JANUARY 15, 2020
Campers and recreational vehicles (RV) are an exciting and cost-effective way to experience life on the road. One of the only drawbacks revolves around the fact that prebuilt vehicles limit opportunities to modify the design. In the event that you are able to make some chances, the process is often tedious, time-consuming, and expensive.
Fortunately, alternatives exist. A shipping container camper provides a more malleable design than conventional RVs, allowing you to make as many changes as you want, add accessories, or even create a multi-story structure.
Below, we’ll explore just how to convert shipping containers into camper vehicles.
Shipping container campers are recreational vehicles that use modified containers as their living space. These vehicles may have the container attached to the bed of the truck or a separate container home towed with a trailer.
Containers come in standard ISO sizes. Whether you're using a small 10-foot container or a full-length 40-foot unit, both will be 8'6" tall. This gives shipping container campers more ceiling height than typical RVs.
Storage containers have a high-strength Corten steel body and thick corrugated steel walls, making them a sturdy option for building your living space. Your RV will have a unique, aesthetic exterior that'll stand out.
You should note that conventional campers weigh less and contain a more aerodynamic design than shipping container campers, allowing them to move faster. A loaded container weighs about twice as much as an RV and will need a more oversized trailer frame with a powerful engine.
Container campers use recycled Conex boxes as their living area. Building a camper requires the following steps:
After building the living area, the manufacturers will decide on which method they want to use to convert the container into a trailer. Most will either weld the container to the frame for a permanent structure or keep a tie-rod at one end. That way, you can remove the container and place it on a foundation when it’s not in use.
The price of shipping containers range from $3,000 to $8,000. That doesn’t include the cost of modifications and the accessories. If you DIY the process, you'll likely spend around $20,000 to $25,000. Alternatively, if you buy pre-built container campers with trailers, they'll cost you anywhere between $30,000-$50,000.
Most container campers are made-to-order, so it is pretty rare to find a manufacturer that mass produces shipping container campers. Of course, it’s not entirely impossible. Companies like ESCAPE provide container campers for all sorts of climates. You can also get in touch with a shipping container architect and an RV-conversion company to create your own design.
See also: Complete guide to shipping container hunting cabins
Let's look at some camper vehicles that use containers in their design.
1. Vista C: The 'C' model is one of Escape's latest offerings in the Vista series. It uses a 20-foot container mounted on a flatbed chassis. The camper includes a rooftop area, a water heater, a full-size fridge, countertops, and a storage cabinet. Modern features such as keyless entry and solar-powered electricity make it one of the most sought after container campers on the market.
2. Independent Container Camper: Graham B, a tiny home enthusiast, built a converted container on wheels using wood and other sustainable materials. The 160 square foot space included a full-fledged kitchen, bathroom, toilet, bed, and a flat-screen TV. He then listed and sold the place for $28,500.
If you're planning to buy or build your own container camper, the following tips will help make your camping life easier.
You can attach wheels to shipping containers or fix the container on a dolly to move it with a trailer. Most containers on wheels are either fixed to the trailer or are towed by a pickup truck. These are the only two ways to convert containers into a trailer.
A 20-foot shipping container can cost anywhere between $2,000-$5,000. The cost of a container depends on its condition, modifications, and accessories. New or one-trip containers can be twice as expensive as used containers.
Containers are 8 ft 6 in tall, while trailers have about 40 inches (3 ft 4 in) height. Therefore, a shipping container on a trailer can be about 12-foot high from the ground level.
You can fix a shipping container to a dolly or a wheel-based system and tow it with a pickup truck.
Shipping containers are an excellent alternative to traditional campers, especially if you want to build a custom design. You can buy a pre-built camper or make your own RV from a shipping container. However, container campers can be heavier and move slower than a conventional camper.
Mobile Modular Portable Storage is the leading supplier of new and used shipping containers for rent and sale. Contact us or give us a call at 866-459-7600 to know more about container solutions.
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