Homebuilt DIY Pop-Up Truck Camper On A Toyota Tundra


Here’s a really awesome DIY Slide On Four Wheel Camper Style Pop-Up Truck Camper RV by ‘notesfromavagabond.’ It’s built on an aluminum frame he welded together himself and includes a few innovative features, such as a fold out room and a simple roof-lift mechanism.

(Thinking about building your own truck camper? (You can build them out of wood, too!) If you haven’t yet, check out my article on How To Build Your Own DIY Truck Camper RV)
Continue reading Homebuilt DIY Pop-Up Truck Camper On A Toyota Tundra

How To Build Your Own Homemade DIY Truck Camper


Want a great way to save *thousands* on an RV? Build one yourself!

If you have some basic construction and carpentry skills, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn just how easy and totally inexpensive it can be to slap together your own DIY truck camper from hardly more than a small bundle of 2x4s, some plywood, a bucket of screws, and some paint. Bolt it all onto your truck bed, and depending on your design choices, you could conceivably have an actual working RV for less than $200.

Mobile Rik built a Homemade DIY Truck Camper for his Tacoma Prerunner for just $250
My Own Homemade DIY Truck Camper – Day 1
It’s based on the popular Four Wheel Camper design, but instead of expensive welded aluminum, the main box is framed with just $75 of cheap sturdy 2x4s and plywood.

It naturally seems like there must be something special about building an RV, but if you really think about it, a “mobile home” is really nothing more than a tiny house — That happens to be sitting in the bed of your truck. Constructing one is actually a lot like making a shed. Depending on your design decisions, it may be even easier, or a lot more complicated — And that’s entirely your choice! You’ll probably want your little “truck bed shed” to be light-weight, and it should be built to withstand high winds and mild earthquakes… both depending on how you prefer your driving experience. 🙂 The best thing is.. It’s entirely up to you.

For myself, the pop-up slide-in camper I’m building for my short-bed Tacoma Prerunner, is going to be doing a lot of off-roading to fossil digs and rockhounding sites. I’d like it to stay light on the tires, but $1000+ in aluminum framing is out of the question. Fortunately, since I don’t intend to fill it with much in terms of built-in furniture and a humongous water tank, I can afford to use some heavier-than-typical construction. Hence, I’ll be making mine from cheap and super-sturdy 2x4s. Like I said — It’s a truck bed shed!

Looking To Make Your Own Truck Camper?

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Find out how I built my own truck camper for my Tacoma Prerunner in just 2 days for under $250. (Click below to open the link in a new tab.)

Mobile Rik’s DIY Truck Camper Plans.

Holes or No-Holes? Of course I’ll need a door, which I’ll either fashion myself from some plywood or an actual salvaged RV door. Windows? I haven’t decided if I’ll really need glass windows, or if I’ll keep it solid below and depend on the cut outs in the pop top. (Something to think about: It’s much more secure — and WAY more insulated — without windows!) If I do opt for windows, I already have some tempered glass I saved from thrift store coffee tables… but meanwhile, I have a Craigslist alert set to look for a junked camper window.

Bob Wells’ Simple DIY Truck Camper

Slide-In Camper or Bolt-On Camper Shell?

For a much simpler design than a “slide in” offers, you can simply make the “top half” of an RV-type camper shell and just bolt it right onto your bed rails. With a bit more work, you can even turn it into a full-size camper with a cabover extension like Bob Wells at CheapRVLiving.com describes how to build. The required wood in his design, is minimal — about fifteen or so 2x4s and a few sheets of strong plywood — to make a good sturdy home-built camper.

On the other hand, the Slide-On Camper design gives you the flexibility to park your camper on stilts while you go adventuring, with your truck bed open to get supplies. The trade-off is the added complexity of constructing a solid floor and bottom-half that both accounts for the wheel-well risers and essentially “hangs” from the camper’s top half when it’s on stilts, ideally supporting one or more people jumping around inside when it’s jacked up.

Here’s a great video of a pretty awesome DIY pop-up truck camper based on my favorite truck camper design — the “Four Wheel Camper” patterns code-named Hawk, Eagle, Raven, Finch, etc. — that includes a couple of really neat added features, including a fold-out room.

Additionally for more extensive details on an all-out full-featured DIY slide-in camper build, check out Dan Rogers’ Homebuilt Glen-L Truck Camper. Lots of photos. (Note: Glen-L has historically been a top source of intricate woodworking camper plans for decades, if you want to make a “traditional” style RV from blueprint-style plans.)

Decisions, Decisions…

In terms of design decisions, Slide In vs. Bolt On is one you’ll be wanting to make early. A pop-up roof, for example, can be added later. Slide out rooms and other extensions can be added as well. But the width of your main box would be difficult to change down the road, so you’ll want to get it the way it’ll be the first time around.

How To Build Your Own DIY Truck Camper RV - (Newly enhanced article with photos and video)
Click To Get Free DIY Truck Camper Plans!
(3D Model By Mobile Rik using Sketchup)

Since the Slide-On design typically spills over the rails a bit, the typical direct Bolt-On camper design has on overall cleaner smooth-sided look that carries over into more fuel-efficient aerodynamics. But what if you really want the extra width? Then you get to make a design choice. When you build your own camper, you don’t need to worry about what’s “typical” — You can do whatever you like. If you’d like the added width of a slide-on, but don’t want to bother with building a fully self-supporting “tiny house on stilts,” you can feel free to just bolt on your own wide-body camper top, provided you can figure out how to support it on the rails.

Alternatively, you could keep the smooth-sided profile, but explore building “slide outs” to extend the sides out a few more feet once you’re parked. I’m getting more and more intrigued by RVs with slide-outs. Some of them are really amazing. Note that on a truck camper, a true RV-style slide out room may not be as feasible, unless you plan to convert to or start from a flat bed truck. (Which if you think about it is not a bad idea.) But a shelf-style “pull-down” room like in the video is very do-able.

wedgetail camperGetting Creative…
And not to throw you a huge curveball, but I may as well mention that in addition to my “favorite” camper design, there’s some really cool design ideas in the Wedgetail Truck Camper from Australia. Not only does the roof flip open sideways like a lid, revealing a twelve-foot high house-shaped tent, but the rear wall flips downwards, creating a covered “porch” with bathroom and staired entrance. Along with an outdoor-accessible kitchen and storage and tons of other nifty features that are actually DIY-able!

(I’m sticking with my plans to build a Hawk style truck camper, but eventually I’d love to figure out how to create the flip-top Wedgetail ute-camper design. Click to read my discussion about making your own Wedgetail style camper.)

And to keep going with that theme…

(Next Up: Really Cool Truck Camper Designs That Inspire Me)



I’ve added a few videos from the first day of my camper build to a YouTube playlist:


I’ll be uploading more in the future, so…

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Mobile Rik – Living Off The Grid In A Home Built Truck Camper (Podcast Episode 1)

Mobile Rik Show: Episode 001 Listen to my first iTunes Podcast and learn how I came to be living rent-free off the grid in my own homemade tiny house on wheels.    [powerpress] Get Free Episodes ★★★★★ Rate And Review On Continue reading Mobile Rik – Living Off The Grid In A Home Built Truck Camper (Podcast Episode 1)

Keep It Stupidly Simple (And Double Down On The “Stupidly”!) – Book Excerpt

Here’s an excerpt from my book “How To Build Your Own DIY Truck Camper And Get Off The Grid For Dirt Cheap“, on sale September 4, 2014.   To get the special launch price, make sure you join my mailing Continue reading Keep It Stupidly Simple (And Double Down On The “Stupidly”!) – Book Excerpt

DIY Homemade Camper Built On An F-150

Here’s an interesting and simple DIY slide-on truck camper design.

Tontotralman (who points out that he’s NOT a carpenter) built this one-person slide on truck camper to fit inside his 6′ truck bed with the tailgate shut. There’s no cabover, but he still managed to fit a raised sleeping area inside.

It’s built on 2×2 framing with OSB panels, and 1-1/2 styrofoam insulation. The interior is oriented sideways, with a sideways 6.5 foot wide bedroom area over a storage compartment, and front entrance area with storage cupboards on the left and kitchen area on the right.

On the outside he has some storage space between the walls and the bed, and a small electrical hookup. I like the split door idea that allows easy access.

Part 2 shows the finished body with corner trim, ceiling vent, water storage, the completed kitchen area (which looks much like a home kitchenette).

Part 3 shows the aerodynamic nose attached as a cabover extension to be used for lightweight storage in the future. He also explains the split door that allows for an exit when the tailgate is up. A highlight of Part 3 is his upgraded version of a “redneck air conditioner” made from a fan and an ice cooler and upgraded with copper coil and water pump.

Thinking Of Building Your Own Truck Camper?

Check out my feature article: How To Build Your Own Homemade DIY Truck Camper Continue reading DIY Homemade Camper Built On An F-150

How To Make A DIY Alcohol Backpacking Stove From Soda Pop Cans

(Yep! It’s Yet Another Article + Video About The Iconic ‘Pop-Can Stove’!) Since I first learned about backpackers making lightweight cooking stoves out of aluminum cans, I was hooked. And probably like other “stovies,” the one that really caught my Continue reading How To Make A DIY Alcohol Backpacking Stove From Soda Pop Cans

Make Your Own DIY Camper Refrigerator To Save Tons Of Energy


Campers & RVers: Do you know how much of your valuable energy reserves are being consumed by your refrigerator?

Even if you happen to have a very efficient refrigerator, chances are that you are draining tons more than you really need to be.

Consider these questions:

  • Is your refrigerator running most of the day?

Especially if you’re in a hot climate, it’s probably running almost full time. Assuming you turn off the lights at night, and use the AC/Heating only when you need it, your refrigerator is the most energy consuming appliance in your RV, because it’s intermittently consuming energy 24/7.

Camping Refrigerator
  • Is your refrigerator packed completely full most of the time or is it half empty most of the time?

If you’re like a lot campers, you fill your fridge with what you need when you leave and gradually empty it out until you’re back in civilization to restock, when you’ll find it either completely empty or half full of stuff you never touched. In other words, you’re probably cooling tons more air than is really necessary.

  • Is your refrigerator front-opening or top-opening?

Duh. Of course your refrigerator is probably front opening like every other manufactured refrigerator. And like every other refrigerator, you dump out all that cold air every time you open the door. What a humongous waste!

Non Energy Efficient Refrigerator
Familiar family photo of cold air invisibly dumping out of a typical refrigerator when the door is opened. 🙂

What if you could make your own DIY custom RV refrigerator that fixes all of these problems? Sure it might not be among the easiest projects you’ve done, and may even be among the most difficult. But what if you could?

Let’s start with the most wasteful part — by stopping all the cold air from dumping out. The easiest way to keep the air inside — even when you open the door — is to create a refrigerator that operates “on it’s back,” like chest freezer. Since cold air is denser and wants to go down, a top-opening refrigerator can be opened up over and over without spilling out the air. This helps it stay cool for most of the day without needing to run the power.

It’s so obvious that you have to wonder why they don’t all do this already! It’s because the front-opening refrigerator/freezer is way more convenient in your everyday household for just grabbing what you need off the shelf instead of digging around for it like you do with an ice chest style freezer.

But how about for an RV? Even though you’re starved for space, a couple of things make a small top-loader really convenient. Think about this — Do you already use a camping cooler in your RV to store your drinks and stuff?

If you don’t find that inconvenient to use, then small top-loading refrigerator (or a few of them) should be just as convenient. For a permanent installation, a good place might be under the fold-down “sofa” seats. You could even make a sofa out of the refrigerator! While it may seem a hassle to tell your buddy to get off the couch so you can check the fridge… honestly, how many times do you have to tell someone to get off the cooler so you can get a drink. Same thing, right?

Maybe you’re wondering if a little fridge under the flip-down couch seats will give you enough fridge space. Well, how much space do you actually use? A good experiment might be to see how many coolers you need store all the food you need for the next trip. Maybe you’re camping with a family, and you find that a few coolers isn’t enough, no matter how well you pack it… So you’re kinda “stuck” with the big one you already have. But with some creativity maybe you can think up a handy way to keep the cold in when you open it — maybe some kind of insulated “chest of drawers” design or even some of those clear plastic strips like they have in the back of the grocery store.

pot-in-pot refrigerator
Zeer Pot (Pot-in-Pot Evaporative Refrigerator)

But consider this: There are actually great ways to keep your food cool that don’t require any non-renewable power at all. There’s even an evaporative cooling device called a Zeer Pot that can chill food down near normal refrigeration temperatures in dry climates using nothing but water. Or if you’re not living near the desert, maybe you can just use a modified camp cooler to handle the less critical stuff. Though making ice takes electricity, simply replacing a reusable blue ice pack in a super-insulated cooler every few days could really cut your energy costs.

So the question becomes…Is it possible that much of your fridge space is taken up foods that require only minimal cooling rather than full refrigeration?

While meats, dairy products, and cooked and processed foods will typically need full refrigeration below the FDA’s easy-to-remember upper limit of 40°F (4°C), many raw fruits and vegetables don’t require more than light refrigeration to stay crisp. (Just remember to wash them thoroughly as usual.) Many condiments, jam, salted butter, oils, and hard cheeses can also do fine with light “cooling.” Check out this article for inspiration: 7 Foods That Can Survive Outside The Fridge.

Once you’ve (hopefully) downsized your full-refrigeration needs and moved some of it to a simple cooler, you can think about designing a more efficient refrigerator.

(End of Part 1 – Click for Part 2: Make Your Own DIY Refrigerator To Save Tons Of Energy)

Lightweight DIY Truck Camper For An ’83 Toyota 4×4 With Plywood Framing

Here’s a fantastic slideshow of a commercial quality homemade slide-in truck camper handcrafted with plywood framing from ‘spidersfrommars’.
The frame is constructed from 1/2″ birch plywood, with ample large holes cut out to decrease its weight. A layer of 1″ styrofoam is applied, and aluminum sheeting covers it all.

It also features a lightweight curved roof and built-in furnishings.

(Note: The video oddly cuts out halfway through promising more to come.)

Read My Article: How To Build Your Own DIY Truck Camper

Continue reading Lightweight DIY Truck Camper For An ’83 Toyota 4×4 With Plywood Framing