Back in the 1970s, carpet kits in the bed of pickup trucks were as popular as lava lamps and hoola hoops. The problem is that the carpet kits they make today still have the same shag carpeting from when the Beatles were still together. None of this changes the fact that sleeping in the back of your pickup truck is perfectly acceptable. There’s no reason why you should ruin a good thing, but styles can still evolve. Here are some ideas for doing it yourself.

The shell

Your first decision is what type of shell to put on your pickup truck. You can always mount a standard camper shell. But what fun would that be? If you are dealing with a mid-sized truck it’s a good idea to look for a shell with some extra head room. Another consideration is whether the camper shell has side windows that open from the outside. These can be key to getting air flow on hot nights and an easy to way to get to your gear.

The design

The old school carpet kits had two side compartments that covered the wheel wells that also formed a ledge for a raised bed. In the raised position storage is also afforded underneath. This basic design still works great and can be copied easily using plywood or laminated particle board. Every truck bed is different so it’s difficult to provide exact plans. In my own experience, the second cabinet is not often needed and you really don’t need to raise the bed if you’re okay with transferring some of your belongings to the cab at night. If you want a raised bed and plenty of storage without much work, simply use wood planks across the bed to form a platform to rest two sheets of ply or particle board. Line it with carpet and you’re set.

The mattress

A great option for truck bed camping is the air mattress. This affords the opportunity to deflate the mattress for storage when it’s not needed. Another great option is a nice big piece of foam that you can cut to size.

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons