The tiny house movement is catching on across the United States as more and more people downsize to reduce their impact on the environment. There is also an ongoing need for shelters for homeless people. Paul Elkins has offered a solution with his “stealth camper” that is so lightweight that it can be towed by a bicycle. The camper has a total weight of less than 45 pounds.
Elkins based his designs on previous campers he built and lessons he learned from those experiences. He found that the tapered front in a previous design made it difficult to turn around, so he made the new shelter wider. Instead of making a full-scale mockup of the design like he did with a previous camper, Elkins made a ¼ scale model.
The camper is inexpensive since it is constructed with materials that are easily accessible, cheap, and in some cases even free. The main body of the camper, not including the floor and rear wall, is constructed with two 4×8 foot sheets of fluted plastic that is 4 millimeters thick. Elkins constructed the frame with six pine boards. He joined the panels with small zip ties and put 2-inch white duct tape over the outside seams. He considered using plywood for the rear door but decided to use lightweight Coroplast instead.
The portable shelter has areas for a bed, stove, drawers, cabinets, and shelf. The camper can come equipped with a solar panel so the occupant can charge personal devices and LED lights. The person living in the shelter can sit against the front wall facing the rear door. Elkins eliminated a desk top and some storage space to make the interior roomier
The camper is insulated to keep the occupant warm in the winter and is ventilated to keep it cool and comfortable in the summer. The shelter has a skylight made from a gallon bucket with a Plexiglass window. A lid with a bug screen can be added. The door swings upward to provide shade and protection from rain and has a window made of opaque Coroplast.
The shelter is transported with 20-inch bicycle wheels. The front wheel weighs 3.5 pounds, and the rear weighs 4.5 pounds. Elkins used inexpensive electrical plate wheel supports. The wheels and frame have a combined weight of 18 pounds.