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Cargo Trailer Conversion

If you love camping, an RV is often a dream investment. Such vehicles make camping more convenient and accessible, especially if you have young children. But, for many campers, investing in an RVC is a challenge due to the heavy price tag. So, why not consider a cargo trailer?

Suppose you are ready to work and spend some time with planning and execution. In that case, a cargo van can be converted into a modern camping trailer. These vans are usually made with durable steel or riveted aluminum and last for decades with proper maintenance. The cargo vans come cheaper and can be bought easily.  

Furthermore, you can create a customized camping cargo van with all the modern amenities on a budget less than getting an RV. 

So, are you ready to get your own customized camping cargo trailer? Continue reading to know all the details for this DIY project!

Type of Trailer I Should Convert into a Camper?

Many people often have a simple question- is it possible to convert a cargo trailer into a camping van? Well, it is possible. 

If you are willing to travel in a comfortable camping van that offers you the needed amenities, it is a great choice. On top of that, the whole project cost will also not burden your pocket. But, if you want a luxurious camping vehicle, a converted cargo can be disappointing. 

There are different types of cargo van models, and searching for a suitable model can be overwhelming. All cargo models may also be better for you. Our experts have recommended a few models that can be perfect for convertible campers. These are the following models-

1. V-Nose Trailer Camper

V-NOSE TRAILER CAMPERIt is a type of trailer van with a v-shaped front section. Such models offer some benefits after getting converted into a camper. 

The v-shaped front offers extra storage where you can create additional shelves or boxes for nick-nacks. Some people also use this part as a makeshift shower area. Getting your private and safe showing space amidst a crowded camping ground is quite an advantage!

On top of that, these secure trailers offer better fuel savings due to their design. The aerodynamic shape provides you with better mileage per gallon and saves a little on gas while on a road trip!

Despite all these advantages, there is a downside to such vans. The layout of the whole van is quite complicated. Hence, it takes a lot of time to find the perfect floor plan to properly utilize all the available places!

2. Flat Nose Trailer Camper

FLAT NOSE TRAILER CAMPERIt is one of the most used camping vans now. The whole rectangular shape of the van makes it easier to manage and customize. You get more space and can utilize the space in different ways. On top of that, the shape also offers simplistic interior design planning, making the whole project easier for you!

You can create anything out of this cargo van if you have a little imagination and planning skills! But, the shape will be a little challenging for a long trip. Due to its flat-nosed shape, the air resistance is more significant than any other model. 

Hence, your camping van may travel slower. To counter this problem, you can install a roof wind deflector to get the desired aerodynamic effect. Such small investments allow you to save a lot in the long term, especially on gas prices!

3.Toy Hauler Camper

TOY HAULER CAMPERA toy hauler camper is a converted cargo camper with a special “garage” space or a towing space where you can add your other vehicles, like cars and electric cargo bikes. Motorcycles or even boats while traveling. It is ideal for those who often travel in a large group while camping or prefer to camp by water bodies. 

Generally, the bumper pull cargos are usually seen as Toy Hauler campers. Such vans have a smaller garage, and you can unload the garage and use the space while you are stationed for camping. 

But, if you do not want to use the space for any other purpose, getting a fifth-wheel hauler with a separate garage space is better. 

Correct Size Cargo Trailer to Convert

Here, you are getting a cargo van and converting it into a camping trailer. In that case, you must be concerned about which model is ideal for a comfortable camping habitat. So, let’s check out all the available options before you choose the right one-

1. 5’ X 8 ‘ Cargo Trailer

It is the smallest cargo van size. Hence, this size is enough if you are a solo camper or prefer to go alone in a separate vehicle. It is cozy enough to house a bed, a small kitchenette, and a basic shelf for storing accessories. 

Such cargo vans usually weigh around 800 lbs and can easily carry 2200 lbs of lead.

2. 6’ X 10’ Cargo Trailer

This is the ideal size that offers the best of both worlds. You can use it for solo camping, a camping trip with your pet, or even with another person (preferably a child). 

Thai cargo trailers will have a comfortable bed, more area to have a larger shelf or cupboard, and a kitchenette. 

Such campers weigh around 100 lbs and can easily carry 1800 lbs of goods. 

3. 6’ x 12’ Cargo Trailer

It is quite large and weighs 1200 lbs. The carrying capacity is 1800 lbs. Such cargo vans are ideal for a couple who camp regularly. It will have a double bed, a separate area for showering, a larger cupboard, a basin, and a well-functional kitchenette where you can cut and cook easily.  

4. 7’ X 12’ Cargo Trailer

It is the largest cargo camper size with a weight of 1300 lbs. It can carry 1700 lbs of weight effortlessly. Such trailers are great for couples who often go for longer camping trips or longer road trips. On top of that, you can also accompany a small child or a pet alongside you. 

The trailer can house a standard bed and a more spacious area, including a large shower area, kitchenette area, basin, and multiple shelves. 

5. 7’ X 14’ Cargo Trailer

Do you go on family camping trips with three or more people? In that case, invest in a 7′ x 14′ inch cargo camper weighing 1400 lbs. The larger size allows more space for so many people. If you can utilize the area properly, you can add bunk beds or a larger bed with two or more shelves. 

On top of that, you can add a more functional kitchenette or even a small refrigerator. 

6. 7’ x 16’ Camping Trailer

The 7’ x16’ camping trailer weighing 2200 lbs is ideal for a large family or a group of friends. With a smoke space, it offers you the most significant space. You can add multiple bunk beds, a sitting area, a functional kitchenette with a refrigerator, a showing area, and many shelves to store your items! Even though the van weighs a lot, it can carry 4700 lbs of weight, which is impressive.

Is It Okay to Install a Bathroom in my Enclosed Trailer?

Many people often ask if it is possible to include a bathroom inside a converted cargo camper. 

Well, it all depends on your available space and how much you want to spend. You can always use a portable toilet which is easier and eco-friendly. On top of that, such toilets are towable and waterless, making them more convenient for outdoor usage. 

Alternatively, using a compost toilet or a biodegradable toilet is also a great option. 

These toilets are self-contained and can even come with a small exhaust fan. Some advanced models of portable toilets even come with brackets for attaching to the flooring.

You can go for a traditional toilet if the biodegradable toilet paper or stand-alone toilet paper are insufficient. Please remember that a converted cargo camper will have limited space. Hence, you will have to adjust the flooring or the layout to ensure the toilet is enough for single-person use. 

Although a traditional RV toilets looks excellent and is more convenient, the whole process is complicated. You will have to drill the subfloor of the van and install sewerage piping throughout the van. Next, you will have to install a black tank and comment on the pipes to the tank under the truck. On top of that, you will also have to install a grommet and flange for the toilet.

You can complete the whole process if you have enough experience with plumbing work. But you will also have to take care of how to empty the tank. 

In the end, if you are someone who does not want to have so much fuss, you can always get a bio-toilet or a stand-alone toilet. 

Next is another important aspect, the showering area. A private showering area is a great option, especially for those not comfortable using public baths. 

You can buy a shower kit and install it in the van. Such kits are easily found in camping gear stores at $400.It is portable, lightweight, and offers enough comfort.

Suppose you are someone who is experienced. You can equip your camper with a handmade shower arena. A small waterproof enclosure inside the van with SS walls and anti-skid flooring is enough. You can install a waterfall showerhead. But you will have to increase the water tank size if you do this. 

Cargo Camper Bedroom Options

Since the cargo camper van will have limited space, you must be innovative with bed options. Please note that the beds will be taking up the most space. But, installing a standard double bed inside a 6′ x 12′ trailer will consume the available space. So, you need first to consider the floor layout. In this case, elevated beds and bunk beds are great ideas.

1. Elevator Bed

Elevated beds are slowly becoming popular in the camping sector. The mattresses can be moved higher or lower to keep the flooring space open. You can use the floor space to store your belongings. Elevated beds can also be made with wood. 

2. Raised Bed

Raised beds or platform beds that have storage underneath are great for anyone who wants extra space for storing their gear or food. The space left below can also be used as a dog bed if you are camping with your pet.

For such beds, walnut, maple, or even oak wood, is excellent. Such hard wooden beds will last longer, and you will not have to replace that frequently. 

First, decide on a bed design, including the space you want. If you are traveling with your permit, dividing the available space into two large boxes is better. Keep one box free to allow your pet to rest there. You can build shelves or even a small cupboard at the next box. 

3. Murphy Bed

A Murphy bed or folded bed is also an excellent option for you. The bed folds and offers some extra open floor when you are not sleeping. 

Since such beds fold frequently, use strong hinges and corrugated steel frames to make them extra strong. 

4. Other Options

There are also other options that you can use if you are not keen enough to build a bed for the camping van. You can use futons. These are easy to carry and can be stored anywhere when not in use.

Similarly, you can also consider sleeping bags if you tend to sleep indoors and outdoors. 

Cargo Camper Kitchen

A kitchen inside your cargo camper can be an added advantage, especially if you go on road trips or long camping vacations. But, you must ensure that the kitchenette takes up the least space while offering you a functional working station. 

A camping van kitchenette often contains a small sink, a small cutting and prepping arena, and a small cooking stove. Please Note that you cannot install a regular gas oven unless your camping van runs on propane. If your camper rims on that, you must connect the cook top to the fuel tank to ensure you can cook quickly. 

Many campers use portable camping stoves that run on gas cans. You can add that to your kitchenette. Make sure to store extra gas cans. Another option is to use an induction cooktop. You can get a portable induction cooktop that you can use inside and outside. 

Since the cooktops use 120AC power, you must invest in an inverter. The inverter can also be a great option if you are eager to use electricity inside the camping van.

The best option is to use a cooktop compatible with solar energy. You just have to install solar panels on the roof to store the solar power, and you can cook. But, this can come with a steep learning curve as you will have to figure out cooking alternatives in rainy or foggy weather. 

One of the essential factors that you need to consider is the water connection in the kitchen area. Always plan the water pipeline while designing the camper kitchen. Ensure a strategically placed water inlet and a drainage pipe.

1. Kitchen Gadgets

You need to identify the essential appliances for your camping van kitchen. A stowaway stove top is great for those with a small kitchen area. You can store the stovetop when not in use and use the kitchen countertop for other purposes. 

An induction cooktop can also be used. Please note that you must take only what you need. Hence, a dutch oven, a saucepan, and a frying pan should be enough for you. 

You can take some extra appliances like a small toaster, grilling pan, or griller with you. 

If you love outdoor cooking, you will have to get a compact grill that can be easily stored inside the van. Many campers use a convertible grilling oven which can be used both inside and outside. 

2. Fridges 

Due to the limited space available in the van, you may need to satisfy yourself with a mini fridge or a small refrigerator. Make sure to get one that does not consume much power or can run on solar power. You can also use portable chest refrigerators that run on batteries.

Make sure to store only what is essential. For example, store only meat, deli items, perishable vegetables, and spices alongside water bottles or a few cans of juice inside the fridge!

3. Installing Sinks 

Most camping vans will have a small kitchen area. But you can always increase the space if you are an intelligent thinker. For example, you can get a covered sink. It will offer a more extensive working station when the sink is not in use. You can also use a portable cooktop if the space is too small.

The sink should be versatile and accommodating. After all, you will use it to wash the dishes, your hands, food items, and even clothes!

4. Kitchen Pantry

To make the kitchen functional, you must ensure the kitchen corner has a pantry area to store your items. If you have a v-shaped trailer, you can use the v-area to create a kitchen section with a pantry area. For maximizing space, you can also go for overhead cabinets. 

Always have enough space to store utensils, dishes, and other items properly. A stuffy kitchen will not be comfortable while living inside the van. 

Making the Storage Efficient in a Cargo Trailer Camper

You must be innovative to maximize the available space inside the camping van.

  • If your van has ample vertical or wall spaces, create hanging spaces to store smaller belongings. For example, you can install a hanging shelf or rack to store items. Similarly, you can also keep your clothing items on a hanging wall rack. 
  • If you have space below the bed, you can use it differently. The area below the bed can be converted into a small makeshift bed for your pet. If you do not have pets, you can use this area to build storage to store more oversized items.
  • Some people use the area to create a bench space, especially if they use a folding bed. 

Inspiration to Convert Enclosed Trailer Camper

If you are building the camper van from scratch as your first DIY project, here are some inspirations to guide you-

Millard’s Trailer Conversion Camper

This small 5′ x 10′ converted trailer properly uses its available space while offering a cozy home away from your home!

1. Conversion Storage

The kitchen area comes with a double-burner stove and a small sink. But, they have not compromised with the storage. They do not have a separate kitchen working station. Instead, they chose a convertible sink that can be covered and used as a countertop. 

Due to the limited space, the knives and cutleries are stored above the sink in a vertical area!

2. Conversion Bedroom

They used an elevated bed design to accommodate the bed and use the storage properly; the bed area also has a wall-mounted TV. Besides that, there is also a small tray to store your munchies while you are watching something!

The added space behind the bed also allowed me to store some books or fun board games!

3. Conversion Kitchen

The space under the bed has a folding table with seats. Hence, you can eat here after cooking. 

The portable storage can also store a portable toilet or other larger items. 

Bahn Camper Works’ Cargo Camper 

The cargo camper van from BAHN Camper Works is another example that you can look up to. Ryan, the company’s owner, has created a comfortable van that meets the camping needs of his family. 

1. Trailer Camper Dining

Ryan created a separate seating area inside the camping van to ensure the family could have a meal together. The kitchen is also spacious, with a leather countertop, a sink, and cabinets to store things for such a large family!

2. Trailer Camper Kitchen

We already talked about how awesome the kitchen looks! It has electrical outlets with USB ports for using induction countertops. The furnace is also a great option to keep the camping van warm during chilly nights. 

3. Trailer Camper Sink

The larger, full-fledged kitchen sink with a water faucet is a great addition. It can be covered up and used for some extra space also. There is a spice rack beside the sink and small storage. 

Creating a Diy Cargo Trailer Camper

Building the camper van from scratch is not difficult. But, make sure to plan before you start properly. On top of that, be accommodating and flexible to make changes when you find something unsuitable for the van!

1. Planning

The first thing you will have to decide on is the floor plan. Make sure to include a floor plan with enough space for the bed, storage, and kitchen. Also, make designated points for electrical ports as well. 

2. Install the Ceiling and the Flooring

The next thing is to install the ceiling and cover the van. Start with the ceilings. You can insulate it as per your budget. It is better to use tongue and groove planks as it costs less. Next, add the wirings in the ceiling for the lights. Make room for the future as well. 

3. Start Building the Bed and the Storage.

The next thing you need to do is to build the bed. Since the flooring depends on the space left after the bed and cabinets, keep that for last. You can create any bed you desire! You can add an extra shiplap wall to make the bed more stable. 

For the storage compartments, you can use walnut, oak, or maple wood. Fix the cabinets in their places to create a rough floor layout. 

4. Installing the Floorings

Now, install the flooring. You can use MVF, vinyl, or even wooden floors. 

5. Kitchen Area

Now, it is time to build your kitchen area. Start with a durable wooden frame like a walnut frame with a walnut wooden countertop that will be durable and can withstand your cooking needs. 

Now, install the cooktops, ovens, and sink. Make sure to waterproof the countertop. After installing the sink, add the faucet and water inlet for a functioning kitchen. Last, add hanging cabinets and shelves to complete the kitchen area.

6. Building the Bathroom

If you are building a bathroom or a separate showering area, you can add this step. Otherwise, feel free to skip it. First, waterproof the wall and the flooring. Next, add corrugated metal and marble inside the shower head. Finally, add the shower inlet and the portable toilet to finish the toilet area.

7. Finish It

Add final touches in the van by adding other things like linen, a mattress, and other items. 

Materials Needed For a Diy Cargo Trailer Camper Conversion

These are the materials you need to design and customize your cargo camping van-

  • Windows
  • Doors
  •  Insulation
  • Interior Siding
  •  Lumber
  •  Shower Stall
  •  Toilet
  • Water Heater
  •  Appliances
  •  Vent Fan
  • Light Fixtures
  •  Flooring
  • Paint
  •  Fasteners/Adhesives

Equipment I Need to Do a Diy Cargo Camper Conversion?

Well. The tool range depends on which floor layout you have chosen. But you will need a complete tool set of different hand tools, measuring tools, power tools, saws and glue, splinters, drilling guns, hooks, etc., to complete the project. 

Heating & Cooling Modes in a Trailer Camper

Suppose you plan to use the cargo van for camping throughout the year. In that case, it is better to get it insulated for sustainable cooling and heating options. It is possible to insulate the camper for proper cooling and heating effect.

The camper usually comes with studs connected with metal tubes. Some studs are often exposed to sunlight or rain. Consider the project as an insulation project for a mini home. 

In this case, you can use foam boards to create a layer of insulation throughout your camping van.

To install an air conditioner inside the camping van, you must consider between a single hose and dual hose portable AC. Often campers prefer a dual hose air conditioner as this does not require a hole, and you will not have to cut holes through the camping van. 

If you plan to get an AC, make sure to have an inverter inside the camping van to counter any issues while on the road. 

Plumbing in a Cargo Trailer Camper

 For a functional camping van, you will have to get a functional plumbing network that allows you to use water without damaging the van. 

1. Water Inlet

The first thing you need to consider is the water inlet. You will need one inlet at the kitchen sink, one in the bathroom, and one probably for the toilet. 

2. Water Storage Tank

If you are more open to off-grid camping, just store a few buckets. But, if you want a functional water system while on a road trip, make sure to install a water tank. 

Providing Power For Diy Camper Cargo Trailer 

The powering solution depends on how you plan to use the camping van. Get enough solar panels and batteries alongside a conventional inverter if you want off-grid solutions. Install solar panels on the roof to ensure you have enough power. 

You can get different things if you need a sustainable electric solution.

Expenses to Change a Cargo Trailer into a Camper

The DIY project of converting a cargo van into a full-fledged camper can be a rewarding experience for you. Since you are building from scratch, it is time-consuming. 

So, let’s take a detailed look at the possible budget. In general, a cargo trailer cost is $4000-$6000. But, you can get a second-hand trailer in good shape at roughly $2000. While buying such pre-owned trailers, make sure to check out the flaws, the engine condition, and the run mileage before buying one. 

Next, you will have to buy the materials, including flooring, doors, windows, insulation, wood, etc. Here’s a detailed budget-











Interior sliding


Shower Stall


Water heater




Light Fixtures


Vent Fan






Adhesives or wooden glue





Custom camping vans are an excellent option for anyone who wants the best comfort while camping. Hence, you can get a cargo van and build a camping van from scratch. 

While completing the DIY projects, you need to be patient and considerate to make last-moment adjustments. You can consider this article as an introductory guide to completing the project!

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