Converting your jeep to a camper is a big decision, but fun nevertheless. When you have to take a cross-country trip on your vehicle, it’s easier to have your home in your car.
Your Jeep camper will probably not be as convenient as your home but that is to be expected. But this is still a small space that can meet your basic needs whether you’re going on a trip for a week or a year.
It is easier traveling with your Jeep camper than having to tow an RV and thinking about the regulations of width everywhere you go. This is more compact as you don’t need to worry about the extra parts that your RV will have.
You don’t need to worry if your vehicle is able to tow the RV or if the tires on your RV will be able to withstand rough terrains.
With your Jeep camper, you can travel on rough terrains without fear about the extra vehicle behind you. With an RV, you’re moving two vehicles. With your Jeep camper, you’re moving one vehicle that can serve the function of the two vehicles.
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Take these steps to convert your jeep into a camper
So, you have made the decision to turn your Jeep into a camper for your trip? Nice one! What are the steps you need to take to convert your Jeep from an SUV into an adequate camper?
1. Remove the back seat
Before you can turn your Jeep into a camper, you have to strip the back seat and most of the space behind the driver’s seat.
To remove the seats, you have to fold the backseat. Underneath the seat, you’ll see bolts that connect the seat to the vehicle. Unbolt the bolts and you can remove the seats.
You’ll also have to strip other parts behind the driver. You’ll strip most of the fabrics that cover the interior of the vehicle. Then you strip most of the exterior too. By the time you’re through, you’ll be left with the roll bar installed by the manufacturer.
2. Install a new roll bar
The roll bar that comes with your vehicle is strong but it may be incapable of carrying the load you’re about to put on it. It is better to install a new stronger roll bar in place of the one that comes with the vehicle.
The new roll bar is also more stretched out compared to the stock roll bar that is mainly to protect the vehicle’s passengers.
3. Lay insulation on the floor
After stripping your SUV, you have to provide insulation on the floor to prevent extreme heat or cold from the floor of the vehicle.
4. Install the cabinets
Before you can set up your cabinet, you have to set up the frame. For optimum strength, you can build your cabinet frames with aluminum tubes and corner connectors.
The cabinets are built on opposite sides of the vehicle. After setting up the frame, it is fixed with plywood. This material is used as it is light and durable for the rigors of traveling.
There are many formats for this. You can install long cabinets that will occupy the space between the driver seat till the end of the vehicle.
You can also leave a space between your cabinet and the driver seat or the front passenger seat. Your cabinet can be used to store food, clothes and other things.
However, if you’re traveling along with your friend or lover, you may reduce the size of the cabinet to leave space for seats. You can also include a sink in your cabinet.
5. Install seats
You can install seats at the furthermost part of the vehicle. You can have an arrangement of two seats facing each other with a dining table in between.
What better way to enjoy your trip than to sit opposite your lover and enjoy a romantic dinner, even in the middle of nowhere? It’s one of the best experience you can have on your trip. You should try it if you’re going on a trip with your lover.
6. Install dual batteries
It is a bad idea to run every electrical installation in your vehicle with a single battery. This is because you don’t want your usage of electric power in the vehicle to affect whether your vehicle will run or not.
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In some cases, it is possible for the appliances like fridge and others in the vehicle to consume more power than the engine. Which means the battery could go dead at any time during your journey. Especially during the night when you have to use some appliances.
But on your journey, even when you can’t supply electric power to your appliances, you still want your vehicle to move. Installing two batteries would mean that even when the one supplying your appliances is dead, your engine will still run effectively.
While your vehicle is running, the alternator can charge both batteries.
7. Install a suspension lift
Your vehicle was not made for the weight you’re going to put on it. For instance, you can install a 2.5” AEV suspension lift so that your vehicle will be able to carry the extra weight better.
8. Install a front bumper
This is to protect your radiator in case you hit rocks or other hard surfaces in rough terrains. You also need a rear bumper on your vehicle to protect the rear parts.
9. Mount a Titan Tank on the rear carrier
If you’re going into a rough terrain, you may find it difficult to refuel your vehicle. This is because you won’t see a filling station in such locations. Having this tank would give you capacity for an extra 10 gallons of fuel or more.
10. Mount a water tank under the vehicle
During your trip, you’ll definitely need drinking water. Installing a tank is important, But due to space, the tank may have to go underneath the vehicle.
Make sure you use a rock guard to protect your water tank so that it doesn’t get spoilt few minutes after you get off-road.
11. Install a pop-up roof
Due to space in your vehicle, you might want to extend your vehicle up. And what better way to do that than to use a pop-up roof?
This roof stays at the top of your vehicle in place of the hard top. It is a suitable sleeping place and you only have to pop it up when you need to sleep.
Apart from that, when your vehicle is not in motion, this pop up can give you a bigger interior living space. When you want to sleep, there are sleeping slats with mattress sections that you can slide into place to form a flat sleeping platform.
There are companies that make pop-up roofs so you don’t need to construct this yourself. One example is Ursa Minor. You can order for one and get this company to install it for you.
When you’re pulling your pop-up roof into place, you must make sure that the fabric is tucked well into place so that it doesn’t slip out. When you pull the roof, make sure it has latched in place before you continue on your journey.
12. Mount an awning on the back
When you stop your vehicle and need a shade from sun or rain, then an awning will provide it. The awning is foldable and you only have to set it up when your vehicle is not moving.
13. Mount solar panels
If you’ll be on this journey for an extended period of time, say months, then you need to be able to generate electricity for your Jeep camper.
You can install two 100-watt solar panels on the pop-up roof. You must make sure that the panels are thin and lightweight so that they’ll add no wind resistance.
The panels are wired into the second battery in your vehicle. This would mean that you can use your appliances without fear of using up your battery.
14. Mount steel wheels and rugged tires
Since you’ll be using your camper off road, you must have rugged tires that will be able to move in rough terrains.
Having steel wheels is also important as they won’t crack like other types of wheels. An example of strong tires is the BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO2s.
It is also important to install the air compressor in the engine so that it is easy to pump your tires when they get flat. You can expect that to happen if you’re going on a long journey. You don’t want to get stranded in the middle of nowhere.
A simpler Jeep camper
If you’re only going on a short trip and you only need something simple without much design, then you can do that too.
This will save you a lot of money but you’ll still have a camper that is capable of housing you comfortably for the night. Apart from saving money, this doesn’t require much expertise and time. You can also do this alone and in a short time if you’re in a hurry to get it completed.
What are the steps you can take to build a simple camper?
1. Strip your vehicle
You have to strip your vehicle at the back leaving only the front part intact.
But here, you’re not doing an extensive stripping like the previous one I explained. At least you still have your roof and most of the fittings.
Majorly, what you’re stripping here are the back seats and the floor.
2. Prepare wooden pillars
What you’re trying to achieve with this design is to separate the backspace into two segments: the upper segment which will serve as your bed space and the lower segment which will serve as your store.
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You’ll make short pillars which will stand as the base for the platform that will come on it.
3. Construct your platform on the pillar
Add the wooden platform on the pillars. This will be the skeleton on which you lay your bed space.
4. Screw plywood in place
You can use screws, bolts, or nails to join the plywood to the wood. This will serve as the wide flat surface for your bed space. It’s important to use plywood rather than your normal wood because of weight.
You can have a twist to this if you want to be able to access the content under your platform. You can cut a box out of the plywood and add two or three hinges so that you can open it up and take something underneath.
5. Add fittings to the platform
You can add a blanket on top of the plywood or glue carpet to it. Add one or two foam mattresses on top of the blanket depending on how high they are.
You don’t want something too high so that you don’t hit your head on the roof of the vehicle everytime you sit up or try to get out of the camper.
6. Add sheets
You have to add bed sheets on top of your mattresses to keep it in place and to also make it comfortable for you to sleep.
Additionally, you can hang clothes on the window side to serve as curtains if you want to keep light out while sleeping.
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The advantage of this simple arrangement is that it gives you a lot of storage area and sleeping space without additional fittings at the top. But if you like to use your fridge or want a dining table, then the first arrangement will be the best for you.
Factors to consider:
If you want to convert your Jeep to a camper, there are general factors to consider to make the best camper out of the limited space you have:
Materials must be light
The materials you’re using for your construction must be light. You must be aware that all the additional weight is going to the suspension, the wheels and tires.
If you cram too much weight on your vehicle, you may end up having many problems moving your vehicle around. This could spoil the fun of your trip. Use lightweight materials.
Materials must be strong
If you’re going off-road, the materials in the vehicle will go through stress. As much as you want your materials to be light, they must also be strong enough for the rigor of your journey. And fittings like chairs and beds must be able to withstand your weight.
You must utilize your small space
You don’t have a lot of space in your vehicle. You fittings should have smaller sizes compared to what is inside your house.
What do I mean by that? You’re the one who’ll use this camper. You know your needs more than anyone.
You don’t have to install everything mentioned in this guide. You can remove some according to your needs and the amount you want to spend on this machine.
Wrapping it Up
Following this guide, you can have a basic setup of your camper. In most cases, it’s better if you’re working on it together with one or two of your friends who have the needed skills that you don’t have.
It makes your construction faster and easier. And you get to make a camper that will be reliable for the journey ahead.
Having a Jeep doesn’t stop you from going on that long trip. In fact, it even makes your journey more probable. Because you can turn that Jeep to a camper.