Inspired by all the awesome overland rigs I get to drool over when traveling to events, I decided to build a do-it-yourself camp kitchen unit for my small SUV, a Jeep Renegade Trailhawk. I tried to incorporate some of the cool features you see in full size overland rigs to make it more functional and comfortable for camping.
SUV Camp Kitchen Build Articles:
- Build Overview (this article)
- Pt 1: Camp Kitchen Slide-out Sink and Countertop Build
- Pt 2: DIY Slide-out 12V Fridge/Freezer (Coming Soon)
- Pt 3: 12V Off-grid Power: 12V Switch Panel, Battery & Solar Panel (Coming Soon)
- Pt 4: Finish Work (Coming Soon)
- Pt 5: Field Test (Coming Soon)
Why bother building a camp kitchen unit w/ off-grid power for a Jeep Renegade? I’m on a fairly tight budget and the Renegade has been a great little SUV for commute purposes. It also gives me enough 4×4 capability to get off the beaten path and camp regularly. All this driving combined averages about 27 mpg which is great for monthly gas expenses. With a limited budget and some hands-on skills, I thought I’d try to make something work for now with what I currently have.
Camp Kitchen Build Goals:
- Lightweight. Removable by one person, for storage or to access spare tire if needed.
- Self-contained unit. Compact sized for a small SUV like the Jeep Renegade.
- Not complicated to remove or put back in.
- Stealthy & low profile. Less attention to minimize chance for theft of gear. Retain full window driving visibility.
- Functional and resilient. Consider real world usage and potential unforeseen issues.
- Budget build of less than $1,000
- Slide out countertop with space for mini stove & extra counter space
- Slide out mini sink w/ drain
- Space for spouted water jug to sit over the sink
- Slide out 12V fridge/freezer
- 12V off-grid power: slide-out battery, 12V switch panel & solar panel
- Savage Camper Night Glow™ 12V LED lighting
- Storage space for stove, utensils, etc.
- Carpeted lid turns into low camp table (coming soon!)
Building a Camp Kitchen to Fit in a Compact SUV
Since the Jeep Renegade Trailhawk is technically a compact SUV, space is obviously limited. When the back seat of the Renegade folds down, you’re looking at a bit over 4 ½ feet of floor space length/depth. The overall width of the floor space is about 38”.
When the rear seats are opened up for someone to sit in however, that rear hatch trunk space is reduced to just 26” in depth at the floor. Additionally, the seats slope back towards the rear hatch at a 70 degree angle, so the 26” depth reduces to about 20” as you move up in height to the peak vertical height of the rear seat backing.
This small space with the rear seats up is what I decided to build the overland camp kitchen sizing specs to fit within, incorporating all of the camp kitchen features mentioned above (Not a simple endeavor!). This will allow me to still use the rear seats folded down for additional storage space, and allow for rear seat passengers when needed as well.
Based on all this, the final camp kitchen box sizing is roughly 36”W x 24’L (base) x 18” tall. The height was roughly dictated by the desire to keep everything below the level of the windows, retaining full visibility when driving, and keeping a low profile with the camp kitchen unit.
Where I Purchased Build Materials & Equipment
I purchased most of my build supplies and equipment through Amazon and Home Depot. I link to different supplies & products in the other camp kitchen build articles.
What About Sleeping Space?
Any overland setup includes some sort of sleeping and living space arrangement. The DIY camp kitchen unit takes care of some outdoor living space amenities, but not the sleeping quarters. There isn’t enough room in the Renegade Trailhawk for a proper sleeping area with a full length of 4 ½ feet (I’m 6 feet tall).
A roof top tent may be ideal for SUV applications that were clearly designed to handle the static/dynamic loads. Although I’ve seen roof top tents on a Jeep Renegade, I’m not sure it is an ideal solution for myself. The only information I could find online is a factory mentioned weight limit of 150 lbs (not sure if that’s a static or dynamic weight limit).
There’s of course always just relying on your typical tent. However, being off the ground would be ideal to say the least, so I have a potential budget solution I’ll be introducing for this, coming up.
Part 2 is coming soon where I begin build out of the camp kitchen unit, including the slide out countertop, slide out sink, a platform for a spouted water jug, and more! Bookmark this page to check back soon!