There are few things on this Earth as reliable as a first-gen Toyota Tacoma. These little pickup trucks would come to be one of THE quintessential pickups of all time. So if you find yourself wanting a camper truck but can’t or won’t spend six figures to get it, then look no further than this Toyota Tacoma budget DIY camper.
How did this incredible Toyota Tacoma DIY camper come about?
As with all camper conversions, all you need is a strong base and a good plan. Micah Weber’s custom DIY camper build started as all good campers should, a 2001 Toyota Tacoma and a life-long love of building Lego sets.
Where most DIY camper builders might start with welding classes or engineering degrees, Weber’s love of engines and building Lego sets is what brought him to this masterpiece. “I grew up for a bit in the Pacific Northwest,” Weber says. “We lived on a farm, and I think I kind of romanticized vehicles with a purpose, like tractors and the logging machinery.”
Alongside his Lego sets, Weber’s dad was a machinist who also built motorcycles and cars. Weber spent his childhood “helping” his dad by handing tools under the cars and holding the flashlight in the garage. Once he grew up, he headed to LA, where his DIY camper build was finally underway.
How to build a DIY camper
In the interview with Expedition Portal, Weber said, “One thing that surprised me was how many other people said, ‘I would love to do some DIY projects.’ I guess I was surprised because there were more people that really wanted to do things themselves, and fewer people being like, ‘Your stuff is crap. Just go buy something.’ There are a lot of people who have never done projects but want to.”
This was a true DIY build. Not only did Weber build the Toyota Tacoma camper, but he even built many of the accessories. He did all this because off-road accessories are pretty pricey, and he simply prefers to build rather than buy. “It doesn’t bring me that much joy to go and buy a bunch of stuff. I enjoy being the one to make it and design it and have that satisfaction.”
Where to start with DIY?
Some of the earlier DIY projects for his Tacoma camper were sub-$200 double-cab roof rack, a budget-friendly DIY onboard air system, and a homemade 270-degree awning. The initial iteration of the build included a rear canopy, roof rack, snorkel, front bumper, and lights.
After some early camping trips with his son, Weber deemed the camper a bit small to feel very comfortable, and the short bed didn’t offer enough storage. So, he decided to build a flatbed-style backend to add a bigger camper cabin.
Instead of letting his lack of welding knowledge stop him from creating the camper of his dreams, he decided to teach himself. “I figured that welding was one of those things where you would have to go to school to learn it, but it isn’t this mystical thing. It’s kind of like using a hot glue gun.”
Can anyone build a DIY camper?
The best part of this badass build is that every design choice was made simply and practically. Weber says, “It’s extremely basic in the design and the function. [Bumpers] protect the truck from impact. What is the minimum material thickness that can withstand an impact? Now, many people say an eighth of an inch is what they use for their rock sliders, so that’s what I did. How do I make it a safe weight? Go to an online forum or search some websites to see what people are using.”
If you still don’t believe me (or rather, him), Weber still makes Lego mockups before heading to the garage. He says that these toys prove how simple design can be. These mockups remind him that he relies on basic concepts for practical engineering. And the proof is in the pudding. The finished product is to die for. It looks great and is clearly ready for anything. More specs on Weber’s DIY budget camper build here.