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When you look at some of the elaborate customized camper build-outs that others have done, it’s easy to see how one could end up spending thousands of dollars. From buying an expensive SUV or van to incorporating designs for electricity and water, the camper van life can get expensive pretty fast. But we found one father-daughter duo who managed to customize a 2008 Subaru Forester, transforming it into a cozy, camping ride, for less than $350.

While it may not be as extravagant or as flashy of a build-out as others, it just proves that a little creativity can optimize almost any everyday vehicle for camping adventures. And you could follow the cues of this build-out and afford one of your own.

What could be the world’s cheapest build-out

One woman, who expressed her love of camping and travel, believed no one should spend more than $1,000 on a van build. According to Outside, she set out to prove her theory by transforming her 2008 Subaru Forester into a camp-worthy sidekick.

She teamed up with her engineer father, and together they worked out a plan. Spending no more than $350 and in a little more than a week’s time, they achieved in completing what could be the world’s cheapest build-out.

The advantages that come in handy for this camper build

For this build, the father-daughter duo did have a bit of an advantage in a few areas. The dad had quite a bit of experience in building and designing things. So, crafting their plan might have been simpler for them compared to those without an engineering degree.

Another advantage is that this father already had a garage full of woodworking and basic tools. Anyone attempting to replicate this Subaru Forester build could quickly spend beyond $350 if buying necessary tools became part of the equation.

The list of materials to transform the Subaru Forester

In this economy build-out, the pair did not want to remove the Subaru Forester’s back seats. In laying them flat, they could take advantage of the tons of secret storage. After cleaning out the vehicle, all they had to do was compile the materials for a platform, sleeping area, and even a few cabinets.

A couple of sheets of plywood, an eight by four, an eight by six, a couple of chest latches, three piano hinges, and a package of wood screws is about all you need for a sleeping area and platform. A few extra pieces of lumber, wood glue, and a few glide sets, and you can incorporate drawers, too.

A little creativity can optimize almost any vehicle into a camper


Buying a Pop-up Camper Has a Few Hidden Downsides

This father and daughter team achieved their goal of transforming their 2008 Subaru Forester into a camping-ready vehicle. That’s not as noteworthy as the notion that they did so for a mere $350.

It just proves that a little creativity and ingenuity can optimize any vehicle for camping. Some of the other everyday crossovers that make great DIY camper build-out projects include the Kia Sportage, Kia Soul, and the Honda Element.

Traveling and hitting the road in your camper van or customize SUV doesn’t have to cost a fortune. This dad and daughter team proved a little ingenuity could go a long way. Instead of buying a new van fully ready for camping adventures, you could build your own sleep-ready camping-mobile.

Instead of spending thousands to tear out and rebuild your own ride, you could get thrifty and imaginative. You, too, could probably build out your SUV for less than $350.