DIY Camper Series Part 4: Accessories
Hey there campers! Who’s been enjoying their truck camper this week? After all the work we put into it, it’s time for a test run.
That makes this post the last installment of our DIY Camper Series. It’s been fun, it’s been challenging, and it gave us all some good ideas on how to take a used (or new) truck, and turn it into something greater. Throughout writing this series, I’ve jotted some notes about items and accessories that may make your camper a little more homey and convenient for when you’re on the road or out in the wilderness.
For readers catching this first article, you can check out the three previous articles in this series: DIY Camper Series – Part One: Truck Cap Selection, DIY Camper Series – Part Two: Turning the Bed into the Camper, and DIY Camper Series – Part Three: Building Out the Camper. These stories range from beginning to end installation instructions and basic explanation of the various types of pickup truck campers.
So as we wrap this up, below you can find a list of accessories and items you may want to check out. Some are for the camper, some are for you, some are luxuries, but each of these items all can amplify the experience.
First, let’s cover some of the necessary items that you can’t live without, literally, along with some things that will make life camping a lot easier and much more comfortable.
Bed Mattress and Sleeping Bag
Where are you going to sleep after that long hike or a day full of fun? You’ll be most likely sleeping in your camper and a bed mattress or sleeping pad will make sleep a little more comfortable. While choosing our truck cap options in DIY Camper Part 1, A.R.E. offers an AirBedz air mattress. You can check these out on their site http://www.4are.com.
This is actually a great option because the mattress is designed to fit around the wheel wells. If you’re not a fan of inflating mattresses, then a sleeping pad would be a better bet. The Therm-a-Rest Dreamtime Sleeping Pad fits perfectly on our bed platform. For either choice, all you need is a sleeping bag or bed sheets and a pillow, and you’re set.
Cubby, Storage Bin, or Duffle Bags
We built a cabinet in part 3 for back-end storage, and we mentioned buying or purchasing a storage cubby for other items. After building the bed platform, there is still roughly two feet of space on either side of the truck bed (not including the wheel well). This space would be perfect for a cubby, storage bin, or duffle bag.
Food, Water, Kitchen Supplies, Cooking Supplies
What are you going to put in those storage bins? Well, aside from gear and clothes (which can always go in the cabinet or be hung from the roof rack), you’re going to need food and water. You can’t live without either, and unless you’re a caveman eating raw meat, you’ll need cooking supplies such as a burner/stove. Kitchen supplies are also good to have handy for cutting, food prep, and eating without getting your hands messy.
Food and water has only one way to go after you ingest it, so bringing toiletries like toilet paper is a definite need. Also, for personal hygiene, bring some soap, toothpaste, a couple of towels, etc for bathing and keeping clean. Even a container of baby wipes for quick cleanups with no water are good to have on hand.
Small Brush and Dust Pan
Speaking of keeping clean, do you really want to track all that dirt into your home on wheels? Aside from getting undressed outside or taking off your shoes, having a dustpan and brush to clear out any dirt you do bring in is nice to have on-hand.
Mini Fridge or Cooler
This is why we have suggested the power inverter. Being able to keep things charged and running power into appliances is nice when camping out in the wilderness. Plus, unless all of your food is in a can or made with preservatives, you’re going to want to have a mini fridge or cooler. Both do have their pros and cons though. For a quick run-down:
- Mini Fridge – At first, a mini-fridge is a large investment and requires constant power. This could cause some problems, such as draining the truck battery. But, it keeps food cool all day and night. Check out solar options so you don’t have to worry about your car battery.
- Cooler – The cooler is a much smaller investment, initially. It won’t need battery power, but it will require constant purchase of ice. Which = expenses.
It depends on your budget and what food/drink you bring with you.
Now that we discussed some of the necessities, let’s talk items to make life in a camper more convenient.
Unless you’re hardcore camping and want to completely avoid the use of electronics, then you’re going to want to connect that power inverter to an extra battery so you don’t kill the truck battery and end up stranded. A solar panel is a great energy source to keep the extra battery charged.
Velcro will be a perfect addition to your camper supplies, especially with that fabric headliner. So many things can be attached to the headliner with velcro, or you can use it to secure something like a rolled up sleeping pad.
Collapsible Sun Shades or Curtains
Everyone likes a little privacy right? Plus, keeping the sun out so your camper doesn’t get too hot is definitely more convenient than just battling the elements. You can attach curtains or sun shades to the headliner just above the windows with velcro.
Fold-Up Lawn Chairs
You’ve probably seen them before. Lawn chairs used to be these heavy pieces of metal and plastic that fold up and are awkward to hold. Now, lawn chairs collapse or roll up, and come with a carrying case in the shape of a tube. Having a place to sit other than inside your camper would be nice, and because these new lawn chairs fold up, you can place them across the roof racks with ease.
While in the camper, if you want to watch something on your computer, or even get a little work done, there really isn’t anywhere to put it with our “Welcome Home” setup. If you make use of the second part (found in luxury below) of our setup, then this isn’t an issue. If not, then having a couple of dinner trays would be helpful. It’s a lot better being able to sit back and be comfortable rather than on the computer in an awkward position.
If you’re not using the roof rack for clothes and didn’t get an interior clothing rod from A.R.E., then a mesh bungee is perfect for you. It’s basically a mesh net so you can hang clothes and other things from it. Either install hooks into the truck cap to support the mesh bungee, or use the velcro if durable enough.
Shower Caddy and Bath Organizer
Ever see these? Of course you have. You’re a camper! Some people may have them on the floor of their shower or hung up on the wall. It’s to keep their bathing products organized. They do have another use though. We can use a shower caddy or bath organizer to keep everything within arms reach instead of digging through the storage bin. All of your electronics can go in the caddy, and small gear like a flashlight or headlamp can go in the organizer.
These items aren’t necessary, nor will they absolutely make your time in the camper better. They will however add a little “pow” to any camping trips you may have.
Alright let’s just get this one out in the open here. A Gazebo Tent, one 10’ x 20’ should do it. This is the second part of our “Welcome Home” style camper setup. As mentioned in part 3, set up the tent, roll up one side curtain, back the truck into that opening, and you have yourself a little collapsible home. Genius.
To store it, you may need to roll it up and situate it on either side of the platform, or lay it across the roof racks.
Tent or Awning
If you can’t splurge on the gazebo tent, and we understand it’s a bit pricey, an awning is a perfect substitute for offering a little shade and some wind or rain resistance (depending on size). Hey, if the big gazebo tent isn’t your thing, there are some awnings that basically act as a 2-person shed. Then of course, there’s always tents that extend from the back of a truck, but most of them are more than half the price of the gazebo tent, so it really depends on your preference. Again, this is why we’re talking luxury.
This can be an item for convenience, but we placed it in the luxury category because really, without the gazebo tent, you’re just setting up a picnic table to eat. It’s not necessary, most campsites have a picnic table. If you have plates, you can just sit them down in your lap, or on a dinner tray. Foldable tables usually fit in small spaces, which is great for the camper,; plus if you’re with friends and family, everyone has a place to socialize or share a family meal.
There are so many more things you could bring with you, but we can’t list them all here. Plus, when choosing what to pack, we have to be smart and think. Be conscious of how much space we have, where we’re going and for how long, how will this camper be used? The objective of this camper is to have a place to live and sleep in. The more items we add to it though, the more it becomes a moving van to live out of, so choose your traveling items wisely.
That brings our DIY Camper Series to a close. Happy camping out there!