How to build a simple sleeping platform for a truck bed

Are you recently planning for truck camping? If yes, then you must be thinking about building your own sleeping platform for truck shell camping. Do not worry, you can choose any of the four ways that we have discussed below on how to build a simple sleeping platform for a truck bed.

It is really a tough process selecting the right truck bed sleeping platform for your truck camping setup. There is an array of options available for building a sleeping bed platform. 

In this article, we will discuss about the most common approaches to build a truck bed sleeping platform, while sighting some of the pros and cons of each of the methods.

You can use this guide to help select which sleeping platform design is right for your DIY truck camper set-up. You can also customize it to best fit your own truck camping needs. The most important thing is to fix a budget for building a sleeping platform so that you can decide what kind of sleeping platform you are going to build.

TOOLS REQUIRED

  • 1 – Kreg Jig Kit  (This was a game changer for executing our truck bed sleeping platform build and drawer system – this is a MUST HAVE tool if you’re carpentry noobs like us )
  • 1 – Kreg Jig Clamp
  • Circular Saw or Table Saw
  • Jig Saw
  • Variable Speed Drill/Bit-Driver
  • Hole Saw Kit
  • Speed Square* and 48” T-Square* (great for making nice square cuts on long pieces of plywood)

Let us discuss a few simple and basic method of building your own truck bed sleeping platform. 

1. SLEEPING PLATFORM USING JUST A TRUCK BED MATTRESS AND STORAGE BINS

Cost of this type of sleeping platform will be less than $50, which you are supposed to spend on the plastic storage bins.

This does not add any extra weight to your truck bed camping shell.

You can literally just place an air mattress, a sleeping bag, and some plastic storage containers filled with gear in the bed of your truck. With this type of set up, you will be ready for the truck shell camping without having any hassles of installing a sleeping platform. 

This is definitely the cheapest and simplest option, and everybody will like it. For weekend camping trips and short-term travel, this method is a great truck bed camping solution. Moreover, you can just as easily keep everything back in place and go about your daily life and still be able to use your truck like a truck.

The best thing about this truck bed sleeping platform is they save a lot of time that you might spend on installing a sleeping platform using a sheet and all the hardware. But in other set-ups, you have to remove or at least rearrange your gear every time you stop to sleep or set up camp. You also face a lot of problems while dragging your gear out in bins poses.

However, we do not recommend this for long-term travel, over-landing, or extended truck canopy camping trips. And things get disorganized very fast. This can also lead to lost or misplaced gear, and a lot of frustration while searching your essentials. If you are travelling with your family or a child, then this is not the convenient method at all.

2. PVC TRUCK BED SLEEPING PLATFORM

Cost of this sleeping platform will be under $150.

This sleeping platform weighs less than 100 lbs.

This can be the second cheapest option for building a truck bed sleeping platform, depending on the way you build it. You can simply go to your local hardware store and purchase the 2” PVC pipe and hardware you need for installation. Then have the measurements and cut it to assemble your sleeping truck bed platform. When you finished installing the PVC pipe, top it with a sheet of at-least ½” plywood to serve as the sleeping platform.

However, a PVC sleeping platform like the one we discussed above requires the use of storage bins to store and organize your gear. But this allows you to store your gear under the platform in a slightly more organized fashion while truck bed camping.

This is one of the great options when weight is a concern, because, PVC is very light unlike wooden truck bed sleeping platforms. It is also very easy to disassemble and remove when not in use.

3. SLEEPING PLATFORM METHOD: BASIC OR MODULAR WOOD PLATFORM WITH STORAGE BINS

Cost of this sleeping platform will be around $100-$300

This type of truck bed platform weighs 100+ lbs

This is the most common method for creating a truck bed sleeping platform, which can provide a good mix of sleeping and storage solutions while truck bed camping.

You can build a simple frame using 2x4s with a piece of ½” to ¾” plywood over the frame to create a basic truck shell camping platform, which can provide a space beneath for storage bins.

Or you can just build a more flexible modular setup including a built-in storage along the bed rails, with an easily removable platform that holds the distance between the built-ins.

In this type of sleeping platform, your storage bins can easily slide underneath while they are in platform mode. When the platform is removed or lowered, you can have increased headroom to make your truck camper a more comfortable place in unpleasant weather.  

The build cost of this type of sleeping platform varies depending on the material you use. You can spend less than a PVC sleeping platform build if you arrange scrap materials from construction sites. You can also arrange the scrap bins at your local lumber yard, or use materials you already have lying around to save some bucks.

But cost will increase if you go for plywood and integrating built in storage option. This may also make the truck shell camping platform slightly more difficult to remove when needed, depending on build design. This is also a bit heavier than the previously discussed PVC truck bed platform option.

4. SLEEPING PLATFORM METHOD: PLYWOOD TRUCK SHELL CAMPING PLATFORM (WITH DRAWERS)

This method will cost you $300 and above

Weight of this sleeping platform will be 200 lbs or more.

You can completely customize the build, strength, and storage options of your truck bed, by using cabinet grade plywood for the construction of a truck bed sleeping platform

In the first sleeping platform type, we used long drawer slides and customized built-in storage. This storage can help us to keep all of our gear and equipment in a fixed and organized manner in a full-width truck bed sleeping platform.

You can also take advantage of the entire width between bed rails with this type of sleeping platform. Moreover, this type of sleeping platform provides enough room for a family of 3 fairly to sleep comfortably.

However, this truck shell camping platform does not allow you to use headroom compared to other build methods. But here, we are able to maximize headroom by making sure the platform was built to rest just at wheel-well height and as low as possible.

Remember using this amount of cabinet grade plywood adds a bit of extra weight to the truck, but you can always remove the extra weight if needed.

You can also build a versatile truck bed sleeping platform setup with an overall lower weight by combining a mix of fixed drawer storage and modular storage.

These sleeping platform-builds come in a bit more expensive side compared to other truck shell camping platform methods and they are also more technical to build. Hence, you should remember that we had really a little carpentry experience going into our first build. But in the end, you will find the result was definitely worth the extra time, work, and investment.

Truck shell camping is an incredible way to travel and experience an ultimate happiness. If you want to build your own sleeping platform, you can go through one of the four above stated methods that suits your requirements best. 

SEE ALSO:  How much do truck drivers make

Leave a Comment