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A DIY truck camper is a perfect solution for wanderlust. If you already have a truck, you can realistically build a simple homemade truck camper in just one day!
Whether you are interested in learning about full cabover truck campers or simple camper builds using a truck camper shell, I’ve got all the deets for you here.
In this article, I’m covering the various ways to build a truck camper, how much it costs, videos for inspiration, and a list of DIY plans to get you started.
Table of Contents
What is a DIY Truck Camper?
DIY stands for “Do It Yourself” – so a DIY truck camper is a truck camper that you build yourself!
A pickup truck is the perfect camping vehicle. Trucks can hold a lot of stuff, and you can transform the bed into a camper to upgrade from tent camping.
Truck campers on the market today cost a lot of money, with higher-end models hovering around $70k… ouch! However, if you build your own truck camper, you could save as much as $69k or more.
- Want to hit the road full-time but unsure how to fund your travels? Here are 40+ ways to make money on the road.
Can You Build Your Own DIY Truck Camper?
Yes, you can! Anyone can build a truck camper, regardless of skills or experience. All you need is a few materials, ambition, and some YouTube videos and blog articles for help and inspiration.
You can go several routes when building your own camper, from simple to complex. I’ve made sure to cover each option here and provided inspiration videos to give you a better idea of what you can accomplish for yourself.
How Much Does it Cost To Build Your Own DIY Truck Camper?
You probably guessed this: the cost to build your own DIY truck camper varies. This cost can vary wildly – anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to upwards of $5,000… or more!
The cost to build your own truck camper is so variable because there are just so many ways you can do it.
You can do a “no-build” build that includes throwing a mattress and some plastic drawers in the bed of your truck – this will run you less than $100 if you have the supplies on hand. Or, you can do a full build-out that can cost several thousands of dollars.
In this article, I’ve included videos of DIY truck camper builds, from simple to complex, and some of the DIYers share the estimated costs of their build.
Choose Your Build Type and Complexity
I said that building your own homemade truck camper was so easy, anyone can do it regardless of experience. And I meant it! You can build your own truck camper, even if you’ve never touched a tool in your life.
Your skills, experience, and level of ambition will ultimately determine the type of build you go after. Here are your options:
Full Homemade Truck Camper Build
You can build a full homemade truck camper if that’s what you want! By a full camper, I mean a cab-over truck camper complete with electrical system, windows, standing room, and more.
This type of build is the most complex and will take the most money, time, and supplies.
But if you’re handy and it’s what you’re dreaming of… what’s stopping you?!
DIY Truck Topper Camper
A DIY truck topper camper is the best option for those on a budget or a time crunch. This kind of homemade truck camper is also perfect for those who want to get camping ASAP and want a simple, no-frills truck camper.
A truck topper camper involves a truck camper shell on the bed of your truck, and the interior is up to you. You can build a bed, kitchen area, and cabinets… or you can just put a mattress and some drawers in there and head out! It’s up to you.
What’s The Best Truck Topper for a DIY Truck Camper?
Unless you’re building a full DIY truck camper, you’re going to need a truck bed topper for your camper. You can purchase a new one, find a used one for sale, or build your own!
DIY Truck Camper Shell
First, you can choose to build a DIY truck camper shell. Truck camper shells can be fashioned out of wood, metal, fiberglass, or a combination of the 3. Building your own truck camper shell is not for the inexperienced!
Here’s a link to an article with 5 DIY truck camper shells if this sounds like it’s up your alley.
Buying a Truck Camper Shell
Buying a truck camper shell is the easiest and quickest way to get started with your camper build. Several different companies manufacture truck camper shells!
You can choose a short truck camper shell that is in line with the cab of the truck, or elevated truck camper shells with walk-in doors. You can also opt for an insulated truck camper shell… the possibilities are almost endless!
When buying a truck camper shell, keep these things in mind:
- Ease of Entry
- Windows and Bug Screens
How Much Does a Truck Camper Shell Cost?
You can find used truck camper shells on marketplaces like Facebook and Craigslist for as low as $100 – but keep in mind they might not be in great condition. To buy a new truck camper shell, you can expect to pay anywhere from $900 to $3,000 or more depending on style and features.
5 Homemade Truck Camper Builds For Inspiration
From simple to complex, here are 5 DIY truck camper builds for inspiration and ideas!
- Need a refrigerator for your DIY truck camper? Here are the best 12v refrigerators for campers.
- Stay warm with a diesel heater! These diesel heaters are perfect for van life and small campers.
1. Simple No-Build Truck Camper in Toyota Tacoma, No Tools Required
This Toyota Tacoma DIY truck camper is a no-build build – meaning no tools or building were required.
This is a great and budget friendly option for those who want a truck camper ASAP, can’t afford a more complex build, or don’t have the skills.
All you need is a truck bed topper, a floor liner (optional), a bed and some storage bins… The rest is personal touches, and you’re good to go!
I personally love DIY truck campers because you can do this in a single day and hit the road… the world is yours!
2. DIY Pickup Truck Bed Camper with Pull Out Bed
This simple DIY truck camper has a pull-out bed that folds up into a couch during the day. This creates a living space, and a workstation for working on a laptop or watching movies. This truck camper has a lot of storage and is pretty easy to build for someone with minimal skills!
3. Awesome Homemade Truck Camper
This DIY truck camper build is not for the unskilled or faint of heart! This thing looks professional – complete with electrical, truck lights, backup camera, and so much more.
This homemade truck camper is made out of fiberglass and has a hydraulic lift door. The interior of the camper is pretty bare bones, but it gives you an idea of what you can do from home.
4. Homemade Truck Camper With Cab-Over Bunk on a Budget
If you’re looking for a homemade DIY full truck camper build out, look no further. This thing is incredible!
This camper has a width-wise bed above the cab and standing room in the living space. The interior of this truck camper looks like a log cabin, and it’s complete with a wood-burning stove. If you want to go all-in on a DIY truck camper with plenty of living space, bed, dinette, fridge, and electrical, this is the truck camper build for you.
5. DIY Truck Camper for $800
This truck camper was built for just $800. This camper looks like a tiny log cabin sitting in the bed of the truck!
Brando Conklin, the owner and builder, sells the plans to this DIY truck camper on his website for just $35, and you can follow along with his YouTube series on the build too! Check out the link here for the plans and YouTube playlist.
DIY Truck Camper Plans
Are you looking for DIY truck camper plans? You’re in luck! Here are a few fantastic DIY truck camper plans to help you get your project started.
- Brando Conklin’s Truck Camper Plans
- Moser Makes DIY Truck Camper YouTube Playlist
- Step-By-Step Free Cabover Pickup Truck Camper on Instructables
- Light and Airy Slide-In Homemade Truck Camper from Saws on Skates
- Free DIY Pop Up Truck Camper Plans on Instructables
These truck camper plans will for sure get you started! And if you’re looking for inspiration for simple no-build truck camper builds, YouTube is a wealth of information.
Hit The Road In a Homemade Camper
In my opinion, a DIY truck camper is the best and quickest way to get on the road as soon as possible. Especially if you already own a truck!
I know how strong the allure of the nomadic lifestyle is… And I also know the appeal of wanting to upgrade from tent camping while staying on a budget.
A simple DIY truck camper is great for that, and a full-on homemade truck camper build is a great project, too!