How to turn your truck bed into camper

If you want to turn your truck into camper, you have to design and build a sleeping platform for the bed of your truck. The platform is going to make you to store your camping supplies underneath your bed. The most important part of building a truck camper is it eliminates the need to set up a tent. So, in this article we have discussed how to turn your truck bed into camper.

Another advantage of adding a camper in the back of your truck is it provides you the gas mileage of tent camping with some of the organisation of hauling a trailer. Moreover, it won’t let you get wet when it rains.  However, the requirements for everyone will be different as all truck beds are different. So, you need to take the measurements of your specific truck bed so that you can build a camper without facing any future hassles.

You should have basic woodworking skills for building your own truck camper. Previous project design experience would also be beneficial. If you are cutting a 4′ x 8′ sheet of plywood with a table saw, you can take the help of a friend instead of doing it on your own.  

Steps to turn your truck bed into camper

Step-1 Measure your truck bed and supplies

The first step to turn your truck bed into camper would be to take accurate measurements of your truck to figure out how much space you have to work with while building your truck camper. You also want to figure out the size of the supplies you want to take. Doing so will make sure to see what will fit where.

You may need the following equipments while turning your truck bed into camper

  • portable grill
  • toolbox in case of emergency
  • You need the bottom compartments to be 12″ high to fit the grill and my toolbox underneath.

Step 2- Layout Design

The second step would be to draw lay-out of the camper you are intending to build; for this you need to have access to Computer-Aided Drafting software. You can use Google sketch-up, which is a free program that can be used. However, the old school way of pencil and paper can also do the job perfectly.

As far as the lay-out design of your camper compartments are concerned, it is up to you how you want your camper to be. You can keep it simple or add design like a boat or in the shape of a tent. You can add several small compartments to keep the gear from sliding around that can be accessed from above.  If you want to keep longer equipments, like skis or snowboards underneath your bed, then you can make the centre board to run the full length of the truck bed.

You can design the platform in 3 sections for easy installation; you can add 2 Outer boxes to go over the wheel wells and 1 Center section to tie the outer edges together

There should be a support board in the middle of the bed; because if you don’t put a support board then the boards will sag and possibly break.

Do not forget to leave a little extra space around all of your supplies to ensure they will fit.

Step 3: Arrange the Materials

Once you have finished doing the lay-out design you need to gather all the material that you need during the installation.  You can use a 3/4″ plywood, which will suit all designs. 

You can use angle brackets to secure the boards together that you can separate while removing the platform from the truck.

You can arrange a sheet metal break and a CNC plasma cutter so that you can have the metal boxes made to save space. you can contact a local metal fabrication shop to make the metal boxes if you want to go that route.

Materials That you need

Plywood

You will need 2 sheets of plywood for mid-sized trucks with a 6′ bed

Arrange 3 sheets for a full-size truck

Fastening Supplies

Angle brackets and bolts make the platform easy to install and remove

If space is a concern, T-nuts work great and also eliminate the need to hold the nut

Screws can be used for more permanent joints

Hinges

Carpet

Duct Tape

Tools

   • Saw: you can use a circular saw with a guide; however a table saw can also do the job.

   • Electric Drill

   • Ratchet and Sockets for bolts

   • Staple Gun

Step 4: Cutting the Boards

First of all you have to plan how you are going to cut the boards. Planning is important to minimize the amount of waste and reduce the cost. For this, you need to leave a 1/8″ gap around cut edges to account for the saw blade width.

How to cut the boards

  • First you have to cut the all boards length wise into strips.
  • Then cut to length using a radial arm saw to help ensure they are cut square.
  • Then fix the boards around the tie down hooks and any other obstructions.
  • Do not forget to check how the boards fit in the bed of the truck after cutting the boards.
  • Once you are finished with setting up all boards, make sure they all fit together.

Step 5: Fix Together Using Brackets and Screws

If you want to make it easy to install, remove, and store the camper, fasten all boards to brackets with bolts and T nuts.

Note: You can assemble the entire platform outside of the truck bed, where you will get more room to work, if you are doing it for the first time.

If the top centre board-edges don’t fix on the support boards, you need to add some more supports. For this you will need to cut a 1″ strip off of the scrap to attach to the side of the outer boxes closest to the centre of the truck. Then secure it with screws.

Note: You can use 1 ½” angle iron for added stiffness, which will take up less space.

Step 6: Add the Finishing Touches

The next step would be to add the finishing touch; for this you need to cover the top boards with carpet. This will give a neat look to the camper. Moreover you can secure any of your top doors with hinges so that it keeps your carpet from tearing the mattress.

First of all cut the carpet to fit each piece on the top of the platform.

Then secure the carpet with staples.

The next step would be to cut out the finger holes.

Then finish the edges of the carpet with duct tape.

Finally you can add a finished touch by sanding the edges to eliminate the possibility of tearing your mattress or clothes.

Note: You need to finish the boards to extend their shelf-life.

Step 7: Install Into the Truck

The final step would be to install the camper to the truck. Once you finished with assembling the platform, you can fix it in the bed of your truck.  By fixing the different sections together with bolts you can easily assemble inside the confined space of the truck bed.  After you install the platform in the truck you can add your mattress. Now you are ready to go for camping.

TIP – If you use a foam mattress instead of an inflatable one, you may find it easier to access the under bed cubby holes by cutting the mattress into several cushions.

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