When buying a car they say you always want to be flexible about the color. One is not supposed to get caught up in the aesthetics. I just couldn’t help it. I wanted BLUE! (Form over function…) Also, I’m a Subaru guy; they have been my favorite for a long time. So why am I showing pictures of a Toyota Tacoma? Well, I needed function. Subaru doesn’t make trucks and Toyotas last forever.
Over the past many years our Toyota Rav4 has taken us many places. However it is too small (for road-trips with four people) and doesn’t have as much clearance as we would like. With these requirements in mind I set out to look at trucks.
I wanted to be able to sleep in the back and fuel economy was important. This left me with the many variations of the Tacoma. What I truly wanted is quite a mouthful and something that doesn’t exist. There is no Double Cab, Long Bed (73”) , TRD Off-Road Tacoma. You can either get the TRD-Off-Road package OR the Double Cab with Long Bed. I lucked out and found next best thing, a TRD, Double Cab Long Bed in Speedway Blue.
The first step towards making the truck road-trip ready was was getting a camper shell and after looking at A.R.E., Snug-Top and Leer I settled on the Leer 180. This looked to be the largest (tallest) shell on the market and had quality construction and the options I wanted. All brands offered color matching and were about the same price with a 3 week delivery time. I also considered the Flip-Pac but wanted something a bit more weather proof (snow camping).
One of the salesmen at Custom Truck was really helpful with the different window options for the shell and enlightened me on proper placement. If you plan on having a dog, or other living thing, in the back of the truck you need to have vents. It is important to have the vent on the opposite side as your exhaust pipe. So if you are stuck in traffic your puppy can breath good air. Useful advice!
On the opposite side, the one with your exhaust pipe, I choose a a “win-door”. This option was suggested to me by my friend Hartley and it is an easy way to get things out of the bed without opening the gate or rear window. I also opted for a removable sliding front window. This helps getting stuff out of the cab, and vice versa. A removable window is also useful for for cleaning the outside of the cab window.
The bed of a Tacoma is not wide enough for two people to sleep due to the two wheel wells. A “small” construction project was started to build a flat platform across the bed that would sit on-top of the wheel wells. It was a simple design with two pieces of plywood on for the main surface and a board underneath to support our weight. After a few rounds of shopping and many many hours of thinking, sawing and carpeting we were done! The biggest challenge was that it was a very snug fitting platform. It was hard to get the pieces in and out of the bed. We ended up using the win-door on the side to slide each piece into place since the back of the truck bed has a slight taper.
We carpeted the top with blue indoor/outdoor carpet and glue and stapled down edges of the carpet for extra security. Ikea makes a 55 by 78 inch folding foam mattress which just fits in the back with a little squishing. The plan is to cut off a bit of foam on the end so that it fits the 57 x 73.
The final project is to add some weather proofing around the tailgate to make sure dust and water doesn’t get into the bed. We’ve bought some industrial strength Velcro and will use some carpet scraps to seal it up! Curtains will also be in the works to keep out light and reduce condensation buildup.
Enjoy the photos! Have you built a road-trip mobile? What is your favorite car-camping accessory? Tips are welcome!