Converting My Pickup Truck Into a Camper

My mother is like MacGyver. I am not being facetious but stating a fact. She sees a problem, looks at what she has available to her, and comes up with a solution. This is why I was adamant about not putting any money into converted the bed of my pickup truck into a camper until she’d put in her two cents about the project.

Before we could do much brainstorming today, we had to measure the truck bed. Can you believe that this was the moment when my tailgate handle decided to break?!  We lost nearly a half hour trying to get the tailgate down! My mother says there is a scrap yard nearby and to try there for a new handle before going to the Ford dealership in Richelieu.

First off the window coverings. She noticed that all the windows have a lip around the frame. Please keep in mind that the following picture is a prototype. I am going to go buy sheets or other material to replace the drop cloth. 🙂

Can you see what she did there? She cut a length of elastic long enough to run around the window and hold the coverings in place. Brilliant.

Next, a bed base. We were going to build something with legs and then she had a better idea. I wanted to store bins under the bed, right? Hmm. Her neighbour moved back home to France and she collected some wine crates from him. Two each at the head and foot, one in the middle in conjunction with the wheel to hold a sheet of plywood:

As for the sheet of plywood, she had a scrap piece that was exactly the size we needed! When I want to reclaim my truck bed to haul stuff, I can stack my crates and stand up the plywood.

But before we could come up with dimensions for the bed, I needed a mattress. She has two folding foam mattresses that are perfect length and width. The only problem, she bought them at Costco and Costco has a big stock turnover. After lunch, my step-mother went out to see if they might still have some. Yup!!! And with a cover that is more to my liking than theirs!

The mattress has several seams in it, so it folds into a thick block. Notice the head? This is the most brilliant part of the design. There is a small piece of foam that folds up to act as a pillow. I like two pillows at night and only bought one of for the truck, so now I have the height I want. Plus, it makes the mattress the exact length I need to fit in the truck bed; the air mattress had been a little too long.

My mother then handed me a small pail that fits under the bed to act as a chamber pot. Bedroom and bathroom done!

This will be sufficient for me to go camping next weekend. But we still have two more projects. The first will be to set up some sort of recliner and surface next to the bunk. I will be sitting on my butt on the floor; there isn’t enough height to sit up straight. So that means that I can forget working on transcription in the truck bed unless I get a taller canopy, which is probably not going to happen.

My mother’s initial idea was that I would set up my temporary office in the cab, behind the driver’s seat. But there was no obvious way to do that. Then she came up with the obvious solution. Transcription is comparable to driving. So she’s going to make me a little table for the passenger seat and I will sit there if I ever have to transcribe while living in the toad. I don’t plan to put in long days there; it will be an available solution if I ever take off for an extended period of time.

I do plan to eventually get a 12V and 120V electrical system into the truck and would like to buy a canopy shelter for cooking and daily living for when I go stay at a campground for several days, but once I get the window coverings, I’ll be good to go next weekend. I can’t wait!

As we were finishing up, she saw her neighbor, who does automotive body work, so she asked him to come back to give me an estimate on dealing with Moya’s rust spots. He says that I would ideally need to do a full body paint job ($3,000, so forget it!), but that if I’m willing to accept some spots with uneven colour and finish, I could get away with having only the driver’s side rear wing (truck bed) redone, which will add a couple of years to my truck. He quoted me $500, which sounds reasonable, so we made tentative plans to have that done in late August or early September. I will be getting some paint from Ford to do the touch ups where there is no rust yet. I don’t need to have a perfect paint job, but with the little amount of mileage on my truck, there is a good chance that it will rust out before it fails mechanically. So it’s worth putting some money and time into the finish to get it to hold out a bit.

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  • Awsome!

  • MacGyver & MacGyver Jr.!



  • Sounds like you’re good to go. Say, if I drive my Toyota Highlander to Canada, could your mom figure out how I can camp in it? Actually, I paid enough for my big tent that I need to get some use out of it for now.

  • I’m sure she could come up with something! 😀

  • My wife and I had ford ranger about 12 years ago – although we didn’t have a cap for the box/bed, we camped and slept in it quite comfortably – this was at a wilderness park in New Brunswick (Mount Carleton Pr Pk) – a great spot to camp & relax!

    Glad your truck is working out Rae!

  • Mike, I’ll add that park to my list if I get out east this summer. I’ve camped in other parts of New Brunswick.

  • Ok Rae, that’s two.

    The other week when you mentioned that Crappy Tire had an inverter on sale, l ran out on Monday and grabbed my very own. It was a deal for a 300W, and l couldn’t resist. I actually had to hit two Canadian Tires before l got one in stock.

    Now l have just hit Costco and bought the same mat. My sofa/bed hasn’t been the most comfortable and l end up tossing and turning all night long, so hopefully the foam mat will improve my sleep.


    Now, what are we buying next???? lol

  • Maybe I missed something, but why would a full time RVer want or need to go camping in the toad?

  • […] The title of this post comes from a very good comment/question by Kathe in reply to my post about converting the truck for camping. […]

  • Tammy, that’s hilarious!

    Next purchase: a 12V deep cycle battery! 🙂

  • Rae, l was actually meaning to look at a 12V battery today at Costco since mine is leaking acid……but l’m not a very good shopper……l can only do it for mear minutes at a time….so it slipped my mind when l was there.

    Costco has pretty good prices on batterys from what l have heard.

  • Almost as low as your butt on the floor might be a canoe seat? More comfortable if it will fit.

  • Tammy, thanks for the tip about Costco and batteries. I will invite myself on the next shopping trip. 🙂

    Debbie, my mother is building me a sort of chair that will rest on the floor and give me lumbar support. I don’t get it, but I trust her. 😀

  • Reading along and all I can think is , brilliant, your Mom is soooo creative!
    She should be writing all this down and doing an ebook to sell!

  • […] I really wish I’d made it more of a priority since rain or humidity got in and some of the wooden cases have mould. They need a vinegar rinse and time in the […]

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