Have you ever considered converting a cargo trailer into a camper? More and more campers are opting for this budget option these days.
Carrying out a cargo trailer conversion DIY isn’t just cheap, though – it gives you total freedom over your camper design. A cargo trailer is like a blank canvas; you can make it suit your needs and preferences perfectly. Sketch the floor plan of your dreams and only install gear you trust.
Build your own custom furniture or adapt prefab pieces. Choose the flooring and wall coverings.
We’ve collected a list of 13 rad cargo trailer conversions to help you get inspired. Later, we’ll look at the pros and cons of a cargo trailer RV, the conversion process and more common questions on the topic.
1) Chatfield Court’s Cargo Trailer Camper
Chatfield converted a 7x16in landscape trailer into a camper together with her husband to go on road trips more often.
As you step inside, you first see the toilet, which is quite off. Next to it is a shower located in the V-nose. When you turn around you see why – they wanted to use the wider parts of the trailer for the living space.
On the left of the toilet, separated by a wall, there’s a kitchen with a sink, a pantry and a fridge – the guys cook outside on an induction stove. At the back of the trailer, there’s a king-size (!) bed with lots of storage underneath. The whole trailer has white cladding walls and ceiling, which make it especially cozy.
The couple also added an awning to the door side of the trailer, which allows them to spend time outdoors even when it’s rainy or too sunny. This is an add-on we recommend to anyone who doesn’t want the camper to be extra stealthy.
2) Frank’s cargo trailer conversion
Frank converted a 7x14x6in enclosed cargo trailer into a super cozy RV. He uses it to go on camping, kayaking and surfing trips at the weekend.
The exterior of the trailer is covered in lightweight cedar cladding, which makes it look just like a tiny home. At the front, he added an aerodynamic storage section where he keeps his camping gear. He also installed a roof rack, on which he stores two kayaks.
Inside, there is a big kitchen with a full sink, fridge, microwave, hot water heater, and storage. Opposite the kitchen, there’s a food pantry and cabinets. At the back, there is a dinette that converts into a double bed. Under the benches, there is a lot of storage space. Frank also managed to fit in a bathroom with a tiny sink, a shower and a toilet.
The RV has a propane heater as well as air conditioning and Frank fit in multiple fans in the roof to provide ample ventilation. This cargo trailer camper is perfect for both weekend and longer holiday trips year-round.
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3) 4×2 Wagon Family’s cargo trailer camper conversion
In 2020 4×2 Wagon Family bought a cargo trailer during the Covid-19 pandemic and converted it into an RV. They just needed a project on which to focus during the lockdown, but they have used it to go on short camping trips ever since.
Outside, the camper looks just like any cargo trailer. The interior looks incredible, though. Bryan used pre-made furniture that fits the space beautifully and looks gorgeous.
As you step in, there’s a kitchen with a lot of counter space, a fridge and a sink. Next to it, there is a bench. At the back, there’s a modified full-size double bed and a small single bed that sleeps a kid. Both beds have storage underneath.
Next to the beds, at the back, the rear barn doors offer a great view when open. While this is a 100% DIY rig, it looks pretty neat.
4) TRVLUX’s Cargo Trailer Conversion Camper
Check out These IG Stories About TRVLUX Cargo Trailer
TRVLUX are two international hotel gurus. In 2021, they bought a decent-size cargo trailer and converted it into a mini hotel room on wheels. The exterior looks stealthy enough. When you step inside, you feel like you’ve just entered a modern hotel.
Inside they fitted a huge modern kitchen with a big fridge/freezer, a sink and an oven. In front of the kitchen, there’s a table with two poufs that face the windows. This can turn into an L-shaped dining table. The bathroom features a toilet and a rather big shower.
At the back, there’s a bedroom with a queen size bed complete with nightstands and overhead closets. The guys installed curtains over the rear barn doors, which make the rear of the trailer look like a real bedroom. This rig truly looks incredible.
5) Pete’s Self-converted Cargo Trailer Conversion
Pete bought a brand new 6×12 enclosed cargo trailer and then proceeded to convert it for under $5,000. He uses it to go on short trips with his wife and son. Pete kept the build minimalistic because he enjoys spending as much time as possible outdoors when he’s out camping.
For this reason, this conversion is very simple and extremely practical, yet it still looks cozy inside.
The kitchen is at the very back, separate from the rest of the camper to keep food smells away from the rest of the RV – a clever hack. Although it’s an outdoor kitchen, it looks great – it features full-size cabinets and a front-opening fridge, as well as a sink. Inside the trailer, he installed a double bed and a single bunk.
There’s also a bathroom with a Porta Potty toilet towards the front. That’s all Pete needs when he’s off-grid.
6) Way South Back’s RV Trailer
Zac and his wife bought a 6×10 trailer to go on off-grid adventures year-round in Canada. They upgraded the wheels to take it off-road, which allows them to get away from it all. The exterior looks as stealthy as it can be.
Inside, there is a kitchen counter with a two-burner stove, a small sink and a fridge. Next to the kitchen, Zac fitted a full bathroom, which is essential for going on longer trips. At the back, there’s a dinette that turns into a table.
The central panel also turns into a table the couple can use for cooking and eating outdoors. They love how much extra space they create when they take the table out.
Because the couple often camp in the trailer near Canadian rivers and lakes, Zac installed mosquito netting at the back. This allows him to keep the rear barn doors open to let the breeze go through the trailer even when the bugs are out. This should be a mandatory option for all RVs, in our opinion.
7) The Offroad Nomads’ Cargo Trailer Camper Conversion
The Offroad Nomads decided to turn a 7x16in cargo trailer into a gorgeous RV, because they couldn’t find a trailer camper that fit their needs.
The floor plan is rather simple. In the front, there’s a big kitchen with a full-size propane oven and burner stove. Next to it, they fit a big wardrobe. Further back, there’s a dinette that sits six people.
Under the benches house, there is a fridge and power system. The guys used a standing desk rather than a custom table, so they can adjust its height perfectly to create a Murphy bed. This is stored in a panel at the back of the trailer and folds down, ending up on top of the benches and table.
Rather than adding a bathroom to the build, The Offroad Nomads opted for a separate garage at the back. This is only accessible from the rear ramp door. In it, they store their bikes and other gear.
The guys installed over 1,00 watts of solar on the roof and Starlink for getting a good internet connection, which allows them to work from anywhere. Not everyone can live out of a cargo trailer, but they certainly look comfortable in theirs.
8) Cedric’s Cargo Trailer Camper Conversion With Wood Stove
Cedric is a freeskier who has wanted to camp by the snow for years. He came up with a few ideas but ended up converting a cargo trailer into an RV with his dad’s help.
The exterior is very stealthy, so he can park near trailheads. Inside, the tongue and groove on the walls and ceiling give it a log cabin feel. On one side there’s a couch that turns into a bed.
Next to it, there’s a rather big kitchen with a sink. On the opposite side, Cedric installed a tiny wood stove to keep the trailer warm in cold climates, which makes it look extra cozy. At the back, there’s a garage where he stores his ski gear.
9) A Cargo Trailer Camper With All Custom Furniture
Vince loves a DIY project – whether it’s a boat restoration, building cabinetry or doing kitchen work. Now that he has retired, he decided to convert a 6×10 cargo trailer into an off-grid camper to go on lots of adventures.
As you look into the trailer, you can see a couch, which slides out to turn into a full-size double bed. To the left of the couch, there is a kitchen with a sink, two-burner propane burner and refrigerator. Vince certainly made the most out of the available space.
Hidden away behind the TV there’s a wet bath with no door. All the furniture is made out of wood and looks just like standard home furniture, which Vince built himself.
10) Vince’s Small Cargo Trailer Conversion
This is another creation by Vince. He is also a wildlife photographer who wants to spend a lot of time in the woods. A robust cargo trailer allows him to sleep near the woods.
He converted a 5x8in enclosed trailer into an RV. This one is slightly different. At the back, there’s a small outdoor kitchen area with a fridge, sink, pantries and two-burner stove. The partition to the kitchen area can be removed, so you can access the kitchen from inside the RV.
In front of the side door, there’s a couch under which there’s a hidden Porta Potty. Next to the couch, there’s a wall-mounted 24in TV and a cabinet. This looks smart.
Towards the back, there’s another futon-style couch. The mattress folds out and rests on both couches, as well as other slide-out supports, creating a double bed. Behind the second couch is the partition which allows you to access the kitchen. If you lift the partition and open the rear doors, you can get a lot of breeze through the trailer.
This design is very practical, as it allows you to keep the kitchen smells out on sunny days but to cook indoors on rainy or snowy days. We’re impressed.
11) Stumbles And Fumbles’ Cargo Trailer Camper
Stumbles hikes the PCT while Fumbles follows along his journey as a trail angel. She used to stay in hotels or go car camping while Stumbles was on the trail, but the couple wanted to find an affordable and more comfortable solution to the problem. So they converted a 5x8in cargo trailer into an RV. They chose a small one for increased maneuverability and reduced weight.
The couple fitted the kitchen in the back and separated it from the rest of the camper with a panel – a feature we think is very clever. There’s a small sink and a countertop with storage below and above it. The single-burner portable stove sits on a fold-out table located on one of the barn doors.
Inside there is a couch that turns into a bed and a fold-out table. This rig is simple and practical – exactly what the couple needs when camping near the PCT.
12) Joel’s Chuck Box Cargo Trailer Camper Conversion
Joel lives in a house during the week but loves spending his weekends camping and fishing with his girlfriend and pooch. To make their adventures a little more comfortable, he bought a tiny cargo trailer and made it their base.
Inside, there’s only storage and a bench that turns into a bed- the absolute essential. Outside, he stores a lot of gear under a big awning and cooks on a shelf mounted on the back door. This setup is not very different from car camping, but it’s definitely a lot warmer and comfier at night than sleeping in a tent.
13) HAXMAN’s cargo trailer camper conversion
Haxman needed a DIY project to keep busy during the pandemic, so he converted a 7x12in cargo trailer into an RV. He designed the floor plan for a family of four, which is rather impressive.
At the back, there’s a dinette that turns into a double bed. On top of it there’s a bunk bed for his two girls. It looks a little tight, but the family looks comfortable in them.
In the middle of the trailer, there’s a kitchen with a sink, microwave and fridge. He built this completely from scratch using plywood panels. At the front, there’s a bathroom with a cassette toilet. Haxman’s family has grown since they started the project – they adopted lots of animals. For this reason, they had to sell the trailer and start from scratch.
Do Cargo Trailers Make Good Campers?
Absolutely. They are affordable, stealthy, and lightweight. Just fit a fan and a CO detector and you’re good to go.
But are they for everyone? Nope. They suit a certain kind of camper: someone who is happy to sacrifice luxury for practicality. Unless you’re a master at DIY projects, a self-conversion will never look as neat as a professional one.
Pros And Cons Of A Cargo Trailer Conversion
Inspired but undecided? We’ve come up with a list of advantages and disadvantages to a converted cargo trailer.
- It’s cheaper than a pre-converted one
- You can keep the rig as stealthy as you like
- It’s 100% customizable
- You can keep it as light as you like
- There’s no waiting list or lead time
- Cargo trailers are rather wide and long, so they have enough floor space
- Many cargo trailers have standing headroom.
- It’s a long, complicated process
- You might make expensive mistakes
- It requires practical skills and confidence
- Unless you’re a DIY expert, it won’t look as attractive as a brand-new one
- You will need to dedicate evenings, weekends and holidays to the build
- Some RV parks don’t allow cargo trailer campers in.
How Do You Turn A Cargo Trailer Into A Camper?
Cargo trailers don’t have insulation, so you will need to start the conversion process from scratch. Here’s a very quick summary of the steps involved in a DIY conversion.
- Design a floor plan and think about everything: water tanks, bed, kitchen, bath, and more
- Figure out how the electrical system, plumbing and heating/AC will work and where it will go
- Rip out the walls
- Cut holes for windows, including skylights, and extra doors and install them
- Weatherproof the windows and doors
- Install the electrical system
- Add insulation and flooring
- Install fans
- Put up walls and the ceiling
- Add furniture and plumbing.
As you can see, there’s a lot to think about and spending adequate time on the planning is essential. Buying some good plans can help you with this.
Don’t rush the process, as you will likely need to fix some expensive mistakes at one point or another. If you’re in a hurry to get on the road, it’s best to opt for a used travel trailer or a brand new one.
How Much Does A Cargo Trailer Conversion Cost?
Of course, it depends on the type and size of trailer you buy and the gear you install – some cost as little as $1,000. However, as a rule of thumb, a conversion costs anywhere between $5,000 and $15,000, including the trailer.
What’s The Best Cargo Trailer For A Camper Conversion?
There are plenty of second-hand cargo trailers for sale out there. First choose the size and weight – check your vehicle’s towing capacity. Don’t get hung up on the brand – getting a trailer in good working condition is always better.
Check for water damage, rot, rust, and mechanical damage. Have a good look at the wheels, brake lights and hitch.
Ready to convert your own cargo trailer? Cargo trailer conversions are a great option for minimalist, practical campers who are looking for an affordable way to get on the road. You will need plenty of patience and time, as well as solid DIY skills, in order to complete a conversion project.
You won’t be able to access the odd RV park, but you will be able to go stealthy and camp near trailheads.
If a self-converted cargo trailer camper isn’t for you, check out these travel trailers under 6000 lbs or these travel trailers with king beds. Pre-converted trailers are a much less complicated alternative, which allows you to set off a lot sooner. Just make sure to check the lead time for brand new rigs.
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