A Stealth Camper

How many times have you passed  (or been passed by) a small cargo trailer on the highway and wondered what was inside? Could they be hauling a lawnmower heading for a non-descript business park to cut their grass? Could they be hauling dirt bikes or ATVs heading for some weekend fun? Could they be hauling construction materials heading for a house to drywall?

For one California man, the answer to that would be “none of the above”. Jerry’s (last name with held upon request) 2007 Lark cargo trailer hauls his camping weekend with him. Since buying his 16′ Lark new from the factory in 2007, Jerry took the empty shell and has made it into a 16′ comfort castle on wheels.

Inspired by the Tiny House Blog, the affectionately named “Over The Top Cargo Trailer” doesn’t look like a tiny house. Says Jerry, “I just did not want it to look like a house on wheels on the outside and attract too much attention while on the road; it would fit more inside an Airstream Bambi if the panels could be bent.”  The OTTCT is 95% complete, and Jerry estimates it weighs somewhere north of 6,000 lbs. He’s put some 500+ hours of labor and $25,000 into the project.

Jerry’s designed the OTTCT to be energy efficient as well, utilizing over 1500 watts in solar panels,  powerful enough to run the on board 5,000 BTU air conditioner. The features on the OTTCT seem endless, including 2 37 gallon water tanks, 2 20 gallon propane tanks, reverse osmosis water filtration, a 26″ TV with DVD player, and 15′ of kitchen cabinets. One of the finest pieces of Jerry’s work is in the 36″ X 48″ glass tile shower.

The 7′ width provides ample interior room to roam as well as space for the full size bed in the rear.

The cargo trailer to camper conversion “subculture” is starting to take root as a niche segment of the travel trailer industry. Granted, it’s entirely a do-it-yourself segment, but as popularity increases, it could easily grow into a business for those, like Jerry, who have the skills to transform a shell and make it into a comfortable living space with as many (if not more) amenities as a standard, mass-produced travel trailer.

To keep tabs on Jerry and the Over The Top Cargo Trailer, visit his blog for more specs, pictures, and updates: http://overthetopcargotrailer.blogspot.com


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13 Responses to A Stealth Camper

  1. Alvin Payne

    Love the ideas of what you have done with your trailer. Good to know of a site that supplies ideas and inspiration for utility trailers ontario. Thank you and keep on posting.

  2. What size air conditioner did you use for this size trailer? Im getting ready to make my own!

    • Pat

      Ginny — You should be able to contact Jerry with your question at his website, which is linked in the last part of the blog post. Good luck!

  3. Glide

    Ginny he used a 5000watt a/c as most of them do or a 13000watt roof top but the smaller one will cool fine and alot cheaper,, check out tiny teardrop trailers website forums,, they have a cargo trailer sub forum for those who have questions, ideas etc!
    lots of pics of their builds and lots of helpfull info!

  4. craig

    Found a new 6×12 cargo trailer side door rear double doors 2600 plus tax tag. Want a small living space for my son 23 in back yard. Can build a awning over it to keep elements off. Want to insulate add AC electric and shelves / storage.

  5. I just started my 16′ cargo trailer conversion. We are going more basic and will not have a shower, hot water, onboard water or holding tanks. The toilet will be a 5 gallon bucket with snap-on seat with a trash bag and kitty litter for night time use to avoid walking through the campground after dark. Litter works for cats, so it should work for us!

    I will install city water, sink, 120v, A/C (8K BTU portable), windows, microwave and bed (full) with storage underneath.

    It has been fun so far, but a lot of work!

  6. That’s actually really brilliant. I love the stealth element. You probably get away with parking in a lot of extra spots with this approach I’m guessing. Food for thought!

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  8. Katelyn Eyford

    What tips do you have for a student converting a Boler camper trailer to stealth camp in the Portland area while attending school and work? I’m fortunate enough to have a travel CNA job where hauling the trailer with me shouldn’t be much of an issue in some parts of Oregon. And I plan on being a forest dweller when I am not working or in class.

  9. Hi,
    “How many times have you passed s small cargo trailer on the highway and wondered what was inside?” I have lost count how many times this question has bothered me. I guess you’d be surprised by all the possibilities found inside, funny.
    Thanks for the quick read!

  10. Pingback: 13 Cargo Trailer Camper Conversion Ideas - RVshare.com

  11. Ryan Parr

    “Oh, looks like they forgot to latch it. . . I’ll just. . .”
    “Their you go, I did my good deed for the day.”

    The idea seems decent but it also appears that you would need a side access door with the option to open from the inside, just to ensure you weren’t trapped inside. They do sell mini-campers but they wouldn’t be considered “stealth,” however, you could potentially lift one side and pull it to various hiding spots around a house, which a larger cargo trailer wouldn’t be able to do.

    A large horse trailer is another option, but again, it’s a bit like how much something will still “stick out” and a trailer still doesn’t face the possibility of being “illegally parked,” whereas it’s possible for a car to remain in a parking space for extended lengths of time before anyone bothers to check on it.

    I’ve definitely thought about this from time to time though have no real experience with it, and it may just depend on what area you are in.

  12. Karen

    Any thoughts on putting an awning either on the side or the roof of the trailer? We have a semi-converted toy hauler/utility trailer. Would love to hear from those who have put an awning on their trailer.

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