Adventures Beyond Zero:
Pickup Truck Camping
BUILD YOUR OWN PICKUP CAMPER
Perfect portable battery to power up your cell phone, tablet, fan, or any other device that utilizes a USB connection. With 10,400mah, you will be able to get multiple charges out of it. This model comes with a built in LED light for that extra little bonus.
Ideal fan to fit within your camper with the utmost mobility. The fan pivots in all angels and comes with it's own power source. Add some high-strength Velcro and this fan can mount on any carpeted cabin roof top, or keep it simple and clip it to a base. Perfect fan for on the go.
Whether you need to keep your beverage perfectly hot or ice cold, this YETI Rambler is perfect for you thirst quenching needs. The state of the art technology keeps your beverage temperature right where you need it. If you haven't experience the YETI, this is the perfect one to add to your arsenal of camping necessities.
Lights on, lights off! Where ever you need them, these portable LED lights are perfect for lightening up your camper. The light switch can turn on up to 20 lights (if you even need that many) and up to 60ft away. The best part about these: WIRELESS.
What's hanging around a fire without music? Don't ever find out by grabbing yourself one of these wireless speakers. Stick it anywhere a suction cup can stick. Water resistant and loud enough for a little party, this is the best bang for your buck for truck camping tunes.
Pickup Truck Camping
That beast to the right is my Pickup Truck camper. Is it the prettiest thing you've seen? No. Is it the most luxurious place to sleep outside of my bed? Nope. But I will tell you this, it is by far one of the best investments I have made so far.
How can you put a price on waking up with an ocean view one morning, to views of the green mountains the next, to the open plains after that?
I guess you can put a price on it, but with your own pickup truck camper you don't have to. You can park it pretty much anywhere and enjoy a nice cozy night of sleep.
I have dedicated this page to share all that I have done to enjoy this amazing lifestyle and the best part about it, is that I made sure to get the best possible deals when doing so. The more money saved in your pocket building, means more money in your pocket for exploring. Welcome and get ready to join the adventure!
Part 1: The Decision
You Can Either Plan It or You Can Wing It
I Chose to Wing It (Mostly)
I don't know what got me so interested in building a Pickup Truck Camper, but when I saw one of the first builds online I knew I needed to do it. Now that I was debt free, I figured it was time to dedicate my efforts to another mission. To stay in line with getting2zero, I knew that I could not only build a Pickup Truck Camper, but I could do it on a budget and begin traveling the U.S. for nickles on the dollar. It made total sense. I wanted to see as much of this country as possible, but I didn't want it to cost me an arm and a leg.
Pickup Truck Camper was the perfect solution.
Not only could you drive across the country with sleeping arrangements on your tail, but you can embark on your adventure on your time and no one else's. There's no flight that you have to catch, or hotel you have to check out of. It's just you and the open road. And when you get weary from driving, all you have to do is find a decent location and post up. That my friend is called 'stealth camping' or more importantly 'boondocking'. As long as you're not being obnoxious about sleeping in the bed of your truck, no one will know that you're in there. Simple, yet satisfying.
I had a truck that I bought used, a couple summers ago to get me through the New England winters. I didn't really use the bed for much, so I figured this would be a great hobby to test out. And let me say this now, I am no where close to being a carpenter. The only time I've dealt with lumber and nails was in 5th grade shop class. Other than that, I was (am) a novice. So that's great news for you, because anyone can build one and hopefully with my breakout below, it'll be simple enough for you.
I joined a great Facebook group appropriately titled "Pickup Truck Camping" and scanned through all the setups that everyone had on there. These guys knew what was up. They each had a variation of setting up a sleeping platform and storage, but for the most part, they each provided the same outcome: a perfect place to sleep.
Through the Facebook group and checking out Youtube videos, I decided it was finally time for me to just go for it. I had an idea of what I wanted to build and figured to just do it. The one thing that I did keep in mind before I started was that I wanted to keep my build as light as possible. My tiny 4-cylinder Tacoma isn't the best with steep hills, so I wanted to make sure I'm not bogging it down any more than I have.
Without further adieu, here's my Pickup Truck Camper project. Enjoy.
Part 2: The Build
How to Build a Bed
First things first, I had to find a truck cap. What better place to search than good 'ol Craigslist. I found one within budget and one that looked like it had a good amount of headroom (a big call-out I saw with the FB group). I managed to grab it for only $50.
Unfortunately, the cap came with an issue regarding the back window pane, so my dad and I decided to try and fix the hinge. It was a little bent, so we decided to re-align it and put in some new rivets (his idea, I didn't even know what those were).
Everything was going fine, until the very last rivet that we needed to put in. It's always the last one. When we were finishing it off, all of the sudden CRASH!!! Bye bye glass pane.
No worries. No harm no foul in my eyes. It was only $50 and now that I'm above zero, that didn't bother me as much as it would have in the past.
Luckily, Craigslist still had toppers all around. I timed it perfectly and found another (better) truck cap and guess what? It was FREE! Total score. After hanging out at a buddy's place for the weekend, my other buddy and I went and picked it up. It was perfect.
First task with this one, was to line it with marine carpet. I wanted to do this for 2 reasons. 1) To create a little more insulation on those cold summer nights and prevent condensation and 2) To give it that more 'homey' feel. Not only is it warmer, but it feels warmer (if that makes any sense).
One call-out when working with the marine carpet, is that you want to start from the middle and work your way out. I used 3M 90 grade spray adhesive to glue it to the fiberglass cap. The 90 grade is heat resistant and should hold when the truck is out in the sun. **Make sure to be well ventilated or you'll be flying high.
A solid tip that my gramps called out, was to use a piece of chalk to outline the windows and cut around them to fit the carpet.