How to Convert a Cargo Trailer for Camping

Written by zach lazzari
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How to Convert a Cargo Trailer for Camping
Cargo trailers work well for camper conversions. (line trimmers image by Horticulture from

Cargo trailers are ideal for camping conversions. The space is watertight and empty, allowing you to completely customise the floor plan. Convert the trailer into a basic camper or use it for stealth camping when you do not want to be noticed. The basic camper will have a bed, seat and counter top with storage beneath each. Depending on the size of the trailer, you can also add electricity, plumbing and appliances. The only requirement is that the trailer is ventilated to control the quality of the air. Purchase a roof vent and sliding RV windows before beginning the conversion.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • Sawzall
  • Roof vent and mounting screws
  • RV windows
  • Caulking
  • 2-by-4 lumber
  • Three-inch wood screws
  • 1/4 inch plywood
  • 2-by-3 lumber
  • 1/2 inch plywood
  • One-inch wood screws
  • L shaped metal brackets
  • Hinge
  • One-inch sheet metal screws
  • Varnish
  • Mattress
  • Seat cushions
  • Storage containers

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  1. 1

    Measure the base dimensions of the vent and the exterior dimensions of the window. Mark and cut out the space for the vent and windows with a Sawzall. Install the roof vent by applying waterproof caulking to the edges of the vent and setting it in place. Install the included mounting screws and secure the vent to the roof using a drill with a Phillips connection. Also, apply the caulking to the exterior of the windows. Place the windows into the space. The windows must have a tight fit in order to seal properly.

  2. 2

    Frame a bed using 2-by-4 lumber. Build a rectangular base and use several uprights along each edge of the base. Build the top of the frame to match the bottom of the frame and connect all of the lumber with three-inch wood screws and a drill. Cover the bed with 1/4-inch plywood using one-inch wood screws and a drill. Leave the sides of the bed open for access to the storage area beneath the bed.

  3. 3

    Build a bench seat using 2-by-3 lumber. Frame the bench in the same manner as the bed but leave enough space for an isle and a kitchen area. Cover the sides of the bench with 1/4-inch plywood and attach a hinge to the top of the seat for access to the storage space. Connect the bench to the floor of the trailer using "L" shaped metal brackets and one-inch sheet metal screws.

  4. 4

    Build a counter using 2-by-4 lumber. Build the rectangular counter using four 2-by-4 legs cut to the desired length with a skill saw. Connect 1/2-inch plywood to the top of the legs using a drill and one-inch wood screws. Apply a layer of varnish to the top of the counter to protect it from water. Secure each leg to the floor of the trailer using "L" shaped brackets and one-inch sheet metal screws drilled into place.

  5. 5

    Place a mattress on top of the bed and cushions on top of the bench seat. Use plastic storage containers to store cooking supplies and camping supplies beneath the counter.

Tips and warnings

  • Staple the cushions to the bench for a permanent seat. Also, use custom upholstery for a unique interior look.
  • Use brackets to secure all furniture and bungee cords to contain loose items. Failure to secure any loose items may cause shifting while driving.

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