If you’re a fisher, climber, biker, or any sort of camper, you’ve probably already had the pleasure of sleeping in the back of your car at least once. Sleeping uncomfortably, that is. The truth is, no matter how beautiful the nature or how clear the skies, camping in the back of your car is never a comfortable experience. Unless, of course, you build yourself a nice, cozy sleeping platform that will allow you to camp anywhere and anytime you like, at a cheap price. And no, you don’t need to buy or build a super-fancy van with a solar -powered workstation and whatnot (unless you want to, ‘cause hey, there’s no denying luxury camping-vans look amazing!). All you need is a few things and materials, tools, a little bit of time and patience. That’s it!
In this blog post, we’ll talk about the numerous benefits of having your own car bed as well as how to easily make a comfortable sleeping platform in your vehicle. Simple and pretty straightforward, so let’s jump right into it!
The Benefits of Turning Your Car Into a Camper
Whether you’re hunting, fishing or just exploring the great outdoors, sleeping in nature is sometimes not only desirable but necessary. Unfortunately, finding a good place to camp for free can be a bit difficult, if not impossible at times, which leaves you with – your vehicle. To make sleeping in your car a more comfortable and pleasant experience, build yourself a no-nonsense sleeping platform and enjoy all the perks it offers.
- You’ll have more free time
While waking up at 4 a.m. to drive for a few hours so you can fish in peace is all fun and great… wait, no it isn’t. Waking up super early to do some sort of outdoor activity never really energizes people (even though that’s one of the primary goals), but tires them – and it’s no wonder really. Recent research shows we all need between seven to nine hours of sleep every single night to be healthy and well. So, unless you’re planning to go to bed at 8 p.m. the night before your fishing trip, you won’t be getting enough sleep. As a result, it’s more than likely you’ll spend your day off feeling cranky and sluggish.
Now imagine this: you slept well for whole eight hours, woke up at 7:30 a.m. and voila – the sun is shining, the lake is right in front of you and fishing (or whatever outdoor activity really) can begin. Is this even possible? It sure is with a proper car-camper, as you can drive out the night before your adventure, sleep in the comfort of your own vehicle and then get up bright and early, actually energized and excited for the day ahead of you.
- It’s cheaper than renting accommodations
If you enjoy your outdoor adventures often, you’re probably either renting accommodations or paying for camping in safe locations. And while paying for a two-three nights lodging may not be super-expensive everywhere, if you do it often, it adds up. Just think about it – if you go on trips two-three times a year, every year, and you have to pay for a hotel/motel/lodging of some sort every time you do it… that’s a lot of money in the end. Money that you can spend funding your next awesome adventure! Plus, most places require making reservations a few weeks or at least days before showing up, which can take away from the spontaneity of your outdoor adventure.
With a proper sleeping platform in the back of your car, on the other hand, you’ve got nothing to worry about. Sure, you’ll have to invest a little to actually make the bed, but if you’re not fancy, you can build a fantastic bed for under or little above $100, which will serve you for years to come. Not to mention, you can be as spontaneous as you like – in the mood for hiking in the middle of nowhere? No problem, park your car in a safe spot, hike all you like during the day and then return to the vehicle in the evening for a long, cozy sleep.
- It’s actually comfortable
Unlike sleeping in the back of your car all squished, or in that cheap motel room with highly suspicious hygiene, bunking down in a cozy, clean car sleeping platform is a comfortable, pleasant experience. If you build your car-bed well and take care of it the proper way, it will not only be comfortable and highly convenient, but warm, clean and snugly. Plus, since your car is highly weather-resistant, designed to withstand snow, heavy rains and extreme heat, it will provide shelter even in the gnarliest of weather. Went hiking but noticed a storm coming? Instead of driving to a safe campground or a hotel, bunk down in your own car and wait it out. A nice sleeping bag will keep you warm and cozy, until your ready to head back home. And if you have a camp stove coffee supply? Perfection.
How To Build a Bed in Your Car
Now that we’ve sold you on the car-bed concept, let’s teach you how to make one. And don’t worry, even if handiness is not your strong suit, building a sleeping platform is easy, especially if you follow our simple tips.
Start by preparing your vehicle – first, remove your back seats so you can make space to put your sleeping platform. Vacuum and clean everything. If you’re going to travel with pets, it’s a good idea to get a tarp, cut it to fit your vehicle and spread it right where your bed is going to be. This way, it will be much easier to clean the car as you can simply shake out the tarp when needed.
Now is the time to measure the space where your bed will be (don’t forget to take your own height and weight into account). Because we’re assuming you want a simple, lightweight platform, all you need to do is buy some cheap but sturdy plywood, screws, hinges, ring hooks, cable ties and anything else you think you may need (these are the basics). Obviously, you’ll also need some tools to cut and build the bed so prepare those too (a drill, table saw, staple gun, palm sander and so on).
Now that you’ve measured everything, it’s time to cut some wood. Building a sleeping platform is not hard, but if you need some help, definitely check out some how-to websites or call a handy friend or a family member to help you out. Truthfully, even if you have no helping hand, this shouldn’t be difficult – check out some basic frames at Ikea and you’ll see it doesn’t take much to build a bed frame (and the one for your car will be even simpler, of course). If you want a super-simple bed, focus on building a “table” (start by making two posts and then connect them by a plank) that will support a mattress. It’s a good idea to make a smaller table and then add an extra piece of plywood on the upper side which will act as the extended piece. This will be a foldable addition that saves space, so you should attach it with hinges.
Speaking of mattresses, what should you get? At least that’s easy – there’s plenty of quality mattresses on the market, and we have a great buying guide on Best Truck Air Mattresses that should be able to help you pick the right one for your needs.
Now that your bed is done, it’s time to safely anchor it to the car. You can use cable ties to tie down the platform to the vehicle. You do this simply by screwing a ring hook into the post and then securing it by anchoring the cable tie to whatever you find on the car. It doesn’t have to be ideal – all you need is a functional, sturdy bed that doesn’t move around like crazy on bumpy roads.
- Besides a good air mattress, a pillow and a blanket or two, it’s good to have a sleeping bag with you. A nice sleeping bag can keep you super-warm even during winter and heavy snow.
- To get some privacy, add some simple curtains and windshield sunshades to your windows. If traveling during summer, add mosquito nettings too – trust us, they will make all the difference.
- Whether you’re planning to car-camp for one night or a few, make sure you bring more than enough water and food with you. If heavy snow or a storm hits, you may be forced to stay in your car much longer than anticipated, so it’s good to have some essentials with you – just in case.
Finally, don’t forget to have fun! Camping in your own car is incredibly convenient, much more comfortable than sleeping in a tent, and perhaps most importantly, freeing in and of itself – when you know you can rest and sleep in the comfort of your own vehicle no matter where you are, road trips become easier, more free-flowing and uninhibited.