Explorer Box Compact Camping Trailer
It has now been over 10 years since I built the first lightweight Explorer Box camping trailer and began showing people how-to build their own.
For me, it’s been like a rebirth from long ago home-built camping trailers people could build using information found in places like Popular Mechanics. We are now the leading how-to experts in building compact camping trailers providing DIYers with construction guides, parts and many sources of information.
The Explorer Box design is inspired by the simplicity of vintage Tent Trailers with some Teardrop Trailer influences. Our “Explorer Box Construction Manual” makes it simple to build a durable plywood based lightweight camping trailer. Think of the build plans as a recipe; follow the instructions and out pops a ready to use camping trailer.
To help people as they plan their Explorer Box project, I’ve created an “Explorer Box Trailer Collection” thread on the Tventuring forum. With build related information and an index of customer build threads that I am aware of. It is also full of photos to help you visualize what your Explorer Box project will look like. When you build yours, be sure to send pictures so we can add them.
The Size of Your Vehicle DOES NOT Dictate the Size of your Adventure . . . Anymore
Harbor Freight bolt-together trailer frames are a great base for many home-built trailer projects. We specialize in and show people how to use them under DIY Compact Camping Trailers projects. A drawback I found with using them was their stiff riding, noisy stock springs.
So a few years ago, we started making a Harbor Freight Smooth Riding Spring Retrofit Kit. These kits have smooth riding springs matched to the loaded weight capacity of DIY Compact Camping Trailers. They have the added benefit of no annoying banging from the factory loose fit slipper style rear spring mounts.
Recently we’ve improved our Smooth Riding Spring kit by upgrading the Springs. New premium springs with a longer overall length of 31", smoother ride and available in a 1175 lb (2 leaf) and 1450 lb (3 leaf) GVWR / load weight. The springs are available in our Harbor Frame Frame Retrofit kits or separately for welding your own frame.
With gas prices remaining near historic lows, the economy on the rebound for many households, and interest rates near rock bottom, millions of Americans will be hitting the road this year in new RVs.
The newest trend is toward lightweight trailers that can be towed behind many cars or small SUVs, opening up RV travel to a new generation, experts say. This year, the RV industry expects to ship 383,000 trailers and 55,000 motor-homes, the eighth consecutive year of growth.
“This is so cute!” Is the familiar exclamation when potential buyers see the smaller, more compact RV's. Our Explorer Box is no exception. Our Explorer Box is a DIY project and the compact RV's are ready to roll. With a price well under $2000 for the Explorer Box materials or starting under 4K for a custom ready to roll version, and a $15K to $40K and above price for the ready to roll RV's, its a no-brainer if you have basic construction skills or willing to wait for a custom build.
For example, the 16-foot-long Basecamp from Airstream weighs just over a ton, making it somewhat capable to pull with a small SUV. Experts say many American families are moving away from owning a powerful towing-specific vehicle, and instead want to haul their gear with the car or SUV they normally drive.
The Explorer box weighs in under 400 lbs with a roof top tent and you can store all your gear inside the Explorer Box and set up camp in seconds. You may forgo A/C, a microwave and bathroom – but with the compact camping kitchen, a portable shower and toilet – you can camp anywhere you can drive. To get started on the Explorer Box DIY, the cost for the 85 page manual is a mere $30, which includes step by step instructions with photos, as well as material and tool lists. Based on a 4’x6′ deck, the base Explorer Box DIY weighs in between 375-425 lbs, sitting on a 1,000 lbs axle with an 80-110 lbs tongue weight, all easily handled by most 4 cylinder compact cars.
The Explorer Box and its Jeep Trailer cousin, the Dinoot Trailer Tub Kit, off-road camping is the norm. The size of your vehicle should not dictate the size of your adventure. With the lightweight and towing capability of your vehicle you can camp off the grid and away from the crowds.
The Dinoot Lightweight Tub Kit makes it easy to construct a durable off road trailer. Add racks and a Tonneau cover and you have storage, and a place for a roof top tent. Lighter than its Explorer Box cousin and, like the Explorer Box, it is easily customized to your vehicle for all the adventures you have in mind.
We take a different approach to equipping folks for Trailer Supported Adventuring. Our focus is supporting those that want to “create” something with their own two hands. Those interested in a lightweight, durable, small footprint camping trailer. We support home builders with everything necessary for a successful project; including build components, guides, online information, phone support, a forum and everything in between. Our trailers start as fiberglass tub kits available in two models; the J-Series and M-Series. The J-Series has distinct Jeep styling cues and is available in two sizes. The M-series has classic M416 military trailer styling and is easily shortened for custom length tubs. They are build-able as Tent Topped Campers or Gear Haulers, and as heavy or light duty as your needs dictate. This makes them equally at home in the back-country behind your 4WD adventure vehicle, or a Subaru™ on a trip to grandmas. So when you are thinking DIY Trailer Supported Adventuring and building the camping trailer of your dreams, think Dinoot Trailers!
We are simple campers. We seek the places that generators that power TV's, A/C and microwaves are not polluting the soothing sounds of a river, lake or mountain. That type of camping is fine for some – but viewing the Milky Way or a meteor shower through the screened window in the roof of a tent while sleeping peacefully off the ground between sheets that are soft as silk are luxuries we enjoy the most. No generators, no TV sounds, nothing but the wilderness. That is camping, to us, and quite a few others, we have found.
Let's Build Something!
Just added a link at the No-Weld Trailer Racks product page. Its an overview of how easily these go together. Check it out!
Step by step and we have all the components in stock and ready to ship!