Tuesday, December 03, 2013

How much did it cost...?!

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Here's a short outline of the costs that I've incurred so far, in building my camper project. While I'm counting these off, you might want to keep in mind that the base price of most of the smallest micro-campers out there are easily within the $5000 to $15000 range:

The first expense was the hitch for the Yaris, which included the hitch itself, plus installation, at U-Haul. Approximate cost: $310.00.

Next up, was the trailer kit. This particular trailer is the "heavy duty" Haul Master trailer from Harbor Freight Tools. If I'm not mistaken, I got mine on sale for about $386, after taxes. Registering it was another $50. That's $746, so far.

The lumber was about $380; paint (and supplies) was $65; I made two purchases for hardware (screws, hinges, locks, chain, wall hangars, hooks, et cetera) of $90 and $65, respectively. With these purchases, we're up to $1346. I bought all of this at Home Depot.

The mattress was $150 (I bought this gently used- twice- from a friend), and the bedding was $50 (including a "bed in a bag" kit at Wal-Mart, plus pillows). These bring the totals to $1546.

Then, I bought a "buddy heater" ($70), and a propane stovetop (another $70). This brings us up to $1686. I already owned a portable grill, and a ton of propane tanks- those will now live in the camper, as well.

I also bought a grease gun and grease (to re-pack and re-grease the wheel bearings), and some extra lenses for the rear taillights (one came broken in the trailer kit, and having extras never hurts). I also bought some wire, connectors, and tools to do the wiring on the trailer. This was all about $50, which brings the total to $1736.

I also bought some nifty, aftermarket "jeep" style fenders for $70. I'll have to spend about $25 on paint and primer. This will bring the total to $1831.

Then, I have a few more accessories that I'd like to buy through the next couple of weeks. A colder-weather sleeping bag ($180 at Dick's Sporting Goods, which will endure temperatures of -20 degrees F.), an electric space heater ($40), a small, gas-powered generator ($130), and a roof vent/skylight ($50), which will bring my budget up to $2231. The electric space heater and generator are pretty redundant, given that I already have a propane buddy heater, and extreme-weather sleeping bags... but then, when you go into the wilderness for long stretches of time, in extreme weather conditions... redundancy isn't such a bad idea. In fact, it can be a lifesaver.

I'm building the cargo box/air deflector for an additional $110, which brings me to $2341.

Lastly, there will be some additional paint for the final paint scheme and trim ($50), which will bring the total outlay for the entire project to $2391.

I suppose the other "costs" that I should mention, were the time outlays. Building the trailer took about four hours; wiring it took another two (or so). Building the camper box took about 12 hours total (for the initial build), plus maybe another 12 hours in detail work and revisions. So, the complete build was probably in the vicinity of 30 hours, all-inclusive. To be fair, I didn't exactly hurry. Actually, I worked at a pretty leisurely pace. I was, after all, building a leisure vehicle. As such, it just felt innately wrong to hurry, while building it.

But what I got out of it is a great-looking little camper that suits my needs exactly. It's warm and comfortable, even in the most extreme of cold-weather climates (remember, the sleeping bag alone will protect me down to -20 degrees F... even before firing up the buddy heater and/or the electric heater and generator combo). It holds a ton of gear and cargo (a typical load being two fully set up snowboards, three backpacks, a portable grill, a portable stove, propane tanks, foodstuffs, a clothing bag, a toolbox, books, and all with room to spare). Plus, it frees up all of the cargo space inside the Yaris, which means that:

- I can bring even more stuff (as needed), or
- The car is suddenly a lot more roomy inside, with all of that gear cleared out, and put smartly into the camper.

It features a "real" bed, complete with bedding.

I can camp literally anywhere I choose. I'm not at all restricted to campgrounds. I can sleep in rest areas, roadside lookouts, store parking lots... anywhere at all, really, the only limits being my imagination, and my comfort level. Anywhere that I get tired, that's relatively quiet, and where I feel reasonably secure- I can sleep. And it sets up in [literally] less time then it takes me to open up the rear door. It is the definition, of "turn-key ready".


Best of all, it weighs less than 1000 lbs, and my car still gets nearly 30 mpg. while pulling the trailer.

The simple, efficient economy of it means that I now have a vast amount of newfound freedom. Anytime I want to leave the city, ditch the rat race, escape the social [dis]order, and go explore the world around me for long stretches of time... all I need to do is hook the camper up, put a little gas in the car, grab a few cans of soup and beans, and hit the road. The camper might have cost me a little under $2500. But the freedom to explore the world around me in relative security, comfort, and convenience on a threadbare budget is priceless.

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