Outdoors

Swiss Army-inspired modular camping box turns your small car into an RV

The Roombox is available in Europe at the moment, and the company plans to expand to other countries
The Roombox is available in Europe at the moment, and the company plans to expand to other countries
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The Swiss Roombox was designed to mount into a car within about 15 minutes
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The Swiss Roombox was designed to mount into a car within about 15 minutes
When you arrive, the Roombox unfolds and breaks down into numerous components
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When you arrive, the Roombox unfolds and breaks down into numerous components
You even get an outdoor shower
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You even get an outdoor shower
The Roombox stores most of its equipment in two modules
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The Roombox stores most of its equipment in two modules
You get a sink, dual-burner stove and optional cookware
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You get a sink, dual-burner stove and optional cookware
Roombox parts quickly transform into tables and chairs
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Roombox parts quickly transform into tables and chairs
The sink doubles as a pull-out shower head
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The sink doubles as a pull-out shower head
When laid flat, the Roombox creates a bed for two
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When laid flat, the Roombox creates a bed for two
So long as your seats fold, you can sleep on the Roombox
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So long as your seats fold, you can sleep on the Roombox
Roombox was designed for smaller vehicles like compacts, station wagons and vans
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Roombox was designed for smaller vehicles like compacts, station wagons and vans
The versatile unit offers several configurations for table/counter space
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The versatile unit offers several configurations for table/counter space
You can lie down even in a small car
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You can lie down even in a small car
Available accessories include a refrigerator and portable toilet
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Available accessories include a refrigerator and portable toilet
The Roombox is available in Europe at the moment, and the company plans to expand to other countries
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The Roombox is available in Europe at the moment, and the company plans to expand to other countries
Cooking, sleeping and washing from one portable unit
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Cooking, sleeping and washing from one portable unit
The EasyTech is a smaller, less expensive model "coming soon" in 2012
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The EasyTech is a smaller, less expensive model "coming soon" in 2012
The EasyTech appears to pack many of the same conveniences in a smaller package
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The EasyTech appears to pack many of the same conveniences in a smaller package
Like the standard Roombox, the Easy Tech lays flat for sleep configuration
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Like the standard Roombox, the Easy Tech lays flat for sleep configuration

The problem with campers is that you need a good tow vehicle with hitch to travel with them. If you have a smaller, less powerful car or lack a hitch, you'll need to spend money on a better car or hitch installation before you can even consider a camper. The Swiss Roombox levels the playing field, allowing even small car owners to enjoy many of the conveniences of a camping trailer. The device is a removable set of modules that turns the average car into a mini-motor home.

The creators of Swiss Roombox were inspired by another Swiss product - the Swiss Army knife. Specifically, they were influenced by the Swiss Army knife's ability to pack many tools and functions into a compact, easy-carry package.

The Roombox does exactly that, but it does it in a more three-dimensional way. The series of boxes slide along an intricate set of pulleys, cables and articulated arms, and attach together like a 3D puzzle. The system fits neatly in the trunk of everything from a compact car to a minivan and unfolds into a functional campsite. According to the company, it should only take you about 15 minutes to mount the Roombox anchor hardware, install the two modules and accompanying components, and be on your way.

So long as your seats fold, you can sleep on the Roombox
So long as your seats fold, you can sleep on the Roombox

When you arrive at your destination, you slide and fold out individual walls and surfaces to create nearly all aspects of your campsite. Segments of the Roombox adjust to reveal a camp sink and a double gas burner. The kitchen sink doubles as an outdoor shower, and the Roombox includes a curtain with mounting hardware. There's even an integrated Swiss Army knife, as a sort of homage to the Roombox's origins (and as a useful tool in itself).

Small pieces stored within the Roombox package assemble into counter-top work space, tables and chairs. All components include tool-free hardware that you can assemble in minutes. On top of that, they're modular, so that you can create different sizes and types of tables, for instance. Options like refrigerators, toilets, kitchenware, mattresses and organizers are available for purchase, and if you have the room, you can purchase a unit with more storage space.

Cooking, sleeping and washing from one portable unit
Cooking, sleeping and washing from one portable unit

When we first saw the Roombox, we assumed that it was meant to be used in addition to a tent for actual sleeping. We were wrong - the Roombox actually follows through on its promise of turning your car into a full-on mobile home by offering sleeping space. Assuming you have enough interior space and folding rear seats, the Roombox lays out flat in your car and provides about 6 feet (185 cm) of "bed" wide enough for two people. Simply slide your sleeping bags and/or camping mattress(es) over top of it, and your car becomes a hard-sided camper. To camp with a larger group, bring along a tent or two.

On the technical end, the Roombox has a 12-volt power system with switches for the water heater and water pump. It has an integrated 25-liter (6.6-gallon) fresh water tank and 29-liter (7.7-gallon) waste water tank. A 230-volt or 110-volt power inverter with USB connection accepts mobile devices for charging, and 12-volt plugs work with additional equipment like the optional cooler box. The only required connection is an electrical connection to your car's battery with an included cable.

From our first look at it, the Swiss Roombox seems like an ingenious device that could be as useful, albeit much more niche, as the Swiss Army knife. One of the worst things about camping is strategically stuffing the car full of equipment from the garage, basement, kitchen, etc. - I've spent the majority of a day just loading up the car to "relax" in the wilderness. The Roombox takes much of that hassle out, since it integrates so many components of camping. It also gives you a little more weather and wildlife protection than tent camping.

The price seems a little high though. The basic Swiss Roombox starts at CHF7,974 (US$8,833 at the time of publishing) outside of Switzerland, which puts it in the range of full campers and popups like the Sylvan Sports Go. You could get components (camp sink, stove, shower, furniture, etc.) for considerably less, so you're paying a lot for the design and engineering.

The EasyTech is a smaller, less expensive model "coming soon" in 2012
The EasyTech is a smaller, less expensive model "coming soon" in 2012

Swiss Roombox appears aware of its pricing vulnerability and plans to launch a smaller, less expensive unit in the near future. The EasyTech will cost CHF3,964 (US$4,400). It looks significantly smaller and simpler, but still offers such functions as bed, sink, stove and table space. The company has yet to detail the full information on the EasyTech model, stating simply that it's a 2012 model and is coming soon.

For now the Swiss Roombox is only available in Europe, but the company says it's working to meet regulations of other countries and should offer the system outside of Europe soon. Buyers should reference Swiss Roombox's measurements page, because while it's designed to fit many vehicles, you will need appropriate space.

Source: Swiss Roombox

9 comments
BigGoofyGuy
While I agree that the price seems rather high, it is still a cool design.
Denis Klanac
You can make this yourself for a hell of a lot cheaper.
BigGoofyGuy
Plus making it oneself would also save having it shipped. It would be interesting to see what some creative could come with as less expensive versions of this product. It is delivered in all European Countries. Perhaps making it onself would be better since they don't to deliver it to the USA; perhaps the cost to ship it would not be practical.
Slowburn
Once I have the stuff together it rarely takes more than 15 minutes to load my car. Finding were everybody has hidden everything takes longer.
Frank Lee
That price is stupid high. Even the "cheap" one is stupid high. $4-$8K could buy one hella lot of camper and fuel for it. I made cardboard window shades (hard to belive but they actually look good) for all the windows on my Taurus wagon; fold the rear seats down, put a $20 inflatable mattress and a foam pad down, and I'm halfway to having what this thing supposedly does.
Frank Lee
P.S. look at the sleeping quarters on top of those boxes: NO headroom. That means no sitting up, no stretching, no putting on/taking off clothes, no nothing. In my case, I want 6 1/2' of length and a couple of vertical feet of space for at least a little flailing around - the Taurus barely supplies it but this unit is 6" short lengthwise by about 2' shorter vertically! It MIGHT beat tenting but then again it might not.
Henry Rody
This reminds me of my "Boy Scout Kitchen In-A-Box" at the front of my utility trailer. "Old School" version of this "new idea"! ;-)
Peter Christensen
The Mazda5 camping car from Russia is much cheper and would be a great do it yourself project.
Grunchy
Um - this is the Pontiac Aztec. The ugliest car ever designed.
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