How to Convert a Truck Bed Into an Actual Bed

Sleeping in vehicles has been a thing since the automobile was invented.

This story originally appeared on TransWorld SNOWboarding and has been republished with permission. For more stories, visit TransWorld SNOWboarding.

This story first appeared in TransWorld SNOWboarding.

Sleeping in vehicles has been a thing since the automobile was invented. Prohibition-era folk passed out in their Model Ts after too much moonshine, and VW vans have seen more than shuteye since the sixties. These days, having a rig you can snooze in is all the rage. And it’s practical. As soon as the cost of hotels or burden of crashing on someone’s couch is eliminated, a world of options opens. You can get away with sleeping almost anywhere, often positioning yourself closer to the chairlift or trailhead than friends indoors. Once your rig is dialed, more trips are in the scope of possibility.

how to convert your truck bed

Practical, economical, and just calling for venturing off the grid. Photo: Taylor Boyd/TransWorld SNOWboarding

Check out more adventurmobiles here.

The method that follows is rudimentary. Are there more elaborate ways to build a setup in the back of your pickup? Absolutely. Something more structurally sound or better engineered? Undoubtedly. But if you want to elevate your mobile slumber scenario beyond a sleeping pad on your damp truck bed and add some welcome storage below--cheap and on the fly--this should do the trick. I’ve woken up in numerous driveways, forests, and parking lots thus far, and it hasn’t collapsed on me yet. In fact, it feels quite sturdy. Not bad, considering I went to the lumberyard one afternoon, bought some wood, and hoped things would work out. $80 poorer, and lo and behold, they did.

-- Truck
-- Topper
-- Cold tolerance

Approximate build time:
One hour

how to convert a truck bed

A closeup look at the construction behind this truck’s elevated mobile slumber scenario. Photo: Taylor Boyd/TransWorld SNOWboarding

This is based off the bed dimensions of a 2002 Tundra. Take some measurements of your own truck and adjust accordingly.
-- One 12-foot long 2Ă--8 board. For more storage below, use 2x10s or 2x12s.
-- One 8-foot long 2Ă--8 board.
-- Two sturdy sheets of plywood.
-- 2 ½ inch wood screws.
-- One twin or full mattress. I found mine for free on the side of the road. No bed bugs yet.

-- Drill with bit to match screw head
-- Circular saw
-- Clamps
-- Measuring tape
-- Pencil

1. Cut 2x8s to a couple inches shy of your truck’s bed length. Let’s say 6 feet. As long as the tailgate will close, you’re good.
2. Cut plywood to the same length. Using this 6-foot example, you would be taking two feet off the end of each 8-foot sheet.
3. Measure distance between sides of your truck’s bed, where the tailgate sits. Let’s say it’s 5 feet wide.
4. Cut each sheet of plywood lengthwise. Their combined width once cut should equal the measurement in step 3. Using the 5-foot example, they could be 2 feet and 3 feet, or 2 ½ feet and 2 ½ feet, respectively. This determines how much storage each side has.
5. Measure the distance between the inside of your wheel well in the truck bed and the edge of the bed, where the tailgate meets the sides. Let’s say it’s 7 inches.
6. Screw one sheet of plywood to the “two-inch” side of one 2Ă--8, running parallel. In this example, the outside edge of the 2Ă--8 should be 7 inches from the edge of the plywood.
7. Add center support.
8. Screw one portion of the plywood into the center-supporting 2Ă--8, halfway across its “two-inch” width, leaving the other half to support the other sheet.
9. Screw the other sheet of plywood into the remaining half of the “two-inch” side of center-supporting 2Ă--8.
10. Position the remaining 2Ă--8 against the other wheel well and screw the plywood to it.
11. Throw your mattress on top.
12. Stash your snowboard below.
13. Drive to the mountains.

Things you may want to get your rig fully dialed:
-- Lantern
-- Curtains
-- Storage bins
-- Warm sleeping bag + additional bedding
-- Trekking pole for fishing items out of the abyss
-- Large water bottle with generous opening. Ladies, you’re on your own here.

For more, check out the October 2017 issue of TransWorld SNOWboarding, out now.