Camper upgrades and improvements – Do It Yourself

Camper upgrades awning

A camper is like a house. There is always something to do or improve on a camper. When we bought our Toyota LandCruiser we knew that we have to do a few camper upgrades. After a few months of living in our camper we upgraded it step by step. We can produce our own power, we tinted the windows and fitted a mosquito net. You find more about the improvements and upgrades in this post.

We love to live outdoors. But being outdoors all the time also means that we are exposed to the forces of nature. That can be quite strenuous. We constantly have to adjust to the situation. A good camper setup helps to make life outdoors more comfortable.

The last few weeks we did a few camper upgrades and we managed to improve quite a lot of things. But we are not finished yet. As we mentioned before, a camper is like a house. There is always something to do.

When we came to Australia we knew that we wanted to buy a Toyota LandCruiser Troopcarrier. For us it’s the perfect vehicle for our road trip around the world. It’s a 4WD, it’s not too big but big enough to live inside. The high roof gives us the extra space. We found a great Troopy with a good setup. The day we bought it we knew already that we have to improve and upgrade a few things.

Camper upgrades – This is what we improved on our camper so far

  • Awnings on the side and the back for shade
  • Upgrading the outdoor kitchen with an additional tray
  • Adapter to charge electronic devices when we drive
  • Solar panel for power when we don’t drive
  • Optimizing ventilation of the refrigerator
  • Window tinting to minimize heat in the vehicle
  • Mosquito and fly net at the back door

Awnings for shade – One of the most important improvements

Shade is one of the most important things when camping. Especially on hot summer days, where the temperature can rise up to 40 degrees Celsius, it’s essential to have shade. There are also many camping spots at the beach or in the Outback without trees. That’s where our new awnings come in handy.

We bought two awnings, one for the side and one for the back. We have fitted both awnings directly on the high roof using rivets. This is a secure connection which also withstands the vibrations on corrugated roads. Screws tend to loosen when there are vibrations. Using rivets is the better option.

Awning for camper

Awning at the back for camper kitchen

After Marcel attached the awnings, we wanted to see how it works. We went straight to the beach and we set them up immediately. That’s the result:

We are totally happy with the awnings. Now we are independent and we don’t need to find trees who offer shade. The awnings also offer protection when it rains, especially the one at the back. We had some situations where we were in the middle of cooking and it started to rain.

Improvements of our outdoor kitchen

If the weather permits we cook outside. That has the big advantage that whatever we cook, the smell stays outside of the camper.

We have a folding tray at the backdoor for our gas stove. When we bought the Troopy the cover of the inner door was covered with carpet. It looked dirty and greasy. We went to the DIY store and bought a white hardboard. A small upgrade but it looks much better now.

Folding tray outdoor kitchen

What we missed was a working area. We checked the options and found the perfect place. We bought another hardboard, hinges and joints. Within a couple of hours Marcel fitted a new folding tray at the end of the bench. It’s like a mini table where we can cut vegetables or put some cooking utensils.

Solar Panel to produce our own power – A great investment

During the last two road trips around Australia we had no solar panel. And we always regretted not having one when staying somewhere for longer. Our fridge runs on a battery. When driving the battery gets charged and the fridge gets enough power to run. When we don’t drive, the fridge runs for about three days until the battery is discharged. Even if we wanted to stay longer somewhere in the bush, we couldn’t because of the fridge. We were forced to drive or stay in a caravan park with power.

Solar panel for our camper

The same problem we had with our electrical devices. We charge our batteries of the camera, our phone and laptop when driving. We use different adapters for that. We also have an inverter to produce 220 V for devices that we have no 12V adapter.

This time, we bought a foldable solar panel with 120W / 12V in the first week because we want to be independent. If we love a camp spot, we want to have the freedom to stay as long as we like. With a solar panel we can produce our own power and that gives us a lot more flexibility. One of the camper upgrades we are super happy with.

Thanks to today’s technology, we can produce our own energy.


Optimizing the refrigerator ventilation to save energy

We had days when temperatures where over 40 degrees Celsius. On these days the refrigerator has to run constantly to maintain the temperature inside. The more the compressor of the fridge runs, the hotter it gets. In this case a good ventilation of the refrigerator is very important. In our case this was all but perfect. The fridge was surrounded by cupboards and most of the ventilation slots were totally covered. Marcel cut the boards accordingly to guarantee better ventilation. With the improved ventilation of the fridge, the refrigerator should run more efficient and consume less energy.

Fridge ventilation in camper

Window tinting to reduce the temperature inside the vehicle

We noticed that almost all vehicles in Australia have tinted windows. That has a good reason. First of all, it looks cool. But that is not the main reason. Tinted windows block light and therefore it’s not getting too hot in the vehicle.

Window tinting

We bought a 35% tint that transmits 35% of the light through and blocks the remaining 65%. That’s a way to reduce the interior temperature and we also save fuel because the air conditioning system has to work less. The same is through for the fridge. Thanks to a cooler inside temperature the fridge needs less energy for cooling.

That’s one of the camper upgrades we think is totally worth it.

Mosquito and fly net to keep bugs out of the camper

Traveling through the Outback is awesome. But there are times when the bugs are very annoying. On some days we are surrounded by thousands of flies and mosquitos join us in the evening. To avoid the bugs in the camper, we made a mosquito net to cover the rear door opening. Therefore we can leave the door open to get fresh air in the camper without having the annoying bugs inside.

Fly and mosquito net for our camper

We bought a white curtain, two strong magnets and some clips to attach the curtain at the back of the camper. As there is no custom made curtain available in the shops we do it ourselves. Thanks to a house sitting job we also have access to a sewing machine. Cool! It only took about two hours to finish the mosquito net.

Future camper upgrades

We are now pretty satisfied with our camper setup. There are still a few things that we want to improve in the future but we can’t do them all in once.

For the road trip around the world we want to install a water filter that we always have enough clean drinking water. Inside the camper we also want to optimize a few things. There is potential for more storage room.

We also still have a few ideas that we picked up last year at the outdoor fair Abenteuer & Allrad in Bad Kissingen (Germany). Let’s see what we will change and optimize in the coming months. We will keep you up to date.

If you enjoyed this post, pin it to Pinterest

Do it yourself camper upgrades and improvements

Do you have more ideas for camper upgrades? We would love to read your tips in the comment box.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.