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How to Transform Your Toyota Tacoma Into the Perfect Car Camper

#Vanlife may sound good, but it’s hard to beat #HomeSweet4x4.

tacoma camper gear patrol
Andy Cochrane

#Vanlife may be going viral, but #HomeSweet4x4 is much more fun, I swear. After close to half a decade living out of my Toyota Tacoma, I’ll personally and thoroughly vouch for the joys of pickup life: simplicity, access to empty places, lots of fresh air, frequently freezing my hands making coffee on the tailgate. (Okay, maybe that last one isn’t quite as joyful.)

Still, if the romanticized photos of van nomads in your Instagram feed is pulling you in the direction of a camper van, consider this: trucks are more functional and more useful, and they love mud as much as you do. They’re built to explore, not to sit in a parking lot or wait for the AAA tow truck to arrive.

And if configured correctly, a Toyota Tacoma has sufficient space for the necessities of life and none of the extraneous crap — which is the way it should be.

Truck Bed Cap

if you’re going to attempt to live full-time in your truck (or even just take it for a long road trip), the first purchase you should make is a roof over your bed — a truck cap from LEER. I’m partial to their commercial line of caps, because they offer access to the sides of the bed and lock securely, which helps to keep your things safe.

A truck cap is valuable to weekend warriors and more casual off-roaders as well; it offers you a safe and dry place to store gear, haul tools and, when needed, take a quick nap.

Leer 180CC Bed Cap


Utilities: Power, Propane and Fridge

Even on an extended backcountry trip, it’s well worth bringing a few comforts of home. I plug my two Renogy solar panels into a Goal Zero battery, which in turn powers a small fridge. This lets me have fresh fruit, vegetables and meat (and cold beer) over the course of long periods away from grocery stores.

I also have a 10-pound propane tank that’s lashed in and used to fuel a two-burner Camp Chef stove. This systems helps streamline the cooking process — and makes me a healthier human.

Solar Panel

100W Solar Panel 12-Volt

Renogy amazon.com
$99.99 (23% off)

Portable Power Station

Yeti 1000 Core Portable Power Station

Goal Zero amazon.com
$899.00 (18% off)

Portable Camping Refrigerator

Dual-Zone 42-Quart Freezer/Refrigerator

Change Moore amazon.com

Camp Stove

PRO60X Two Burner Stove

Camp Chef amazon.com

Better Seats

Last year, I spent over a thousand hours in the driver’s seat of my Tacoma. Just typing that makes my lumbar twitch. To protect my body and enjoy the long, rough drives more, I added the Corbeau Baja XRS suspension seats to the Tacoma. Though I was initially hesitant because of the steep price tag, these seats have become one of the most important upgrades to the truck.

Baja XRS Suspension Seat, Black Vinyl (Pair)

Corbeau morris4x4center.com

Extra Storage

If you think stuff starts to pile up living in a house, imagine what the back of a pickup looks like after an Amazon Prime binge. #Trucklife forces you to be judicious about all additions — and better about letting things go, too.

I keep all of my clothes in a few small bins behind the driver’s seat. To do, so I tore out the back row of seats and built a simple wooden structure to hold them. Behind the passenger seat is the fridge, water jug, propane tank and solar battery. Under my bed in the truck bed is a Bedslide — an incredibly useful tool for storing all of my cooking supplies, food, books and spare tools. And on top of the truck cap. I have a Thule Vector Alpine, a small and aerodynamic boxtop that carries all my camping, climbing, ski, and paddling gear.


Contractor (79" x 48")

Bedslide amazon.com

Roof Box

Force XT Rooftop Cargo Box, XX-Large

Thule amazon.com

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