Have you ever thought about a rear camera for your trailer?

Install Travel Trailer Rear View Camera
Much of the information on this site is only my opinion. Use it at your own risk. -Denny
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I've been thinking about a camera for a long time!

I've often wished I could see behind my trailer from my tow vehicle. It would be nice to see what's back there when I'm on the highway. But mostly, it would make it easier backing into a campsite and also where I store it at home.

Whenever I had started looking into it before, it seemed too complicated to wire up and install. A lot of them were more money than I wanted to spend too! I'm pretty handy and good with wiring, but with our trailer, it meant drilling through the fiberglass shell, and crawling around under the bed to get to the wiring. Anyway, I finally came up with a solution that looked good. It was cheaper than most of the solutions and the approach I took was really quite simple to setup.

Rear view camera for small travel trailer

The affordable rear view camera I got for our small travel trailer

What I got

Generally people mount these cameras permanently, but I wanted something I could easily setup when needed and keep it packed up the rest of the time. My plan needed to meet the following requirements:
- Quickly setup the camera in a good position at the rear of the trailer
- Easily get power to it without having to drill holes or struggle to connect to the existing wiring.

The system I selected was from Amazon. This was important to me because I knew it would be real easy to return if I wasn't satisfied. Both the camera for mounting on the back of the trailer and also the monitor for in the truck were included. The screen on this model is just large enough, but not too large. The truck already had a rear-view camera that displayed on the car stereo screen, so I didn't want anything else too big.

Testing it - My first temporary installation

Installing the monitor is simple. The power cable simply plugs into the accessory (cigarette lighter) port in the truck. The plug also has a USB jack so it can power something else while it is tying up the accessory port. This works well to keep both the camera and a GPS connected when on the road.

The camera does not need a connection to the monitor, but does need to get power. When installing one for normal operation, it is generally tied into the backup light circuit. That powers it only when the truck is in reverse. However, since I wanted to be able to see behind me while driving down the highway, I needed a source that would be powered on whenever I was driving. For a permanent installation, this would normally be tied into the taillight circuit, causing it to work whenever the lights were turned on. I found a better solution for my needs which I'll explain in just a bit.

My initial setup

In order to make sure it was going to work out well, I did a temporary setup for our first trip. I hooked a long wire to a light inside the trailer to get power. The wire was then run out through an outside storage compartment that was slightly accessible (enough for a wire) from the inside. This was connected to the camera's power cable with electrical tape. I knew I could easily remove it without any damage should I decide to return it all to Amazon.

To mount the camera for this initial test trip, I used a c-clamp and fastened to the bumper. I was concerned that it may be too low, but when viewed on the monitor it was perfect. By the way, the camera has a wide angle lens. It gives you a good view on both sides behind you, as well as up and down. Mounting it low on the bumper would later work out fine for my semi-permanent solution.

My semi-permanent solution for the camera

Once we got back home from that first trip, I knew this was going to work. Now I had to decide how I would mount the camera for the future, and how I would get power to it.

Mounting the camera

Rear view camera for small travel trailer

How I mounted the camera to the rear bumper of our small travel trailer. The wing nut allows for easy setup and later packing it away. (Notice the strong double sided tape covered in red. This will work well for installations where mounting a bolt is not convenient.)

Since the temporary bumper mount had worked well, I decided to drill a hole through the bumper and permanently mount a bolt and nut there. When we take a trip, I can simply slide the camera over the bolt and tighten a wingnut with a lock washer on top of it. This has worked out really well. For those installations where using a bolt doesn't work well, the camera includes some industrial strength double sided tape which can be used (covered by red in the photo).

Making a removable power cable for the camera

Rear view camera for small travel trailer

Adding a accessory plug to the power cable for the camera.

To power the camera, I settled on a great solution, although it may not work for all trailers. Our Casita has an accessory (cigarette lighter) port inside. I got a plug that would fit it, and ran a long enough wire to attach to the cable that came with the camera. To make a good secure joint, I soldered the connection and covered the joints with heat shrinkable tubing. It was probably overkill, but that's nothing new for me!

Running the power cable

Rear view camera for small travel trailer

Running the power cable for the camera to the inside of the trailer.

Next was to get the power cable into the camper. In my case this was quite easy. On the side of our trailer, near the rear, we have a storage comparment that can be accessed from the inside.

Rear view camera for small travel trailer

The power cable on the inside of the trailer. When setup, it reaches from the cabinet to the accessory port on the ceiling near the TV.

There is a cabinet on the inside of the trailer, with an opening into the outside hatch. It's small, but big enough to put the cable through.

When not in use, the wire/cable can be wound up and stored inside the cabinet. The power cable came as two sections that connect to each other. This makes it real easy to disconnect the camera and store it inside too.

Mounting the antenna

Rear view camera for small travel trailer

The antenna for the camera. I use valcro to attach it beside the outdoor hatch.

The wireless signal

The camera cable has a small (2 inch) box in the center, with a 1 inch antenna that sticks out. This needs to be outside to get the signal from the camera to the monitor. I mounted a piece of valcro to the back of the small box, and glued the mating valcro piece right beside the outdoor storage compartment door. When traveling, this makes it real easy to keep the antenna positioned well.

Rear view camera for small travel trailer

In addition to helping back into a campsite as shown in the photo on top of this page, it's great to see behind the trailer when on the road.

The monitor

The monitor comes with a mount with a suction base. Unfortunately, it needs a smooth surface to stick to, something my Tacoma does not have. I ended up attaching it to an old CD, and slide the CD in the crack beneath the received. It stays in place without any problem, and is simple to remove when were done.

In summary

This has turned out to be a great solution for what I was hoping for. It wasn't very expensive, was easy to install in a way I like, and does a good job letting me see behind the trailer. Not only has it made it a little easier to back into campsites, I also love being able to see the traffic behind the trailer when on the road.

Be sure to check it out on Amazon if it sounds interesting. As always, send me a note should you have any questions.
- Denny

For more information or to purchase a product mentioned in this article, click the image below to access the related product page on Amazon. Thank you for supporting my sponsors and advertisers.
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Denny Johnson

Denny Johnson

After having spent most of our adult life in Orlando, my wife Fay and I moved to Knoxville, TN in 2020. We are loving the change of seasons and being near the mountains. Plus, this part of the country is loaded with great places to camp.
We camped years ago with a pop-up camper, but got serious about it when we purchased our Casita in 2014. There was a lot to learn as we started traveling with it, and a lot of conflicting opinions on line. That's when I decided that creating a website would be a good retirement project. I started tinyTowable.com to share things we've learned along the way that have worked well for us in hopes that the information would be of help to others.
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This article has been revamped and updated since it was originally posted.
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4 thoughts on “Have you ever thought about a rear camera for your trailer?

  1. Nice write up. I’ve been thinking about a backup and/rear view camera for my T@B and saw yours. How does it work at night for a rear view camera? Any glare from headlights behind your trailer? Thanks

    1. Thanks for the positive feedback Colin. Unfortunately, we never drive at night when we’re towing, so I don’t have an answer for you on this one.
      – Denny

  2. Gee, Denny, if everyone used a back up camera much of the fun watching others try and park big rigs while husband and wife yell at each other would be lost!

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