Convertible Camper Bed: Turn a Pickup Into a Camper

Here is one reader's ingenious yet simple method of installing a convertible camper bed in her pickup truck.
By E. J. Bess
August/September 1998
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The conversion camper bed in the up position, with fold-out table or shelf in the down position.

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E.J. Bess of Tigard, Oregon, recently sent us this nifty little space-saving project that immediately had us all thinking of ways we could "convertible-ize" other pickups. She reports that, "By building a convertible camper bed in the back of my 1969 Ford pickup truck, I have the hauling capacity of the pickup plus a sleeping area that works fine for several weeks at a time camping out." We were convinced and quickly scratched our heads and wondered why we didn't think of it first. 

My living quarters consist of a bed that can be put up during the day and lowered at night for sleeping purposes. While the bed is in the up position, I have a foldable shelf under the bed which can be used as an eating table or a simple shelf. You can install as many tables as you find convenient.

I wanted the bed large enough for comfort, so I built it as wide as I could and still be able to pivot it up vertically above the wheel well.

The truck bed was in excellent condition, so I wanted to avoid drilling any unnecessary holes in the original metal when mounting the fold-up bed to the inside of the truck. Fortunately, I was able to use existing holes to mount the support legs.

First, I measured the height above the wheel well to the top of the canopy to see how much space I had. That determined the width of the bed I could build. Then I determined how much headroom I needed at the head of the bed to keep the blankets and bedding away from the front window because of condensation and moisture.

When I started building the actual bed, I made a 2 x 4 frame as a perimeter for the bed. I put plywood on the top of the frame and two legs on the outer edge of the bed (opposite the hinges) for support when the bed was down.

After building the bed and the table area, I added my twin size mattress and took plenty of warm bedding along.

I now have my home away from home that is convenient and easy to set up.

Have you been thunderstruck by a wood-shop project that is just begging for an audience? Tell us about it. Include (1) as detailed a drawing of the project as you can, (2) a photo or photos of both yourself and the completed project so that we can make you famous, and, finally, (3) your home phone number. 

Post a comment below.


6/26/2014 9:18:25 AM
very cool. when I was a kid, my dad did something similar using an old aluminium cot with fold out legs (he removed legs from the bolt side), he bolted it to the side of the pickup with U-shaped brackets the same height as the remaining legs. When not in use, the bed was folded up like yours, and at night I'd fold out the legs, fold down the bed, and crawl in. Wish I could find directions and materials to do it in my pickup, but I live in the middle of nowhere.

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