Truck Camper Bed Living and Rearranging

I am not traveling at the moment. I got a job with some friends and a beautiful place to stop for a while. The hiatus will give me time (and money) to do a few upgrades to Lilith and the living area.

beginning truck bed camping

Two years ago this took less than $100 and less than 3 hours to build. It turned into a terrific home. Comfy home in the bed of a truck

Of course the towels-as-curtains will get replaced. (After 5 years they haven’t been replaced. ) I am now toying with the idea of doing the whole thing over, with more attention to detail.  With better quality wood. With more sanding. With some kind of stain or paint on the floor. There are some areas (like around the wheel wells) that need more attention. As is they are wasted space. When the space is this tiny  every centimeter counts!

Some things to replace:

1. I hate the little round puck lights to read by. Not enough light. So I switched to head lamps. Not the best solution as they drive me crazy after an hour of reading (they are either to tight or too loose or not reading-light compatible). Finally found the ideal solution. These lights work.

2. I would like to put a screen material over the window by the cab. I usually have it open, but bugs see the reading person in the bed and get in. After several years it doesn’t bother me. Will forget this improvement.

3. I need a cool, dark place to keep fruits and veggies. I do not want to carry as much boxed/canned food. Have been using under the bed. Seems to work.

4. I want a good coffee/travel mug. Too many times with cold coffee spilled while driving. Broke down and got a Yeti. Very happy with this … keeps things very hot or very cold for a very long time. Easy to clean..

5. Good light weight, light colored materials for curtains. Eh. Forget it. I am using two kitchen towels. Works.


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14 Responses to Truck Camper Bed Living and Rearranging

  1. Ming says:

    Hi Mas,
    looking forward to seeing what you come up with, you can see my build of my Tacoma+Leer canopy here

    I have just bought something bigger, as you can see from my blog also. I did look closely at the few models that the tiny Tacomas can carry and that is why I came to the commercial canopy. It only weighs 500lbs, leaving me a lot of leeway to carry people, gear and water before maxing out the Tacoma’s carrying capacity. It was also half the cost of the pop up campers.

    I definitely like having a cooler, though hunting for ice is a pain.

    I think I like pull out drawers better than hinged top bed, I found lifting the beds for access to storage to be a pain.

    For the floor, I had a Tacoma rubber mat for truck bed. It was easy to sweep clean, kept me off the water that leaked in, but was not much insulation. I had a rug on top of that.


    • Mas Prema says:

      Thanks for the link and thoughtful reply, Ming. I am enjoying – and getting lots of new ideas – from your old build. Am looking forward to following your new build. Please keep updating. If you do Facebook there is a group who would probably love to see the old build. Its a group called “Pick Up Truck Camping” Here:
      I am still not ready for a cooler. I think your are right about drawers vs hinges. Thanks!


  2. Phyllis Genetti says:

    Once again I am awed and amazed by you.
    Truly a special person


  3. Robin Maley says:

    Mas Prima, I built out almost the same camper for my 2 month trip to Alaska. I made a Facebook page just for the trip. You have to keep scrolling until you get to the bottom. That is where the build pics are located. I am on Pinterest under Robin Maley. Their is a folder labeled Homemade Truck Camper on my Pinterest site. If you can’t view either site, I will figure out how to post photos to you.
    If you add a floor to ceiling partition at the back and cut a hole for the window you can greatly increase your storage capability by adding a side to side shelf at the top of the partition. We added a short wall to this back partition than ran down the center of the space toward the tail of the vehicle. The short wall was only 2 feet wide. We attached cupholders and cargo nets on both sides. We used “grill lights”(found at big box stores in the charcoal and outdoor grills) for reading lights. They run on batteries and are LED, great for reading, and they have a clamp to attach to the partition.
    The extra “walls” were screwed to the bed platform and to each other. I took every dirt road in Alaska I could find and we had no movement of the walls. We hinged the top of the beds to better utilize the under the bed storage. The cushions on the bed were sized to fit each “lid”. It all worked very well.
    We made “screens” for all the windows using the smallest weave Tulle from a fabric store, we cut it to the size of all the side and back windows. Hemmed it with black Gorilla tape and taped it to the side of the windows with the same tape. The black edging made it look good and we never had a problem with it. The tail opening we basically made two Tulle curtains that overlapped in the middle. Using the same taping method as the windows. We taped some ceramic magnets to the bottoms of both curtains and the magnets kept them tight against the tail of the truck. Very easy to do but super effective.
    Good luck with your build!


    • Mas Prema says:

      Thank you, thank you!
      Your rear wall is a perfect solution to so many annoying problems. Yummy design. I will be doing something like that, naming it after the Tin Tramper.
      Love the curtain solution. My solution is Velcro ( I love having no curtains most of the time.
      Are you still happy with the floor? Is it hard to keep clean?
      Thank you again for taking the time to share!


      • Robin Maley says:

        The floor was cheap insulation and colorful, water resistant and easy to keep clean. Just sweep and go. Yep, I love Velcro as much as Duct Tape! If you need help building it out my garage is full of extra wood and I would love to help. Love your travels, do you ever go to the RTR in Quartsize, AZ? I am going to make in 2018, would love to see ya there.
        Glad to hear there will be more than one Tin Tramper. If ever in the vicinity of Lexington, KY we would enjoy meeting you and working on your Tin Tramper!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Fred says:

    Hi Mas: glad you have the opportunity to work and replenish in a number of ways. I’ve been doing a lot of research related to small spaces and how to maximize for living large.

    I think it may help to compartmentalize the space underneath the bed and have a cooler open towards you at the back. Not knowing the dimensions of your small space it is difficult to make firm suggestions. You may be able to raise the bed higher and find a cooler to fit, one that can run off propane bottles and/or solar.

    I know nothing of your resources but I wonder if you would consider selling the topper and purchasing a small truck camper that has a fridge, stove and cab over bed. There are many designed for your size truck and comparatively inexpensive used. If not a small used 16 foot or less fiberglass trailer may be an option for your vehicle could tow some of them. There are plenty of these for sale on CL across the country and are very cheap and often in great shape. I see you at a space cross roads in a number of ways as you try improve the quality of life with an eye to scarce resources.

    Over all I think your plans and intentions are good and will improve your quality of life, especially the cooler.

    I’ll keep thinking




    • Mas Prema says:

      Thanks Fred!
      I must admit to thinking of a cooler. After all these years I may break down and do it. I think it would fit in the passenger area of the cab. Under the bed/shelf are compartments, but not very accessible. I have been thinking about cutting up the bed/shelf with piano hinges …. making what is below accessible.
      The bed is as high as is comfortable. At the tailgate end I can sit up with my feet on the floor and my head held high.
      I thought I would sell this in a heartbeat to get a true truck camper. Unfortunately the used ones made for this size truck are few and far between. The used ones get snapped up quickly. The new ones are out of my financial range. And besides, I love the tiny aspect of the present outfit, so I probably wouldn’t sell this.
      The same argument goes for the trailer. I love the design of some vintage trailers, I love the functionality of having spacious living quarters. I hate the idea of parking, dealing with another axle, more tires, more insurance.
      I think you are right about the cooler. I am eating better with some kind of refrigeration. Still don’t know if I can do it, but you will be the first to know!
      I think for this iteration I will concentrate on upgrading the materials. The floor gave me splinters, soaked up liquids and stayed messy looking. I think the ideal would be to look like the interior of a tiny yacht. But what materials are light weight that will give that illusion?
      Thanks Fred for thinking/helping/writing.


      • Fred says:

        Mas, you are a careful thinker who digs deep into past experience(s). I will do some more research! :) So nice to hear from you! I always look forward to your posts. Best, Fred


      • Fred says:

        Hello Mas: I am hoping you had a great winter and are looking forward to springtime. I miss your posts and am ever so curious as to when you plan heading out on the road?
        How is the rebuild going? All the best!


  5. elainemari says:

    Nice you get to spend time fixing up things. Looking forward to seeing your progress!


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