SUV Camper Conversion for under $100

Subaru Forester

Written by Goyo

I'm excited to share my experience of transforming our 2021 Subaru Forester into a comfortable sleeping haven for our outdoor adventures. In this blog post, I'll guide you through the process, from custom platforms and mattresses to clever window insulation techniques, so you can enjoy a cozy car camping experience just like we did. Be sure to watch the video above for additional information. 

Here's a basic list of the items we used to create a micro-camper: 
- Custom wooden platform extensions (see details below)
- Reflectix window cutouts, for cold weather and/or privacy
- 2inch foam pads OR the EXPED inflatable mattress
- Sleeping bag, blankets, pillows, anything to make the best sleep experience

The Sleeping Platform:

To start, we crafted wooden platforms that fit over the front seat headrests. These platforms provide a solid foundation for our mattresses, creating a comfortable sleeping surface. By folding down the rear seats and adding mattresses, we achieved an incredibly cozy setup. When the rear seats fold down, they aren't exactly flat, but they are close enough. Add some padding and make sure your head is towards the front of the car, and you won't really notice too much at all. 

You could potentially make one large wooden platform extension, but I chose to make two pieces so that they are easier to take down and store (either in the car or in my garage when not in use). Be sure to measure your car before just trusting the dimensions I have in the image below- they are just a guide. Especially if you want the sleeping platform to stay set-up when you want to drive. Then you will need to make sure that your front seats are in a comfortable driving position and then measure the back space. 

Window Insulation with Reflectix:

For our winter camping trips, we needed a solution to combat the cold temperatures. We decided to insulate our car windows using Reflectix, a fantastic radiant barrier material. By placing Reflectix in the windows, we created a layer of insulation that kept the cold air out and maintained a comfortable interior temperature. This also was a great way to add privacy since sometimes you will be parked in areas where you want to be stealth/unseen or you want to undress and not be seen by neighbors in a campground, etc. 

In order to cut the Reflectix to size, overlay the insulation on top of the window you want to cover on the INSIDE of the vehicle. Cram the reflectix into the corners of the window and then mark the outline with a marker. NOTE: when you cut out the cover, be sure to make it bigger than the window so that the cover will stay in the window outcropping without you having to adhere it, you just tuck it into the corners and it stays. 

Transforming our Subaru Forester into a comfortable sleep setup has allowed us to enjoy car camping adventures with ultimate comfort. By following the tips and techniques I shared, you too can create a cozy haven inside your vehicle. I'm sure you'll find your own ways to customize and improve on this design. Please send me a message via the contact tab and let me know how your design went and if you have any other suggestions! I'd love to hear from you either by mail or by comment on the Youtube video.

Happy camping!

Tags: camper - vanlife - microcamper
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