Bill’s Custom Welding offers high-quality welding and custom fabrication services for residential, commercial, and industrial clients in our shop and through mobile services.
"Why a Boondock Camper?"
Because you're an Ansel Adams kind of adventurer. You're one of the mad ones, as Jack Kerouac would say, and won't be constrained by Interstates, KOA's, gas stations or toll roads. Because you want just enough - a soft bed, a hot stove, and a roll of paper towels at hand.
And - let's admit it - you're sexy, and your camper should be, too.
We fit a unique niche. Firstly, all our campers are optimized for "boondocking." That's a colloquialism for dry camping, anywhere from the beachside to the urban jungle. We build rugged campers somewhere between hardcore overlanders and timid interstate coaches. Secondly, we specialize in finish-it-yourself campers. Some are "Sandboxes," left empty inside for you to finish out as you please. Others are dressed to the nines, with everything finished but the curtains and cup holders. Get a quote by filling out the
Most importantly, we're in love with the scent of a Ponderosa pine grove and the flames of a Gulf Coast sunset. And there's no better way to get there than a Boondock Camper.
"Which Camper Should I Choose?"
Boondock Campers specializes in two sorts of campers:
- Teardrop trailers, a classic combination of bed and galley. At 5x9x4-ft (WxLxH), it's the perfect size and weight for most vehicles.
- Caravan campers, lightweight and stylish conventional travel trailers, sized at 6-8x12-x6-8 (WxLxH). All the functionality of a Teardrop plus storage space and elbow room.
Boondock Campers encourages its customers to mix n' match feature packages to fit their visions and their budgets. A few features, such as windows, are offered a la carte. See the for more information. Or click the button below. The brochure will guide you through all the sizes, styles and options offered by Boondock Campers.
Functionality Is King
We focus on best value with an emphasis on off-grid, off-road performance. We believe you should pay for what you use. Don't need a fancy-schmancy kitchen galley? Don't order it. And one of the distinguishing characteristics of a Boondock Camper is an affordable ownership experience. That means your camper should be easily maintained without specialized tooling or skills.
Put Your Best Foot Forward
Boondock Campers are protected by a unique, rugged exterior: Monstaliner. It's a 2k UV-permanent bedliner coating with an attractive, subtle orange peel texture. It's available in dozens of delicious colors and offers extreme durability and style.
Note: Formerly, Boondock Campers used aluminum sheet metal in mill finish, painted, diamond plate and anodized finishes. This exterior, except by special request, has been phased out in favor of the superior Monstaliner coating.
Trail-Ready Trailer & Frame
We put a lot of money into the trailer: all-aluminum frame construction, lifetime LED waterpoof lighting, Timbren Axle-Less suspension, Fulton jacks and couplers, etc. All Boondock Campers are designed for strenuous cross-country travel up to light/moderate 4WD roads. Further 4WD upgrade packages are available, including 4-inch lifted suspensions, 225/75-R15 tires on aluminum alloy rims and the Lock n' Roll 3-axis coupler.
High-capacity Fan-Tastic fans prevent condensation and keep you comfortable during sweltering afternoons. Boondock Campers also offers built-in air conditioners. All campers feature fully insulated superstructures for maximum thermal and acoustic privacy. You are welcome to add as many doors, windows and skylights as you can squeeze in!
Design Your Space
Cosmetic options include choosing your favorite exterior colors, wall paneling, cabinet doors, flooring, framing finish, and headliner hue. Functionality may be king, but we're not averse to spending a little extra on recessed LED ceiling lights or baby moon chrome hub caps. If you have a particular artistic vision in mind, we encourage you to purchase a Sandbox model and unleash your creative powers!
Camp Where, When You Want
As our name suggests, we're big fans of boondocking. That's the art of camping just about anywhere: parking lots, lake shores, rest areas, etc. Therefore, all Boondock Campers are designed primarily for “dry camping.” We have a big bag of tricks: Whale hand pumps, the award-winning Timbren Axle-Less suspension, Renogy solar panels, low-power LED lighting, etc. Because you may be well off the beaten path, we only trust brand-name suppliers like SPAX, Geocel, Roseburg, EternaBond, Marinco, American Pacific, NOCO and Fulton. Most of our suppliers design and/or build their products right here in America.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Here at Boondock Campers, we believe that your environmental footprint ought to be as small as your camper. We recycle shipping and packaging materials, partner with charity:water through Amazon Smile, purchase sustainably-sourced natural materials, and avoid toxic chemicals where possible. We also support local artists by including artwork with many campers.
An Ozark gift boutique taking local art to the next level. All products - handmade signs, keyhooks, soaps, wine bottle stoppers, jewelery, etc. - are made right here in the Ozarks.
Roch Herrick offers turnkey solutions as a digital animator and effects artist. He uses Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to design elegant logos along with print and web graphics.
If we have anything built and ready for sale - be it a prototype or a demo model - it will be listed for sale here. Otherwise, assume we're working on custom orders.
What's On Sale?
How much does a teardrop camper cost?
Whether you have $3,000 or $12,000, we'll work with you to provide your dream camper. Price ranges shown are applicable to most Sleeper and Teardrop campers. Caravan campers tend to cost about 20% more.
A Small Philosophy Note: We live in a society where there is often no perceived floor or ceiling to price. Want a bottle of wine? Spend $2 on a bottle of Charles Shaw, or spend $1,850 on a bottle of California Screaming Eagle. How about a T-shirt? Spend $3 on a clearance item at Wal-Mart, or spend $700 on a white cotton shirt from Christian Dior.
In the same way, some customers have a difficult time understanding why a small camper costs thousands of dollars, especially when Internet click-bait articles advertise stories of backyard wizards who cobble together homemade campers for $500. Such customers may not know that the Lock n' Roll coupler, recommended for all hardcore 4WD campers, costs $300 alone! Or that a USA-made Lifeline 100-amp/hour battery costs $300 as well! Do not be deceived; decent campers cannot be built for anything less than thousands of dollars just costs of materials. On the other hand, some customers may have researched teardrop manufacturers that sell $300 fiberglass vintage replica fenders and $800 handmade entry doors. You won't find those features here. We're a simpler folk; we prefer to put money towards features that increase functionality or durability.
Unbelievable Bargain: 2k- 5k
That's right - campers start as affordable as $2,000!* These super-affordable campers usually fall into two categories: They are smaller, simpler affairs, maybe with no rear galley or no electrical system, or they are "Sandbox" models. That's Boondock Campers-speak for shell models, left empty inside for you to finish out as you please. But even at this price point, we (usually) still invite you to choose your favorite colors and styles.
Please note: A Boondock Camper WILL cost more than some "Most Affordable!" camper brands because Boondock Campers are designed for rougher road conditions and regular use.
*Just FYI: Most "finished campers" will start at $3,500. Campers less than $3,500 will usually be Sandbox models, and may require additional finishing or feature installation by the customer.
Best Value: 5k - 8k
This is the Goldilocks range, that sweet spot where you can often get everything you really wanted: two doors, a rear galley, oodles of cabinetry, 12v DC/120v AC electricity, etc. You can splurge on a 10- or 12-foot model or an extra-tall 5-ft model with bigger doors (SuperSIZE pkg). You might even have money left over for a rain-sensing fan or an oversized stainless steel kitchen sink with hand pump faucet (Glamping pkg). And you're eligible for advanced structural packages like the 4WD-optimized Adventure package or the Ultralight package.
Awesome Features: 8k - 12k
Rooftop cargo racks. Aluminum tongue boxes. CD/DVD/XM/FM/AM/Bluetooth entertainment systems. Waterproof high-density polyethylene cabinetry. The offroad-optimized Overlander package. A fully insulated cabin for extreme camping. Goal Zero portable solar panel chargers. If you're salivating over some of those options, this is the price range for you.
No Limits: 12k+
Remember all those features in the previous paragraph? Well, at this price point, you can get just about of all them - and then some.
The fastest way to get an estimate for your camper is to e-mail a completed Customer Needs Questionnaire to firstname.lastname@example.org. You'll receive an itemized quote, showing features and associated costs, usually within 24 hours.
How do I order/purchase a camper?
You may either purchase a semi-custom- or a pre-made camper, if available.
Instructions for Display/Prototype Models
Display or prototype models are sold first-come, first-reserved, just like a car dealership. You may purchase a camper using credit/debit card through an eBay Motors auction, through cash or personal/cashier's check, or through a verified PayPal account. At present, Boondock Campers does not offer in-house financing. Once full payment has been received, you and an agent of Boondock Campers LLC will sign paperwork, and away you go! You are protected by a point-of-sale money-back guarantee. If it's not what you expected, don't buy it.
Instructions for Custom Models
Want a model built for you? Any semi-custom model can be ordered with a 50% down deposit. Please fill out the Customer Needs Questionnaire and e-mail it to email@example.com for a quote. We'll talk back and forth until the quote is the way you want it. You will be provided with an Original Options list, which lists the major structural features available for your camper; a Camper Style Guide, which allows you to personalize the exterior appearance and interior styles; and a Ready2Roll brochure, which lists popular teardrop accessories such as electrical adaptors, folding cup holders, portable generators, etc.
Paperwork for All Models
- Sales Quote. This document shows your personal contact information and an itemized list of all your camper features, quantities and prices. It doubles as a Bill of Sale.
- As of 8/22/2017, Boondock Campers is in the process of registering with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and all other applicable regulatory agencies in order to issue a Manufacturer's Certificate of Origin (MCO), complete with VIN, with every camper. Until that process is completed, campers are sold with no VIN, title or MSO. You will be fullyl responsible for working with your local DMV to get a VIN, title and registration. This is because homemade trailers in the state of Utah have up to a 90-day wait just to receive a VIN.
- Assumption of Risk. You will be asked to sign a document stating your understanding that towing any trailer or camper is an inherently risky activity and that you accept full responsibility for this risk. This waiver does not absolve Boondock Campers of any promises of "merchantability" or the presence of "dangerous defects," the effects from which you are protected by law.
- Owner's Manual. At 13 pages and growing, the Owner's Manual provides valuable information about the care and servicing of your investment along with company information, maintenance schedule, safety advice, traveling tips, etc.
We encourage you to remain a part of the Boondock family and share your adventures!
Boondock Campers does not provide legal advice or opinions, and nothing on this website is to be acted upon as such. Please consult a professional attorney for all legal matters.
Do you deliver?
Delivery is free within 30 miles of Cedar City, Utah. Additional miles are regularly $0.70/mile up to 500 miles and $0.50/mile every mile thereafter. Prices may fluctuate. Contact us for shipping estimates and special circumstances.
What will I need to tow it?
Exact towing instructions vary depending on your camper and tow vehicle, but here are some general rules to live by:
A Brief Summary of Towing Components.
Most of the campers can be towed using a Class I towing hitch with a towing capacity of 2,000 pounds. Caravan models may require a Class II hitch with a towing capacity of 3,500 pounds. The size of the hitch receiver opening (1-1/4-inch or 2-inch) does not matter in most cases. A hitch can usually be installed by an auto mechanic, RV technician or truck n' trailer service for $350 - $650.
Attached to your hitch receiver is a ball mount. Ball mounts are commonly available in straight, drop and rise configurations to help keep the camper level while towing. If, for instance, you drive an F-250 pickup truck, you may need a "drop" ball mount. If you tow with a Toyota Camry, you might need a "rise" ball mount. The ball mount is secured to the hitch receiver using a hitch pull pin.
A trailer ball is usually screwed into the ball mount. It is the point of connection between the tow vehicle and the camper. Trailer balls are sold in 1-7/8-inch, 2-in, and 2-1/8-inch sizes. Most Boondock Campers require a 2-inch ball, except for those with Lock n' Roll couplers.
The ball mount assembly, described above, allows your vehicle to tow the camper. However, the tow vehicle also powers the DOT-required stop/turn/tail and clearance lights on your trailer through a vehicle-to-trailer wiring socket. Unless you are skilled in the legerdemain of electricity, you will need to have a mechanic or auto technician properly install this component along with the hitch! Your camper wiring harness will plug into this socket using a 4-way flat (no brakes) or 7-way round (with brakes and/or battery charging) wiring connector. Adapters are available so that you can tow a Boondock Camper regardless of what electrical tow package you have installed.
While not affiliated with Curt Manufacturing, Boondock Campers finds them to be a high-quality supplier and an excellent resource for information on towing. Visit this link to learn the ABC's of towing: Understanding Towing.
When picking up your camper, you are responsible for prior purchase and installation of the following items:
- Hitch pin.
- Ball mount.
- Trailer Ball.
- Trailer Wiring & Socket Assembly.
If your vehicle doesn't have a hitch installed, refer to your vehicle user manual for the proper size, style and installation of a towing hitch. Small passenger cars may have a maximum allowable towing limit of 1,000 pounds. Good news! You can still tow many Boondock Campers with an approved towing system.
How long does it take to build one?
Most campers are hand-built to order. Allow a minimum of 6-12 weeks until your camper is ready for pickup or delivery. Allow 12-20 weeks for more complex builds. This gives Boondock Campers times to source custom components, design and assemble your camper, take care of all paperwork, and have the camper spic n' span for your arrival! Completion dates are estimates and may change without warning.
Are the campers warrantied?
Yes. And we don't make you fill out a dinky registration card or anything like that. Every camper comes with a 2-year workmanship and materials warranty. That means that if you discover a problem with the camper chassis, shell or cabinetry, it's on us. We'll fix it. We want to fix it.
Most third-party appliances, such as fans, refrigerators, battery chargers, etc., carry their own warranties. We're happy to help you obtain replacements if the need arises.
At Boondock Campers, we take our job pretty seriously. But we're not arrogant enough to think that we'll always be perfect. In the event that a mistake is made, we look forward to the opportunity to set things right.
Can I camp with kids?
Yes! You have several options. You can purchase a SuperSIZE Minikin or Sidewinder with interior bunk beds, or purchase your preferred model with an oh-so-cozy foam mattress, and let younger, softer bones sleep in a tent. You can also purchase a Boondock Campers Caravan camper, which is much larger than a teardrop and has stand-up room, enough space for a convertible dinette/Queen bed. Lastly, you can purchase a rooftop tent (not supplied by Boondock Campers), which keeps everyone off the ground, warm, and private.
Besides, most teenagers wouldn't mind some privacy, would they?
Does it come with a bed?
Have you read the Ready2Roll brochure? We're happy to source custom-cut, high-quality foam mattresses complete with waterproof encasement, bed sheets, etc. These mattresses are cut to the specific size and thickness as desired by the customer.
- A 4-ft wide camper will accommodate a Twin XL or a custom-cut 46-inch mattress.
- A 5-ft wide camper will accommodate a Full or a custom-cut 58-inch mattress.
- A 6-ft wide camper will accommodate a Queen or a custom-cut 70-inch mattress.
- A 6-ft-8-inch wide camper will accommodate a King mattress.
Note: These are estimates ONLY. Extenuating circumstances and certain design packages, such as the Ultralight or Xtreme design packages, may reduce or increase the space available for bedding.
Boondock Campers is also happy to work with its customers to source and install the best bed for their bodies. There are no shortage of options. If you want to do some research, download the PDF spreadsheet below:
People often ask, "How do I get a bed inside?" All of the mattress types listed on the above PDF sheet can be inserted and unrolled inside a completed camper. Some campers may be able to accommodate traditional spring mattresses, but they are not generally recommended.
How do I use the electrical system[s]?
You may order your camper equipped with a wide variety of electrical packages. They are split into two categories.
12-Volt DC Electrical System
A 12-volt DC electrical system powers all 12-volt fixtures: powered roof fans, ceiling lights, 12-volt "cigarette lighter" and USB receptacles, 12-volt television, etc. The 12-volt system is powered by an onboard AGM battery, which is charged using an onboard 3-stage battery charger/maintainer. Depending on the size of battery you choose and how much power you draw, you could have enough power to camp off-grid for up to 12 days!
An inverter allows you to convert 12-volt DC electrical power to 110-volt AC electrical power to charge small appliances such as computers, 110-volt televisions, etc.
120-Volt AC Electrical System
A 120-volt AC system is powered only when plugged into "shore power," such as at a campground or home. It powers all 120-volt fixtures: household outlets, air conditioners, large kitchen appliances, etc. All 120-volt AC power systems come with UL-listed circuit breakers, load centers, and GFCI-outlets to protect you and your family from electrical shock. See the Owner's Manual for further information.
Generating Your Own Power
Here's something you must understand: Large appliances, such as air conditioners, refrigerators, heating appliances, etc., require LOTS of power. It is very difficult and expensive to run large appliances using battery power only! If you intend to camp off-grid for lengthy periods of time, it is advised you invest in an inverter generator or solar power charging system. See the Ready2Roll brochure for suggested aftermarket purchases.
Luckily, all the items and options mentioned above are available from Boondock Campers! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, or read the Ready2Roll Brochure for information on electrical accessories.
How do I stay warm?
Body heat, of course! *wink*
Well, that's not exactly a joke. Because a camper is so small, most campers never use a heater. However, if you camp in cold weather or hail from Florida, you might want one of these:
- Propane catalytic heater. These nifty flameless heaters burn gas to provide predictable heat. Many are certified for indoor use but still recommend/require ventilation. You'll won't need to run one the entire night. Very affordable and portable - but you must provide adequate ventilation! Always follow the manufacturer's recommendation.
- 12-volt heating blanket. A favorite of truck drivers, 12-volt heating blankets can be operated off battery power and keep you toasty as soon as you hop inside.
- Hot water bottles. A popular DIY camping hack and throwback to the days of hot coal bed warmers, hot water bottles are easy to use. Warm water on a camp stove or fire, fill up 3-5 water bottles, and toss them in a sleeping bag.
- Ceramic heater. These affordable resistance heaters usually come with a fan and generate plenty of heat, but drain battery power quickly.
Boondock Campers is not affiliated with any of the products mentioned herein and provides them only as examples.
How do I store food?
S'mores, hamburgers, grilled corn, flapjacks – what would camping be without its culinary delights? Unfortunately, bacteria enjoy food as much as humans do, and most bacteria thrive in the "Danger Zone" – 40 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, which is coincidentally the same temperature range in which most humans camp. So the trick, you see, is to keep perishable food cold. But how?
Lug Along an Ice Chest
Time to dust off the ol' trusty Igloo or Coleman cooler. Ice chests are the mainstays of American camping: lightweight, spacious and portable. New and used hardshell models can be found for under $50. More expensive brand name coolers, like Yeti and Frigid, can keep your food cold for up to two weeks! Some can even survive a bear attack.
And before you turn up your nose at the idea of draining a wet, smelly cooler, consider this: If you use frozen gel packs and store all your ice in waterproof bags, you'll never deal with a slimy, watery mess. Best of all, coolers require no power source, perfect for boondocking on the cheap.
Here's a hint: Don't crush your ice. Buy ice blocks if you can find them. Put ice at the top of the cooler, not the bottom. And don't leave your camper in direct sunlight; instead, swaddle the cooler with a light-colored towel or blanket.
Tote Along a Thermoelectric Chiller
Thermoelectric chillers are wonderful inventions, but let's set the record straight: They're not refrigerators. A household-type refrigerator or freezer, which operates on a vapor-compression thermodynamic cycle, maintains its internal temperature at less than 40 degrees if a fridge, less than 32 degrees if a freezer.
In comparison, a thermoelectric chiller can only cool its contents relative to the ambient temperature. Manufacturers usually advertise differences of 40 degrees Fahrenheit, but that's a best case scenario. Most chillers will take 6-12 hours to reach their maximum temperature difference. How does that play out in the real world? If you're camping in a broiling 90 degree day, your "chilled" food will be 70-50 degrees – not cold enough to severely retard the growth of bacteria. Think of it this way: Thermoelectric chillers are good at keeping food cold, not making it cold.
Despite their limitations, truckers and travelers have been using thermoelectric chillers from companies like Coleman and Roadpro for years. Why? Because they are cheap, durable, portable – and can run off 12-volt power! That means that you can plug your fridge into your car while driving. If you only plan to travel overnights and weekends, a thermoelectric cooler might just do the job.
One neat trick, used by hardcore campers, is to toss some frozen gel packs in your thermoelectric cooler at the start of the trip. It's like a steroid shot for coldness.
Trust the Old Standby: a Household AC-Powered Mini Fridge
Remember your college days and your trusty dorm fridge? Yes, that's the one! There's a catch, though: A standard dorm or kitchen fridge won't run off 12- or 24-volt DC power.
Thankfully, there's this little magical machine called an inverter which can "invert" electricity from 12-volt DC to 110-volt AC power. Neat, huh?
But, there's another catch: Nothing's free. When power is inverted, a portion of it transforms into waste heat. So while you could attach an inverter to your 12-volt battery and run a standard vapor-compression fridge, you will drain your battery very quickly. And by quickly, we mean a couple of hours at most.
Oh, and another catch (they just keep coming, don't they?). Inverters are rated by their wattage capacity, which measures how much power they can output at one time. Most inverters have two ratings: A peak wattage (like how much a bodybuilder could lift) and a continuous wattage (like how far a marathoner could run). Vapor-compression fridges require a gigundous amount of power at start up, often three times the running power. So you'll need a beefy inverter to power a fridge, from 1,000 to 3,000 peak wattage, and that makes the process even less efficient.
So with all the disadvantages, why would you consider this method?
Well, if you often camp at developed campgrounds with "shore power," then you can plug your camper's 110-volt AC system into campsite power, and then plug your fridge into a standard 110-volt outlet, just like home. You'll only need to use an inverter while traveling long distances on the road.
Another alternative power source is a gas-powered generator. No, not the noisy one your neighbor runs at 7:00 a.m. to powerwash his sidewalk. Inverter generators, which can vary their engine speed in proportion with the electrical load, are quiet, efficient, and portable. See the Ready2Roll brochure for more details on selected models. However, inverter generators cannot be run indoors, and they cannot be used while traveling.
You'll need a big battery pack to run a vapor-compression refrigerator. The typical recommended minimum is 600 amp-hours. That means almost 400 pounds of batteries! And it would still only power a dorm fridge for a few days at most. So, as you can imagine, we don't recommend this option at Boondock Campers. If you choose this method, you'll need to order a Sandbox model, and outfit it to properly store your Brobdingnagian battery bank.
Go Off the Grid with a 3-Way/2-Way Propane-Powered Fridge
For off-the-grid food storage, you can't do better than a 3-way or 2-way RV refrigerator. 3-way refrigerators run off propane, AC and DC power; 2-way fridges run off propane and AC power. In both cases, propane is considered the dominant power source, and the electrical options are mere back-ups.
Propane-powered RV refrigerators run on a different thermodynamic cycle than household vapor-compression refrigerator. A small flame is used to heat a sealed working fluid of ammonia and – well, let's skip the details, shall we? Just known that they're known as absorption refrigerators.
Propane-powered refrigerators are extremely efficient. Small propane-powered refrigerators can run for weeks, even more than a month, off a single 20-lb tank of propane. However, they are not as efficient at using electrical power, which should be avoided when boondocking. Otherwise, they are noiseless, durable, and available in a variety of sizes. They're a great dry camping solution ...
... with one word of warning, however. Unlike an electrically-powered fridge, a propane-powered fridge should NOT be operated while driving down the road! This is a safety hazard and may be illegal in some states or in some driving conditions. Therefore, while suitable for some people, propane fridges aren't the best idea for everyone.
Invest in a 12-Volt Compact Fridge/Freezer
12-volt fridge/freezers lend an all new meaning to the word "sticker shock." Be prepared to spend $500 to $1,200 for a high-quality model.
But if you can get over their upfront cost, 12-volt refrigerators are the superheroes of food storage. They are brute-solid, featherweight, and capable of keeping your ice cream bars safe for weeks on end. A few clever manufacturers, such as Koolatron, ARB and Engel, sell 12-volt refrigerators that draw less than one amp per hour while cooling! These name-brand models are lifetime investments. They're easy on your batteries, if not on your wallet.
But a word of warning: While an ice chest can be left inside a closed, insulated space, DO NOT do the same with a refrigerator, freezer or electric chiller! It will heat the enclosure and become useless.
There is no perfect food storage solution. In general, Boondock Campers would recommend taking one of two paths. Either purchase a heavy-duty conventional cooler and bring along lots of ice, or bit the financial bullet, and purchase a 12-volt fridge/freezer. All standard cabinetry is designed to fit major models of both coolers and fridge/freezers. Some models can accommodate units up to 54 quarts capacity!
Is my vehicle large enough to tow it?
Let's put it like this: Any vehicle can tow a Boondock Camper, but a vehicle cannot tow any Boondock Camper.
Small, Ultra Lightweight teardrop campers may weigh as little as 400 pounds. They can be towed, within reason, by vehicles as small as a roadster!
Large caravan campers, with room to stand up and an included kitchenette, dinette and bathroom, may weigh up to 3,000 pounds, on the other hand.
A typical teardrop camper will weigh about 800-1300 pounds curb weight. Please refer to the Owner's Manual of your tow vehicle to see if you should operate a camper of a similar weight without trailer brakes. Boondock Campers can install electric trailer brakes, if necessary, on almost any camper.
How about air conditioning?
There's an old saying from the South: “The weather will be 'close' today.” It means that the humidity will rival the temperature. Just imagine 90 degrees Fahrenheit and 90 degrees humidity. You may wind up camping in such weather, and your camper makes a fine oven when left outside in direct sunlight. How will you cool it down?
Before we talk about the different types of air conditioners, let's start with the basics.
- Air conditioning a camper is expensive, and there is no way around this! That's why most campers make do with a roof fan and a shady place to park.
- (Almost) all air conditioners require 110-volt AC power. The alternative – 12-volt DC air conditioners – routinely cost $3,000 to $5,000. If you have that much money to splurge on cooling, please contact email@example.com. We a bridge we'd like to sell you.
- All vapor-compression air conditioners require LOTS of power. That means either:
- A 2,000-watt gas-powered inverter generator. They usually cost $500 - $1,000 depending on the model. Modern versions are fairly quiet (est. 53-65 db). This is the recommended solution for off-grid use.
- An extremely large battery bank. This option is nearly impossible, and here's why: A 5,000-BTU window A/C rated for 5 AC amps will drain about 50 DC amps. That means that you'll drain a 100-AH battery to half-capacity in just one hour of continuous use. You'll spend several thousand dollars and add several hundred pounds to your camper before your battery bank is large enough to run an air conditioner for a weekend. This option is only possible if you're able to spend the additional hundreds or thousands of dollars for a suitably sized solar panel array to daily recharge your batteries.
- Shorepower. This means plugging into power at a developed campsite or home. This is the recommended option for all on-grid use and is by far the most affordable option.
Now let's launch into the types of air conditioners you may not have heard of.
Also known as “swamp coolers,” evaporative coolers work on the thermodynamic principle of latent energy absorption during phase changes …
… Come back! Okay, no more technical mumbo-jumbo. You ever noticed that the air feels cooler next to rivers? Or waterfalls? Or cold showers? That's why! Evaporative coolers are available as portable, rooftop, and window-mounted units. But let's not dive too deep into the mechanics of evaporative coolers, because:
They don't work well for teardrop campers. This is for two reason: They don't work well in high humidity, and air circulates much too quickly in a micro camper for cool air to remain for long.
The exception to this advice might be if you live in a very hot, very dry climate with access to cool water and a reliable onboard power source, because you'll need to run the cooler consistently. However, for all the limitations mentioned above, evaporative coolers are generally not recommended.
DC-Powered Thermoelectric Coolers
These nifty gadgets, also known as Peltier air conditioners, do an excellent job cooling VERY small spaces. They contain no refrigerant and are extremely lightweight and reliable. Some are 12-volt; some are 24-volt. They cost around $1,000, however, and generate a mere fraction of the power of other air conditioners. They take a long time to cool down a camper, and may also be noisy. Unlike 110-volt vapor-compression air conditioners, thermoelectric air conditioners may conceivably be run off a medium-sized battery bank. However, for all the limitations mentioned above, they are generally not recommended.
Rooftop Air Conditioners
Mainstream RV's are cooled by air conditioners or swamp coolers mounted in a standard 14x14-inch rooftop opening. Teardrop campers are not suited for RV rooftop air conditioners, though, for two reasons.
One: Most teardrop campers roofs are not built to withstand the dynamic loading caused by a rooftop A/C unit. They will sag, crack or break.
Two: Almost all RV rooftop A/C units are vastly oversized for teardrop camper applications. “A little extra power never hurt anybody,” you say. Well – not exactly. Oversized A/C units will cycle too quickly, causing premature wear and tear, frozen evaporator coils and even compressor burnout. Also, excessively large air conditioners may not run long enough to dehumidify the interior of a small camper, causing moisture and condensation on the inside of a camper. For all the limitations mentioned above, they are generally not recommended.
The exception to this advice is for Caravan campers, which may be large enough and strong enough to support a rooftop RV air conditioner.
Window Air Conditioners
If you've browsed Pinterest gaping at teardrop campers, surely you've seen a photograph or two of an adorable teardrop camper with a window unit mounted in the galley bulkhead cabinetry. Beautiful, isn't it?
And expensive. It takes days of work to properly install a window unit inside. And some are installed incorrectly, leading to rotten wood, reduced airflow, frozen coils, overheated air conditioners, exterior leaks and interior condensation.
Yes, it is possible to install a standard or thru-wall window air conditioner in the interior of a teardrop or caravan camper. But Boondock Campers has decided that the excessive costs of labor are not an efficient use of the customer's money. Therefore, window units are only available for installation on select models as a through-wall application. Note that mounting will void the manufacturer's warranty.
ClimateRight Air Conditioners & Heaters
Boondock Campers offers a tried n' true solution from ClimateRight: A portable 2,500, 5,000 or 10,000-BTU r 5000-BTU air conditioner. When in use, these units sit outside your camper. Quick-disconnect hoses duct air to and from your camper, keeping you cool (or warm). When not in use, these units can be stored inside your camper, tow vehicle, or elsewhere.
Operation is easy. You plug in the hoses into your ClimateRight and your camper, set the temperature on the A/C, clamber inside your camper, and enjoy the cool air!
Boondock Campers can install a ClimateRight A/C on vibration isolaters on most trailer tongues, but this voids the manufacturer's warranty, which does not recommend ANY permanent mounting of their A/C units.
What if I'm new to "boondocking"?
Isn't “Boondocking” A Made-Up Word?
What is “boondocking,” after all? Boondocking means “dispersed camping for free in a beautiful and rugged location.” It's also known as dry camping. It's word in limbo between Webster-Miriam and Urban Dictionary – and it means different things to different people. So please review the proper etiquette for off-grid “boondock” camping.
The Unspoken Rules of Boondock Camping, Or How to Avoid Becoming Someone's Facebook Rant:
- Stay in existing campsites and practice Leave No Trace principles. Never leave toilet paper, trash or food. Take only pictures; leave only footprints.
- Don't overstay your welcome. Urban overnight parking is a privilege. Private campgrounds, National Forest dispersed campgrounds, and Long-Term Visitor Areas (LTVA) also have their own stay limits. Follow the proverbial rule of the party: Don't be the first to arrive and the last to leave. If you're parking in a public area, don't bring out the lawn chairs and cook stove.
- Respect other campers' bubbles. Your boondocking neighbor may be an quirky socialite, an outdoorsy family or a paranoid doomsday prepper. Be prepared for a friendly conversation – maybe even shared S'mores – but also be prepared to respect your neighbors' privacy. Yes, that includes pets and noise. Hopefully your guitar sounds better than your generator, but your neighbor may not appreciate sounds from either.
- Offer something in return. If you choose to go hardcore boondocking by requesting permission to park in private parking lots, homes, farms and so forth, have a proposition in your back pocket. Offer your nighttime security surveillance skills. Volunteer to pick up trash, unlock gates for workers, or do a morning's work of weed-pulling.
Boondocking Tip: Where to Park?
Many Wal-Marts across the country offer free overnight parking to valued travelers. The choice is left to the individual store managers, however, and many local ordinances prohibit overnight parking. Visit the Wal-Mart corporate website (http://corporate.walmart.com/frequently-asked-questions#Park_RV) for more information. K-Mart and Camping World are two other big-box stores that often endorse overnight RV parking. Some local supermarkets offer the same privilege. When in doubt, contact the store management beforehand and request permission – else you might receive a late-night visit from local law enforcement!
“Better to ask forgiveness than permission” is not the appropriate etiquette when boondocking in an urban parking lot! Many companies and organizations, such as Elks, Costco, Cracker Barrel, local churches and many casinos have been known to happily extend hospitality to the humble traveler when asked.
Many truck stops, such as Pilot and Flying J, also offer free overnight accommodations for RV travelers. Be aware, however, that not all truckers take kindly to intrusive civilians, and that the constant noise of idling diesel engines may squelch any chances of a good night's sleep.
Often the best boondocking getaways are hidden away on public lands owned by the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service and local counties. Website such as https://freecampsites.net/ specialize in free, primitive campsites on public lands. As a Boondock Camper, you'll have access to out-of-the-way campsites unavailable to larger RV's.
7 Camping Life Hacks
- Forgot your pillow? Fill your sleeping bag stuff sack with extra clothes, or, for an even bigger claim to braggadocio, lay your head on the uppers of your hiking boots. If neither of these options appeal to your sense of cleanliness, try sleeping on your side, or sneakily lay your head on your partner's stomach.
- Take 30 minutes to create your own soda can stove, a DIY cooking stove that cleanly burns denatured alcohol and weighs less than a pencil. Follow the tutorial here: http://www.thesodacanstove.com/cohol-stove/how-to-build.html
- Save hotel shampoo bottles, spice jars, Altoids tins, Tic-Tac boxes, coffee cans, jelly jars, prescription pill canisters and re-purpose them as storage containers for camping chemicals. Wrap a lid in duct tape to make it waterproof.
- If you're a hardcore boondocker, you might need to purify river water. Sure, you could boil it or pour in a few driblets of bleach or drop in an iodine pill, but why not purchase a LifeStraw? It costs about $20 and will filter up to 1,00 liters of water in almost any condition. Best of all, when you purchase a LifeStraw, the manufacturer uses a portion of the funds to donate LifeStraw community institutional purifiers to rural African residents. Buy one here: http://lifestraw.com/products/lifestraw/
- Need somewhere to hang a lantern? Strap a belt around the girth of a tree and use it to hang a lantern. You can also use it to hang wet clothing, shoes and snack food away from creepy-crawlies. Don't try this overnight in bear country.
- Don't just dump cubed ice your food cooler! Before the trip, fill milk cartons most of the way with water and freeze them overnight. Blocks last longer than cubes. If you have to purchase cubed ice, don't smash it, and don't open the bag. Place the unopened bag in a thin dry bag and place the dry bag at the bottom of the cooler. Don't put ice in zipped plastic bags or shopping bags; they will leak.
- According to rave reviews, baby creamy oil with aloe vera makes an astonishingly good mosquito repellent. Others swear by eucalyptus oil or tea tree oil. Here's the bad news: DEET, the active ingredient in most mosquito and insect repellents, is almost useless against ticks. In laboratory tests, the devious parasites have actually swam through pools of DEET and emerged unscathed – and hungry! If you're worried about contracting Lyme disease, coat your clothing with permethrin to kill ticks on contact. As a last resort, bring a guinea fowl. Cluck, cluck.
What about building my own?
Building your own camper can be a wonderful experience! Parents can connect with their kids; tinkerers can learn some new skills; tool junkies get to buy some new toys! Be aware, however, that building a camper isn't like building a shed. Sheds don't hurtle down highways at 70 mph.
Ready to Put Someone's Life In Your Hands?
Think of it like this: Most of us pay hundreds of dollars to a mechanic to fix our cars, even though we could probably figure out the problem on YouTube. So why spend the extra money? Because we might mess up. We might buy the wrong part. We know the mechanic can do it 10x faster. And really, building a teardrop camper, with its electrical system and chassis and plumbing, is no different.
Looking for a Pet Project?
Most hobby builders require several months of sawdust-coated evenings and weekends to complete even the simplest teardrop camper. It is a fantastic way to get some exercise or connect with your spouse, but it is NOT an easy way to save money. A dirty little secret among teardrop builders is the average first-time builder spends anywhere from $2,000 - $5,000 on a simple to moderate camper. Hobbyists do not benefit from the engineering expertise, quality control, tax breaks and expedient manufacturing of a commercial craftsman.
Rules and Regulations
Most importantly, do your due diligence. A teardrop manufacturer must be a jack-of-all-trades and should follow proper procedures for plumbing, wiring, framing, insulation and roofing where possible. Brush up on RVIA and NEC codes and suggestions. As such, many backyard builders incorrectly install electrical components, apply incompatible adhesives, and fail to waterproof entry doors and windows. If you build your own, build slowly and build carefully!
Prepare the Workshop
Are you hoping to save on costs? Calculate carefully. Boondock Campers has worked hard to source its materials from the best suppliers for the most affordable prices - and the cheapest shipping! Do you really want to purchase 5,000 stainless steel screws because it's a "good deal"? Also, do-it-yourself builders may spend several hundreds of dollars investing investing in workshop tools. Don't be discouraged, but run the numbers!
For more information about building your own, visit the Teardrops N' Tiny Trailers forum (www.tnttt.com). Boondock Campers LLC is in no way associated with tnttt.com., but does find it to be an excellent resource.
Do you customize cabinetry?
Standard cabinetry is designed to accommodate most popular camping appliances.
Rear galley stove drawers are sized to accommodate your Camp Chef, Coleman, Partner Steel or Camp Chef stove. The longer the camper, the larger the stove it can accommodate. 12-foot models can even accommodate premium triple-burner propane stoves.
Likewise, rear galley cooler drawers are sized to fit common coolers, chillers and fridge/freezers. You'll find a home for your Coleman 40-quart PowerChill, ARB 50-quart 12-volt fridge/freezer, Coleman 54-Quart Steel-Belted Cooler, and most any other cooler up to 45-55 quarts in capacity.
The cabin cabinetry is designed to accommodate backpacks, clothing, hygiene items and personal electronics. Check out the Ready2Roll brochure for some nifty organizational tools. If desired, you can install storage cabinets at both the foot and front of your bed!
Aftermarket accessories from Bed Bath & Beyond, Rockler, Home Depot, Target, and other retailers allow you to customize your cabinetry organization for your needs. Choose your favorite countertop Lazy Susan, wall-mounted spice rack, roll-out drawers, etc. We'll even give you some hints on how to install and/or adapt these appliances from micro camper use.
We also offer several interior design packages (see the Camper Style Guide) that allow you to choose a wide variety of cabinetry finishes and hardware styles.
But no, we generally don't customize cabinetry. We can't customize cabinetry and still keep our prices reasonable. We find that the aftermarket offers you a superior variety of options for less cost at no significant drop in quality. If you'd like more ideas or direction about customizing your cabinetry yourself, let us know, and we'll help.
What's the history of teardrop and microcampers?
Teardrop campers first came into vogue in the 1930s and 1940s thanks to a 1936 Popular Science / Mechanix Illustrated how-to article. They could be towed by anything, anywhere, by anyone. Small campers saw a resurgence after the subprime mortgage crisis of 2009 and the concurrent rising costs of gasoline.
Boondock Campers vs Mainstream Travel Trailers
- Are more affordable: They cost less upfront, less to maintain, and less to insure.
- Can be taken anywhere: roadside campgrounds, public parking lots, National Park campgrounds and boondocking havens.
- Can be left unattended as a secure "safe" for your valuables. Some Boondock models even have underfloor storage, overhead cabinetry, roof racks and lockable tongue boxes.
- Offer superior weather protection: Every exterior seam on a Boondock Camper is sealed a minimum of 2-3 times against water intrusion!
- Turn heads. Let's be honest, who doesn't love the voluptuous look of a teardrop camper?
Boondock Campers vs Pop-Ups & Tents
- Require virtually no set-up and take-down time.
- Offer instant accessibility. With a pop-up camper, you can't retrieve anything from inside unless you pop it!
- Despite their small size, micro campers offer comparable or superior storage to a pop-up camper because they aren't collapsed after every use.
- Are more weather-tight. Insulated Boondock Campers easily endure freezing nights, blustery days and summer thunderstorms.
- Offer more acoustic and visual privacy and safety, particularly for young children.
- Are more cost-competitive. Whereas tents and pop-ups quickly lose their value, small campers are desirable collectors' items and have lasting popularity. Also, once you factor all the associated costs of tent camping - tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, camp lighting, special kitchenware, cold-weather gear, backpacks, etc. - a Boondock Camper starts to look mighty affordable!
What's the camper R-value?
Boondock Campers engineers its products and backs its decisions with science. Minimum 1-inch thick rigid foam insulation in the roof prevents solar heating and night-time heat loss. Curtain rods with curtains (not standard) prevent radiant heat loss through the windows and entry doors. Climate-conditioned or Ultra Lightweight models may also have 1/2- to 1-inch thick continuous rigid foam insulation in the walls.
Stay tuned for an upcoming video about how to insulate (and how NOT to insulate) a teardrop camper!
Now, some builders claim R-11 insulation. Too good to be true? Such estimates ought to be taken with extreme caution. These campers are usually wrapped in foil radiant insulation, something similar to bubble wrap. Some manufacturers of bubble foil insulation may exploit marketing loopholes to claim wildly inappropriate R-values. Independent testing has shown, in certain instances, that 1/4-inch bubble foil insulation may have an R-value of only one! Boondock Campers only uses bubble foil insulation occasionally under the subfloor, where its primary function is a pest deterrent and weatherproof barrier, and its secondary purpose is insulation. It about halves the conductive heat transfer through the floor.
How much does one weigh?
A conventional 5x8 teardrop camper, such as Caboose or Moxie, will weigh 750-850 pounds unloaded. Smaller models may weigh as little as 400 pounds. Larger teardrop models, such as Nomad, will weigh up to 1,300 pounds. Extra-large "stand-up" models or off-road designs tend to weigh more as well.
Most campers can be ordered with a Featherweight or Ultra Lightweight Package which uses composite floors, walls and roof to reduce weight by about 20-50 percent.
What sort of roads can I drive?
Ah! You've asked a tough one!
First, a little background: At one time, Boondock Campers occasionally resorted to bolted kit trailers sold by retailers such as Harbor Freight and Northern Tool. Experience quickly proved that the quality of the trailer - the suspension, the tires, the wiring, the coupler, the paint - was merely "passable." Cheap steel bearings required extra lubrication; foreign-made parts were not compatible with American aftermarket accessories; couplers froze; red paint turned pink in the sun. Kit trailers were not well suited to unpaved roads and other parts of "boondock camping."
Custom trailers, designed by Boondock Campers and often fabricated in partnership with professional welders, are a whole other ballgame. You want light truck tires? Powder-coated frame? Diamond plate aluminum fenders and rock shields? Bulldog Collar-Lok coupler? Done!
You get the picture. Boondock Campers will design a trailer that's right for you. No measly savings of $400 or so is worth compromising the longevity and quality of the structural chassis of your camper. Therefore, you have two chassis options: A bolted trailer (designed and fabricated by Boondock Campers) or a welded trailer (designed by Boondock Campers). Both are proven road-worthy technologies. Bolted designs use a straight tongue coupler and are best suited for paved and "softroad" use. Welded trailers, though more expensive, are more rigid, feature composite A-frame tongues and couplers, and are much better suited for 4WD and off-road use.
Now, when considering your ability to drive a 4WD road, you must consider the tire size, tire weight rating, tire traction, axle clearance, hub height, frame ground clearance, coupler articulation, frame strength, approach/departure/breakover angles, general watertightness, turning radius and braking capability of your camper – not to mention the capabilities of your tow vehicle, the expected weather and road conditions, your accident preparedness, and your own 4WD driving experience!
Since every Boondock Camper, customer and 4WD road is a little different, do not interpret any statement in this article as carte blanche to tackle a 4WD trail. Rather, this article is intended to provide general guidelines about the technical off-roading capabilities of a Boondock Camper. It does not factor in weather conditions, driver experience, geographical isolation or other external factors, which may render even an “Easy” road unwise. Ultimate responsibility is always in the hands of the driver.
The Colorado Association of 4WD Clubs (COA4WDCi) has established a 1-10 rating scale of 4WD roads within the United States. Guidelines for Boondock Campers are included below each trail rating subscription.
Easy Graded dirt road. Dry, or less than 3" water crossing depth. Gentle grades. 2WD under all conditions except snow. No width problems, two vehicles wide..
REVIEW: Ordinarily passable by most Boondock Campers. Those with the Featherlight and Ultralight packages, 12- or 13-inch tires, and/or bolted chasses should exercise moderate caution.
Dirt road. Dry, or less than 3" water crossing depth. Some ruts. Slight grades, up to 10 degrees. 2WD under most conditions. Rain or snow may make 4WD necessary. Usually one and a half to two vehicles wide.
Review: Occasionally passable by many Boondock Campers. Those with the Featherlight and Ultralight packages, 12- or 13-inch tires, and/or bolted chasses should exercise extreme caution.
Dirt road. Rutted, washes, or gulches. Water crossings up to 6" depth. Passable mud. Grades up to 10 degrees. Small rocks or holes. 4WD recommended but 2WD possible under good conditions and with adequate ground clearance and skill. No width problems for any normal vehicle. Vehicle passing spots frequently available if less than two vehicles wide.
Review: Passable by some Boondock Campers. Recommended to have minimum 205/75 15-inch tires and Timbren Axle-Less suspension. Consider electric brakes, particularly on campers weighing 1,250 pounds or more. Caravan campers should have features listed under Moderate (5) and should exercise moderate caution.
Rutted and/or rocky road. No shelves but rocks to 9". Water crossings usually less than hub deep. Passable mud. Grades moderate, up to 15 degrees. Side hill moderate up to 15 degrees. 4WD under most conditions. No width problems, vehicle passing spots frequently available if less than two vehicles wide.
Review: Passable only by properly outfitted Boondock Campers. Recommended to have minimum 225/75 or larger 15-inch tires on Timbren Axle-Less Heavy-Duty suspension, sheet metal skid plates, aluminum alloy trailer components, and electric brakes. Consider the Lock n' Roll articulating coupler. Any Caravan camper should exercise extreme caution.
Rutted and/or rocky road. No shelves. Rocks up to 12" and water crossings up to 12" with possible currents. Passable mud. Moderate grades to 15 degrees. 6" holes. Side hill to 20 degrees. 4WD required. No width problems.
Review: Possibly passable only by highly outfitted Boondock Campers. Required Timbren Axle-Less Heavy-Duty 4-inch Lift suspension and Lock n' Roll articulating coupler. Consider the Apocalypse Marine package. May require larger aftermarket tires. Campers longer than 10 feet should not attempt.
Quite rocky or deep ruts. Rocks to 12" and frequent. Water crossings may exceed hub depth with strong currents. Shelves to 6". Mud may require checking before proceeding. Moderate grades to 20 degrees. Sidehill may approach 30 degrees. 4WD necessary and second attempts may be required with stock vehicles. Caution may be required with wider vehicles.
Review: Any Boondock Camper, regardless of features or aftermarket modifications, must exercise extreme caution.
Rocks frequent and large, 12" and may exceed hub height. Holes frequent or deep (12"). Shelves to 9". Mud 8" deep and may be present on uphill sections. Grades to 25 degrees and sidehill to 30 degrees. Water crossings to 18" and may have strong currents. 1-1/2 vehicles wide. 4WD required. Driver experience helpful.
Review: Do not attempt.
Heavy rock and/or severe ruts. Rocks exceeding hub height frequent. Shelves to 12". Deep mud or uphill mud sections. Steep grades to 25 degrees and can be loose or rocky. Water crossings may exceed 30" in depth. Side hill to 30 degrees. One vehicle wide. Body damage possible. Experience needed. Vehicle Modifications helpful.
Review: Do not attempt.
Severe rock over 15". Frequent deep holes over 15". Shelves over 15". Mud bog conditions (long, deep, no form bottom). Over 30" water crossings with strong currents. Steep grades over 30 degrees. Sidehill over 30 degrees. May not be passable by stock vehicles. Experience essential. Body damage, mechanical breakdown, rollover probable. Extreme caution required.
Review: Do not attempt.
Severe conditions. Extreme caution recommended. Impassable by stock vehicles. Winching required. Trail building necessary. May be impassable. Impassable under anything but ideal conditions. Vehicle damage probable. Personal injury possible. Extreme caution necessary.
Review: Do not attempt.
Boondock Campers are manufactured by Andrew Herrick, EIT. Built in southwestern Utah, each model is 100% designed using Autodesk 3D CAD modeling software. All campers are field-tested and backed by a 1-year warranty.
Andy founded Boondock Campers in April 2016. After he obtained his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Missouri S&T, he opted out of an office-based career to pursue what he loved. Boondock Campers is currently operated as a part-time business.