DIY: Subaru camper conversion

In this article, we will explain how you can DIY a Subaru camper conversion. We will also discuss safety while sleeping in your car and the pros and cons of a Subaru camper conversion. 

Where do I start with a Subaru camper conversion?

We start with a Subaru camper conversion by telling you that this is a very practical and versatile idea, great for easy travel. With a Subaru camper conversion, you can even get a mini-kitchen and an improvised shower, and it is also less expensive than customizing a truck. A Subaru camper conversion is thus an ideal solution for relatively tight budgets.

There are several options for converting your Subaru into a camper Depending on your budget, you can opt for a removable storage kit. Easy to set up, this set of modules slips into the trunk and lets you set up storage, a bed, and even a spare kitchen in an instant. 

The more do-it-yourselfers will be able to embark on work and build their own minivan. With one or more tutorials, wooden planks, tools and storage boxes, you may be able to achieve wonders. If you only want to leave occasionally, bet on an inflatable mattress specially designed for your Subaru. Economical and practical, it is perfect for small budgets!

5 steps for a successful Subaru camper conversion

But how can you make a successful Subaru camper conversion in the simplest but most effective way? Here are 5 easy steps to follow: 

  1. Create space in the trunk. To be able to camp comfortably in your Subaru, you will need plenty of space. If you can remove the passenger seats do it in order to save space, otherwise pull the backrests down as much as possible so as to be able to place the mattress directly above them. 

We also advise you to divide the trunk in two: in the upper part you can put a mattress and it will therefore become your bed, while the lower part will be used to store everything you need. Take the internal measurements well so that you can cut a wooden plank of the right size to cover the space in any DIY centre. Choose it thick enough to be able to support your weight but without overdoing it so as not to weigh down the car too much.

  1. Divide the spaces in a practical way. At this point, we must proceed with the subdivision of the spaces in the part below the trunk so that they are organized and practical. 

First, ask yourself if you have any particular needs in terms of equipment that you want to bring with you and which will therefore necessarily constrain this division. Since the best way to organize everything you need is to divide it into thematic boxes, try to create the compartments so that they are modular with the size of the containers you have at your disposal. 

To do this, it is useful to first find the boxes to use in order to use them as a ‘unit of measurement’. Also think of a space where you can store a camping table with chairs and possibly a cloth to create a small shelter sheltered from the rain, for cooking. Remember that you will not have a real internal space to do this.

  1. Each box is a small world. We now come to talk about how to divide the objects you will need. Our advice is to create thematic boxes and place them under the trunk according to the frequency of use and where they will be used. 

Create a box to put all the things you will need for cooking (a camping stove, some utensils, a pot, a pan, plates and cups), a box to use as a pantry, a box for clothes, one for shoes, one for personal care items.

  1. Privacy is important. At this point you have almost everything you need, you just need a little privacy, both for when you will sleep, and for example for when you need to change. You need to put up some curtains. Take your measurements so you know how much fabric you will need to be able to cover the windows. Create curtains that can be easily opened and fasten them for when you need to drive so as not to restrict the view.
  1. Electricity and other amenities. Not being a real camper, there is no possibility to connect the electrical system to an external power supply, for this reason, it is important to add internal lights that are powered independently from the car batteries (so as to avoid unpleasant surprises. ). 

You can choose classic battery-powered camping torches or fairy lights, always powered by batteries, to also add a touch of magic to the environment. As for charging your mobile phone or other electronic devices, equip yourself with a car adapter so you can recharge what you need directly from the cigarette lighter or buy small batteries powered by solar panels.

Where can I park and sleep in my Subaru camper conversion?

Remember that you cannot stop where you want but you must stop either in campsites or in dedicated parking areas that are equipped with bathrooms, running water and areas where you can throw waste while respecting separate collection!

There are a few places to park to rest in your truck to limit the risk of fines and avoid possible disturbances with passers-by or prowlers. For example, you can park:

  • on a rest area if you are driving on a freeway;
  • in a car park open without interruption;
  • in a street located in a residential area.

When deciding where to park to sleep in your truck, make sure there isn’t a market the next day. Be aware, however, that you will hardly be able to find a place ensuring both security and calm. Try to deal with the noise: earplugs may prevent you from hearing a possible danger.

Note that if you park and obstruct traffic, you may be subject to law enforcement checks and penalties. Dangerous parking is sanctioned by a fixed fine of $ 35 or $ 135. The amount is defined according to the seriousness of the parking violation.

While travelling in your car, you must know that some places do not allow sleeping in your parked car. There are some areas, such as national parks, that expressly prohibit sleeping in the car. 

In this case, it does not matter whether you are camping or not, it is a direct prohibition that must be complied with. It is worth looking for a conditioned place to sleep on these occasions, as the fines are usually quite high.

Now being clear about everything related to the legality of sleeping in the car, we have a few more tips on how to do it. 

Thus, it is better if the vehicle is specifically transformed for it, be it a caravan or camper van. If it is in a normal and contemporary car, you can sleep in the front seats, in the rear seats or in the trunk by folding down the rear seats. There are some interesting accessories like custom inflatable mattresses, that you may consider investing in. 

FAQ on Subaru camper conversion

How can I sleep comfortably in my truck?

To sleep comfortably in a truck it is best to sleep with your head towards the front of the car, parked in a shaded area and a safe space. The back of a van or pickup truck is known to be a restful place because it is more spacious. To arrange it, there are simple and effective solutions to apply yourself.

Can you sleep in a parked car?

The quick answer is yes, it is totally possible to sleep in a stationary car, as long as it has been parked correctly and in compliance with the Highway rules. Sleeping in your car is, in fact, highly recommended after driving for many hours. It is advisable to stop for a nap if fatigue takes over. Fatigue is one of the main accident risks and there are quite a few deaths from falling asleep at the wheel and getting off the road.

Where is it forbidden to sleep in the car?

It is forbidden to sleep in the car in national parks. These are protected areas and therefore it is totally forbidden to camp and sleep (even in the car) in them.

Can cars sleep at truck stops?

It is not prohibited for cars to sleep at truck stops. The parking spots, however, are on a first-come-first-served basis, so you must think well and plan ahead your rest time on a long journey. 

Are truck stops dangerous?

Generally, truck stops are not dangerous places to rest for a few hours. Still, there are some risks that you must consider, and thus prepare yourself in order to rest. 


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