How to Convert an SUV to Use As a Camper

by Joe Gerz
suv land rover discovery drives through rain image by alma_sacra from

You don't always need a large truck or RV to enjoy camping. Try converting your existing SUV for use as a camper. Camping this way can be just as fun as camping in a tent--with the added protection that a vehicle's metal body provides. With all the amenities that most SUVs come with, you will only have to add a few additional items and your campfire food.

Step 1

Find an appropriately-sized inflatable air mattress for the rear cargo area of your SUV. To make sleeping a little more comfortable, make sure you take along a sleeping bag, pillow and a blanket.

Step 2

Use a storage bin or milk crate to store larger and heavier items in them like: flashlight, tool kit, duct tape, trash bags, GI shovel, hatchet, toilet paper, camp dishes, rope, frying pan, canned foods and extra clothing. Make sure you are utilizing all your interior storage compartments, such as the glove box and rear cargo boxes.

Step 3

Bring a backpack with camping supplies that should include: bottle of water, cell phone, energy bar or hard candy, matches, knife, compass, first aid kit, pain medicine, small two-way weather radio, map, small flashlight, cap and gloves, space blanket, camp cup, bullion cubes, folding saw, signal mirror, glow sticks, poncho, binoculars, note pad and pencil, whistle, sewing kit, sunblock and clean wipes. As for your toiletry items, store them in a toiletry bag inside of the backpack.

Step 4

Store large free-standing items such as 5-gallon water jug, folding chairs, collapsible tent, air compressor, fire wood or generator in the rear compartment. Your ice chest filled with food and drink can be place on the rear seat or floor for ease of access while driving.

Carry a gas can with you during your trip. Make sure your full gas can is secured to your roof rack, or on a rear door or bumper mount.


  • If so desired, you could purchase an SUV camping tent to sleep in, which attaches to your back doors or lift gate (see Resources).
  • Installing window tint or curtains will help with your privacy when you sleep.


  • If you run your vehicle for heat or air conditioning, make sure to have adequate ventilation by cracking open a window. Never run your vehicle overnight, it may overheat or run out of gas.
  • Never carry a can of gas inside your SUV.

Items you will need

  • Inflatable air mattress
  • Sleeping bag
  • Pillow
  • Blanket
  • Storage bin or milk crate
  • Ice chest
  • Backpack
  • Gas can

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