Home » This Cheap $1145 Kit Turns Your Boring Crossover Or Minivan Into A Cozy Camper

This Cheap $1145 Kit Turns Your Boring Crossover Or Minivan Into A Cozy Camper

Car Camping Ts
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Everything seems so expensive right now, especially in the RV world. $13,000 buys you a travel trailer that might last five years and $15,000 buys you a teardrop with nothing in it. What if you want to spend way less money? Like knocking a whole zero off of those prices? Camp N Car thinks it’s possible with its modular kits that turn your minivan, commercial van, and soon crossover into a cozy camper for a fraction of the cost.

There’s a lot of fascination with car camping right now. A lot of folks have no interest in sleeping in a tent but don’t have the money or the storage space for a trailer. It’s especially sad when you realize most of the cheapest campers on the market give you walls, but nothing else. Unless you’re David Tracy and you’re obsessed with the Pontiac Aztek and its sweet tent, most vehicles out there aren’t exactly easy campers, either. Some of my worst nights of sleeping were in the back of a Volkswagen Touareg.

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It doesn’t have to be that way. See that old van in your driveway? Camp N Car says you can turn that into an adventure machine for as little as $495, or $1,145 if you want it to feel a bit more like home. And for the countless people rolling around in Toyota RAV4s and similar crossovers, there’s good news for them, too.

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Before I continue, yes, this is just another variation on the camping box that has been around forever. What you see here is somewhat similar to the $1,950 VanLab SUV Kit that we’ve written about. It’s also somewhat in the same realm as the $1,315 123camp miniB portable camping box as well as products from Ququq. Really, there’s enough variation out there that you can choose the best one that fits you and hit the road.

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Camp In Your Car

So, if you think you’re that kind of person, forget about buying the latest and greatest camper van when you can make your existing car into a camper.

This story takes us back to the late 2010s. Steve Moore was like many Americans, toiling away behind a desk in an office in a city. But there was more out there for Moore than just office work. He wanted to live on the road to see everything this nation had to offer.

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Unable to resist the call of the open road, Moore quit his job and planned to take his Honda Element on a trip to Alaska. Moore planned to live in the element and utilize his musical talents to pay for the grand trip. This meant the Element had to be converted into living space. With a plan set, Moore called up his childhood friend Martin Nerbovig to help him build out the Honda into a camper.

The pair used 3D modeling and a CNC machine to draft a modular kit that turned Moore’s crossover from a funky Element into a car camper. The simple kit included a basic bed platform with storage, cabinets, and an extendable bed. That’s not much, but it was enough to craft a home on the road.

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Then, Moore took off for Alaska, spending 6 months exploring the great North. Along the way, people were impressed enough with Moore’s camper that they started telling Moore and Nerbovig to make kits so others could enjoy them. In 2019, Camp N Car was started in Port Townsend in Washington state, and its mission was to get campers on the road without destroying their bank accounts.

Camp N Car sells kits for a wide variety of vehicles from beds and drawers that could fit in many cars and crossovers to bits of furniture you may want to buy to convert your van into a rolling home. If you cannot find a kit that works for you, Camp N Car can also convert your car into a camper, whether it’s a Chevrolet Express or a Toyota Highlander.

Forget That Camper Van

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Camp N Car’s most basic kit is the $495.00 Basic Bunk.

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As you can tell from the photo, this is literally just a bed. The company says the Basic Bunk is made out of maple plywood and you can assemble it using a screwdriver. The bed comes apart in two main sections that weigh around 15 pounds each. Camp N Car says this bed is perfect for someone just looking for a place to crash on a trip without having to pitch money for a hotel room.

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Just plant the bed down in the back of your vehicle and start sawing logs. The Basic Bunk can be ordered in different heights, different sizes, and with leveling pieces so the bed can sit flat in vehicles without flat loading areas.

For $295, you can add under-bed storage and for another $295 you can add a standalone shelf, if it’ll fit in your vehicle. I can see the Basic Bunk being a good choice for hotshot drivers or perhaps someone who wants to convert their Mitsubishi Mirage into a tiny camper.

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The next kit up is the $795 Trunk Bunk. At its core, the Trunk Bunk is just like the Basic Bunk in that it starts off as a bed for a solo traveler. However, this one has a trick in that there’s a second bed platform that flips out, either giving the solo camper a lot of space to spread out or space for a significant other to join in. Once again, the Trunk Bunk can be ordered in a variety of sizes and leveling legs can be added to make that perfect fit.

Promotional images show the Trunk Bunk shoved in the back of a Toyota Tacoma, Volkswagen Tiguan, and a Honda Element, but I can see this working for so many cars. The Trunk Bunk would be great for that old Chevy HHR in that yard.

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The Camp N Car flagship product right now is the Home On Wheels Kit. This kit includes the Basic Bunk plus two shelving units. This kit was designed so that you could buy an old minivan and just toss the parts in to make a small camper. Then, just add some cooking gear, some form of heating or cooling, and running water and you’ll have yourself a pretty sweet budget camper. If you want this camping kit to be for you and someone else, you can order it with the Trunk Bunk instead of the Basic Bunk.

As with the other kits, the Home On Wheels Kit is assembled using sheets of instructions and a screwdriver. All of the kits are designed so that you can convert your car into a camper without modifying the car itself. When you’re done camping, just remove the Camp N Car kit to turn your car back into a car again.

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If you like the Home On Wheels Kit, but can’t seem to get it to fit into your crossover, Camp N Car says it has good news on the way. Soon, it will offer a kit to add shelving, beds, and slide-out drawers to common crossovers. The company says this kit is being made in response to people asking for kits to convert vehicles like the Toyota RAV4.

There’s one more product I didn’t mention yet, and it’s what Camp N Car calls the Frontier Futon.

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It’s a hefty $1,995 plywood futon that converts into a bed and has spaces for drawers. This one isn’t really a piece of furniture you’re putting in the back of your Dodge Grand Caravan, but perhaps it can help you build out your Ford Transit. The same goes for the aforementioned bed kits and the shelf kit.

Finally, if you just don’t want to build out your camper van at all, Camp N Car offers a full custom camper van conversion service. These are more than just sleeping platforms but full-blown campers like the van below:

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Basic, But Affordable

Something I’ve noticed about kits like these is that none of them are what you’d say is aesthetically pleasing. However, pretty much all car camping kits are like that. Likewise, many car camping kits require no tools at all for construction. So, I do think requiring a screwdriver is a step back.

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That said, Camp N Car is pricing itself more aggressively than the competition. Even the full Home On Wheels Kit is cheaper than many other kits on the market. So, it may not fold up neatly into a box, but I can forgive it for that price. If you want to build a van camper but have no idea what you’re doing, Camp N Car can take care of the bed, futon, and shelving. For some, that’ll be all they need before adding creature comforts.

So, if you’re feeling a bit like David Tracy and want to camp in a car rather than an RV, Camp N Car is another option. As always, I love that there are even more options for people who want to go camping without mortgaging the house.

(Images: Camp N Car)

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Douglas Lewis
Douglas Lewis
23 days ago

Campers cost a lot. But they also depreciate a lot. Not an issue if you use it frequently. But if you were an occasional user who still wanted a camper van, what about owning some storage/sleeping modules and just rent a high-top Ryder van for the week you want to use it? I will concede that ventilation and insulation are two obvious reasons. You can buy some mesh “socks” to go over the driver/passenger door windows to help with ventilation. And yea, it is a little bit hillbilly but could be an interim approach to see how much you really would use a camper van

ADDvanced
ADDvanced
23 days ago

I made a slide out bed like that that looks way better for about $75 worth of wood. I routered all the edges to give them a chamfer so it looks finished and not hack like this.

Also the design is stupid, the slide out drawer is narrower and shorter in height than the space under the bed, which means it’s a very poor use of space.

Honestly I feel like a lot of this stuff is just taking advantage of people who are unable to use basic tools. Maybe I should start a business. ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS?! Insanity.

LastStandard
LastStandard
23 days ago
Reply to  ADDvanced

Same, although I slapped mine together out of scrap wood with no intentions of making it pretty. It wasn’t instagram worthy, but served me well in the back of my Xterra for years.

Lockleaf
Lockleaf
23 days ago
Reply to  ADDvanced

For those without the tools and knowledge, I still feel like this could essentially be replicated by a trip to Ikea. I mean, yeah, I would probably build this out of pallets and not even sand anything, but I get most people want something at least slightly nicer. But this is totally Ikea hackable.

FrostyRam31
FrostyRam31
23 days ago

These guys have similar products, but custom fit for a few popular models: https://www.colfaxcampers.com/. If you’re lucky enough to own a vehicle they make a unit for, you’ll probably get more sleeping length and storage space compared to a “one size fits all” unit.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
23 days ago

“Something I’ve noticed about kits like these is that none of them are what you’d say is aesthetically pleasing.”

Something I’m noticing is the wood is either actual wood or laminated wood; no particleboard.

Gubbin
Gubbin
23 days ago

Pretty cool for a lot of folks, but a rainy week ain’t fun if you can’t access your stuff without going outside (let alone cook or stand up). I’m definitely on Team Truck Camper here.

Find an ex-gov’t fleet pickup and a “hunter special” used camper and you’re set.

Cheats McCheats
Cheats McCheats
23 days ago

I think I rather pay 50 bucks for an air pad and not worry about smacking my head on the roof when I want to roll over.

Mantis Toboggan, MD
Mantis Toboggan, MD
23 days ago

GM is currently putting a steel slide out cargo holder in the backs of some Chevy trucks. Apparently there are issues at the Express cargo van plant that are delaying orders. So they’re offering van customers a custom pickup with a bed cap and sliding cargo tray. Not a decent replacement for a work van in my opinion but it sounds like the cargo tray could be made into a heavy duty version of the system discussed in this article. I can’t recall if GM made it or a third party.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
23 days ago

Great idea, especially for a minivan. But I could spend a couple hundred bucks at Menards and a couple of days in the garage and come up with something better. I would upholster it!
Sorry for the dark thought here, but this product could be useful for folks who aren’t sleeping in their car by choice.

Aaron
Aaron
23 days ago

That’s not that wild of an idea. Especially on the West coast, there’s tons of people posted up in RVs and personal cars. In many cases, the only thing separating that #vanlife and homelessness is how Instagramable the day-to-day is.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
23 days ago
Reply to  Aaron

Too bad most others can’t see the truth behind homelessness.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
23 days ago

“Can’t” or “Won’t”?

Mike B
Mike B
23 days ago

I’m sure a lot of folks could come up with something comparable (or better) for less. Not everyone has the skill, time, or tool & workshop access to do this though.

I like to think I could DIY this, but I don’t possess any woodworking skills or tools or even have my own driveway to work in, so something like this could make sense for those in my shoes.

I’ve been wanting to get around to building some shelf cubbies for the driver’s side rear of my 4Runner, but 3 years on I haven’t gotten around to it. Luckily the floor is completely flat, so an air mattress is all it takes for comfy sleeping.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
23 days ago

While I get the concept, I always figured the Venn diagram of people who are willing to put something like this together and people who don’t want to design their DIY camper to be awfully narrow.

I considered these sorts of kits before I had kids as a potential cheap option for turning a Forester into a camper, but figured if I was to bother I would just build it myself, so that it would take advantage of every nook and cranny the Forester had to offer.

Aaron
Aaron
23 days ago

If you don’t already have the tools and space to work, the ‘startup’ costs might actually make a kit worthwhile. By the time you bought a circular saw, jigsaw, drill, wood, glue, and fasteners, it would have almost been cheaper to buy the kit. With the increasing and sustained popularity of overlanding, vanlife, and cheap travel over the past several years, there’s a compelling case, here.

No Kids, Just Bikes
No Kids, Just Bikes
23 days ago
Reply to  Aaron

A lot of the folks in r/vandwellers on reddit make due without all the tools. Some of their rigs are a bit more primitive but every bit as usable. If not more.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
23 days ago
Reply to  Aaron

Most of the minimalist camper types I know are also the DIY “I can build anything out of nothing” types. The sort of attitude towards self-reliance and adventure seems to intersect with the DIY crowd pretty strongly, at least within my own circles. And a skil saw + material wouldn’t really cost all that money, even with plywood still being pretty expensive. I’m going to have to imagine anyone that’s willing to sleep on a platform in the back of a Rav4 is going to own a drill.

I don’t doubt that there might be some folks who would appreciate slapping this thing together and hitting the road quickly, but I guess I’m surprised that there’s so many different companies offering this sort of product. I certainly don’t think it’s a bad product either.

Greg
Greg
23 days ago

No, just no.

Cal67
Cal67
23 days ago

Easy to slide in and slide out, but are they secured in any way? In the event of an accident that looks like a lot of mass to be tumbling around in the vehicle.

Cryptoenologist
Cryptoenologist
24 days ago

Most of the options seem to add too little utility for the cost. If I’m not getting slide-outs, what’s the point? I bough an Xped Megamat, and a couple of bins from target. We just slide the front seats of our Niro EV forward, put the bins behind them, fold down the back seats and inflate the mattress.

If I’m paying over $1k for a bed platform I think I’d rather get a rooftop tent.

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
24 days ago

It’s alright but there’s just not enough room to crawl around. I’m glad that people have made it work though…I just wouldn’t get one

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
24 days ago

I spent 5 years working as a traveling sales rep for a packaged consumer products company that insisted on buying Ford Escapes instead of minivans for company cars, because everyone based at the head office in the UK had Ford Kugas and if it was good enough for them, etc. Organizing that thing was a nightmare with all the crap we had to carry, honestly, something along these lines would have been fantastic – some compartments, drawers and work surfaces that can be easily loaded in and out to make a small CUV into the practical utility vehicle it wasn’t built to be.

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
24 days ago

“The Trunk Bunk would be great for that old Chevy HHR in that yard.”

The old AirBnB race to the bottom, I guess.

Lockleaf
Lockleaf
23 days ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

This is freaking GENIUS! I have at least 4 project vehicles I haven’t gotten to yet laying around my yard. I could use some extra cash. I just need to strip out the seats, lay in some platforms and air mattresses and BOOM, instant cash flow. For $45 a night, you can stay in an S13 hatchback, a 71 510 wagon, or the bed of an old Datsun Truck! I love it.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
24 days ago

It’s great that the market is responding to people’s need for affordable alternatives The products remind me of projects in old Popular Science magazine in which they would give a pattern (and they got increasingly ornate) that seemingly used every bit of a sheet or 1/2 sheet of plywood.

Jj
Jj
24 days ago

The Home-On-Wheels kit seems like one of the worst designed products ever made. The side shelving unit completely prevents use of one of the under-bed drawers and also prevents expanding the sleeping platform.

I’m glad they managed to find their local maker space so they could copy the fifty other companies selling this same product right now, but I’d probably go with one of the other companies since these guys don’t even seem to know why their ideas are wrong and useless.

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
24 days ago

I’ve got a plywood kit for converting the back seat and trunk floor of my ’67 SAAB 96 into a continuous flat-ish surface for sleeping:

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but I never took the time to try it before removing the back seat, sealing off the trunk with a bulkhead, and caging the interior for racing. So many missed opportunties.

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