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Compact Pickup Camper - Vanlife without a Van

Compact Pickup Camper - Vanlife without a Van
Over the last year I’ve relied on everything from tents, to hotel rooms, to travel trailers to stay in while on the road. I’m now starting to see why van life is such huge topic. When you have a van, you can park it anywhere and go to sleep. Vans fit in normal parking spots—they blend in. For mountain biking, or any other outdoor activity, they’re stealthy and tough to beat. While I would love a van, I can’t justify another vehicle right now. I need me some

vanlife

without a van. On
compact pickup camper   vanlife without a van
YouTube you’ll find thousands of different camping setups in SUV’s,

pickup

s, and everything in between. These videos prove that you can camp, or cramp rather, in almost any vehicle. In fact some of these builds are so inspiring that they could make you envious, of someone living out of their car. My car is a 2017 Honda Ridgeline, which I use for everything from hauling bikes, to hauling wood, to towing. So whatever I do with it needs to be temporary and easy to break down. Being that it’s
a

pickup

, my best option is to throw a shell on it and sleep in the back. The bed is only 5 1/2 feet, but my sleeping pad fits in it diagonally. So that’s a start. For shelter, I decided to go with this soft topper. I didn’t even know these existed until I traveled out west, where I saw them everywhere. It’s easy to take on and off, surprisingly sturdy, and even possible to fold back like a convertible. It doesn’t offer security like a hard shell would, but it sure does beat pitching a
tent. So with the help of my Soft topper, my sleeping pad, and a few other goodies, my Ridgeline has everything I need to boondock for the night, but cramping isn’t my style. To get the most out of my

pickup

bed, we’ll need to build something. The last thing Johnny built for us was a butcher’s block in the shape of a kicker ramp. Despite it functioning very well as both a cutting board and a kicker, it didn’t offer any real utility. Today’s project will actually be practical. You know
it’s about to go down when Johnny busts out Google Sketch Up. By making a 3D model, we could experiment with different ideas before cutting a single piece of wood. Our design took into account that the sleeping pad would lay diagonally. We decided to build a triangular cabinet, with storage, running water, and USB charging. We designed the door to open from the top, since the sleeping bag would get in the way of anything else. On the door would be two little shelves, which would also act as
compact pickup camper   vanlife without a van
support legs for the work desk. For fresh water we decided to use this pressurized beer growler, which would sit on top. Below that, a metal bowl as a sink. With the computer model taking shape, I was getting really excited about this build. Johnny used relatively thin plywood to save weight. Most of the pieces were just rectangles and triangles, but the countertop was a little more involved. It would need a hole for the sink, plus a tricky indentation to keep the growler in place. For this, we
used Johnny’s CNC machine, which uses a computer model to mill shapes into wood. To make these cuts without a CNC would be totally possible, but not easy to do precisely. Believe it or not, but that CNC machine is not Johnny’s coolest shop tool. This is. It’s a freaking laser. We used this to etch our channel logos into the sink cover, which I’ll show you later. Time to assemble the cabinet. Johnny is using this machine to drill pocket holes. Because we’re using thin plywood,
these pocket holes are the strongest way to hold everything together. With the basic shape together, we did a test fit in the bed to see how things fit. It was time to move on to the details. This hole is for the USB port, which would go on the face of the cabinet close to me while sleeping. I got this port off amazon, which just fits into the hole and stays in place with a nut. these wires will pug into a storage battery in the back. For extra storage inside the cabinet, we screwed mason jar
lids to the underside of the countertop. We felt really pinteresty after doing that. Lastly, we installed the little shelves that would support the workstation. To anchor the cabinet, we used this carabiner, which features a locking nylon string. It’s not high tech, but it works. The cabinet fits perfectly, and there’s enough room on the other side of the bed for a cooler. Since the cabinet opens from the top, I never need to worry about my sleeping bag or pillow getting in the way of it
compact pickup camper   vanlife without a van
opening. Once resting on the floor, it works surprisingly well as a workstation. Even the mason jars serve their purpose exactly as intended. I honestly thought this project would just be fun, and that the sink would be totally impractical and just good for YouTube entertainment, but I’m starting to really like the concept. For personal hygiene, cooking, or just refilling a glass of water, it feels like home. When I want more counter space, I can use this awesome sink cover. All my riding gear
and tools normally go in this under bed storage compartment, so this cabinet can be be totally dedicated to clean clothes, toiletries, snacks, and whatever I need for a few days on the road. Needless to say, I’m very happy with this cabinet. Now I can spend the night anywhere—comfortably! Although we used computer modeling, a woodworking youtuber, his cnc machine, and a freaking laser, you could build a less refined version of this with just a drill and a saw. As a solution for a short box

pickup

, this may be the only way to go. Thanks to Johnny for making this project possible. To see the actual build in more detail, subscribe to Crafted Workshop, which I’ve linked to in the description. I also dropped a link to our last project, the cutting board kicker ramp. I know this video was a little different, but camping is a huge part of mountain biking, or any other outdoor sport for that matter. I want to know what you guys think in the comment section but I also want to start a
discussion on camping as it relates to mountain biking. Thanks for riding with me today, and I’ll see you next time.