How to Turn Your Honda Element into a Livable Camper

The Honda Element was produced from 2003-2011 and was quite possibly the most versatile vehicle that the brand ever made. It’s utilitarian interior allowed for a multitude of configurations, which lent itself well for tailgating events and especially camping. In case you do the latter and currently own, or want to own, a Honda Element, here’s how to turn it into a livable camper.

Step 1: Buy a Honda Element

The Ursa Minor ECamper on an Element I photo: Ursa Minor

This step is really easy, in theory. In case you don’t have a Honda Element, you can find one pretty easily online as Honda produced nearly 325,000 of them before it was discontinued. Current pricing for them has a wide range as the Element has gained a cult following throughout the years and the demand for them is somewhat high.

We suggest finding one that matches your budget and needs as they did come in either all-wheel or front-wheel-drive configurations. Those with a keen eye will detect subtle differences in the years as the Honda Element did undergo a slight refresh in 2009 in which the front fascia, hood, and fenders were changed to give the car a broader look. If you’re really lucky, you might even find one with the optional navigation and rearview camera.

Step 2: Buy a tent

After you procured your Honda Element, or if you already have one, it’s time to start looking into tent options. Believe it or not, Honda did actually offer an OEM tent extension that was able to be strapped onto the back of the car. It was a nice accessory considering part of the straps extended to the front of the car and were held down by the hood and there was even an awning. You can still buy one of these, but if you want some serious camping action, then you need a rooftop tent.

One of the tried-and-true aftermarket rooftop tents specifically for the Honda Element is from a company called Ursa Minor, which makes an “ECamper” rooftop tent similar to the old Volkswagen Westfalia vans with the pop-up tents. The beauty of the Ursa Minor ECamper is that the company installs the camper assembly to the top of your Element, which can be folded up and down easily, only adding 6 inches to the overall height of the car. The shell is made of a carbon fiber material to minimize weight and the camper itself sleeps up to 2 people.

Step 3: Find a good place to camp

After you have purchased your Honda Element and have it all outfitted for the great outdoors with your Ursa Minor ECamper, it’s time to escape civilization. We recommend the mountains of Colorado and perhaps somewhere out in Washington. If all else fails, just find a good campground with some decent facilities.

Wherever you end up, just remember to bring the loads of toilet paper that you bought, some good reading material, food, drinks, and someone to share that fancy camper with. After all, who knows when you might be coming back.