Mike and Nancy have come up with this unique and very efficient camping arrangement. They pull a tear drop trailer behind their Honda Insight hybrid. They achieve an amazing 35 mpg and have full sleeping and cooking facilities — they even have a shower!
Thanks very much to Mike and Nancy for sending in the description!
Here are all the details from Mike and Nancy…
I thought I’d share our “RV” with you. We have a 2001 Honda Insight with a cvt transmission that I built a hitch for in order to tow our 500 lb “Little Guy” teardrop trailer. The Honda Insight with the cvt gets about 55 mpg with normal driving, but drops to around 35 mpg when towing. The trailer sleeps two comfortably and the hatch back opens to provide access to the kitchen area. The main feature of the kitchen is a small microwave that sits on a built in shelf.
We bought the trailer from another owner and it came with a small air conditioner/heater unit that can be set outside
the trailer. Dryer-like hoses connect to a plexi-glass insert that is placed into the window of one of the doors. We have a small Yamaha generator we can bring along for power if we’re boon-docking it. Both the A/C-heat unit and the generator are easily stored in the camper when not in use.
The only modification we’ve made to the trailer so far is to add some aluminum wheel adapters to convert the trailer wheels to Honda Insight wheels. The main reason for this is the car’s spare will now fit the trailer, and the Insight wheels provide for some weight reduction as well.
The latest addition is a small nylon privacy tent (about the size of a port-a-potty) we purchased for $25. We also
acquired a 2 gallon garden pump sprayer, painted the tank flat black, and with a brass fitting and a hose clamp the
garden spray wand was replaced with a kitchen sink hose/button sprayer nozzle assembly. It makes for a really nice
solar shower that incorporates the pump and the on/off feature all in one device. We also carry a small plastic tarp
for flooring in the nylon tent when we plan on using the shower for an extended period, and a 5 gal bucket with a
modified toilet lid and trash can liners for personal hygiene.
The least expensive personal solar shower I’ve made was a 1.5L soda jug painted flat black. Drill a series of eight tiny holes in the perimeter of a spare cap, and by exchanging the drilled cap onto a filled jug that’s been sitting in the sun for a few hours, you have a nice warm personal shower for next to nothing. An added benefit to all of these shower devices is they are quite portable, store water easily, and provide double duty for dish washing and other general cleaning as well. On a cold cloudy day we can always heat water in the microwave if need be.
Some additional notes from a recent trip…
We just got back from Roanoke, VA and took a few more pictures.
We drove from Atlanta to Stony Fork Campground just SE of Roanoke, VA. Actual mpg averaged round trip was 35mpg.
I did add a tranny cooler to the Insight in preparation for mountain climbing. I’ve been measuring the hot coolant line coming out of the tranny and the highest temp I saw was 173*F in the mountains. Typical temp was 135-140*F on rolling hills with ambient temps in the low 90’s. I’ve also included a pic of the hitch I built to tow the camper with since no one offers one for the Insight.
Honda advises against any towing with the Insight, but I have no trouble keeping up with highway traffic towing the 500 lb trailer with the A/C on. I try not to exceed 5-10 mph over the limit. Acceleration from a dead stop is excellent. Braking feels typical or average, similar to my F150 when towing a boat, but I do plan on investigating trailer brakes just to see if I can improve on it. The bottom line is I feel the CVT Insight is definitely up to the task. I do notice the Hybrid battery gets more of a workout when towing. My gauge drops to 50% capacity when towing as compared to 80-90% when not towing. Exercising the battery is not harmful at all.
The floor covering in the privacy tent pics are some left over Sterilite container tops. The tops help keep the feet clean when showering, but usually we camp where there is a bathroom facility available.
Wishing you all the best.
Mike & Nancy