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The Mercier Custom Camper Is a Mobile Home Built by a Pair of Very Skilled Hands

One should never settle for what everyone else is having. If you know yourself to be in possession of a pair of very skilled hands, your future off-road companion could be months away from materializing.
Carpenter Mario Mercier built the Mercier camper from scratch, like he would a house 13 photos
Carpenter Mario Mercier built the Mercier camper from scratch, like he would a houseCarpenter Mario Mercier built the Mercier camper from scratch, like he would a houseCarpenter Mario Mercier built the Mercier camper from scratch, like he would a houseCarpenter Mario Mercier built the Mercier camper from scratch, like he would a houseCarpenter Mario Mercier built the Mercier camper from scratch, like he would a houseCarpenter Mario Mercier built the Mercier camper from scratch, like he would a houseCarpenter Mario Mercier built the Mercier camper from scratch, like he would a houseCarpenter Mario Mercier built the Mercier camper from scratch, like he would a houseCarpenter Mario Mercier built the Mercier camper from scratch, like he would a houseCarpenter Mario Mercier built the Mercier camper from scratch, like he would a houseCarpenter Mario Mercier built the Mercier camper from scratch, like he would a houseCarpenter Mario Mercier built the Mercier camper from scratch, like he would a house
August is autoevolution’s Expedition Vehicles Month and we’ve been talking a lot about popular models of campers, overlanders and trailers available on the market right now. One camper that you will never be able to buy is Mario Mercier’s custom rig.

Granted, many overlanders we’ve discussed are custom to a certain degree, in the sense that no serious off-roader is going to buy a camper, plop it on top of his truck and be done with it, never add any upgrades or perform improvements. Still, Mercier’s rig, simply dubbed the Mercier Camper, stands out for having been built from scratch.

Carpenter Mario Mercier built the Mercier camper from scratch, like he would a house
Mercier took his camper to the Quebec Caravan last summer, where he met Gordon White of Truck Camper Magazine. White was so blown back by the rig that he requested an interview by email with Mercier, which was conducted and published several months later, in January this year. Since we’re on the topic of serious off-roading, we might as well revisit it, as it offers a rare insight into the project, along with important details.

For starters, Mercier’s build is your classic motivational tale: there’s absolutely no reason you should settle for what everyone else is being offered, if you know yourself good with your hands. Mercier is a carpenter and he has some experience with trucks, too. After crunching numbers and talking with friends (and pros in the RV industry), he came to the conclusion that it would be much cheaper if he built his own camper, as compared to buying one from a dealer.

He approached the task like he would a house. He used 0.5-inch (1.27 cm) plywood, which he covered with fiberglass mat with a coating of resin and catalyst, applied with a paint roller. The roof is thicker plywood with Rexoseal, and the walls are properly insulated.

Carpenter Mario Mercier built the Mercier camper from scratch, like he would a house
The windows and doors, water heater and furnace were bought used. Other parts were bought for an RV dealer, while Mercier’s wife handled interior decorations. Their common goal, the man says, was to make this look unlike a camper – more like a house.

And it is decidedly that. Inside, there’s a kitchen area with a slide-out dinette with seating for four. The dinette slides out using a Schwintek mechanism that travels out 28 inches (71 cm), considerably expanding interior space. This was a 2017 upgrade that Mercier again did entirely by hand, on his own and with help from family. The kitchen has a fridge and freezer combo, a sink, burner and oven, and a lot of storage in incorporated cabinetry.

At the back is a drop-down bed that can sleep either a heavier adult or two children on a 48-inch (122-cm) wide mattress. The Merciers included this sleeping area in the original plan because they wanted their kids to accompany them on trips. It usually sleeps their cat, who travels with them when they’re gone for longer than three days.

At the opposite end, over the cabin, is the master bedroom. The overhead was redone in March 2018, when they decided they wanted to be able to sit up in bed without knocking their heads against the ceiling. Access steps double as storage and this entire section could easily be mistaken for a tiny bedroom in an actual, non-mobile home. “We like classic contemporary interiors,” Mercier says.

Carpenter Mario Mercier built the Mercier camper from scratch, like he would a house
There’s also a bathroom with shower, toilet and sink, and an impressive amount of storage. The 10-inch (25.4-cm) high basement holds three tanks: 40 gallons (151 liters) of fresh water, 29 gallons (110 liters) of gray and 29 gallons (110 liters) of black.

“The camper is 3,989-pounds [1,809 kg] with full propane, water, food, two people and all we need for camping,” Mercier says. He doesn’t know the total weight of the rig, but he says it handles very well on the road.

He’s speaking from experience, too. Since the project was completed in 2005 after more or less three months of weekend work, he and his wife have been on the road (and off-road) a lot. However, he says, the job is not done: there is always room for improvement.

Editor's note: This article was not sponsored or supported by a third party.

 
 
 
 
 

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