Explorer Box DIY – by Compact Camping Concepts
How often has it been the case that a start of a weekend camping trip is the long, drawn out ordeal of fitting a few days of food, clothing, shelter and accessories the trunk of a midsize car? The scenario is no doubt familiar. Pack… repack… unload…reload… all in the quest of maximizing the amount of stuff we can fit in the trunk while still being able to both close the trunk and fit people inside the car too.
In times like those I have often bantered about the question of a trailer. Like a giant trunk that gets pulled behind the car, and able to store camping gear so that we can all get on the road that much sooner. Or, the occasional thought of the tent trailer, all the storage we need plus shelter all in one! The trouble of course (besides learning how to back up with a trailer attached) is that trailers are terribly expensive, and the more you would like the trailer to do, the quicker the price seems to rise. Besides cost, trailers can present an additional challenge to the DIYer because buying a trailer takes the fun out of doing it yourself and no matter how you go about it, the concept of building a trailer from scratch and have it roadworthy (the first time!) is a complex and daunting task.
So what is a DIYer to do?
If buying a complete trailer is simply too far out of your price range, if the joy of seeing a job completed with your own hands is worth the time, and if you’ve got the basic woodworking equipment and skills, then an Explorer Box may be for you. The Explorer Box – DIY is an instruction manual put together by Compact Camping Concepts ( http://www.compactcampingconcepts.com/) and serves a DIYer’s guide on building you very own rolling camp box ready for any outdoor adventure.
The Explorer box is effectively a camp box that you can attach to a trailer and take with you. It contains storage, organization and allows a bit of space so that you can have a miniature galley if needed. The key of course, is that it is only the instructions; the building part is up to you. The instructions are detailed enough that even if you only do basic woodworking, you can assemble the whole thing by following the step by step guide. At the same time, the basic building principles are laid out such that if you see a need to modify or change the configuration of the box, it would be fairly straightforward to do so. As an extra attraction, the Explorer Box is sufficiently small and light that even a smaller vehicle can pull it around.
I am not a particularly great woodworker, but when reading the instructions I could readily follow the instructions provided and was left without much doubt about what would be required to make this box a reality. Scattered throughout the book are useful tips on materials that cut down weight, glue technique as well as advice on paint and finishers. It really drives home that this box is an investment. I appreciated the section on on how to maintain your finished trailer so that it lasts as long as possible as with any project that we invest time and money it, it has to be worth the effort in the long term!
Emphasized in the book is the fact that no matter what, this box is not something to be built using spare parts found on the side of the road. It is a huge investment in time and while less than buying an assembled trailer, is still going to cost enough money that you don’t want to make mistakes. The book is outlined with the goal in mind of making sure you will only have to build it once. The beginning of the book lays out the tools that you need in order of Basic tools (translation: required kit), nice additions (translation: not required, but will make it easier) and miscellaneous items that may be needed depending on what you choose to do. As some parts are harder to find than others, Compact Camping Concepts maintains an online store to fill in those gaps. The manual has helpful tips on choosing out woods, latches, and hinges that are needed to build the box as well as the finishes that you will need to make your box ready for the outdoor weather.
Once the materials are laid out, the instructions turn to ‘repeatable’ items that will be performed over and over again. Finally, the assembly begins from the floor up until, at the end you have your assembled box. The last pieces deal with optional add-ons such as mounting a tent to the top of the trailer and the wiring of the trailer itself. Throughout the book are multitudes of pictures and diagrams to that you can feel confident that you are following the steps correctly.
When going through this manual, it was very clear to me that you must read the whole manual before getting started. The primary reason is that the instructions are outlined according to a 4’ x 6’ trailer frame. If you are working with larger or smaller trailer, or if you have to buy or assemble a trailer, you might have to make changes. Also, if you were thinking about putting a tent on the box (as shown on their site), you must factor in how you are going to do it as this area is also not covered in the manual. These are all mentioned in the introduction, which highlights the importance of reading the whole manual.
The Explorer Box manual is an excellent way providing a DIYer a solid framework to bring the task of building a durable, useful trailer to a level that anyone with basic woodworking ability can feel like this is well within the realm of possibility. Even I, with my barely basic skills and lacking a couple of the required tools feel like I could successfully put this together. The instructions are detailed, with pictures, diagrams, and tips that will help make it a successful one time job. The instructions are specific enough that if you build it to exactly the manual’s instructions you will be successful, and at the same time the instructions are intuitive enough that you can modify them according to your needs. Reading the manual carefully and practicing the repeated instructions will make sure you are successful in building. As the book says, “Measure twice, cut once.”
Don’t worry if you’re not a DIYer, Compact Camping Concepts has pre-made options to take care of your camping needs!
Are you a DIYer? Does this type of project appeal to you?
by Graeme A.
The Outdoor Adventure
Manual provided to us by Compact Camping Concepts