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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The weather is getting warmer here in the mid west and Ive got summer on the brain... I cant wait to get outside (more) and start enjoying those long summer nights. I enjoy camping but unfortunately I havent been as much as I wouldve liked to in recent years. All winter my fiance and I have been telling each other that this is going to be the summer that we just get out there and do it.

I really love the idea of roof top tents (RTT), and nearly everyone that I've come across that has one would highly recommend them. I was planning for most of the winter to get a roof rack and throw a RTT on it, but lately my opinions have been changing on that. Roof racks are pretty expensive, and would prohibit me from fitting in my garage (a big con for me).

The latest idea is to make my own camping trailer and put a RTT on it instead of my Jeep. Based on my rough calculations, I can build this entire trailer and add a basic RTT for less than (or close to) the cost of a Gobi Stealth roof rack alone. I am an engineer and spend all day modeling things in CAD, so I always try to make my projects on the computer before actually buying / cutting anything.

This trailer will be start off as a Harbor Freight 4 x 8 trailer, but I've found some articles online that show an alternative assembly of the included components to make a reinforced 4' x 4' trailer instead. This will be my base. For starters, I will keep the included 5.3 x 12" wheels, but ultimately I want to upgrade to larger wheels and off road tires. From what I understand, this trailer has the same bolt pattern as TJ's (5x4.5) so finding wheels/tires shouldnt be too hard.

I've spent a long time researching designs online for what a trailer should look like / include, but to be honest I havent come across anything yet that I was happy with. I want my design to be simple, maximize utility, and allow me to easily access all of my stuff inside. Ive come up with the following so far... Most dimensions are optimized to get the most use out of 4x8 sheets of plywood - I plan on using oak veneer.

When closed up, you have a 4'x4'x2' tall box. There will be some form of roof rack on top (not designed yet) for the RTT to attach to. Additionally, there will be a traditional trailer tongue box mounted on the tongue of the trailer (also not shown) - not sure if I will make or buy this yet. On the rear of the trailer you can see a door cutout.

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Next you will see I've made the "roof" or lid of the trailer transparent so you can see the support structure I've built into the box such that the lid will be able to support a RTT with two occupants.

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Having a rear flip down door is simple enough, but it would be a real bother to reach way into the dark trailer to try and get everything out. My solution: make a giant pullout drawer. Obviously this would require a pretty intricate support system due to its weight, but I've come up with something I think will work. Im not going to explain it here just yet - I need to figure out the best way to describe it. Bear with me and lets just presume it will slide out nearly its whole length (42"). Opening the rear door will allow you to reach in and pull out the drawer.

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Once out, it will need some kind of legs to hold its weight. I havent gotten this completely nailed down yet, but there are lots of options. I figured it would be really handy to have some built in counter space to cook/work/eat on instead of bringing along multiple camp tables. My solution for counter space is to have hinged wood panels that when stowed will lay flat against the drawer sides, but then will flip up (again, support needed) and act as light duty counters on each side of the drawer.

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I estimate this will require 3 sheets of plywood (~$50 ea) plus the trailer (~$300 with 20% off coupon). Of course there will be lots of miscellaneous costs with hardware and such, but I am pretty happy with the utility I should be able to get out of this trailer for the estimated cost.

The drawer dimensions are about 38" wide, 42" long, and 18" tall - which is enough to clear most large coolers.

What do you think? Recommendations? Anyone have a roof top tent and any recommendations about them? What are the most important things you take with you camping?
 

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What are you using for slides for the drawer?

Most important camping supply? ALCOHOL !!

Lots of choices for an RTC on the trailer but most are pricey.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I've found some heavy duty drawer slides for firetrucks and big tool boxes, but they're a bit expensive. They're rated for up to 500 lbs, so they would definitely work. I'm toying with a few diy ideas first though...

From what I've found, roof top tents start around the $700 range. If I decide to not go that route, I can still use this trailer just as well to haul around a regular tent and sleeping bags
 

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We've been very happy with our trailer. I converted a 1988 packmule into an expedition trailer, 4" lift, slide-out floor, fridge, solar, 16 gallon water tank and pump, same tires and wheels as the jeep, etc. After sleeping up off the ground and with the "sky" roof I would never go back to sleeping on the ground. It is also awesome to drop the trailer and then go wheelin' without having to break the tent down etc. Trailer holds everything, stove, food, shower tent, etc. definitely easier to take the woman if the comforts are included.

Downsides are prolly not going to do serious rocks with it and your mobility is a bit limited on some trails with serious switchbacks, etc. Again for us, on those trails I base camp it and just wheel the jeep.



deployed at the site
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
We've been very happy with our trailer. I converted a 1988 packmule into an expedition trailer, 4" lift, slide-out floor, fridge, solar, 16 gallon water tank and pump, same tires and wheels as the jeep, etc. After sleeping up off the ground and with the "sky" roof I would never go back to sleeping on the ground. It is also awesome to drop the trailer and then go wheelin' without having to break the tent down etc. Trailer holds everything, stove, food, shower tent, etc. definitely easier to take the woman if the comforts are included.

Downsides are prolly not going to do serious rocks with it and your mobility is a bit limited on some trails with serious switchbacks, etc. Again for us, on those trails I base camp it and just wheel the jeep.



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Awesome trailer! I think I found your build on Expedition Portal... Ill have to comb through that later. What brand is your RTT? Pros/cons/recommendations?

Thanks!
 

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Awesome trailer! I think I found your build on Expedition Portal... Ill have to comb through that later. What brand is your RTT? Pros/cons/recommendations?

Thanks!
Thanks! yes the build is on the expedition portal, please let me know if you have any questions, I'll be happy to help where I can. The tent is a Tepui Kukenam Sky model. It has been great and the folks at Tepui are good people to work with. Their site is Tepui Tents

It helps they are semi-local to me in Santa Cruz so I can drive down and pick stuff up.
 

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re: " I am an engineer and spend all day modeling things in CAD, so I always try to make my projects on the computer before actually buying / cutting anything. "

ah yes.....'measure twice--cut once'....."I've already cut it twice & it's STILL too short!!!"

Love this kind of project. Somewhere along the line reality sets in & tools/skills/$/focus/lack of adequate planning sets in & spoils the fun!....but that's *ME* and *MY* problem, not YOURS.

Good luck!
 

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Instead of adding more weight to the slide out drawer why not have one counter hinged along the outside of the trailer. Whichever side you aren't using for the RTT could have one larger counter instead of two smaller ones along the drawer.
 

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A bit off topic but here was how they did it in the 1970s. Saw one of these in Alberta. It uses a tag axle under the rear overhang.

And this is on an 83" CJ5 .
.
 

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I saw one of those mounted on an old VW bug once....it was for sale, parked in the same spot for over 6 months.

I don't think I'd want such design on my JK....maybe a JKU or J8 etc.
 

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Looks like the Kamp King Koaches I see on the C10 forum.

 

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I like the set-up BoarderMX has, rooftop tent on trailer, hauls lots of stuff and sleep off the ground. Plus you can keep everything in the trailer ready to go. One word of caution, I was researching trailers to build a teardrop and read in a couple threads to stay away from the Harbor freight trailers, something about being bolted together and the bolts coming loose. Good luck with the build.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
ah yes.....'measure twice--cut once'....."I've already cut it twice & it's STILL too short!!!"

Love this kind of project. Somewhere along the line reality sets in & tools/skills/$/focus/lack of adequate planning sets in & spoils the fun!....but that's *ME* and *MY* problem, not YOURS.

Good luck!

"Cut it twice and its still too short!" :lmao: been there done that! And I know the feeling.... A lot of my projects end up the way you described unfortunately. The hope is that this one might actually get finished :)

Instead of adding more weight to the slide out drawer why not have one counter hinged along the outside of the trailer. Whichever side you aren't using for the RTT could have one larger counter instead of two smaller ones along the drawer.
Good idea! The fender might force it to be a little smaller, but still a very good and easy to implement idea.

I like the set-up BoarderMX has, rooftop tent on trailer, hauls lots of stuff and sleep off the ground. Plus you can keep everything in the trailer ready to go. One word of caution, I was researching trailers to build a teardrop and read in a couple threads to stay away from the Harbor freight trailers, something about being bolted together and the bolts coming loose. Good luck with the build.
I've read about this as well. Fortunately I have a welder and plan on welding the whole thing up once I have it the way I want it. Part of the plan with starting with the 4x8 is that I will use the extra members to reinforce the 4x4 frame. Ill try and find the link that showed how they did it

Looks like the Kamp King Koaches I see on the C10 forum.

This is sweet!
 

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Good idea! The fender might force it to be a little smaller, but still a very good and easy to implement idea.
I actually thought about that and if you make it stick up past the top of the platform it would still be a good size. I originally thought it would look silly sticking up like that, but if you look at BoarderMX's trailer his tent is on top of the trailer as well. You could just cut the counter to be even with the top of the closed RTT.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I actually thought about that and if you make it stick up past the top of the platform it would still be a good size. I originally thought it would look silly sticking up like that, but if you look at BoarderMX's trailer his tent is on top of the trailer as well. You could just cut the counter to be even with the top of the closed RTT.
Yup! Good idea! Thanks everyone :beerdrinking:
 
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