Need a custom camp trailer? Build this lightweight rig all modified to suit your own needs and sleep in relative comfort regardless of the weather. The camp pod is more watertight than a tent, the ply-sides are pest proof, and it sits off the ground to keep it dry. Inspired by teardrop style trailers popular in the 1940's, this simplified version is built of plywood, with optional epoxy and fiberglass enhancements. The completed module is designed to fit onto a small utility trailer or boat trailer, secured by bolts and straps, and can be removed in minutes for storage.
The interior can be insulated with sheet foam and carpeting to keep it cozy, side or top mounted access doors, drop-leaf tables and dedicated storage spaces can be fitted as required, along with ventilation and light hatches and ports. A 4 x 8 version will sleep one in luxury, two in comfort, or three real good friends. Enroute to the campsite the pod provides enclosed storage space and can also be equipped to haul boats and bikes.
Construction techniques allow easy modification and the pod can be built and finished basic and utilitarian, or ultra-lightweight with rounded glass-taped corners, side doors and hardwood trim. The basic shape and size can be modified to suit. Small aerodynamic shaped solo versions have been built to tow behind motorcycles and small cars, and simple rectangular versions have been built as storage trailers to transport camp gear, bikes and boats. Other builders have maintained a more traditional tear-drop shape to the pod, bending a sheet of 4 mil hardwood ply over the teardrop shaped sides, rounding and reinforcing the corners with fiberglass tape as with wood boat construction. Equipped with locking compartments the pod also provides secure waterproof storage space back at home. Using boat-building technology and quality materials the module is designed to last for years with minimal maintenance.
The building plans lead you through the process step-by-step and include a blueprint and a spiral-bound booklet with discussion of options, materials sources and building tips. The building plans also encourage modification to suit.
Comments by builders
Paul, I live in a hi desert area of Washington state, so my pod was designed to reflect heat & encourage air flow. Its also good to for night star viewing. The pod is over built with a 3/4in floor and 1/2in walls & roof. Theres a 40 inch section on top that's 48 inches high for extra room inside. Took it to Cle'elum Washington through hard rains & winds... no leaks. A flash flood here at home... no leaks, so I'm totally confident that with a little maintaince it will serve well for years. I didn't want a teardrop shape, allthough I might later. Thanks for your plans... what I liked most is they let me "do my thing".... freedom of constuction, yet enough pointer's to build a safe,solid camper. I still have trim work & inside to finish... Steve
Paul... thanks for snagging my message from the junk mail file—usually only my wife considers what I say to be junk. HA! Back to my camp pod, I’m thinking of adding a fold-out on one side to be able to add a sleeping space for one small person, and I’ve already done a paper model so I think it might work. I also like being able to adjust the trailer/tongue on this boat trailer so to haul it up close or further behind the tow vehicle. I’m also adding a watertank and storage room for rifles and fishing poles. I ice fish a lot and am interested in camping out on the ice, so insulation will be a must have! Maybe even one of those tiny little wood-burning stoves. I first saw this in Outdoor Life when I was about 12 years old and have wanted to build one ever since. Thanks again. Joel
Paul... my camp pod project is coming along nicely now with my son home from college to help me, and we hope to have the pod ready for some summer trips around the headwaters of the Salmon river. Last night we pulled the little boat trailer into the garage and put the pod on it for the first time. Everything fits perfectly, and it also gave me the idea to bend some thin plywood over the trailer wheels for fenders and protection from gravel. Like I said in my previous emails I added about a foot length, enlarged the side height about 10 inches and changed the profile slightly, and after fitting it on the trailer I got another bright idea. Don’t laugh, but I cut a 2 x 2 foot hole in the bottom floor of the pod. I’ll frame the cut-out piece as a removable hatch to seal it off while traveling, but when we stop I will open it and drop curtains down to the ground around the hole and set the porty-potty on the ground under the pod! Is that a cool idea or what! Rain or snow—we’re cozy inside. And…..I can almost stand up straight with my feet on the ground to put my pants on. I’m also using that thin aircraft foil/plastic insulation we talked about and it really does reflect a lot of heat. I’m lining the whole inside of the pod with that stuff and I can just staple it in place then at the same time I’m covering it with fabric mostly just for looks and acoustics. That was a good idea. The next big debate is whether to cut a single access door in one side or just use the overhead hinged hatch. The overhead hatch with plexiglass is so nice for light and ventilation and easy to keep absolutely watertight, and I’m just not sure about my ability to make a side door as watertight and secure as the top hatch. I’m using those plastic Beckson boat portlights on the sides for ventilation and light and they’re easy to install but I’m still undecided about that door. I rounded the corners and taped them like you suggested. Lorenzo Manning. Boise, Idaho
Paul... I got the pod plans the Saturday after you sent them; pretty good delivery time. I plan to use the pod for camping in remote areas and I don’t like a tent any more. Too many nights of wind, animals, rain, snow etc, and no place to keep my gear dry either. I am planning to make it 4 feet high on the sides and also put in the side doors. I’ll be using a utility trailer from Northern Tool that will fit a 4 x 8 panel of plywood between the wheels—all to keep the center of gravity lower and also prevent having to cut-in wheel wells in the bottom of the pod. I’ll be using heavier duty plywood throughout however for more protection, but I have a good trailer and my tow vehicle is also rated high so the extra weight won’t be a problem. The roads will be forest service and BLM gravel and also off-road at times and I want to build it plenty “beefy”. This will be my over the winter project and I will send photos in the spring. Thanks. Tim Blyth
...my Mom let me sleep in the garage in the camp pod my Dad and I built, and she brought my dinner out too. My Dad and I are going to take it to Yellowstone this summer. Michael. Seattle
Paul... we’re just having too much fun with our little pod! All those lightweight techniques we discussed I used on it, and the original idea was to make a minimal solo version to pull behind my Gold Wing motorcycle, but once the wife saw all the fun I was having it got expanded to a slightly larger version we could pull behind her Honda Civic. The biggest job was getting all the parts together for that little alumimum trailer to haul the pod on, and I finally found some heavy duty motorcycle wheels and made up an axle arrangement that would fit under the aluminum frame. I streamlined the profile as much as possible and used 4 mil and 6 mil thick hardwood plywood, all sealed with epoxy and covered with glass cloth just like your boats. I dropped the ball making those big round corners like you described because I got in a rush to finish it off and they would have looked even better, but I only painted some parts of it and left the rest of the plywood natural. It’s minimal size but its waterproof as a boat and it sure beats sleeping in a tent anyway. The only small problem is, its so light we have to support it a bit to sleep inside so I usually just lift one end onto the picnic table seat at the campsite and stack up some firewood or a stump to support the other end, then it doesn’t wiggle and we sleep better. Rodney. San Diego
... we’re putting a solar cell on top our pod and adding a battery for lights and radio when camping in the backcountry. We also installed a handy overhead shelf inside for storage so we can lay in bed and read and I can even knit. The topside hatch is perfect for ventilation and with the wide coamings I can even leave it open a small amount when its raining. This is our updated version of the old teardrop. Aubrey & Denise