How to turn your pickup truck into a weekend camper

Written by misty s. bledsoe
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The less time you spend loading and unloading gear and setting up camp, the more time you'll have to enjoy your weekend outing. If you didn't have to spend time looking for a spot to set up the tent, even better. Turning your pickup into a weekend camper can be relatively easy with a few supplies, especially if you have a canopy. But you can convert your truck into a camper even without a canopy.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Tape Measure
  • Paper
  • Pen
  • 4 Breeze blocks
  • ½-inch to ¾-inch sheet of plywood
  • Skill saw (optional)
  • Two Eight foot bendable tent poles
  • 10x12 Tarp
  • Rope

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  1. 1

    Measure the length of your truck bed down the centre between the wheel wells. Subtract 6 inches from this measurement. For example, if it measures 67 inches write down 61 inches. The goal is to have enough wood to sit over the wheel wells to properly support your weight, but not so much that you cannot easily lay the plywood flat.

  2. 2

    Measure the width of your truck bed above just above both wheel wells. Subtract 2 inches from this measurement. For example, if its 36 inches across, write down 34 inches.

  3. 3

    Cut the plywood to size. If you don't have a saw, have the plywood cut to size at the hardware store. You might also find a piece of plywood that is close to your measurements. Ensure the wood is not more than 2 inches less in width otherwise the wood will not sit properly over the wheel wells.

  4. 4

    Place two breeze blocks in front of the wheel wells and halfway between the wheel wells and the front of the bed. Center the blocks in the truck bed, and lay them next to each other, preferably end to end and not side to side. Place the other two breeze blocks behind the wheel wells half way between the wheel wells and the tailgate.

  5. 5

    Slide the plywood into the back of the pickup over both sets of breeze blocks and wheel wells. Make sure that the wood is centred evenly over the blocks and wheel wells. This is where you will place your bedding.

  6. 6

    If you don't have a camper shell, take a tent pole and stand inside the truck bed at a corner of the closed tailgate. Place the end of the pole into the corner in the front of the bed diagonally across from you. Bend the pole up and slide the end you are holding into the corner you are standing in front of. Repeat with the other pole on the opposite side of the tailgate. When you are finished, the tent poles should form an "X" above the bed of your truck.

  7. 7

    Place the 10-foot-by-12-foot tarp over the tent poles and secure with rocks on the ground or secure it to the underneath section of the truck with rope.

Tips and warnings

  • Experiment with crates or bricks for support instead of breeze blocks.
  • Leave room for cutouts in the back behind the wheel wells to store more gear using even less plywood.
  • Put a 2-by-6 across the wheel wells before adding the plywood for added support. Increasing the height of the breeze blocks either with bricks or another other sturdy material to avoid unbalancing the plywood deck.

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