Bug out/Camping/Utility Trailer

I’ve been wanting to get out camping more often, but I suspect like many have had trouble convincing my wife to give camping a try. For some reason, sleeping on the hard, cold ground doesn’t appeal to her.

Buying a dedicated camper, pop-up tent, RV would be nice, but they are generally more than I want to spend, are single purpose and often require separate registration here in Utah. I often find a need for a small utility trailer for hauling mulch, compost, etc. and here in Utah, smaller trailers under a certain weight and size don’t need to be registered. When I obtained an old home built utility trailer recently, I decided to jump head first into a home built adventure trailer build.

The trailer I started with appears to be completely home built using a ’50’s Chevy truck axle and springs with thick angle iron completing the frame. The sides were made of weathered wood and close inspection showed that the wood sides was only attached to the frame with four bolts. I quickly removed these four bolts and the floors to get the frame down to bare essentials.

Once to this state, I sandblasted the frame to ensure that the rust present was only surface rust. Once this was confirmed, the trailer was off to my friendly neighborhood welding specialist at Horvath Hot Rods just down the road in Spanish Fork. Joe and I worked together to determine the side height, tail gate configuration and rack design.

I also ordered my ARB Roof Top Tent and Annex from Cruiser Outfitters around this time. While Roof Top Tents are generally meant to mount to the roof of a 4×4 vehicle, they work well mounted to trailers too. An added bonus with mounting it on a trailer is that you can also unhook the trailer to drive around without needing to pack up the tent. Roof Top Tents contain a thick foam padded mattress and get you up off the ground away from dirt and critters. They set up by unfolding and take about 10 minutes to get completely set up. Putting them away is about the same. The rack system we designed for the trailer allows the tent to deployed at about about 4 1/2 feet tall with the rack lowered or at 6′ 2″ with it raised. Raising the tent also allow the Annex to be attached which provides a large area for changing, getting things out of the weather or extra sleeping space.

After about a week, the trailer was nearly ready, just in time for a camping trip over Independence Day weekend. The trailer at this point lacked a few features before I could call it complete, but was ready to be used for a simple camp ground camping trip.

The trailer worked great on the trip, hauling everything we needed for the long weekend and providing a comfortable sleeping area.

Once back home, I was finally able to find some fenders which had proven hard to source. I took the trailer back in to Joe Horvath and he mounted the fenders, built in some steps for the fenders, moved the spare tire to one side, built a Cooler rack and moved the propane carrier. I also added an ARB awning to add some shade.

Then we were off to Montana for a week of camping. Again, the trailer proved to be a great place to sleep. I’ve added some LED lights from Ikea that provide a ton of light in the tent and as soon as I solve some issues with the switch will get the wiring affixed more permanently. Once I have that and a few more things buttoned up, we’ll store the trailer in the garage, loaded up with our camping gear, some food, water, etc. so we can be off and camping in minutes, providing a larger scale 96 hour + kit for the whole family.

Below are some pictures of the build process. Please let me know what you think.

6 Replies to “Bug out/Camping/Utility Trailer”

  1. I probably wont build one for you :) but I could help by giving you detailed information about what I did and what I might do differently were I to start all over again.

  2. This is a unique idea, but we probably wouldn’t go to that much work (we’re lazy). We do, however, throw a futon mattress in the back of our truck (with a topper), have all of our camping gear in one large tub – not counting the stove and a 25 gallon water container – and we’re off. I like your tent though.

  3. Looks like an awesome project- and an awesome amount of work! Would you say this was cheaper than buying a used pop-up or tent trailer?

    The advantage is in the customization. Any pics of the inside?

    Greta job, thanks for sharing.

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