead yet other companies / startups to try their own hand at innovating in this market and who knows what may come to fruition in the next few years!
I feel like this could be better (lighter? smaller?) with some tweaking. None of the sitting furniture looks like something I want to sit on, and the table just looks janky. I don’t care how they rate the capacity, that table is toothpicks the first time someone stumbles in the dark and tries to catch themselves by putting some weight on that thing (I say ‘someone’ but it would totally be me).
I’m surprised that there aren’t maker spaces selling these things to bring in money. It would seem like some simple programming and a little time on the CNC cutter could turn $100 of plywood into a setup like this that could use all the space in the intended vehicle, and once you made and tested the first one it’s just a matter of pressing the start button on the next one.
I think the plywood they are using is different than anything I have seen available in the US. I could be wrong, but I think they are using something like this. https://www.obi.de/osb-platten-verlegeplatten/siebdruckplatte-twin-birke-kiefer-125-cm-x-250-cm-staerke-15-mm-fsc-/p/5224589
This is coated with plastic and impregnated with resin so that the wood is pretty weather resistant. Now, I’m not saying that a really good coat of paint couldn’t protect the wood either, but if this is what they are using it is very durable. It is used as the floor in small car trailers all the time in Germany for hauling mulch, etc.
Looks sort of like Baltic brich with a phenolic overlay- used for signs and jigs and if crazy kitchen cabinets as it is expensive
Agree with Sklooner, this is expensive baltic birch. They make bike ramps out of this stuff, it’s burly.
I am not doubting the material. I am also not doubting my ability to break things. I’m soooo good at it (unintentionally).
I’ll give a yes for trying to innovate. I’ll give it a hard nope for convenience and over complication. It might take minutes to setup after watching a video 500 times, but getting it back into it’s box correctly will be a nightmare LOL
Yeah, I can’t see myself wanting to disassemble and reassemble this, especially with the payoff being low, uncomfortable chairs and a table that is marginally better than just putting everything in my lap. The car bed might be nice by itself, but I don’t want to spend a thousand dollars plus shipping from Europe for a kit I won’t use most of (probably not any of it–I could just fold my seats down and toss a sleeping mat in there).
Still glad they are making this and hopeful that they will find a market for it.
100% agree on all counts. It’s an interesting idea with a very compact package. But if I’m camping with my own vehicle, I’d rather use (and do) comfy/sturdy folding chairs, a fold-up camping table, and an air mattress to achieve a similar result.
My current setup is an instant Coleman pop-up tent because I want to hit the beach as soon as possible. I’m also 95% of the time with family, who have a teardrop camper, which allows for an escape from rain during the day and a spot to change standing up.
come on :))
few minutes at first setup – than no time for driving when in the move to next point.
back into the bag – last time with cleaning all stuff from our rented car it took us literally 20min to make ready to back flight…
They are showing MSRP of $1447. It might be worth trying to get in early if you think it will work as advertised.
“The pledge plus the discounted price is over MSRP,”
The pledge says it includes the kit, just not shipping. I think they either did the math wrong or did it when conversion rates were different. I am pretty certain the pledge is the purchase, which is standard on Kickstarter.
(If you’d like further evidence, note that the price matches in Euros.)