Building a Home on Wheels

V and I plan to live out of my Mazda pickup truck for about four months while travelling around the western U.S. and Canada beginning in mid-September. We decided to add a sleeping platform to the bed of the truck as a place to store our gear, and to provide a flat comfortable surface to sleep on. I did a ton of research and drew up a basic design. Over Easter weekend, we were lucky to use my dad’s tools, but even more so to receive his experience and suggestions.

Design:

V assembles the truck platform structure

V assembles the truck platform structure, with help from my dad.

We designed the platform to take into account a few general goals:

  • Storage: We had been advised by multiple experienced truck campers to limit the amount of gear that needs to be moved each night before going to sleep.
  • Organization: With extremely limited space, we wanted to be able to quickly access any given piece of gear.
  • Headroom: A common complaint that arose during my research was the lack of space for sitting in bad weather, changing clothes, and comfortably accessing gear in the back of the truck.

Our finished design called for a platform at wheel well height to compromise between storage and headroom. We designed the structure with eight compartments, each with a removable decking panel for easy access. We covered the decking panels with carpet to make it more comfortable, and to allow for a more snug fit. Finally, per a friend’s suggestion we added a layer of carpeting below the structure to prevent road vibrations and keep us insulated while we sleep.

Build:

V and Tyler add carpet to a decking panel

V and Tyler add carpet to a decking panel.

We began by cutting 2x8s to the proper sizes and assembling them with deck screws into a grid pattern to produce both the support structure and storage compartments. The structure was positioned on top of the corrugations in the truck bed, and perfectly lined up with the small shelf that Mazda formed into the sides of my truck bed. We decided to use both the wooden structure and this existing shelf to support the decking panels.

Since we designed our panels to be generally rectangular, it was easy to measure the spans across each support and cut our panels accordingly. While we cut the panels with simple shapes, my Dad was able to make a cardboard model of the curved panel that would abut the wheel well. We traced this guide onto wood and with a couple of follow-up cuts, were able to create a panel with a snug fit.

We cut carpeting to match our panel shapes, but scaled up an additional three inches on each edge for attachment. We then used spray adhesive to adhere the carpet cutouts to the panels. Finally we wrapped the additional three inches around to the backside of the panels and attached them with more spray adhesive and heavy duty staples.

When we got home we attached the camper shell and bike rack, making our new home almost complete. Still to go: curtains and Velcro accessories – stay tuned!

Thoughts:

The project took a couple of long days to complete, but the platform came out exactly as we envisioned. We have organized all of our gear by grouping each compartment by activity, and everything but a cooler and a tupperware full of firewood fit under the platform. These two items will be removed for use most nights anyway, so we feel like minimal hassle will be required before crawling into bed. The wheel-well height platform is lower than most other builds that I have seen, and provides enough headroom to lounge comfortably for an extended time in the event of bad weather.

Truck sleeping platform

The completed sleeping platform features eight storage compartments, each with a removable carpeted decking panel.

6 Comments:

  1. Creative, cozy, camper- great teamwork, you, two!
    Mom/ Sue

    • Thanks mom! The platform is great but right now our house is more like a display case on wheels. Hopefully we can get your help with adding curtains when we see you in a couple weeks.

      Tyler

  2. Sweet! I’d like to do this with my truck. it’s about the same size bed as the Mazda. What sort of camper top are you using?

    It was great to meet you last week. I’m sad we were as busy as we were getting ready for the climb. Hope the East Buttress climb was great!

    • Hey nice to meet you too. I bet you had a great adventure on the Nose. Easy Buttress was really good, more mentally challenging than difficult.

      We have a high rise shell that gently slopes from the top of the cab to about 4″ higher than the cab at its highest point. We built the platform at wheel well height to maximize headroom, but our heads still just barely touch the roof when sitting cross-legged. Keep in mind that we are 5’6″, so you may need a taller shell.

  3. 
    من آسوده دل هستم که داخل طولانی اینترنت پیغام شبیه بوسیله این یادداشت وجود ندارد برای این که مطلب کامل و مستوفا
    ی پیرامون این مبحث است

  4. Pretty! This has been an extremely wonderful article.

    Many thanks for providing these details.

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