diy car camping conversion vs micro camper vs camping box 1 1 - DIY camping conversion vs camping box vs micro campers - which one is for you?

DIY camping conversion vs camping box vs micro campers – which one is for you?

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This post will give you the right answers (and questions to ask yourself) to decide which you will enjoy more – converting your car into a car camper, buying a ready-made camping box (car camping conversion kit, boot jump) or buying a micro camper.

Read on if you are asking yourself these questions:

  • Is it worth spending money on a micro camper / teardrop camper (trailer)?
  • Are there other – cheaper alternatives to buying a micro camper?
  • Do I get more space in a micro camper or by converting my estate car into a camper?
  • How much does a mini camper cost?
  • How much does a car camping conversion cost?
  • How much does a car camping box (car camping conversion kit) cost?

What is DIY Car camping (car camper conversion)?

A DIY car camper is any car that you convert into a camping car. Basically, any car that’s a decent size (i.e. you can lie down in the back and sleep with its rear seats down and possibly front seats pushed forward on smaller cars) can be converted into a car camper. That’s what this website is all about! 🙂 DIY Car camping is about sleeping in your car as comfortably as you like it.

Who is it for?

  • Are you on a budget? Don’t want to spend more than a few hundred (or less)?
  • Or do you like a good DIY challenge and getting your hands dirty?

Then a DIY car camping conversion is for you. It doesn’t take much – just pick a good car for camping, get some plywood and a good mattress and you’ll be off in no time. You’ll find plenty of inspiration in our DIY section.

🏆Best cars for camping 🏆

Honda Odyssey 🇺🇸
3.8/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
  1. Fiat Doblò camper XL, High Roof 🇪🇺 4.0/5
  2. Honda Odyssey 🇺🇸 4.0/5
  3. Volkswagen Sharan 🇪🇺 3.9/5
  4. Caddy Maxi Camper (Life) 🇪🇺 3.8/5

See all cars in our database, their boot dimensions and more ➡️

  • all under your control – layout, materials, cost
  • built exactly to fit your needs & car type
  • you can make it permanent – no need to put in/remove a box every time (like my Sharan conversion here) – a 24/7 camper & everyday car in one
  • you decide the height – not everyone needs a lot of storage and small headroom
  • you have to do it all yourself
  • the finish quality depends on your DIY skills
  • time consuming
  • possible trial & error needed until you have a good product
  • might not be removable – stays in the car or fits only this specific car

How much does a DIY car camping conversion cost?

You can get by for free by just lowering the rear seats, throwing any mattress long enough for you down and using your standard camping sleeping bag and off you go. A soft, dry flat surface to sleep on in a safe hard shell – that’s all you need really. Of course, you want to take some camping essentials, make it a bit more comfy and enjoyable. That’s where the need for more storage and other clever solutions comes in – hidden sinks, water, gas canisters.

You can still spend about 100 EUR and get a good level of storage and comfort – see my VW Sharan DIY Camping conversion or any other from our DIY section. Generally, you will need some kind of flat surface that’s foldable (to hide it away when not needed) and storage underneath it. Drawers or boxes, compartments with sinks, gas hob etc. A good mattress of course and some window covers for privacy.

Of course, the upper limit depends on your requirements – what kind of material you use (plywood, higher quality wood, other), what mattress you’ll pick and what essential camping gear or some cool gadgets to top it off.

The size of your bed & living area in the back depends on the size of your boot, but generally is around 1m wide, 1.7-2m long and 0.8-1.3m high for estate cars or SUVs (The Sharan & Caddy are the winners in terms of size).

These might come in handy...

...and you'll help keep this website going too - thanks! 🙂

The best budget car tent you can find:

Confirmed to fit: Sharan, Touran, Berlingo, Caddy, Partner, Kangoo, Combo
At around 100 GBP - 120 GBP, it's a bargain that does the job of a 300+ GBP tent

See my full review + video here arpenaz base m car tent BUY NOW
at Decathlon UK
Or see my full review here
pressure solar camping shower 10 litres 600x600 1 - DIY camping conversion vs camping box vs micro campers - which one is for you?

Pressure solar camping shower (pumped) – 10l

This camping shower is easy to transfer and doesn’t need to hang in the air – it has a built-in pump that lets you pressurise the chamber and shower or use it in the sink anywhere. It’s black, so the longer you leave it in the sun, the warmer the water will be (or just leave it in a hot closed car in the summer).

  • Lightweight: 870 g including the bag
  • 10 litre capacity | On/off button on the handle to prevent waste

4.2/5 stars
- Clean water tank up to 50 uses - tank capacity: 16 litres - a seat with antibacterial coating, a lid and a tank that prevents odours and mould

portable toilet £89.99 - BUY NOW
at Decathlon UK

Small, foldable and sits 4 with plenty of space for food preparation
foldable camping table and chairs BUY NOW
at Decathlon UK

What is a camping box (campingbox / car camping conversion kit, boot jump)?

A camping box is a cleverly built box/module that works as a bed/kitchen/storage all in one. You insert it into the boot of your car and it will extend into a car bed + hold most of your gear, usually a sink and other useful extensions. Camping boxes make it easy to camp/sleep in any decent size car (think estate, SUV and bigger) with practical solutions for preparing your food, washing up or yourself, storage, cooking.

Who is it for?

If you prefer spending a bit more rather than do it yourself to save money, or are pressed for time and/or don’t like DIY, and you don’t want to tow anything behind your car – then this is the solution for you. It offers practical solutions that might be hard to make yourself, good craftsmanship and finish.

They are also easy to take out of your car when not needed for an extended period of time (i.e. winter).

Camping box sizes are usually made to fit the trunk of estate cars, SUVs and small vans (like a VW Multivan) – about 0.9-1m in width, 1.8-2.3m in length and the height depends on your car.

  • ready, just put it in
  • usually has clever kitchen & storage solutions
  • good quality finish
  • removable – you can put it into another car if needed or if you get a new one
  • higher price + shipping
  • they usually take up more space – leaving less space above (bed area) – sometimes not enough to even sit in
  • needs to be removed if you don’t use it for camping (i.e. every day use)
  • requires storage if not used

How much does a camping box cost?

The cheapest camping box I’ve found costs 900 EUR, but generally, they cost around 2000 EUR and top range ones will set you back around 4000 EUR. Then there’s plenty of accessories you can throw your money at too. The cheapest ones will get you a foldable car bed with storage underneath and maybe a sink. The mid-range ones will definitely have a sink, maybe a gas hob too. And the top-range ones will come with all the bells and whistles you don’t even know you need – a built-in shower, a good mattress, electric sockets etc.

What is a micro camper (microcamper)?

In general terms, you could call any small car that’s used for camping a micro camper. Yes – even the ones some of you might make in the first category – DIY Car camping. But mostly, when referring to micro campers, people are talking about small trailers you tow behind your car. Think an RV (recreational vehicle) but very small and just as a trailer – no engine. Basically a small bedroom+kitchen on wheels :). Sometimes they are called teardrop trailers because of their teardrop shape.

Who is it for?

The main difference here is that you have to tow it behind your car. Therefore you need a car that can tow things (i.e. strong enough to tow at least 1000kg, usually 1500kg and with a ball hitch (mount)) and be willing to drive like that. It’s generally ok until you need to reverse somewhere… it’s …shall we just say.. a bit trickier…

So if you don’t mind this and would like a completely separate room to sleep in with more luxury (more room, a roof window, better kitchen equipment, better airing/cooling, more room) and don’t mind spending several thousand – a micro camper is for you.

Micro camper sizes according to wikipedia are “ranging from 4 feet (1.2 m) to 6 feet (1.8 m) in width and 8 feet (2.4 m) to 10 feet (3.0 m) in length. They are usually 4 feet (1.2 m) to 5 feet (1.5 m) in height”.

How much does a micro camper (teardrop trailer) cost?

At the low end, where you’ll get basic interior with some built-in kitchen equipment, electric sockets/lights and storage, you’ll pay around 4-8,000 EUR. The mid-range is around 8-14,000 EUR and comes with a better interior, practical storage and kitchen solutions, possibly with some luxuries like a roof window, heating & cooling etc. High-end micro campers are anything above 14,000 EUR and their features differ depending on their specific target audience – more comfort, gadgets, solar power, better off-road, more rugged, retro & quirky etc.

Further reading:’s A Complete Guide to Teardrop Trailers: What to know before you buy

6 person inflatable camping shelter air seconds base connect 11 - DIY camping conversion vs camping box vs micro campers - which one is for you?
6-person inflatable camping shelter – air seconds base connect – £299.99

Don’t like fiddling around with poles? This inflatable car tent might be the right choice for you. The sheet + poles make joining it to your car even more flexible. It has two large openings on opposite ends, giving you a choice of which side you’ll attach to the vehicle. It fits most MPVs – tailgate or side-door, you can connect it from two ends

  • Height: 2.25 m (opening for tailgate 1.75m) | Floor area: 6.25 m2 (2.5×2.5m) | Comfortable for 6 people
  • Openings on 4 sides (2 suitable for a car) | but only 1 mosquito net
  • Weight 13kg
  • Easy installation: Rapid pitching thanks to its all-in-one inflatable structure (requires a separate pump though)
  • The fabric filters UV rays with a UPF of 50+, Waterproof, good quality – tested in long rain and strong winds, it holds up pretty well (relatively to the price)
Inflatable luxury for 6 people (3 bedrooms)
+ 170cm opening for any tailgate

Fits MPVs, SUVs, Bedrooms:140x210 cm | Stand-up living room:7,1 sqm with zipped basin groundsheet
Fresh fabric: reduces heat inside your tent in the sun

6 person inflatable tent £549.99 - BUY NOW
at Decathlon UK

SUP? Paddle for the entire family (max load 320kg)

Inflatable paddle board for any weight: less than 60 kg: ultra-stable board - 60 to 80 kg : very stable board - over 80 kg: ideal board for easily starting out

stand up paddle sup BUY NOW
at Decathlon UK

Summary – the difference between a DIY car camper conversion, a camping box and a micro camper

Who is it for?
Budget range
DIY enthusiasts, if you’re on a budget or want a custom thing made for yourself. Pros: cheap, stealth (it’s just a car), easy parking and driving, make it your own. Cons: needs time, skills, tools, planning, shopping around. Only as good as your DIY skills…
0 – 1,000 EUR
(upper limit is really up to your requirements, but this is the cheapest option if you are clever & go for only the essential equipment)
Camping box
No time for DIY, don’t mind spending 1000+ EUR on a ready thing, want more gadgets & comfort whilst camping. Don’t want to tow anything. Pros: stealth, easy parking and driving, good comfort, buy and go. Cons: higher price, can’t make it yours as much – it’s ready-made out of the box.
900 – 4,000 EUR
Micro camper / teardrop trailer
Want to separate camping from your car, don’t mind towing, want the most comfort out of your camping trip. Pros: high-end camping, equipment, solutions & finish, a separate room = higher comfort. Cons: extra length, harder to drive & park, especially reverse, need a stronger car, expensive
4,000 – 25,000 EUR

Which kind of camper are you?

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