Once a popular alternative to tent camping, do-it-yourself pickup truck campers have recently made a comeback. Converting a truck bed into a camper is relatively easy and inexpensive. For those who love to camp but dislike sleeping in a tent, creating a pickup truck camper is a budget alternative to expensive RVs and pop-up campers. With a little time and effort, a pickup truck camper can be created to suit individual needs and preferences.
Truck Type and Size
Pickup trucks come in a variety of sizes and types, so it is important to choose one that will provide enough room. Small pickup trucks often do not have an accompanying canopy, so constructing and/or finding the perfect fit is necessary. A larger truck will provide more room for sleeping and storing items while camping. Choose a truck that already has a canopy or purchase one to keep the rain and other elements out.
After a truck is selected and purchased, measure the length and the width of the truck bed. When calculating the width, make sure to measure above the wheel wells. Subtract 4 or 5 inches from both measurements. This ensures that there is enough leeway for the plywood to fit snug. Go to a hardware store and have a piece of plywood cut with the appropriate measurements. Place the plywood in the truck bed over the wheel wells. Additional support, such as breeze blocks and storage crates, should be added to the back, middle and front for more stabilisation.
Storage and Sleeping
The area under the plywood is used for storage while the area above the plywood serves as a bed. Place a mattress on top of the plywood, but make sure there is enough room for additional side storage. A twin mattress will provide the biggest and roomiest truck camper while a full mattress will result in more sleeping space but less standing and moving space. A twin mattress may be the only option for smaller pickup trucks. Choose a size best suited for camping needs and wants.
Curtains and Windows
Most canopies come with small windows that can be opened in the back. This works well for ventilation, but attaching a fan into the window would result in better airflow. A top window may also be suited for this purpose. If the canopy does not have well-tinted side windows, make or purchase curtains to hang around it for added privacy.
To stay organised under the plywood platform, consider dividing the area into sections with additional pieces of plywood. For sheltered living space outside the camper, erect a tarp from the top of the canopy outward. Tie the open end down either on two poles or on two trees. This allows cooking and other activities to take place outside the camper, even in the rain.