How to Convert Truck Bed to Camper

Can You Turn a Pickup Truck Into a Camper? 

Do you want to know how to convert a truck bed to camper? Want to use your vehicle for camping trips but don’t want to purchase a camper van? We have the best tips and tricks for converting your pickup truck (with a topper) into a fully functional camper van. 

All you will need to convert your truck bed into a camper are basic supplies and some DIY labor. But, don’t worry; we will break it down for you, so you know exactly what you need to make this DIY pickup camper dream come true!

Pickup truck bed tent

Minimum Amount of Time You Need to Convert a Truck Bed to Camper

Depending on how complicated your design is and how long you will take to acquire the equipment necessary, converting your truck bed to a camper may take a weekend or several weeks to assemble. 

To complete this project, you will need basic woodworking skills, basic project design skills, or an experienced friend who can assist you in your plans. Once you have got the supplies and taken all the measurements, the assembly should not take you too long, especially if you have an experienced pair of hands to assist you.

Basic Truck Bed to Camper Conversion Supplies

What you will need to convert a truck bed to a camper will depend on your design and what additional fixtures you want to add (e.g., portable grill, coolers for food storage, battery chargers, extra storage), and you will need to accommodate your design with space to fit them. 

In general, the basic tools you would require to build a basic design include:


  • For a mid-sized truck, two sheets of plywood should be adequate.
  • For a full-size truck, you will need three sheets of plywood.
Handyman Cutting Plywood

Fastening supplies 

  • Hinges 
  • Angle brackets and bolts that will make the platform simple to remove and install
  • Screws for more permanent joints 
  • T-nuts can be used if space is a concern and eliminate the need to hold the nut in place.
  • Duct tape
  • Carpet 
  • Saw
  • Staple Gun
  • Electric drill
  • Ratchet and sockets for bolts 
  • Hand pump faucet
  • A metal container to use as a sink 
  • Nylon poly tubing for freshwater
  • Material curtains & stick-on velcro for assembly 
  • A flexible camping drain to use with the grey water tank
  • Battery operated lights
  • Two small single mattresses 
  • Two containers to use for greywater & freshwater 
  • Heater or fan (depending on your climate)
  • Portable power sources

Step-by-Step Guide to Converting Truck Bed to Camper

Clean and measure tray 

Every truck will have different measurements as they will vary between each make and model. It is essential to measure all aspects of the truck tray, including the center of the truck bed, the width closest to the truck cab, and near the tailgate as your truck bed may be tapered. Ensure you thoroughly clean the tray to ensure your final product is ready to use.

You will need to measure the width of each bed frame to fit your single mattress of choice, with the remaining width of your tray to be used as the cabinet/countertop kitchen. The countertop and main bed frame should fit around the wheel well to save space. 

Build first bed support

The main bed frame will work as your base for assembling the other furniture. To make efficient use of your space, we recommend building the bed to sit on top of the wheel well. Depending on your truck’s size, you can make it to the length of your truck or the length of your mattress (if the bed is shorter than the length of the truck). 

Ensure you leave enough room underneath the bed frame for storage containers (you can find plastic storage bins at most hardware stores of varying heights) and that each bed frame support fits the width of your chosen single mattress. 

Cut the base of the foundation to fit against the wheel well

Ensure that you cut around the foundation to fit against the wheel well of your truck. This is to ensure the base of your foundation covers the whole edges of your truck. 

Cut the side of your truck canopy to fit a cabinet 

To fit a cabinet into your truck, it might be a good idea to make the cabinet wall the same size as the height of your truck tray. This way, you can simply add storage bins into the cabinet, with the countertop being the same height as your tray. 

Build cabinet frame and attach bottom and front

Attach the sides, front, and back of the cabinet to ensure it is fully enclosed. In addition, you can add an optional rounded window to the side of the cabinet (the side facing the middle of the truck) to allow you to reach the storage bins easily. 

Router edges to avoid splintering

Use a router to smooth any edges (especially if you choose to add a window to the cabinet) to avoid splintering the wood. 

Add countertop to cabinet with space for sink and faucet

When adding the countertop to the cabinet, you should find space for your sink, faucet and leave room for a portable cooker/grill to complete your kitchen. To ensure your sink and faucet will fit, measure the bowl and faucet you will be using and cut the shapes into the countertop. 

Cut a notch in the back of the cabinet for topper cabinet clamps to attach to the tray

You will need to remember to leave space for the topper cabinet clamps to attach to the tray. Measure where they will fit into the back of your cabinet and saw the holes to fit them in. 

Cut a hole in the sink (metal bowl) and attach it to the drainage

When you have found a suitable metal bowl for your sink, you will need to cut a hole/drain into the sink and attach it with your chosen piping to the grey water drain. 

Most large plastic water bottles are suitable for freshwater storage to be linked to the faucet, and an empty bottle can be used as the drainage for gray water attached to the bottom of the sink. 

Create ledges for a removable second bed frame

Create ledges on both the cabinet side and the main bed frame side for a removable second bed frame to slot on top so that it is at the same height as the main bed frame and can be used as a double mattress. 

Create a second bed frame 

Create a second bed frame that will just consist of the base of the bed, as the fixtures will provide the supports on the side of the cabinet and main bed frame. Ensure this fits perfectly into this space and the perfect length and width for the single mattress. 

Add truck tent (optional)

A truck tent is a great option to purchase and increase the space in your homemade camper. It will simply attach over your tray and allow you to keep the tray open at night, which is excellent for those who are taller than the mattress or length of their truck. 

If you already have a large truck and are not struggling for space, this step may not be necessary, although a truck tent can also be a great way to get ventilation and fresh air while keeping the bugs out (most are made with bug repellent mesh). 

Attach velcro strips and blackout curtains to windows

The final detail in your truck will be to add curtains to the windows. This can be achieved by simply using double-sided Velcro tape, attaching it to the space above your windows, and then attaching the curtains to the other side.

Add your final touches

You can also add carpet to the flooring of your truck if you would like, as well as any electric outlets, bedding, coolers, and other essentials you may need while camping. You should think about what additional fixtures you would like before assembling your camper to ensure you leave room to fit everything in. 

Bed frame assembling

How Can I Still Camp if I Don’t Own A Pickup Truck?

If you have a regular truck rather than a pickup truck, you can still create an efficient vehicular camping space by purchasing a truck bed tent and two camping cots. You may not have the same comfort of making a camper truck, but staying at campsites with good facilities can be a great option. 

Of course, you can also use a tent for sleeping at campsites and set up the back of your truck with storage and equipment. However, this will require you to spend more money by staying at dedicated camps. 

What Is The Average Cost of Truck Bed to Camper Conversion?

The average price will ultimately vary, and the factor that will contribute to your overall cost include; the price of the plywood, the price of the other materials needed, whether you have the appropriate tools or need to purchase them, the additional fixtures you want to add, and if you need to hire extra help to construct this creation.

Why Are Truck Campers Better Than RVs?

  • More access to free camping!
  • Travel to more places due to the easier navigation of your truck.
  • Better fuel economy than an RV
  • Easier to fit into standard parking spots.
  • Short stopovers are easier (e.g., filling up fuel).
  • Much better insurance options with a truck camper.
  • Easy to store when not in use, or use as a regular car.
  • Overall less expensive to build and operate than an RV.
  • Faster, easier to drive, and safer.
  • You can still use your truck to tow as normal.

Which Materials Are Best to Use for Converting a Truck Bed to a Camper?

The most important material when converting your truck bed into a camper is good-quality plywood. You will use the plywood as a base for your bed and cabinets, along with some oak board for the frame and supports. You will also need an assortment of fixtures, hinges, and screws.

Hopefully, you will be using this DIY camper for many years to come, so using high-quality materials and being very precise with your measurements is very important to ensure you are building a quality product that will last. 

Consider your homemade camper van as an investment, as it will end up saving you money on your camping trips in the long term. So like any investment, you may have to spend money and time, in the beginning, to ensure you are producing something that will last you and your family. 

Parting Words of Advice

Everyone will have different requirements when building their camper. Some may want all the bells and whistles, while others just want a simple space for sleeping. Whatever your dream design is, it is essential to be realistic with your plans and your truck’s size and budget. 

If you are looking to turn your regular truck tray into a camper, ensure you buy quality materials, be patient when measuring and assembling the equipment, and most importantly, make sure you design it to suit your lifestyle best!

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