In this guide I show you how we made our Honda CR-V sleeping platform, how you can make one for your car and all the reasons why you should!

How to Build a Car Camping Bed Platform – Honda CRV Camper Conversion

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In this guide I show you how we made our Honda CR-V sleeping platform, how you can make one for your car and all the reasons why you should! #roadtrip #campercar #hondacrvsleepingplatform #carbed
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If you’re looking for an easy way to give yourself a tonne of freedom, making a car camping bed platform is the answer! We’ve all seen loads of those awesome self-build camper vans on social media (I’m still obsessed) but let’s be honest, not everyone has the time, patience or skills for that. Tom and I lived on-and-off living in our car for a year in Australia and it was awesome. Our self converted Honda CRV camper took us to some incredible places, and it took us just a day to build!

Whilst camping in a car rather than a van certainly has its challenges, building an SUV sleeping platform was the best decision we made. Despite seeing quite a few other cars with beds in the back, there’s not a great deal of information online about how to actually build a bed in your car. So I’ve put together this guide on how we built our Honda CRV camper.

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Why should you build a bed in your car?

Before Tom and I had even left the UK to travel to Australia, we knew we wanted to road trip.  There’s nowhere we didn’t want to see and life road tripping around Australian was a fantasy we were determined to see through. Things worked out differently when we got here though, and after buying a faulty camper van (you can read about that here) and having our hopes knocked somewhat, we decided to buy a Honda CRV 4×4 instead.

This was hands down the best decision we could have made. By having a bed in a car, we could hit up the free campsites that required a bit of off-roading to get to, we never had a problem parking and It’s more inconspicuous than a campervan.

Being able to camp in your car simply gives you flexibility. It becomes a 2-in-1 vehicle where you now have the option to just pack some stuff and head out to where ever you want to go. Whether it be a weekend trip just a few miles up the road or a much bigger, long-term trip, it’s so exciting to be able to go. It’s warmer and more secure than a tent and surprisingly not too tricky to turn into a camper!

Turning your car into a camper is the perfect way to escape

How we built our Honda SUV bed platform

With neither of us having any experience in making anything, we knew it would have to be a simple and easy sleeping platform for the car. As the back seats in our Honda CRV (2004 Sport model) didn’t fold flat, we had to have to work around that. We didn’t want to take the seats out because we liked the idea of having it like a normal car as well, so we had to design the bed to fold fully into the boot space. As we were travelling at the time we made the bed, we actually built it in the car park of the local hardware store. This was perfect as they could cut the wood to size and we could easily get things amended as we went along. So here are the steps to building a car sleeping platform.

The Honda CRV camper design in a nutshell

The base of the bed is made from 3 sheets of sturdy plywood connected together by hinges to make it foldable. Sheet 1 covers the area of the boot, sheet 2 goes over the back seats and rests on them once folded down, and sheet 3 covers the space over the passenger footwells. The piece covering the boot space has 4 fixed legs to support it and the piece that goes over the footwell as 2 legs on hinges to support the other end and so they can be folded flat too. I believe this Honda CRV bed could also be used to convert most other SUVs into a camper as well. Just be sure to take all the measurements to make sure it fits!

Be sure it’s tall enough for storage underneath
The sleeping platform and foam mattress folded up

Tools you’ll need

  • Screws (the right type for the wood you’re using- the hardware store should be able to help with this)
  • Drill – I used a battery powered drill as we were building outside and didn’t have access to power
  • Drill bits to fit your screws
  • 8 x hinges – 6 x big ones and 2 x small ones
  • Plywood sheets for the platform
  • wood to make the legs
  • Tape measure
  • Spirit level
  • Pencil
  • Notepad
  • Foam or something to use as a mattress – I would recommend buying some upholstery foam around 3-4 inches thick to make sure it’s comfy.

Take measurements

You will need to take the following measurements to make sure that not only will your bed fit inside the car, that you will be able to get it in there once it’s built and also that you have space to fold it as well as storage underneath it. How to sleep comfortably in a Honda CRV is a bit if a challenge, but these measurements will give you the details you need to maximise your space.

Your height

  • Lay flat on your front and have someone measure your full height. You ideally want the 3 sheets to add up to this measurement to make sure you’re comfortable.

For the legs

  • Measure the height from the passenger floor to the top of the passenger seats when folded down – this is the height of the 2 x hinged legs that will support sheet 3.
  • Measure the height from the boot floor to the top of the passenger seats when folded down – this is the height of the 4 x legs that will support sheet 1.

For the plywood platform

For sheet 1 in the boot

  • Measure the width of the boot door at the height your bed will be. This will be the maximum width.
  • Measure the distance between the inside of the boot door to the passenger seat hinges. This is the length.

For sheet 2 over the back of the passenger seats

  • Measure the distance from the passenger seat hinges to the top of the passenger seats, at the height the bed will be at. This is the length.
  • Take the length of the sheet and measure up from the height of the bed. Measure across the car from this point. This is the width.

For sheet 3 over the passenger footwells

  • Measure the distance from the top of the passenger seats to the back of the front seats when they are pulled and forward. This will be the length.
  • The width of sheet 3 should be the same as sheet 2 as it’s the smallest piece.

How to build the folding sleeping platform

Now you have all your measurements and the sheets of plywood and legs cut to size, it’s time to assemble the platform. Be sure to use the spirit level while you’re putting it together as you don’t want to be sleeping on a wonky bed!

Attach the 3 sheets of plywood together

  • Use 3 hinges to join each sheet together. All the hinges are to go on the same side of the plywood.
  • Measure the middle point on sheets 1 and 2 and use the drill to screw the hinge on here.
  • Screw the left and right hinges on an inch or two in from the edges.
  • Repeat this to join sheet 2 and 3.
Sheets 1, 2 and 3 connected by hinges

Attach the 4 legs to sheet 1

  • Pull the measuring tape out to the length of sheet one and lay it in the boot. Use this to decipher where you would like the 4 legs to go. You want to maximise space under the bed for storage purposes, but you also want to ensure the frame is well supported. Our Honda CRV also has a built-in picnic table in the boot that we used so we needed to make sure the legs were not over that.
  • Take a pencil and mark where the legs will go on sheet 1.
  • Drill the legs on by the marks.

Attach the 2 hinged legs to sheet 3

  • These legs need to be placed with enough room to fit the hinges. We placed them fairly close to the edge and a couple of inches in from the sides.
  • Take a pencil and mark this on sheet 3.
  • Screw the hinges on to each of the two legs.
  • Place one leg on to the plywood so that the hinge will make it lay flat on the sheet when folded.
  • Screw the other half of the hinge to the plywood.
  • Repeat for the other leg.
Sheet 3 over passenger footwells

Now you’re all done! I hope this guide has given you some ideas on how to make a bed in your car to help you travel further on a budget. Now all you need is some cosy bedding and a road trip plan to get you on your way!

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In this guide I show you how we made our Honda CR-V sleeping platform, how you can make one for your car and all the reasons why you should! #roadtrip #campercar #hondacrvsleepingplatform #carbed

In this guide I show you how we made our Honda CR-V sleeping platform, how you can make one for your car and all the reasons why you should! #roadtrip #campercar #hondacrvsleepingplatform #carbed


  • Christopher BROWN

    I am looking to start converting on our 2006 CRV in Queensland… So far I have decided to just rip the back seats out all together as we have no need to carry passengers… given this I am thinking If I could copy the dimensions and skip the hinge system?

  • Ellie

    I’ve build this in my car but the middle sheet is too big to fold into the boot. How did you manage to make this work? Thankyou

  • Przemys?aw Panfil

    Hi, I did not find in text, what is the length of the bed? I consider buying a car, model like yours and I wonder if it will be fit for me

  • Amelia Jones

    Absolutely fun ,
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  • Nicole

    Hi there, I also have tried to subscribe to get the measurements, can anyone send them to me? Thanks 🙂

  • Lola

    Hello, I would like to know if there is some tips someone could give to protect the plastic inside the car, so it stays clean and smooth, and also for the seats below the wooden board, so it doesn’t scratch the fabric and everything..? Also, what is a cheap solution to protect your windows from light and onlookers instead of very expensive sun visors ?! Thank you for all of your advices !

    • Cath

      I used 3 x Eva foam mattresses ($30) from Kmart to make blockout window covers for all except windscreen of my CRV. One side is black matte foam which faces outside and the other is silver foil. They fit perfectly and don’t flop. I used a roll of strong gift wrap paper to create a stencil of each window then traced it onto the foam. No other finishing is needed. They cut neatly and smoothly.

    • Amber

      I am wondering how practical this is as far as head room goes. Did it feel claustrophobic? My BF is over 6′ and has very broad shoulders and prefers sleeping on his side. Do you have a rough idea of how much clearance you had between the mattress and the roof?

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  • Thiago Machado de Moura Costa

    Hey Laura, I just subscribed to this blog but haven’t received the printable instruction yet – is this something you can help me with?

    Thaaanks for sharing such great tips – Thiago Costa

  • Selena

    Hello! I am actually trying to do this for my crv this weekend and I’ve tried to subscribe to get the measurements but it seems to not want to send, I’ve tried two emails now lol, I’ve got all the material and I was just gonna do my own measurements but honestly I’m the worst at that stuff and could really use the print out lol, thank you so much for posting this! So excited to make it tonight 🙂

  • Oleg

    Looks really great and straight forward! Thank you for sharing!

    By the way, how or is it easy to get out of the car with this setting? Or should you some sort of a contortionist? I could not find any videos about it…

    Thank you

  • Moi

    Hi. What are the measurements of the boards and the mattress? How much is the thickness of the mattress? Thank you

  • Zach

    Great option! I’ve been planning something like this for the back of my CR-V. I’m curious though. In your pic it looks like Sheet 3 and 2 are the same size, but in the PDF it looks like Sheet 1 and 2 are the same. what have you found to work better?


  • Laura - Escapes Etc

    Hi, no it was just normal foam that we actually cut out of an old inflatable mattress that had it inside. It wasn’t too thick (although it was still really comfy) so we were able to fold it back.

  • Cecilia W

    Hey, I just wanted to let you know that this post was incredibly helpful on the road trip I’m taking in the American Southwest. Thank you so much for sharing your build.

  • Andrea

    Hi there, I’m currently building a bed in the back of my 05 crv and I appreciate you sharing your design! I’m wondering what holds up the back of the middle piece towards where it connects to the boot? Is it just the hinge?
    I was going to put a wedge or a leg under mine but maybe I don’t need to? Thank you!

    • Laura - Escapes Etc

      Hi Andrea, we had all our stuff shoved under the bed in a couple of boxes so his supported the hinge there. You will definitely need something there though so a wedge or leg would work great

    • Samantha Huang

      We used a couple of 2x3s on sheet 2 close to where it connects to sheet 3, and a 4×4 beam to support it near sheet 1.

  • Amar Hussain

    What was the thickness of the plywood you used for the bed and the thickness of the legs? Great post, and looking forward to doing this on my CRV!

  • Shelley

    This is great thanks for sharing. I have subcribed for plans so will attempt to adapt to build a smaller version to fit my accent hatchback (only require single size and have already measured to fit my 163 cm length)

  • hannah

    Hi there, I was wondering if you dont mind my asking, around how much did this all cost? (So I can start planning financially)?

  • Andre

    Simple and practical, I like the project. The only doubt I have is when you fold the platform to the trunk and put the rear seats up, I understand it does not lay flat because of the front sheet legs?

  • Drederick Tatum

    Love this. Just wondering do you have to have the 2 front seats pushed right forward to have the bed set up or is it possible to drive around with the bed set up in the back?

    • Laura - Escapes Etc

      We used to keep it with one section folded back in the day so the seats could be pulled back. There wasn’t enough room to have it all the way down without having the front seats pulled forward.

  • Drederick Tatum

    Hi, great design. Just wondering do you have to have the front seats pushed forward to make the bed work or is it possible to have the bed set up in the back while you drive along with someone in the passenger seat?

  • Carina

    hey laura 🙂 thanks for sharing thats great!
    could I might get the plan as well? just on the way to buy my 2004 CRV, and do you maybe have a picture how it looks when the mattress is folded? thank you

    • Laura - Escapes Etc

      Hi Carina, thanks so much for getting in touch! You can actually get the dimensions sent straight to you via email. All you need to do is sign up using the form in the post. Sadly I don’t think I have any photos of the mattress when it was folded but we literally just used to fold it in half and tuck it under the parcel shelf or use something to weigh it down while we drove along. Hope that helps!

  • Ken Turner

    I know the complications of making the back of a CR-V a bit too well. My 2014 has the rear seat back fold 4 inches above the cargo space so it’ll take hinges or sawing the rests at angles. I plan a 28″ wide bed just to sleep on that is 8 or 10 inches high. Now another fly in the ointment is my 6’3 height and the lumps near the head of the folded seat. I won’t worry about the wheel wells; I dislike having everything above window level thus the low height of the bed. I’ll keep you posted.

    • jacquelyn Burkett

      Thank you for sharing your plans. I have a 2014 CRV. Contractor is coming day after tomorrow and I’m trying to get it all figured out!! Yes Ken it’s funky isn’t it where that seat is in the way when you fold them down! I’m grappling with whether or not to remove the seats. Something about it just doesn’t feel right, like I’m tearing my vehicle up if I take the seats out- I know thats silly all you have to do is put them back… how did your conversion turn out Ken?

  • Silke Laethem

    Do you by any chance still have the measurements of your platform? We have a Honda 2004 sport model as well so would suit perfectly!

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