How To Convert A Truck Bed Into A Fully Functioning Camper In A Weekend2021-08-05T13:40:49-04:00

How To Convert A Truck Bed Into A Fully Functioning Camper In A Weekend

Truck Bed Camper Conversion for BeginnersDo you own a truck? If you do and want to get creative with using your truck bed, you can make a DIY truck bed camper, and the best part is that it doesn’t take long, especially if you are handy at DIY and know your way around your truck.

Building a truck camping doesn’t have to be hard or expensive.

This post assumes you have bought a truck cap or built one, and this guide is for amenities within your camper.

Our article is not necessarily meant to give a picturesque truck that you’d see on Instagram or Pinterest. Rather, we dive into what we have experienced as the necessity to get you on the road ASAP, all while staying on a budget.

So if you want to covert your truck into a fully functioning camper, then be sure to read this post by experienced car campers. As you’ll read below, we dive into the details and give you the scoop on everything you need to know about doing a DIY truck bed camper for weekend or long-term overloading trips.

Convert Truck Bed To Camper


Before you build the bed, you need to figure out the size of your mattress or sleeping pad.

We highly recommend going with a trim-fold cot mattress. It’s dimensions vary based on which specific brad you get, but a standard cot mattress will be about 75″ long x 25″ Wide x 4″ Thick.

Once you determine the dimensions of the mattress, then we can move onto building the bed.

Bed Frame

You have a couple options here, and they all are based on what you specific priorities are. They all have their advantages and disadvantages

  • Metal Frame
    • Pros: Prebuilt, Durable, Convenient.
      Cons: Depending on the type of frame it might not be the exact dimensions and therefore eat up a lot of valuable square footage in your truck.
  • Build A Wooden Frame
    • Pros: Durable, Exactly tailored dimensions to your needs.
      Cons: Requires a little bit of building knowledge, and time.

    Note: Instructions for building a wooden from bed are located at the bottom of this article.

  • No Frame
    • Pros: Most Convenient, More headspace
      Cons: No Storage Underneath

    Sitting/Lounging area

    When not sleeping, you can turn the tri-fold mattress into a comfy cushion chair, or better yet pack along a traditional or backpack sized camping chair.

    Cooling/Heating system

    Propane heaters can work well for warming up your DIY truck bed camper. Choose one with an oxygen indicator to switch off automatically.

    If you’re really looking to conserve space you can run your cooking stove the same way but should be regulated at all times.

    For warmer days you can choose a small a/c, it will cool down your space quickly, but it will require some juice to power it.

    Another great option is to run a small USB charged fan. These circulate air well, and be just the touch you need to keep you from sweating.

    Lastly you can simply just open all your windows during the cool evening and then upon closing them to sleep.

    Rechargeable shower

    A rechargeable shower is a shower that can be used anywhere and charged via your truck or phone, or laptop charger via a USB. It can be packed away to take up less space and taken out when needed. Hang the showerhead above head height and make sure the pump is submerged in a bucket of water.

    Portable Power Station

    A portable power station removes the need for generators or solar panels and is approximately the size of a large toaster. They are filled with batteries and can be charged in a standard socket, or via cigarette lighter from your car. Some even can be charge via solar panels if you find that option to be helpful for you.

    Food/Water Storage

    If you are living in your truck, you want adaptable food storage that keeps food and drinks cool when you are on the road. A 12-volt cooler that can be plugged in when you are driving is one option.

    Another is a well insulated cooler packed with ice. Obviously it is a bit inconvenient to have to have refill with ice every few days, but in a pinch it is a solid option if your preferences require refrigeration.

    Lastly, you can simply buy food that don’t require refrigeration. I’ve been car camping for months now, and this is the most convenient option for me. You’d be surprised what you can eat that doesn’t require refrigeration. Don’t forget anytime you want get something that needs to be refrigerated, let’s use a bottle of milk for instance, then simply go to the store when you need it, and use it within the period that it’s still chilled!

    Water can be stored in 1, 3, 5, or 6 gallon jugs, and depending on your needs, you can carry as many or as few of these jugs.


    Solar lamps, light strips attached to the walls are ideal for processing lighting and can be self-charged in sunlight during the day.

    You can also buy AAA battery powered accent lights as a primary option for illuminating your living space.

    Clothing/Gear Storage

    Make sure you plan for the appropriate amount of storage for your clothing and gear needs. Some people who do truck camping are photographers and need to priorities space for their tripods, camera bags, and drones. Rock climbers need space for ropes, pads, and harnesses. And those camping in color climates might need insulated sleeping bags, jackets, and base layers.

    In our experience we just use simple plastic or wooden totes, that slide right underneath the frame of the bed, and it’s the easiest, and most convenient for us, but you might find a better way that works for your needs!

    Be Creative with your storage.

    Lots of trucked campers have custom built roll out drawers that are the length of the entire truck bed, and range from 4″-12″ in depth. Be aware that this does eat up a bit of valuable headroom, but makes things look a lot cleaner.

    Look for little areas that you can tuck your gear away into. But above all else, have a designated spot for every item that you bring along with you. This makes clean up and staying organized so much more convenient and enjoyable.

    Bring only what you NEED.

    You can buy many supplies on the road, and taking things such as a portable wash bag, water, small toiletries and dinnerware, and utensils can help you to keep your belongings to a minimum and take less on the road with you.

    Look for a layout that works for you! If you see that a lot of people have a popular item, let’s say a 12 volt fridge, but you simply don’t have that as a priority, then leave it behind! You’ll come to experience that you value as much free space as possible, and that less is more when it comes to storing things in your truck camper.

    Check Out How To Build A Bed Frame For Your Truck Camper


    Turning your truck bed into a camper can be achieved over a few days or overtime bit by bit to allow you to make changes on the move.

    We hope that you found this guide to be helpful and will get you out and onto your grand adventures!