It’s easy—and relatively inexpensive. But before you rush out and start converting your truck into the ultimate adventure vehicle, step back and think carefully about the design, because the same rules you’d follow when buying a nonmobile home apply here: be patient and detail-oriented and begin with the right foundation.
$1,500: Truck Bed Cap
This will be by far your largest expense, but it’s worth it—these are the walls to your house. I suggest budgeting $1,500. When hunting for a cap, broaden your search beyond the name brands. While Leer and ARE offer some of the best caps on the market, I got a screaming deal on a new ATC cap, and the sub-$1,000 shell worked perfectly for years.
What’s the use of pimping out your truck if you can’t bring your toys? The Yakima Track Hard Top Kit will cost you around $400—and it’ll be one of your best, safest options for storing gear on top of your rig. Tip: Go superwide on your crossbars so you can fit your bike, kayak, and future RocketBox on the roof at the same time.
$100: Interior Build
If you keep it simple, all you’ll need are a few two-by-fours, some particleboard, two hinges, and enough carpet to cover the whole structure. (I know you can get out for less than $100 because that’s what I did when I built up Charlie, my 2000 Chevy Silverado.) Make a simple platform that you can sleep on, with enough room below to place gear bins. Don’t cut corners with the carpet. It’s essential to making the back of your truck comfortable.
$70: Coleman 2-Burner Stove
This simple stove will make a fine kitchen on the tailgate of your truck. The extra money for the second burner is well worth it—you’ll have a much more efficient cooking station.
Bins are the best way to keep your gear organized. Take time to organize and label them, and be sure to keep stuff in its proper bin. You don’t want to blow a dawn patrol while searching for your coffeemaker.
$300: Yeti Cooler
Yes, Yeti makes some of the world’s most expensive coolers, but if you think of it as a mobile refrigerator, you’re getting off cheap. The Tundra cooler allows you to bring perishable foods on your adventures—up to eight days on one load of ice. Yetis are also impossible to destroy, making them an investment for life.
Since you don’t have to worry about weight, shop for inexpensive—and heavy—pots, pans, plates, cups, and utensils. Go for the nonstick variety: It’ll make cleanup after meals much easier.
We like the inexpensive, reliable Princeton Tec Remix—good for reading and cooking by at night. If you’re willing to spend more money, we recommend an inverter like the Goal Zero Sherpa and a cell battery so you can charge LED lights and other electronics inside your shelter.
$105: Memory Foam Mattress
This luxury item will make sleeping in the back of your truck more treat than nightmare. A good friend put this six-inch-thick memory foam mattress in the back of his Silverado. As a result, he sleeps better in the back of his truck than he does at home.
$55: Camp Chairs
A good pair of camp chairs like these models from REI are key to being comfortable at camp. We like having a second chair even if we’re traveling alone. It’s a good excuse to invite a neighbor into camp for dinner.
$1: Sheet for Curtains
For privacy and to block out the light.
A few feet of Velcro tape will help you deck the inside of the camper shell with lights, curtains, and places to store electronics.