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This DIY Electric Mini-Camper Is Spacious, Fun, Cheap, and Easy to Build

Getting away from it all every once in a while helps with managing daily stress, but you're only adding to that stress if you're planning your outings around the acquisition of an RV you can't afford right now. So, how about you build your own?
DIY electric mini-camper isn't exactly "off-road," but it could work for an overnight stay 20 photos
Photo: YouTube/Quiet Nerd (Composite)
DIY electric mini-camper isn't exactly "off-road," but it could work for an overnight stayDIY electric mini-camper isn't exactly "off-road," but it could work for an overnight stayDIY electric mini-camper isn't exactly "off-road," but it could work for an overnight stayDIY electric mini-camper isn't exactly "off-road," but it could work for an overnight stayDIY electric mini-camper isn't exactly "off-road," but it could work for an overnight stayDIY electric mini-camper isn't exactly "off-road," but it could work for an overnight stayDIY electric mini-camper isn't exactly "off-road," but it could work for an overnight stayDIY electric mini-camper isn't exactly "off-road," but it could work for an overnight stayDIY electric mini-camper isn't exactly "off-road," but it could work for an overnight stayDIY electric mini-camper isn't exactly "off-road," but it could work for an overnight stayDIY electric mini-camper isn't exactly "off-road," but it could work for an overnight stayDIY electric mini-camper isn't exactly "off-road," but it could work for an overnight stayDIY electric mini-camper isn't exactly "off-road," but it could work for an overnight stayDIY electric mini-camper isn't exactly "off-road," but it could work for an overnight stayDIY electric mini-camper isn't exactly "off-road," but it could work for an overnight stayDIY electric mini-camper isn't exactly "off-road," but it could work for an overnight stayDIY electric mini-camper isn't exactly "off-road," but it could work for an overnight stayDIY electric mini-camper isn't exactly "off-road," but it could work for an overnight stayDIY electric mini-camper isn't exactly "off-road," but it could work for an overnight stay
Granted, not everyone is skilled with their hands or much good around power tools. But those who are, or who are willing to give it a try to see just how good they'd do, have the chance to try any one of the hundreds of thousands of DIY (do it yourself) projects that litter online platforms.

The one we're looking at today has several things going in its favor: it's easy to put together, affordable, and can be done with minimal skill – while delivering maximum enjoyment.

The developments of recent years have seen a decisive shift in perspective, where people have started prioritizing mental health, leisure, and travel opportunities. It helps that working from home is still possible, just like it helps that the #vanlife trend allows for the exploration of every possibility to enjoy it, from renting, converting, building from scratch, or going all in (financially) with a brand acquisition. Perhaps more importantly, the surge in digital nomadism popularity helps by offering a good look at every detail of the daily life of a digital nomad.

DIY electric mini\-camper isn't exactly "off\-road," but it could work for an overnight stay
Photo: YouTube/Quiet Nerd
DIY builds are so popular that you might be tempted to believe that anyone could do it, especially given the emphasis on "lack of experience" or "I did it by watching YouTube." We all know better than to take what we see on social media at face value, but the appeal of such builds is undeniable. Who wouldn't want a decent RV option with minimal costs, some effort, and the ability to add as much customization as needed?

That's also the idea behind this electric mini-camper, designed and built by Jason from Quiet Nerd. Made with accessible materials and only as many frills as it needs to function, this e-mini-camper is both affordable and fun. Strike that: it's not just fun, it's functional, which is more important, Jason promises.

He describes it as an "off-road" camper that moves under its own power – a statement you should definitely take with a grain of salt. It might look off-road-capable with its rear treads, but its fragile construction, the exposed underside that holds all the electronics, and the poor ground clearance are working against it being a proper off-roader. But as the video below shows, it's a decent solution if you're looking to escape into nature for a night or maybe a weekend if you're feeling particularly bold.

DIY electric mini\-camper isn't exactly "off\-road," but it could work for an overnight stay
Photo: YouTube/Quiet Nerd
At worst, it's a nice little project to see if you're up to the task of a proper camper.

Jason designed it with the goal of building something anyone watching at home could replicate, on the condition they have the proper tools, a working space, and about four days to dedicate to manual labor. Oh, and the willingness to ditch comfort during the first test outing.

The frame is all wood with metal brackets in the corners and a middle beam for rigidity. The upper part is actually a greenhouse structure bolted down to the board flooring, with a weatherproof tarp on top to offer protection against the sun and the elements.

DIY electric mini\-camper isn't exactly "off\-road," but it could work for an overnight stay
Photo: YouTube/Quiet Nerd
Power comes from a 24V 500W 6:1 gear ratio motor connected to a 12V battery that offers 2.5 hours of range on a single charge. Indeed, this is yet another thing that works against this contraption being off-road, unless you consider "off-roading" going to places with access to charging outlets. You don't, we know.

The entire drivetrain is homemade with accessible components and materials. The front wheels are from a golf kart, the steering is improvised from a kit, and all components are affordable items from local hardware stores. Jason added a torque button on the steering wheel and a button for reverse and forward on the control box he placed up front. He also put in powerful front and rear lights but no brakes. This thing isn't fast either way, but he also controls the speed by means of a twist button that regulates how much power he sends to the motor.

The interior is spacious, if you compare it to a bike trailer. Jason has room to stretch out and sit upright, and the addition of hanging storage bags helps with keeping the floor clear of clutter. For extra comfort, there's a small fan with integrated lights, and the zippered sections of the greenhouse can be used for extra ventilation.

DIY electric mini\-camper isn't exactly "off\-road," but it could work for an overnight stay
Photo: YouTube/Quiet Nerd
To prove that his creation is functional, Jason took it out on a 4th of July expedition into the middle of the woods for an overnight stay. He did some roaming around both on foot and with the mini-camper, cooked pizza for dinner and pancakes with honey for breakfast, and got a decent night's sleep. In the end, he declared himself pleasantly surprised with the build, so much so that he was debating with himself if he should keep it for further use.

No beating around the bush, this electric mini-camper is neither an off-roader nor that much of an overnight camper as is. It lacks features that ensure durability, from the untreated wood to the way in which the underside is left open and, thus, in contact with whatever he comes across, from vegetation to rocks. Even the battery location is not the best, hanging as it does in a bike rack at the rear. The range is ridiculous even for an e-bike, let alone a camper you should take out on adventures in the middle of nowhere. And the whole structure sits too close to the ground to be able to ride across rougher terrain.

But that's not to say it's not a nice little project with some potential to become a proper mini-camper. It can be a starter project, a challenge you give yourself to see if you can complete it, or a nifty little thing you take to picnics or on short rides in the woods, as long as you stay on the beaten track.

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About the author: Elena Gorgan
Elena Gorgan profile photo

Elena has been writing for a living since 2006 and, as a journalist, she has put her double major in English and Spanish to good use. She covers automotive and mobility topics like cars and bicycles, and she always knows the shows worth watching on Netflix and friends.
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