Rolling Homes Adventure Jeep

Rolling Homes, by Lloyd Kahn, focuses on do-it-yourself vehicles crafted by people searching for something more. Of the 75 folks featured in the book, 29 are full-time residents in their rigs, whether they live in vans, trucks, sedans, trailers, or buses. The book contains practical information, solutions, and stories. It doesn’t describe van life or the lifestyle or feature nomads; instead, it describes the creation or building of homes on wheels. 

picture of jeep with camper from rolling homes book

The excellent cover image is of Erik J. Howes’s Adventure Jeep. Erik has said, “This little adventure-mobile is constantly evolving, as I do with it.” He was previously a mechanic at a Jeep dealership, working more than 40 hours a week. Over 10 years ago, Erik discovered rock-climbing, bought his Jeep, and planned to travel for a few months. Realizing that mechanic work wasn’t for him, Erik eventually sold his tools and started a new life.

Adventure Jeep’s Evolution

The 2002 Jeep Wrangler TJ 4.0L is a 5-speed manual with 195,000 miles and a leaky fold-down canvas top.Since the first road trip, Erik has remodeled almost the entire project, using salvaged materials, scraps from an old farmhouse for the metal roof and frame, and used chimney pipes for the flashing. Every year, the cedar shakes get cleaned by a power washer, along with some repairs and upgrades.

picture from inside jeep camper

  • Insulation: 2″ rigid foam board and spray foam
  • Heater: Webasto Air Top 2000 gasoline heater
  • Electricity: Goal Zero Yeti 400 battery-powered portage power station
  • Bed: Salvaged Styrofoam, scrap yoga mats, and army surplus blankets
  • Stove: MSR Pocket Rocket

Erik’s Advice

Be sure not to limit yourself by what you imagine converting a vehicle will look like. Be creative but realistic about your capabilities, and make sure you make a sturdy rig. It will be a rough ride with unexpected complications that will be scary or uncomfortable. It will take time, energy, and sacrifice. Be sure to breathe through it and take breaks when flustered.

If he could do it all over again, he would start with a bigger vehicle than the 20-square-foot rig that is only 1 inch longer than himself. 

Be sure to check out Erik’s trolley project at

More Homes on Wheelstwo book covers, rolling homes and tiny homes on the move

If you loved Rolling Homes: Shelter on Wheels by Lloyd Kahn (2022), check out his other book, Tiny Homes on the Move: Wheels and Water (2014). This book features some 90 homes—including vans, trucks, buses, trailers, sailboats, houseboats, and a tugboat—and almost half are lived in full-time. The book is a continuation from Tiny Homes: Simple Shelterwhich was a hit that showcased many homes on wheels or water. That success led Lloyd to gather nomadic living stories from the 21st century, along with some 1,100 photographs, in the book Tiny Homes on the Move. If you enjoy reading about unconventional housing, these titles are for you!

Shelter is more than a roof overhead.

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Breathing New Life into Old Wood: Former Duck-Hunting Cabins Find a Home

In 2017, the Millers snagged a 10-acre gem on Buchanan Lake in Minnesota, complete with a trio of old-school duck-hunting cabins that had seen better days. Legend has it, even an NFL big shot used to hunt here. Right before sealing the deal, the previous owners were close to tearing the cabins down. But the Millers saw some rustic gold in that wood and decided to dismantle the structures instead, aiming to breathe new life into the aged siding.

Two old wood cabins

Each cabin told its own story. One was the crash pad, still packed with a dozen mattresses—a mash-up of bunk and twin beds in one room, plus a couple of full-size beds in the next. The roof had given up on doing its job here, and most of the windows were a testament to better times gone by. Another cabin was all about the grub; its kitchen setup was surprisingly intact with a fridge, stove, and sink. And then there was the storage shack, standing firm on a concrete foundation, while its siblings squatted on wooden floors that were quickly deteriorating—think rotted planks! 

One long old wood cabin, half rotting

But here’s where it gets good. The Millers managed to rescue about 60% of that wood, trimming off the rough edges (literally) to weave it into their new digs inside a steel shed—you know, the steel shed that people use for a house—a “shouse.” They power-washed each plank to its former glory, skipped the sanding to keep that rugged charm, and sealed each with a layer of clear varnish. They went all in on a cozy, lived-in vibe.

two walls with repurposed wood, one rustic tongue and groove and the other painted shiplap

Installing the siding was a bit like putting together a giant puzzle—using the tongue and groove style on stud walls, pinned down with finishing nails. Some of the boards were stripped in half for the trim to keep up the rustic look. The roofing boards got a new lease on life too. They were cleaned up, painted, and lined up for a shiplap statement wall. All in all, it took about a week of prep and DIY magic to get everything up and looking sharp.

picture of Meg Simonds house from the book, Small Homes

While many of our books feature recycled materials, Meg Simonds, featured in Small Homes, explains it best: “Building with recycled wood is a slow and arduous affair, from finding it to pulling the last nail. It is a lot of work and rarely is it delivered. The payoff is twofold. The quality of older wood generally surpasses that of new, and its deep, rich beauty only comes with age. For us, more importantly, [we love] getting to have a truly deep relationship with the wood. All this wood once had a home, an ancient forest, the lungs of the Earth; little of this remains. The best we can do now is to have a deep respect for what was and what is. We approached building our home with this in mind.” (pg. 126-127)

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The Shelter Publications Blog Lives!

Actually, it never really died—it was just dormant for a season or two as we shifted energy elsewhere! If you’re new here, you should give Lloyd’s blog and his Instagram account a follow.

If you’re still with us, it means you recognize the importance of innovative problem-solving and sustainable living.

Lloyd Kahn revolutionized how people think about homes and buildings, starting with Shelter and then Shelter II. Both books were born of the same ethos and printing presses as the Whole Earth Catalog (that’s why those two Shelter books are so big!). And Lloyd hasn’t stopped spreading his love and appreciation for new building techniques and the new designers who adopt them. He just has some new help here on the official Shelter Publications blog.

Shelter books with the Whole Earth Catalog and Lloyd Kahn's picture with AdventureKEEN's logo

His books continue to celebrate the rough edges, the imperfections, and the beauty of the stories behind the designs. They are simultaneously art books, practical how-to guides, and philosophical treatises all rolled into one.

The keys to the long-lasting relevance of Shelter Publications are Lloyd’s personal touch and heart, which he pours into every project. So while Shelter Publications will have a few new voices, Lloyd’s work won’t change. 

Since it has been a while since this blog was updated, here are a few highlights about Lloyd Kahn and his work:

We hope you’ll stick around as we dust off a few things and breathe life back into this blog. We are excited to show you what gets built next!

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Tom's Lorry

…After a lot of trawling through eBay, I finally found the perfect lorry to build my house on, the beastly 1988 Bedford MJ. The build began in November 2016, and, as I was building it mainly single-handedly, I didn’t move into it until November 2017.

My house has everything you need, including a fully equipped kitchen, log burner, bathroom with shower and composting toilet, and — most importantly — space for surfboards! To maximize space, the bed is suspended from the ceiling on pulleys, raised during the day over the living room and lowers down to be slept on. It’s also fully off-grid, with solar panels and a rain water harvesting system…

  • Tom’s Lorry will be featured in our upcoming book Hit the Road Jack.
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Greg Clark's Handmade House

Hi Lloyd,

I’ve been fascinated by handmade houses for years. I came across a book in the ’70s called The Wood Butcher’s Art. I now teach in a traditional school in India, and teach my students about such houses. With their help I made a house here in West Bengal from mostly local timber and I thought you might be interested. We have several of your books which are very inspiring. The boys made several models based on a reading of some of your books. If you are interested I can send more photos. The house was inspired by my travels in Cambodia, Thailand, and Assam.

I teach in a traditional school in West Bengal, India. We have international students and I wanted to show them that you can build a great house out of local renewable materials. The trees for the frame and most of the floors was all local. Many students came and helped me build the house. It took about two years. I wanted to use shingles for the roof, but we can’t get cedar here. So I had to invest quite a bit to make teak shingles, which were used historically in tropical places like Hawaii or Mauritius. The walls are made from ‘Slipstraw’ but we used the abundant eucalyptus sawdust that we generated instead of straw. We finished the walls with a lime sand plaster. It came out so well we had no need to paint. The wood was finished with a mix of local beeswax and pine turpentine.

The Bhaktivedanta Academy Gurukula, a traditional Vedic school with international students in West Bengal, India is helping to construct a series of houses for teachers. The boys of the academy spend a couple of hours each day learning basic construction methods based on age-old building traditions and using mostly local materials. The school’s oxen and horse also assist in the process. The boys are from all over the world: Russia, Ukraine, China, Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia, different parts of India, Ecuador, Argentina, Peru, Chile, Hungary, Bulgaria, etc. Before starting to build the boys spent several lessons studying your books, Builders of the Pacific Coast, Shelter 1-2, etc.

–Greg Clark

Sasha making pegs

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Driftwood Shacks Publication Date Today

It’s now available in independent bookstores.

I’m doing the following appearances:

  • Saturday, March 16th, 7 PM at Mollusk Surf Shop, 4500 Irving Street, San Francisco (maps)
  • Tuesday, March 19th, 7 PM at Bookshop Santa Cruz, 1520 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz (maps)
  • Wednesday, April 17th, 6:30 PM, Gallery Bookshop, 319 Kasten Street, Mendocino, Calif. (maps)
  • Friday, April 26th, 7 PM, Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera, Calif. (maps)

Some early reader feedback:

“…a breathtaking new book…”
–Kay LeRoy, Book Passage, Corte Madera, Calif.
Driftwood Shacks is spectacular!”
–J. Tony Serra, Lawyer, San Francisco
“…a marvelous book with lovely pictures of the California Coast.”
–Eliot Buchdruker, CPA, San Francisco
“Driftwood Shacks is splendid, a tribute to Lloyd’s fine and undimmed eye.”
–John Van der Zee, author
“…fascinating, ephemeral forms of spontaneous architecture.”
–Elise Cannon, Publishers Group West
“…fantastic new book”
–Chris “Uncle Mud” McClellan, natural builder
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Sarah and Matt Parks' Adventure Rig

Sarah and Matt Parks lived in a 1978 VW Westfalia before they decided to build a new rig using a newer Chevy van as a platform. What are the benefits of using a newer platform? Easier to heat during winter, more storage, less maintenance. Sarah and Matt along with their new rig will be featured in our upcoming book, aptly called Hit the Road Jack due out towards the end of the year.

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Homestead of Recycled Materials in Quebec

…In the fall of 2008 we came across an opportunity to pick up pine trees that were locally cut. We adapted our plans to the amount of wood available.

We hired a local sawmill owner to cut the timbers for us. That winter we rented a shop and prebuilt a 24′×30′ timber frame of 9′×9′ pine. The joinery is mortise-and-tenon, sculpted with mallet and chisels…

From our book, Small Homes: The Right Size

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Affordable Off-Grid Tiny Home Built with Recycled Picket Fence Palings

This incredible tiny house has been built for a remarkable price. Builder Jesse has taken a whole bunch of salvaged materials (mostly lots of old fence palings) and constructed a fully featured and whimsically beautiful tiny home all for less that $20,000.

While a tiny house may be small, there’s nothing tiny about the amount of labour that goes into constructing one. If you’re choosing to use reclaimed or salvaged materials that work load is dramatically increased as there is a lot of labour involved in reconditioning old materials and preparing them for a new project. If you’re willing to put in the work though, you can construct an affordable and beautiful home for a remarkably low figure.

Jesse’s home sits on an amazing property where he lives and works full time as a tiny house builder. While his boss was away on holiday and there was a break of work in the shop, Jessie turned his attention to constructing his own home on wheels. Ever resourceful, he had managed to find a whole bunch of old windows which he salvaged and designed his tiny house around. Except for the framing, old fence palings which he saved from landfill and thus got for free were used for both interior and exterior cladding as well as much of the cabinetry in the house…

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Driftwood Shacks Book Version 2.0 Just Released

We just received our new version of Driftwood Shacks: Anonymous Architecture Along the California Coast. It has twice as many pages/pictures and was printed by our printers in Hong Kong who print all of our building books. It is now available for order at

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Off-Grid Tiny Home in Australia

This stunning off-the-grid home in Australia may be tiny, but it has a very big story to tell. Constructed as a do-it-yourself build by recent empty-nesters Jan and Kev, this tiny house is open, spacious very efficient and completely off the grid.

When the last of their adult children left home, Jan and Kev decided it was time to redesign their lives. Constructing a tiny house on wheels was a fantastic way of freeing up capital and living a more simple lifestyle which would give them plenty of opportunity to travel and focus on the things in life which are important to them.

The home was constructed as a DIY project as Jan and Kev got stuck into all aspects of the build themselves. With no prior building experience, the tiny house was certainly a challenging project and the couple admit there were more than a few arguments throughout the process including a few walk-offs. Ultimately though, together they have built a beautiful home which has taught the couple they really can achieve anything they set their minds to.

Even though it’s a tiny house, there’s still plenty of space for entertaining their family when they come over. The couple are currently expanding on their home by adding a large deck, which will be completely under cover giving a lot of additional outdoor living space to capitalize on the fabulous Queensland weather…

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