Truck Camping

Hey Steph,
I tried to study the photo from the cover of your book, but am having troubles trying to see your setup. Im trying to get some ideas for building out our tacoma for camping in the back and was just curious what your setup or recommendations are. If you have any photos of the back of your truck that would make it easier to see that would be awesome!
Thanks a ton!

Hi Tyler,
I just took this picture to show you how I have my truck shelf set up. It really is a great system–at night you pull the bags out from under the shelf, and you put your legs under there. If it’s raining or windy, you can put your pillow behind your back against one wall, and cook on the shelf. It’s nice to have the full headroom, and it’s also great to have the big open space preserved in the back of the truck in case you need to move something big when you are not on a roadtrip (like a washer or something). Also, all you need is a sheet of plywood.

It does take some dealing to get the plywood inside, sitting on top of the rails. I ended up cutting mine a little smaller and adding two little metal braces on each side. If you’re not scared of lifting your shell, you can also do that to slip it in.

Aside of that, adding a piece of plywood on top of your tailgate is guaranteed to make your life ten times more awesome πŸ™‚
Good luck!!

17 responses to “Truck Camping”

  1. Greg says:

    Hey Steph,
    That looks like a cool setup πŸ˜‰ Can I ask what you mean by adding a piece of wood on the tailgate? Do you mean on the inner face of the tailgate so that there is a flat wood surface to cook/lay/sit on when you drop the tailgate?


  2. Steph Davis says:

    yes, on my tailgate there is a metal plate with a few screws. if you unscrew those and take off the plate, you can add a piece of plywood instead. you can bevel the edges and varnish it, if you want. it makes it so much nicer for cooking, beer-setting, etc.

  3. michael says:

    What do you do when the back is full of gear on an extended trip? Just stick it outside under a tarp?

  4. Steph Davis says:

    Hi Michael,
    I have a king cab in my truck, fortunately. I try to pack pretty minimally and stay very organized. Skydiving gear and base gear stays behind the seats. In the back, I have a duffel of clothes and a climbing pack and rope bag, and usually another duffel of other gear. At night, those duffels and the climbing bags go in the front seats. If it’s a mellow camp scene, cooler and water jugs stay outside at night. If there are bears or it’s a stealth bivy, I make sure everything is inside at night.

  5. Paul Doran says:

    I’m just about to buy a VW Transporter. There is something very romantic about this sort of living isn’t there? Quite beautiful. Steph I still really wanna find out more about your yoga! πŸ™‚

  6. Paul Calabro says:

    I’ll second the plywood over the tailgate. I actually did that to my truck after reading it in an old post in your blog, and two years later it is still a perfect kitchen table / bar / bench. I left the metal plate on the gate, and bent metal brackets around the tailgate that screw into the board… That way it is easily removable without tools. Wood over the tailgate is probably the best truck-living idea ever.

    Steph – Do you use a bouldering pad for a mattress? Right now I’ve got this flimsy bunk mattress I libertaed from the Scout Camp I work at, but it’s not exactly comfortable to sleep on.

    Michael – My ranger has a 6′ bed and a regular cab (no back seats). Steph’s shelf idea looks like it is definitely the way to go. I’ve made two long road trips in the apst year with LOTS of gear (once from Boston to the Cascades with 2 other people – very cramped on the bench seat of my truck, especially with a standard shift! – and once from Boston to Alaska with one other person). On the trip to Alaska, we had less gear and one of us could sleep in the cab and once on top of the gear in the back, if it was a stealth bivy. If we didn’t have to be stealthy, and weather was nice, we’d sleep outside the truck, and if weather was wet we’d sleep under the truck sometimes (it’s warm till the engine cools down…). With a little creativity and a drop in standards, you can find a way to sleep almost anywhere with a truck.

  7. Larry says:

    Here is another thing I do to make life easy – I bring an easy up canopy and when extended you lower your shell window of the camper shell then walk the canopy over the back of the truck then raise the shell window. You can lower the front of the canopy so the rain runs off. I then setup my folding chairs and table under the canopy as needed.

  8. Love it! Reminds me of the van I fashioned to live out of on Hawaii years ago!

  9. Anonymous says:

    I have been eyeing those Ford Transits recently….

  10. Nathanstonehouse says:

    i have a similar shelf in my tacoma and to get it into place i cut 3-4 inches off opposite corners and i was able to “twist” it into place

  11. Frater Mus says:

    I like the shelf idea, and the “twist” mentioned by another commenter.

  12. A says:

    Where are the pictures?! I’m looking to do this soon.

  13. steph davis says:

    Hi Annabell, this is an old post and the pictures went away when I had a blog redesign: I’ll try to find one and repost

  14. Chris Overduin says:

    I would love to see the photos! πŸ™‚

  15. […] Steph Davis‘s truck camper is set up in a similar way with a board across the back.  It works well for her in that she can easily use the cargo area to haul things or to sleep in, depending on need. […]

  16. jim says:

    I don’t see the picture of your truck setup.

  17. cootcraig says:

    Yes please post the pictures. I’m designing a pickup bed build out now.


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