Note: This post is just about using a pickup truck canopy camper conversions, please start with our guide to picking a base vehicle for an overview of all the options and more details on how we ended up here.
Using a pickup truck canopy as your Camper Conversion’s base vehicle can be a great option for DIY-ers. Whether you go fiberglass or aluminum, it costs a fraction of what a slide-in would, no matter how fancy you try and make your build. It’s a much smaller space though, you may want to check out our post about getting everything to fit.
Quick note about dust: As opposed to a slide-in camper or a van conversion, the bed of a pickup has lots of holes that can let in dust and dirt, particularly if you’re driving a lot of dusty roads. Pay attention to how your canopy will fit – will it form a good seal on the tail of the truck and prevent dust from getting in the living compartment? You’ll also need to consider sealing all the little holes the factory intentionally put in the bed compartment. We’ll try and write a separate post about that when we actually get around to it.
Tent Canopy Camper Conversions
Tent canopy’s typically run < $1000 and can be a great option if you’re not worried about security and the truck is going to have the canopy off most of the time. They make it harder to store anything above the line fo the bed though, since you won’t have anything hard to mount to.
Fiberglass Truck Canopy Camper Conversions
Fiberglass Truck Canopies are fitted to your exact vehicle’s dimensions and usually painted to match. You can sometimes find them use, especially if you’re not picky about color, but we never found a local math over several months of searching. These start around $2K and go up to $4K as you add camper conversion friendly features. Leer and ARE canopies have models with several nice features for Truck Canopy Camper Conversions like extra height, full length doors, “win-doors” that can slide or fold down, even outlets and lights can be pre installed.
Aluminum Truck Canopy Camper Conversions
Aluminum Truck Canopies can be purchased new or custom made for $1200-2000. Their contours don’t match the truck exactly and typically they only come in white or black, but they’re light weight, strong, cheap, and totally custom. When shopping for one of these, look for a canopy company that does custom aluminum canopies IN-HOUSE as it’s primary business, catering to contractors and service fleets. They’ll tend to have more expertise with custom jobs and be much cheaper ($1200 vs $2000 in our experience).
Being able to customize the dimensions of your canopy allows you do do some really interesting things. You can get them built as tall as you want them, although wind resistance makes handling dangerous at some point. In our case, the canopy company assured us that they could safely build a camper with 2′ of overhang off the back of the truck, meaning we could build out a box and use the open tailgate for floor space.
Maximizing Space in a Truck Canopy Conversion
With such a small interior space you need to make sure you utilize every inch efficiently. We’ll post more details on all our custom cabinets as we build them, but in the mean time here’s the “bed-drawers” we’re thinking about putting in under our mattress. Note that if you go with these, you’ll need to make sure any door you install is wide enough to allow them to roll all the way out.
You can also add some “deployable space” with an awning or a tent. See our post over here about the options and what we decided on.
Other Accessories for a Truck Canopy Conversion