My Stealth Camper Plans

Fire Ring, Stump, and Table

HERON LAKE SP, NM—Though I probably won’t do anything on this until early next year (unless someone pops out of the blue and buys my truck/trailer), I’ve been tinkering with design plans for my “ideal” rig.

Edit: Here’s what I ended up doing.

More below the break (huh?).

The Van

Stealth Van Floor Plan

A high top cargo van. Remove the front passenger seat and put a big easy chair in the front. If it will fit, I’ll stick it where the passenger seat was, thus giving access from the driver’s seat to the back via the center aisle. Otherwise, the chair would be placed in the center and you’d access the rear compartment by the gap left by the missing passenger seat. The chair’s not pushed to the right in the diagram because that’s where the van’s side door is.

Add shelves, a closet, and a sofa/futon that folds open into a bed. I’m a little concerned that trying to sleep across the width of the van will be cramped, so even if sleeping diagonally doesn’t provide enough room, I could rig an extension that pulls out from under the bed (and plop some cushions on it) for my feet. I’d be sleeping crosswise in the bed, which is sideways to the way you normally sleep, but I think it would work.

The Trailer

Stealth Trailer Floor Plan

The layout above is based on a 6′ x 8′ cargo trailer with a side door. The shower is directly in front of the door and you enter through the shower (it’s just a big opening anyway) to get inside the trailer.

The refrigerator is a squat, top-opening model (thanks Boonie) that may double as a bench. The stove is just a two-burner camp stove embedded in the counter top.

I have the holding tanks in a vertical position to save floor space and to make them easier to drain. I’m thinking of attaching a macerator pump between the toilet and the black water tank so the tank only holds liquified waste (easier gravity draining via a standard water spigot). The grey water from the sink (and maybe shower?) would be used to flush the toilet.

The more I think about it though, the more I like the idea of a 6 x 10′ trailer. It would add two additional feet to the back of the trailer (the bottom of the floor plan), but would create a lot more storage which could easily be accessed through the rear doors.

Solar panels on the top, and a bank of batteries under the counters (or in the back storage compartment). An extension cord would run between the van and trailer to provide power to the living quarters in the van.

Additional Thoughts

A cool idea with a set up like this is that the trailer could be shared within a mobile community. Both Boonie and Randy have/are trying to form communities with people of like-minds and a trailer like this would really open up these communities for non-RV’ers (for some strange reason, not everyone lives in an RV). For myself, I’ve often thought that if I started teaching in person, it would be cool to say, “Just pack a tent and come hang out with me for awhile.”

With something like this, visitors would only need to bring a place to sleep (tent, back of an SUV, etc.), some clothes, and a cooler with their food. The trailer’s refrigerator could be set to “freezer-mode” for the community ice for their coolers. Everyone who doesn’t have an RV could share the kitchen, ice, fresh water, electricity, shower, and toilet—all without disturbing anyone else’s privacy or living space.

Hell, with a trailer like this, anyone with a specialty could hold (and charge for) wilderness retreats: A mountain biking retreat, a Hero’s Journey retreat, a nature photography retreat, an “introduction to boondocking” retreat, a “learn the guitar in a weekend” retreat, even a Carefree Diet retreat (OK, that last one is just a shameless plug, but I am down 40 lbs)).

I’m telling you, the more I think about this, the more I like it—and that’s never a good thing. 🙂

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9 thoughts on “My Stealth Camper Plans

  1. Ooooo…… I always get so excited looking at floorplans!

    You could also add cabinets around the top for extra storage (like above the bed area. Also, do you really need a closet or would compartments/shelves/drawers do just as well? Closets are great for hanging stuff or storing larger items but become a pain when you start stacking stuff up in them. Hey maybe a closet with removable shelves for versatility 🙂

    The sofa/bed area, if built right, could also have drawers underneath. And an alternative design would be to make a longer, narrower bed along the left side and move the closet/storage area to the right. You could always get a fold-down couch/bed in case you have company.

    On the trailer I’d consider having all the water features (shower, toilet, sink) on the same side to make plumbing easier. I’d also consider installing an outside shower (or at least spigot) or for knocking off serious dirt before coming inside.

    So many possibilities…. I’ll keep thinking on it 😉

  2. Waste water tanks have to be below their supply, so under the floor unless you use a composting toilet. Still very do-able and concealing the tanks is a minor problem. I’d use a top-loading freezer and a “dorm” sized fridge above it on the wall for convenient access and plenty of “share-able” space.

    Lemme know when you want to sell your trailer – I might get it instead of a sailboat 😉

    • @My Brother: Normally, yes, the waste tanks have to be lower. But that’s where the macerator pump comes in – between the toilet and the holding tank.

      No sailboat? Hmm, maybe I’ll have to make another trip to FL soon.

  3. More ideas….

    The wastewater tanks could be under the toilet and shower, making them sit up on a step. Or under the sink and cabinet. That way they don’t take up floor space. Also the trailer needs some natural light. I thought about a translucent top but then where would the solar go? But some small windows and/or vents for lighting and ventilation seem to be in order. Didn’t the Kodger have small windows with closeable vent flaps that made them look like air vents? I think I saw a picture of his original trailer and it looked something like that. Or you could get a horse trailer and open the side windows 🙂

    In the van you could make a hinged shelf above the bed that folds down to make a work space and up when you want to sleep. Also on the recliner, I think they have compact models that are cozy but don’t take up as much space. If it were me I’d also want a small fridge or cooler in the van for convenience.

    Dang it here I am coming up with all these ideas for your new rig when I haven’t even found my first one yet!

  4. Hey Wayne….you say “stealth”…you dont have to be stealth out here in Silicon Valley to live in your camper or van because there are so many that do (because rent and home prices are outrageous here) and the police dont really bother anyone about it. Most Walmarts here will let you park overnight here for months on end…especially in a van. I lived in my 81 VW Westfalia, comfortably for a year out here. The only must is a heater for the cold nights in the winter here which I hardpiped a propane “Wave 3” heater. I also have 2 100 watt solar panels, 3 deep cycle batteries, inverter, LED TV, Blu Ray player and a “truckfridge”. I miss it, so im going back in it after my lease is up in my apartment. I can send email some picts if you like. my van is sweet. I like your idea for sure as there is lots of room you will have…so cool. I just wanted to give you some info about the beautiful bay area…the weather here is absolutely spectacular! Take care… -Tony

  5. The retreat idea is a good one – I believe there is a demand for small, rugged, meditative/quiet, less structured nature “retreats” with small group of like-minded folks (with their own tents). If one could automate a sign up/payment site which accepts the first X number of participants, it could be done with minimal effort and provide a steady income stream (even while being a relative bargain). A non-teacher would be ideal. Just a thought (of many, unfortunately 😉

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