How to Convert a Pickup Shell to a Camper

Updated January 17, 2018

Pickup truck shells can be converted into campers with basic tools and materials. Expensive pickup campers are available for purchase but if you build a simple camper, you can travel without excessive weight. A variety of designs are available that can be used to convert the shell. Regardless of the design you choose, you must be able to access your gear and provide a comfortable platform for sleeping.

Clean the interior of the pickup with a broom. Remove all debris and gear that is inside the bed of the truck. Measure the maximum width of the bed. Do not deduct for the wheel wells or the lip created by the camper shell.

Measure the height of the bed. This measurement will be from the bottom of the truck bed to the bottom of the camper shell lip. Build a frame for the bed with vertical 2-by-4-inch boards for the legs and horizontal 2-by-4s for the platform. Build the frame inside the truck bed.

Screw a piece of plywood to the frame to create the sleeping platform. Leave the area beneath the bed open for gear storage.

Cut the bed in half for easy gear access by building a centre support into the frame. Add hinges to the edge of the frame and connect the plywood halves to the hinges. Open the bed halves individually to get at gear beneath the bed.

Add a sleeping pad to the bed for comfort. Add battery-powered lights to the ceiling for reading and nighttime activities.


Connect a battery to the alternator with a battery isolator for power in the camper.


Consider the weight that the bed must support. Add extra legs and centre supports for heavy loads.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • 2-by-4-inch lumber
  • Wood screws
  • Plywood
  • Hinges
  • Mattress
  • Battery-powered lights
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About the Author

Zach Lazzari is a Montana based freelance outdoor writer and photographer. You can view his work at