The DIY Sleeping Platform and Storage Divider Camping Setup For the 5th Gen 4Runner
Like many of us, I am looking to get the most out of my 4Runner. But the reality is that the money can add up on these wonderful vehicles. As a result, the time-tested “Do it Yourself” might just be the best option for some additions.
A little context to help. Nearing the end of the summer, I was forced to pack up and move from the state of Washington to Tennessee. Having my 4Runner in the Pacific Northwest was a treat, but leaving it there was not an option. With all my belongings and a tight budget, I decided to make the trek across the country on the pavement.
After a short deliberation, it dawned on me that this drive was going to quickly turn into a car-camping journey. A few stops at Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and the likes, and it was a done deal. It was designed and created from there.
Just like any other camping/storage mod in the 4Runner, I had a few constraints. Even though there are other sleeping platforms that have been documented on Trail4Runner.com – we wanted something a little different. Something with a little more storage and something a bit longer.
Let me get into the details.
First, the platform had to be low enough to fit a 3” foam pad, heavy-duty sleeping bag, and my horizontal body. Next, it had to be long enough for me to completely lay flat (I am only 5’10” so this was doable).
Lastly, it had to be ergonomic enough to accommodate my bags, fridge, tools, food, etc. With the help of a Thule cartop carrier, I was going to fit my belongings safely in the car one way or the other.
While this isn’t a dedicated install article, the entire setup can easily be reproduced. With one stop at Home Depot, I was able to purchase everything I needed for the job. Although you can also find these items throughout most of Amazon.com and even online at HomeDepot.com.
Tools and Materials:
- 4×8’ Sheet of ¾” Plywood (x2)
- Roll of Home Depot Traffic Master Carpet (x1)
- Everbilt 12” Hinge (x2)
- Turnbuckle (x4)
- L-Bracket (x4)
- Eye Strap (x4)
- 3M Spray Adhesive
- Wood Screws
- Wood Glue
- Stapler + Staples
- Black Paint
The entire platform is made from two sheets of ¾” plywood. I wanted something that was lightweight, wallet-friendly, but also strong. Home Depot offers multiple types of plywood, but I went with the pre-sanded maple sheeting for a smooth surface.
Conveniently, each sheet was a workable width for the trunk. After measuring from closed-hatch to upright rear seats, the top portion was cut. I have a Husky storage bin that was a reference for the desired height.
The next few measurements were for the base of the platform.
I used the carpeted area inside the trunk. I followed the lines inside the trim panels and the angled bracket that holds the D-rings behind the rear seats. With a few wood screws and wood glue for good measure, the base panels were on. This was a team effort with my Dad to lift the base and mount everything flush.
We added a middle support panel, cut out the space for the hinged-panels, and we were in business.
With the foundation done, it was time to put the finishing touches on it. The entire platform ended up being covered with a basic Home Depot carpet to avoid scratching the platform and/or my items inside. I also was going to be sleeping on it for a week (and trips to come) so it was well worth going through the effort to add carpet. Some spray-on adhesive and staples made the carpeting process very simple.
For easier access to the rear outlets, I included a hinged-panel that would flip up when needed. It was important to properly trace the shape of the rear trim so that the panels would open and close.
To support weight on these panels, small triangular brackets were added from the left-over plywood. Accounting for the thickness of the carpet, the bottom of the panels were painted and cut for relief to sit flush with the supports when closed.
While the platform and dividers fit snug in the trunk, it was important to find a way to securely mount it. I had no intentions of removing it anytime soon so a semi-permanent option was ideal. The four D-rings in the rear made this possible. Seeing how many of the aftermarket storage drawers use the same design, I didn’t see any better option.
Using eye straps and turnbuckles, the platform was held securely to the floor to avoid shifting as I drove. I ended up leaving the factory floor mat underneath the platform just to keep some protection for the carpet floor. I was going to be sliding things in and out of the dividers so I did not want to damage the factory carpet.
Here is the configuration behind the second-row seats. A slight angle was necessary for the length of the turnbuckle. In the rear, two turnbuckles connect to D-rings.
Obviously, the end-goal was to be able to sleep on the platform. However, I did not want to lose my reclining rear seats, so a removable extension piece was in store. I measured from the front of the trunk platform to the back of the upward-folded rear seat, cut, and carpeted it like the rest.
A small notch was made from the corner of the extension to rubbing against the quarter panel.
At the back of the platform, a 2×4 pine board was added for the extension to rest on. Again, carpeted like the rest.
Lastly, I needed a way to support the weight of the extension while I was laying on it. I didn’t like the idea of using the upwards-folded rear seat because it created an incline on the extension – not ideal for sleeping.
Like the U-shape panels underneath the trunk platform, the extension support was a similar design. For the most rigidity, it was cut to match the lines of the rear folded seat. This kept it separate from the extension and completely removable. Also, the open space underneath the extension offered more storage space for items that I did not need each day.
L-brackets were added for extra strength.
This setup does not match up to the expensive drawer and sleeping systems on the market. However, it was a fraction of the price and provided everything I needed for my travels. When paired with my Simmons 3” Mattress and a quality sleeping bag, I was able to get a good night’s sleep wherever my camping took me.
Additionally, many of the high-quality sleeping platforms required the removal of the back seats completely. That was something that I did not want to sacrifice. After all, my 4Runner is my daily driver and not a devoted overlander… yet.
For someone looking to save some money and still have a camping setup, this is a great option. It was functional, lightweight, and aesthetically pleasing enough for my liking.
If I could do it over again, I would stick with this option for starters. In my opinion, the real upgrade, and money-well-spent, is on a rooftop tent. But at the end of the day, for a week-long drive and camping trip across the country, I was more than happy with what I had!