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stevematthys


Jul 19, 2004, 11:20 PM
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How to Sleep in your Truck Topper
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I have seen guys that have those rigs that look like they can travel cross country with their truck and topper and not stay in a hotel. And I was wondering if you guys have any tips or pictures on how to make one. I have 2000 Ford Ranger


rgbscan


Jul 20, 2004, 12:15 AM
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Nice truck. I had a 2000 Ranger myself. The topper rigs aren't the way to go... they're cramped, kinda funny looking, and not all that stable. I have a tent for real camping and my pop-up for family or extended camping.

What you want to do is slap a class 3 trailer hitch on your ride and get a tow-behind pop-up camper. I picked up a used pop-up for $500. Sleeps 4, has a fridge, sink, and pull out stove.

Whats nice is once you get where you are going, you unhook the trailer. Then you can drive around whatever town your at without worry about taking your "home" with you! This link isn't mine... but its pretty much what I have...
http://cgi.ebay.com/...92953&category=50064

otherwise....

If you're bent on something for your truck bed, why not go with a tent like this: http://www.mcdar.com/...p/item.asp?itemid=57

Chris


wandering_dusk


Jul 20, 2004, 12:25 AM
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Hey man... I have always used my truck topper to sleep in when car camping... especially in bad weather... The key is to build a wooden box that fits in the bottom of the bed... take some 2x6's or 2x8's and put them between two sheets of plywood... then make drawers out of plywood... (make sure to wax the bottom of the drawers so they slide well... Now you can store your gear in the drawers and sleep on top of the box... plus no one can really see your gear in the truck... at least whatever fits in the box...
Another thing that makes it even nicer is if you can find some old cushions... I used to have some out of an old pop up camper... and i layed those over the box... Instant mobile motel room... LOL...
No... but it really is great for roadtrips... and car-camping in bad weather... if you have any questions just pm me... I've made a few of them...

Ryan


glowering


Jul 20, 2004, 6:22 AM
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Long road trips with a trailer suck unless you've got a V8, even then your looking at more gas money and hassle.

I had a cabover that was super sweet on a 4X4 F250 Diesel http://www.bigfootrv.com/campers/1500.html. I wish I never sold it, but needed a commuter. This was unstoppable for a go anywhere camper. Big and expensive though.

For a ranger I'd try a pop-up camper shell / topper or a big/tall shell/topper.


Partner j_ung


Jul 20, 2004, 6:27 AM
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In reply to:
Hey man... I have always used my truck topper to sleep in when car camping... especially in bad weather... The key is to build a wooden box that fits in the bottom of the bed... take some 2x6's or 2x8's and put them between two sheets of plywood... then make drawers out of plywood... (make sure to wax the bottom of the drawers so they slide well... Now you can store your gear in the drawers and sleep on top of the box... plus no one can really see your gear in the truck... at least whatever fits in the box...
Another thing that makes it even nicer is if you can find some old cushions... I used to have some out of an old pop up camper... and i layed those over the box... Instant mobile motel room... LOL...
No... but it really is great for roadtrips... and car-camping in bad weather... if you have any questions just pm me... I've made a few of them...
Ryan

This is essentially what I did, too. Worked great and was far, FAR cheaper than any other option. Find some carpet and carpet padding to go with it, then staple or brad both atop the box -- built in bed. I saw another guy with a small futon pad. Total project cost (not including futon pad, if you go that route) <$60.


flamer


Jul 20, 2004, 6:40 AM
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I'm on my second generation topper/sleeper truck.
A few things I like (and some I figured out the first time).
#1 keep it simple, making drawers and all that sounds great. But it costs
more to build and limits the size and shape of what you can carry.
Instead build it high enough to put rubbermaid tubs under it.
#2 get the shell with the carpet on it!! The first time you spend a COLD
night in one without the carpet liner you'll get soaked from the
condensation. The one's with the raised roof's are best.
#3 construction; use 4 2X4's(although the early suggestion about
2x6's would be stronger) 3/4 inch ply wood, carpet padding
OUTDOOR carpet. The ply wood should be in 2 equal halfs. Also
Make it easy to remove, I use carrige bolts too hold it in place.
I simply place the 2x's on the ledge at either side of the shell.

Doing it this way will (and has been for me) effective and inexpensive.
josh


krillen


Jul 20, 2004, 7:12 AM
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Toppers are the way to go for convinience, weather and timesaving. We've drove all over the place in my '96 Ranger. As was said above, build a wooden shelf high enough to be able to slide containers in and out. Mine's big enough to allow you to slide plastic milk crates around super easily. Also we have a couple rubbermaids that do the same.

Make curtains. You'll want them eventually, and if you are travelling with women (or pick up one at the campfire) they like their privacy ;) This also hides what's in the back of your truck while you are away from it.

I love being able to drive up, roll out the theramarest, and sleeping bag, and crash while my friends have their tent out of the bag, still trying to find the pegs.


miuralover


Jul 20, 2004, 7:12 AM
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I have the typical 4x4 tacoma with the top on the back and bed inside. I've changed my design every so often and the one I have now I am very satisfied with. I used four 2x4s and made the bed high enough for rubbermaid containers like the posts above me stated. In addition I used three pieces of plywood, one only about a foot wide to go right at the front of the bed so I can access the storage space you can't reach from underneath. I also bought a tailgate lock which is bomber and I trust it alot more than the lock on the canopy. Also a metolius xxl crash pad fits perfect and is very comfortable, and you always have a crash pad with you then :)

Mike


slobmonster


Jul 20, 2004, 7:21 AM
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You're driving cross country, right? I gather that you want to get this over with quickly, and not lollygag. Cabover-campers and trailers are all excellent, enviable ideas, but I think your situation is a little simpler. And you probably don't have several grand burning a hole through your pocket.

Lots of variations will what you want.

Sleeping will be cramped, as it is in any vehicle. But just *sleep* in there and you won't care too much.

Suggestions:
If you don't have this already, make sure you have a double slider so you can get from the back of the truck to the front. This is nice for super rainy days. Also, if someone sketchy were to weird you out somewhere, you don't have to get OUT to drive away. Just burn rubber away from that sketchball.

Put a light in the back. Five bucks at Walmart for those stick-on battery lights.

Rubbermaid is your friend. Figure out what size bin best fits your needs, and get enough of these to pretty much cover the inside of your truck bed. For example: gear box, food box, clothes box, kitchen box... I had a friend who had a brilliant idea and tied different colored cords into each box, so he could yank out whichever one he wanted.

Then make a platform. Two pieces of plywood is nice and simple, and you can lift one out of the way if you need. The bed of your Ranger probably has a little metal shelf of some sort, or slots that will accomodate 2X4s that will make up the crosspieces. If you're not a carpenter, find one of your friends who is.

If you find you want extra headroom, and don't want to buy a new topper, you can mount 2X8s (or 10s, or 12s) atop your truck bed's gunwales, and put the topper on this. Makes a big difference for living space, and lumber is cheap, expecially if you happen by a job site left vacant for the weekend.

You can get pretty fancy with this... or just keep it simple.

I've gone back and forth twelve times in a Subaru. I have a big Thule ski box on tope that I can put nearly everything in. The back of the car is just long enough to sleep in; I make a column just wide enough for my pad and bag. The Rubbermaids fill up the rest.

One more tip: don't keep your windows up all the way. It will smell really bad before too long.


Partner slacklinejoe


Jul 20, 2004, 7:43 AM
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My "white trash pop-up tent" that I made last week. Worked like a charm and only cost me about $12.

http://www.slacklineexpress.com/images/camper1.jpg
http://www.slacklineexpress.com/images/camper2.jpg

Simple PVC piping frame (snaps together quickly) - I thought about tent poles but I went super cheap instead.

Waterproof tarp I already had for camping

Scrap fabric to make end enclosures

Waterproofing for the fabric

Mosquito netting - I used left over screen door screen.

Tie off the tarp directly to the frame and springs on the truck so no tent stakes necessary.

In these pictures it's just safety pinned together but I got around to sewing it and adding an extra "privacy" flap on the front.

I used it for three days this weekend and it was nice, sturdy, packed up small and it only took a minute or two to put up.

I think I'm going to add on another small tarp to make a porch on the thing to hang out in the rain.


fredrogers


Jul 20, 2004, 8:42 AM
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I built a platform in my truck but sleeping on it was a bit claustrophobic. So I made the platform smaller and slept UNDER it. The platform was only at my feet so I could completely sit up. There wasn't a ton of room, because it's a small Toyota Tacoma, but it was good enough for weekends.

I wanted more room because there was two of us in the back. Thought about getting a slide-in camper. You can find these used super cheap but you need a burly truck to handle the weight. The Tacoma couldn't cut it.

So, I saved up and got a Flippac. It's a pop-up tent/mattress built into the truck shell. Check it out at www.flippac.com It's pricey ($3000) but it is lightweight (didn't reduce our gas mileage at all), gives you lots of room (7' headroom, double bed), and seems pretty durable (some friends have had theirs for 8+ years).


stevematthys


Jul 29, 2004, 12:27 PM
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nice, thanks for all the replies


indigo_nite


Jul 29, 2004, 3:21 PM
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I got some beta from a google group: (you might have to navigate around for your make if it's there)

http://groups.google.com/groups?gidx=0&hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&group=alt.autos

-searched for topper, camper shell

===
I did the topper/shell (w/ insulation and it's own sliding front window and locking back window), and bed rug (padded bed cover). I got the shell taller than my cab's height so I can sit straight up on the bed. sleep on a foam pad mainly but sometimes straight on the truck bed. I'm happy w/ it.

that stuff was new and came to ~$5k. which was pricey but if you know someone who sells maybe you can do better.


epic_ed


Jul 29, 2004, 3:41 PM
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Had a buddy who did a 9 month road trip in his Ford F150 a few years ago. They, too, made a platform to sleep on and it worked out nicely. The key feature he added which really improved livability was to add access hatches at each quarter of the platform so they could readily get to any of their stuff stashed in Rubbermaid containers below without having to pull out all containers in front of the one they needed way in the back.

Also saw some guys in Yosemite a couple of years ago with a cool design. Car camping is illegal in the park and Rangers are always on the lookout for occupants in vehicles that look like they are set up for camping. These guys decided to go the route another guy mentioned earlier -- build the platform a little higher so you can load all of your crap on top of the platform and sleep under it. If stealth camping is important at the places you will be visiting, this may be the better way to go.

Ed


ullr


Jul 31, 2004, 3:06 PM
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I've upgraded from the back of my Toyota to something a bit more comfortable for the extended bad weather times.

http://www.tetongravity.com/...normal_motorhome.jpg


areyoumydude


Jul 31, 2004, 3:43 PM
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In reply to:
I've upgraded from the back of my Toyota to something a bit more comfortable for the extended bad weather times.

http://www.tetongravity.com/...normal_motorhome.jpg

Now that's style!


chalked4dyno


Jul 31, 2004, 4:10 PM
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Is there any big problem to just throwing down some thermarests on the bed of the truck (with the cap). Everybody seems to be keen on the platform idea. I'm planning on a 5-day trip in a 96 ranger, we won't have enough gear with us to require the platform. Will we be ok with 2 of us right on the truck bed?


chalked4dyno


Jul 31, 2004, 5:18 PM
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BUMP... anyone?


Partner coylec


Jul 31, 2004, 6:59 PM
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are you going to be okay with it?

I could do it. Then again, I've slept in the truck of a honda civic.

coylec


chalked4dyno


Jul 31, 2004, 7:21 PM
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I guess if it's only 5days it's not really that important.. If it's terribly uncomfortable, I can pull out a tarp and dirtbag it.


pancaketom


Jul 31, 2004, 9:02 PM
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I had a platform for a bit, but my shell is too low to be really good that way, so I sort of fold up the thermarests on the sleeping side, and keep a few crates in there, then when it is time to sleep, I put the crates out on the ground, on top of the truck, or in the front seat if I am at a rest stop, fold out the mattresses and jump in. This way I can sort of sit up to read in the back, headlights don't shine right in my eyes, and getting dressed in the morning is possible too. My camper shell also has 2 side by side doors rather than the tailgate, so it is a lot easier to just open one side and dive in. The one major downside is I have to do a bit of rearranging to go to bed.

If I was getting a shell again, I'd make sure it is a bit taller so I could sit up in the back. The 12v wired in lights in the back are nice, and having some sort of insulation in the back so condensation doesn't drip on me when I am sleeping is good too. I also am a fan of the little pass through windows between the cab and the bed.


climbthemiz


Aug 1, 2004, 9:26 AM
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I just got a new truck, and Im not planning on building a loft, what im gonna do is get three or more big tupperware containers and put all my stuff (food, stoves, clothes, raingear, H20 etc etc) in those containers, then if i cant find a place to camp which mabye impossible since there are camping areas everywhere (do the research) ill just put the containers in the front seats and smack the basecamp thermarests down and hit the sack!

Of course im saying this because my trucks topper is a little too short for a loft.


treenail


Aug 1, 2004, 5:41 PM
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When it comes time to replace a pickup get a small van. My '93 Chevy Astro has 228,000 miles on it and makes a great camper. Mine is a long wheel base cargo van. The sliding side door and double doors in back have tinted glass so it's pretty hard to see my gear inside. I get 19 mpg in city, 21+ on the road, loaded. AC doesn't change mileage. The engine has never had anything done to it internally in all these years, knock on wood [my]

I built shelves on both sides that come out to the edge of the wheel wells. Then I made a deck that sits on a lip at the same height as the wheel wells. Storage underneath so everything doesn't have to be shuffled when its time to sleep.

The van came with industrial roof racks, three tubes. I picked up a plastic ski box at Fleet Farm for $70. Lots of gear can go in the box to keep more volume clear inside. If I go out in the summer I tape mosquito netting over the windows so there is venting.

If you have a trailer hitch you can add a box on the reciever hitch for more gear storage.

During some road miles alternate drivers will sack out in the back instead of trying to sleep sitting up. Not the best place to be if there were an accident. If you're worried, put in a solid anchor through the wall or floor and sleep in your harness.

Tom


Partner coylec


Aug 1, 2004, 11:29 PM
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If you're worried, put in a solid anchor through the wall or floor and sleep in your harness.

Awesome idea, though I doubt it will count as a "seat belt" in states that require them (SC and OR, for example).

If you're the driver and realize there is an impending collision, should you yell "falling" to get the sleeping passenger in the right frame of mind?

coylec


wlderdude


Aug 3, 2004, 3:38 PM
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When it comes time to replace a pickup get a small van.

Amen. If your vanity will let you, a van will serve you better. Trucks are great for things like hauling manure and other things that don't care how they are treated. Vans are designed for people. They have more space inside than you will get with your pickup and transitions from back to front don't require crawling through a window. But hey, if you like long hoods, enjoy cramming yourself into tiny compartment.

Once I have the money, I plan to customize a full size van into a barebones camper. It is hard to beat the chasis and ground clearance of a truck with the comfort of a camper and the fuel economy of a passenger vehicle.

That's my dream anyways. Good luck improvising with what you have.

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