How To Build A Lightweight Truck Camper: Step-By-Step Guide

How can you get extra protection when camping than just a tent? If you want to know how to build a lightweight truck camper, then this will be a great read! It’s easy to build a DIY truck camper provided you have the right tools and equipment.

The best thing is that truck campers offer you extra convenience since you can take them with you anywhere. In this article, we’ll explore practical steps on how to build a truck camper one from scratch.

Planning Your DIY truck camper

Before you set to build your DIY truck camper, make a plan on how you want the camper to look like, just like a contract that wants to build a house. He would first draw his building plan before any other thing; the same thing applies when you want to build your moving home.

For beginners, you should choose a suitable design. Shop for the materials used, as well as plumbing and electrical system. Also, consider siding and roofing choices, as well as the internal layout.

You can watch tutorials online to help you understand the process much better. Here are steps to follow when building a lightweight camper.



What amenities do you plan to add in the camper? Storage space and a comfy sleeping area are some of the essential amenities. You can add extra amenities like a toilet, mini-fridge, TV and so much more.

You should find a durable roof for better protection against harsh weather elements. You can even install a sunroof to light your living area. Plan your living area based on your taste and eliminate anything that will make the camper heavier.

It’s advisable to keep your camper as light as possible. Also, determine the specific electric system that you want. Can the camper fit perfectly inside your truck? Or will you install lifting jacks?


After you have the design plan you plan to implement, you should build a sturdy frame. You can frame the camper using a 2×2 lumber. But if you can afford it, an aluminum frame is a superior choice as it is lightweight.

You can choose to frame the camper as a stand-alone structure or you can install it behind your truck camper. If you want to build a stand-alone structure, then you need to use strong props to stabilize it until you install the stabilization jacks.

Use quality adhesive and screws to join the frame into position to ensure it isn’t vulnerable to wear and tear caused by vibration and bumps when driving.

Plywood sliding

After you are done with the framing, you should use quality plywood to side your camper properly. Plywood simply helps to make your shaky frame more rigid. While this isn’t the final finish, it creates a compact structural base for your camper.

Try and use quality screws and adhesive to secure the plywood on the frame. If the structure is solid, then your camper can last longer.

After you complete the siding, you should size the door and window openings based on your design. Your interior area is now ready for plumbing or wiring additions. Make all the interior changes before you complete the insulation process.

Electrical installation

There are many electrical options you can consider when building your trucker camper. You can either use 12-volt batteries or install a solar-powered system. If you want to install power in the camper, this is the best time to do all the necessary wiring.

Remember the battery bank should be properly charged while on the road. You can install an inverted in the camper so that you can use items such as a coffee maker or phone charger. 


Plumbing will certainly be a challenge for you when building a truck camper. Due to space limitations, you can install a small sink. Alternatively, you can simply pour water in a jug or bucket that you can dispose of anywhere.

You can add a water heater if you need hot water for cleaning. Place a bucket outside the camper where water can drain from the sink.

How to build a lightweight truck camper

Most camping enthusiasts prefer truck campers as they are easy to park and transport. Truck campers are also known as cab-over or slide-in campers. 

While some people prefer to install a temporary truck camper on their vehicle, others prefer a more permanent solution. Some prefer installing stationary campers as they eliminate the inconvenience of loading the camper every time.

Most people prefer detachable truck campers. And most detachable truck campers use stabilizers and hydraulic jacks to lift the camper so that you can install it on the site. Afterward, you have to secure the camper using robust tie-downs. 

Detachable truck campers still allow you to use the truck when camping. Additionally, they provide extra stability and you can move freely inside when it has been mounted at the camping site. 

Below is a step by step guide to follow when building a lightweight truck camper.

Step 1. Build the base/foundation

First measure the ideal width and length of the foundation. After you are done, properly join the metal joints together using screws and then connect them on their respective wood beams.

After the beams are fixed in position, you should attach them with nails and nuts. That way, you can ensure they have a reliable support system and that the frames are strong and thick enough. If you want to make the camper adjustable, you can place jack points overhead the bed.

Alternatively, you can install a latch system that will allow you to handle the camper without difficulty. Nonetheless, if you still wish to build a permanent lightweight camper, you should bolt it down at the back of the truck.

Step 2. Attach the roof and frames

After you install the foundation, the next step is assembling the frames. Attaching the frames is quite straightforward! Simply attach the beams and planks together in position in such a way that they form box shapes.

To ensure the beams are strong and durable, you need to attach the wood together. Try and use as many bolts and nails as you can. As you can tell, installing the roof isn’t that difficult.

You can choose a triangle roof or curved roof depending on your preference. Just ensure that the roof is properly attached to the frame.

Step 3. Add the walls and insulation

You need to add the insulation under the place where the bed will rest. Next, cover all sides of the structure with proper insulation. Remember to use water-resistant materials to avoid wear and tear during the rainy season.

To achieve the desired insulation, you first need to apply PVC sheathing on all sides of the structure. Subsequently, finish the sides using treated lumber.

Ensure the PVC layer is securely attached together. And besides providing extra protection to the sheathing, lumbers help to provide structural integrity. As you construct the walls, remember to leave open spaces when you can fit a door and windows.

Step 4. Attach the door and windows

Once you are done with the walls, you can add frames for holding the windows and doors into position. Take into consideration how you want them to operate. After all, they should allow you to move inside your camper freely.

After you have installed the windows and doors, insulate the exterior as well. You can apply cotton on the exterior and ensure it spreads across the width and length of the camper. Additionally, ensure you have sealed all the seams to prevent outside air from entering the camper.

Step 5. Heating, Electrical, and storage

You can use electrical tools powered by pre-charged batteries. For better efficiency, you can install solar panels on the camper’s roof. However, installing solar panels is somewhat more expensive, but it is very efficient in the long run.

Important information to know as you prepare to build DIY truck camper

Do you know the gross weight of your vehicle? You need this information before you can start building your truck camper. After all, it’s essential to stay safe while enjoying your camping expeditions.

Overbuilding the truck camper when installing the truck framing is dangerous and should be avoided. Your vehicle’s gross weight will help you determine the right size as far as building a camper is concerned. 

To determine your vehicle’s maximum payload, you need to check if the tires are in good condition. Also, ensure the braking capacity is top-notch.

Remember that having a good payload will protect your truck’s axles and brake system. But if you aren’t sure how to determine your vehicle’s weight and size, there’s no need to worry.

To understand what it takes to build a sturdy truck camper, you should visit the place where they sell truck campers. This can help you record the necessary measurements of height and length, and note down the amenities inside the camper.

You can also determine the exact weight of a camper using this simple tip. Mainly, you expect your truck camper loaded with water and camping supplies to weigh around 200 pounds. For instance, a truck camper that is about 10 feet will weigh up to 2,000 pounds when fully loaded.



We believe that these tips can help you build your own truck camper from scratch. And we hope you can use these steps to make a customized truck camper. The joy of camping outdoors and enjoying the fresh air is definitely worth it.

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