Take me back to the Home Page

Building a custom camper van

February 27, 2016

It has been a busy month! Before heading up to Hokkaido for the Sapporo Snow Festival and the Otaru Light Festival; and between ski trips to Shiga Kogen, hiking around the Miura Hills, and planning a ski road trip to Akita and Iwate Prefectures I have been doing some work to build my very own custom camper microvan.

Last summer I purchased a 1995 Daihatsu Atrai Kei car, which for me this is a perfect vehicle. However, storing gear for Tenkara and skiing adventures quickly filled up the interior. So I began to brainstorm ideas to maximize the interior space while not detracting from the driveability and low key nature of the vehicle.

First I assembled the necessary materials from Homes (which is quite possibly one of the most amazing stores in the world! Imagine if Ikea, Home Depot, WalMart, Crate & Barrel, and Sport Chalet were combined into one store - and you would have a pretty good idea what Homes is).

Next I compiled measurements and layout composites to ensure that everything was going to fit and line up - my motto is "Measure twice (maybe three times) and cut once."

I have access to a wood hobby shop that has pretty much every tool you could imagine.

Then over two days (I miscalculated my material needs and had to make another run to Homes) I created the first components of my camper interior.

And here is the (mostly) finished creation! I built it as two modules to make it easier to remove them (and because the battery compartment is under the non-factory carpet).

The next phase is building a removable headboard to protect the back window, adding a mattress/foam, and adding in removable bike mounts so that I can transport a bike which I frequently use to access remote backcountry rivers like the one in the video below.

Written by Isaac Tait who now lives in San Diego but dreams of returning, one day, to Japan. You should follow him on Twitter