Step-By-Step DIY Guide to Building a Simple Bed Platform for Camping in the 2nd & 3rd Gen Tacoma
Since purchasing a SnugTop for my 3rd Gen TRD Sport (read the review and overview here), I have been working in my free time to build and refine my camping setup. My first project was to build a basic bed platform that was straightforward to make and easy to remove since I knew there would be times when I’d want to be able to utilize the full space of the bed.
After researching online and a little bit of problem-solving, I found the setup that has worked best for me. With limited knowledge on how to build camping systems and access to only basic tools, I built this platform that anyone can make with a few supplies and a free afternoon. The process is very simple and can be a great use for scrap wood you might have laying around.
Check out what you’d need for this build and how to go about assembling it below.
Tools & Materials
- Circular Saw (or any saw available)
- 3/4” Plywood 4’ x 8’
- 2 in. x 6in. x 10 ft. Plank
Step 1. Measure & Mark Wood
Once you purchase your plywood and 2” x 6” plank, you then have to measure and mark them up to fit in the bed. My measurements for the two pieces of plywood ended up being 60” x 28.5” and the two planks were 57” long.
It doesn’t have to be perfect but you’ll want the wood to fit in the bed as snugly as possible without being too big. Don’t forget that my measurements are from my 3rd Gen short bed, so it may be different for a 2nd Gen and will definitely not fit a long bed lengthwise.
Remember to double-check your measurements and draw the cutting lines using some sort of straight edge.
Step 2. Cut Planks to Size
Using the saw, cut 2 pieces from the 2″ x 6″ plank to the length you measured. These will go across the bed into the grooves located along the walls and act as the supports for your platform.
You want to make them as long as possible while still being able to sit in those grooves.
Step 3. Cut Plywood to Size
As with the planks, cut the plywood according to your desired measurements. The reason I chose to make them into two pieces was for ease of installing/removing them.
These will sit on top of the 2″ x 6″ crossbars and act as the platform on which you could put a sleeping pad, sleeping bag, etc. Note that you will have to cut notches on the rear corners of the plywood because the corners of the bed are slanted.
Step 4. Install in Truck Bed
Now that the wood has been cut to size, you can place the planks into the grooves on the edges of the bed and put your plywood on top to complete the platform. Make small trims if a piece seems to be too large.
Finished Shot #1
Finished Shot #2
Finished Shot #3
For me, this platform works great but it is definitely not going to be ideal for everyone. Especially for those who have a short bed and are tall, you might find it difficult to fit in the back.
I am about 5’11″ and sleeping diagonally, I just barely fit. Also, being a lighter guy, I don’t have an issue with this simple setup supporting me, but for bigger folks who don’t trust the simple crossbar design, it might be worth figuring out a way to add extra support somewhere in the middle.
Although I have left my platform as is, I have seen a lot of people try different things to improve the setup. The most common of these is to lay some cheap carpet over the plywood to make it look a little more professional. With this option, you can give the platform some TLC with a fresh carpet when it inevitably gets dirty.
Another way to refine this setup could be to add some sort of system to keep the wood in place. Occasionally when I have nothing on top of the platform and I hit a speed bump, I’ll hear everything shift. Of course, I open my camper shell later to see some pieces jumbled around.
There are countless ways to improve or change up this simple design but considering how cheap and easy it was to build this, I have zero complaints. It’s also good to note that this setup won’t interfere with most bed stiffeners.
Many camping and overlanding builds end up costing tons of money which can make it intimidating or daunting to get into. That’s why I really enjoy this platform build because as long as you have some sort of overhead cover above the bed, you can get creative and build a really solid setup, affordably.
All in all, I am pretty stoked about my platform build. I definitely foresee many changes and improvements along the way but for the time being, it has been useful and sturdy. I would recommend doing this build for a lot of Tacoma owners.
From people wanting to dial in their camping setup to those who want more organized storage, or even people who just have a free afternoon and want to use some scrap wood they have laying around.
This post is very much a starting point meant to either get you out there and camping quickly or to help get the ideas flowing for a more intricate project. So get to building and start exploring!
What bed stiffeners are those? They seem to fit nicely with this setup.
Do the plywood platforms only sit on the cross braces, or do they also rest on the short ledge on either side of the bed?
Checkout the modular Toyota Tacoma Bamboo sleeping platform at BamBeds.com. Handmade in the USA. It works best with a trifold 4″ mattress topper. No tools required. Install and Remove in under a minute. It lets you maximize the space and flexibility of your truck bed so you can pack for any trip without running into unnecessary space limitations. Demonstration Video Link
Is that just a 4” mattress topper/foam pad you’re placing on top?
Do you have any measurements for the corner notches you could share?
I don’t fully remember but I want to say it was around 4-6″ long. You could either make a template out of cardboard and trace that on the plywood or just cut little by little until it fits well.
did you make this with one sheet of plywood?
either I’m stupid or these dimensions wouldn’t work on one 4×8.
You’ll need more than one 4×8
I know several folks who have a similar setup. We choose a RTT for additional room in the truck bed. But this is an excellent alternative and a great how to article.
Glad we could help. I personally run a hardshell RTT but this is a great option.
I’ve had this in my truck for three years, works great. I originally had it as a sleeping platform, it’s now the “floor” as I have a GoFast Camper. I covered mine in carpet which makes it nicer to stand in barefoot, and it’s great to be able to slide skis/bins/other wet dirty stuff underneath and keep the inside area clean and dry. Also, helps make it easier to jump up into the bed.
Now that’s using your head. Cool to see people finding utility, even when they upgrade.