The Scamp: A Nickel Tour

I recently received custody of a Scamp for two, possibly three, years.

I’ve been surprised at the amount of interest in this little travel trailer.

Based on the questions be it on Facebook, emails, or Instagram, here’s a synopsis of the Scamp and how I plan on using it in the months ahead.

Who am I? A baseline

PCO Josh Zapin

Though most readers of this blog are familiar with me (for better, usually worse), those finding this page via Google or other means may not know who I am. So here’s the baseline for my Scamp use.

The name is Paul Magnanti or Paul Mags for short. My first love is hiking and backpacking. My kit is on the minimalist side. I’ve taken some long walks over the years. I’ve also car camped in remote places that aren’t perhaps the most backpacking friendly but are rather lovely in their particular way.

I quit my job in Sept 2017. Went for a short walk, went for a longer walk, and I’ve been vagabonding ever since.

My friends are going abroad to England for a little bit, and I have custody of their Scamp in the meantime. We’ll see how it goes!

Caveats: I am new to the Scamping world. There are just my thoughts based on recent inquiries. I may change my mind in the months ahead. 🙂

What is a Scamp?

Closer view of the Scamp at a recent Seder dinner while camping. A good Italian boy does quite well at *any* holiday. PCO Mike DiLorenzo.

A Scamp is a light, compact, and tidy travel trailer.

The 13′ model is perhaps the most popular.

I have custody of a vintage 1976 Scamp that weighs in at ~1000 lbs per the owners. This particular Scamp has a 20# propane tank, a 12-gallon water tank, an outside porch light, a top side fan and window for venting, and can plug into a standard A/C outlet when near electricity at places such as an RV park when in town.

Though not standard equipment, I have a small canopy I’ve used for car camping in the past. The canopy works well as a front porch of sorts for sun and rain protection. I seam sealed the canopy, so it is much more water resistant than factory issued. I keep the canopy structure in the Kia (see below).

What vehicle am I using to tow?

My Kia and the reliable car camping setup.

A 2005 Kia Sorento is what I am using to tow the Scamp. A 4WD vehicle with 8.25″ of ground clearance, 4H and 4L, built on a truck fame, has a reasonably tight turn radius and a fairly short wheelbase. The Sorento has received good marks from off-road magazines surprisingly! More importantly, the vehicle has a towing capacity of 3500 pounds. Combined with a hitch that is rated at 700 lbs for the tongue, and the vehicle works for towing the Scamp.

The Scamp is a learning curve to backup, but is light enough to fine tune the placement a bit when unhitched. Even by myself.

What does all that mean? I can make basecamp with the Scamp and then unhitch. And go up the rougher jeep roads if I am so inclined.

The inside tour

Though only 65 square feet, the Scamp is surprisingly roomy. The layout is well thought-out and works quite nicely. The best way to describe the overall feel of the Scamp? Three’s a crowd, the Scamp is cozy for a close couple, and is a palace for one.

Here we have the couch and the “kitchen.”

And leftover Passover wine!

Note the dorm style fridge, the two burner stove, and the small closest underneath. I keep my trusty cast iron skillet in there, a 4 qt pot, a 2 qt pot, and my cutting board. The fridge is small, so I still use a cooler for beverages and other items.

The cubby hole formed by one end of the couch and the stove/fridge is my “pantry.” The orange tote contains canned goods. The soft-sided bag has oatmeal, nuts, dried fruit, powdered milk, quinoa, and similar. I usually have a sheet on the upper cushion to keep it clean. I moved it to show the cushion.

The orange pantry tote conveniently moves to the side to form a make-shift counter for cooking if needed. (Hence the sheets!)

For much of my cooking and food gear, I simply recycled a good portion of my car camping gear into the Scamp.

Some of my camping gear, such as the table, is still used as I don’t always want to be inside the Scamp. 🙂 Much of this older, pre-Scamp gear, fits nicely under or on a cargo shelf I built for the Kia.

Under the couch is a storage unit. I keep shoes I do not often wear under there and some misc items such as the canopy awning. Items not used daily in other words.

Above the couch is another storage area. I keep my utensils, plates, garbage bags, Ziplocs, and some other items in there.

The bin takes up the entire top. Rather spacious!

Here’s a better view of under the kitchen.

I have yet to use the propane heater. The propane heater is older and is not as fuel efficient. If I find myself cold-weather Scamping, I may switch to a Mr. Heater or similar and use my existing 5# propane tank.

Though there are a sink and water tank in the Scamp, I find it easier to use a 7-gallon water jug as I am solo. And though it is Spring, it does get cold at night in the West. Lines may freeze. I’d rather keep it simple for now.

Above is a view of the sink, the water jug, stove, and cabinets. I keep olive oil, spice, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and similar up there.

Oh, and a few hot sauces apparently!

Just at the Scamp door is another closet. In there I keep dirty laundry, cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, an extension cord, and where I suspect a small propane heater will be placed there in the future for storage.

When at basecamp, I keep my toiletries on the hook. Cool mirrors ‘eh?

And here we have the bed that also folds into a dinner table for four.

Since I am solo, I always keep the table in bed mode. I have been using an older winter sleeping bag as a quilt. Though the sheets and bedspread do class up the place. 🙂

Below the bed is storage space. I keep my “town clothes” in there along with a duffle of outdoor clothes such as thermals, balaclava, mittens, etc.

Above the bed is also an identical storage bin to the one above the couch. I keep my “go to” camp clothes such as my puffy, fleece hat, fleece pullover, rain gear, wind pants, etc. I also keep my toiletries while traveling and some electronics (see below).

Truthfully, there is a surprising amount of storage in here for one person. Even with my town and outdoor clothing! The Kia acts as storage for my packs and some other outdoor equipment.

Lights and electricity

In the Scamp, there are four lights: Two lights on either side of the kitchen, a light with two settings by the bed, and a porch light.

Additionally, there are electrical outlets on either side of the kitchen counter.

An electric fan that draws out heat or blows in the fresh air has two speed settings. I tend to use the window more than the fan itself.

When in town (shower, laundry, resupply, WiFi) I’ll plug in and make use of these amenities. I have found KOAs or similar to be perfect for my weekly town stop. Expensive camping, but cheap lodging.

Otherwise, the energy source is a deep cycle marine battery. However, I rarely use that source of power.

Off the Grid

from Amazon

I’ve been using a variety of methods for my lighting or electric needs while traveling:

Luci Lux lights: Three solar-charged lanterns provide more than enough light. I only have one on as I type this article. The soft glow is reminiscent of a Coleman Lanterns vs. the harsh glow of many modern LED lights. As a bonus, easy to use these lights in a picnic shelter, under a canopy, etc. I’ll charge the lights when off hiking for the day.

USB Headlamp: A rechargeable headlamp for when quick lighting is needed or if I am outside at night. The red light, in particular, is quite handy for night sky viewing.

Battery packs/ phone chargers: I have an older 5000 mAh model and a newer 10000 mAh one. The 5000 pack gives my Samsung S6 about two charges; the 10000 mAH about four charges. The number of charges is about half for my tablet that I use primarily for reading.

Goal Zero Yeti 150: I succumbed as I am writing on the road, ran out of juice unless I plugged into an inverter, and so decided to indulge in this battery pack. A fully charged 150 charges up my 15″ MacBook Pro about two times. I can also recharge the battery packs multiple times as well.

Solar Panel Recharger: A 40W solar panel recharges all of the above including the Yeti 150. I recently charged up my laptop with the Yeti 150 while that, in turn, was connected to the solar panels. The drain on the Yeti was only a small one.

Powerline PowerCup Inverter for Car: Finally, when driving, I have an inverter that can charge all of the above including the Yeti 150.


In some places, I feel connectivity would ruin the moment!

I’ve been using my Verizon enabled phone when I have a 4G connection and tether it to my laptop.

I will not connect in a dispersed, remote area. And not while backpacking.

I will connect in established campgrounds, in towns, or such areas as BLM land off the interstate.

This method, I find, strikes a balance between a sense of wildness and my communication and writing needs when traveling.

As always, YMMV.

Changes I may make

There are some protective area rugs over the original carpeting. However, this protective carpeting is a pain to clean, gets dirty easily, and does not look aesthetically pleasing.

My friends’ campervans have a vinyl, car mat like floor. I am thinking of getting something similar to cover up the carpeting on the Scamp. Easy to clean and I think it will look nicer than the old throw rugs currently in the Scamp.


I stayed here for three days. My friends one night. And there it is in a nutshell! PCO Dave H.

I am adjusting to the Scamp. It has changed how I approach where I go. Will the road be too rough vs. my 4WD vehicle alone? Should I camp closer? Etc. I also noticed my MPG dropped by ~5 MPG overall.

As my friend Dave put it, campervans are better for road trips. The Scamp is better for basecamp. The less driving I do, and the more I stay put, the more useful I will find the Scamp. Not a bad thing!

I think when I explore an area in depth for camping and hiking, the Scamp will be valuable. In a few short days, I’ll be backpacking and think having a town stop of sorts waiting for me at the trailhead when I am done (cold drinks, clean clothes, a solar shower) will be welcome as well.

I’ll have to report back in a few weeks!

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Ken Bennett
Ken Bennett
6 years ago

Hey, Mags, any comment on the length of the sleeping area? Is it the width of the Scamp? I have tried a similar camper and couldn’t fit on the bed (I’m just over six feet.)