The Best SUV Bed Platform for Camping

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Do you Want to experience Van Life without the van? Have you ever Dreamed of the freedom to camp anywhere without the struggles of a tent? Or have you ever though about converting your SUV into a camper but don’t have the skills to build it yourself?

Keep reading because we found the perfect solution for all of your woes: Here is our review of TrunkMate. Is it the best suv bed platform?

Why We Need an SUV Bed Platform

We have discovered something recently that we hate to admit; we aren’t great summer campers. We like to sleep cool at night, which is very difficult in a tent. 

Last January we discovered something else; we’re not the best winter campers either. While we like it cool, we aren’t into freezing our toes off all night. And we dread getting out of our sleeping bags with icicles hanging off of our noses.

But we found a solution that we want to implement more often. 

On a camping trip over the New Year’s weekend in upstate New York, we set up camp in the back of our Honda Pilot. 

And as much as I hate to admit it, we loved it. We stayed warm all night, didn’t have to pack up a wet tent after 4” of snow and got dressed in warm clothes. 

That weekend got us thinking about a different kind of camping: car camping! 

Of course, we had slept in cars before. And frankly, we don’t recommend sleeping in any kind of a sedan. I’m pretty sure the iron maiden was the backseat of a Buick with just a couple of extra seat belt buckles. 

But, sleeping in our SUV was more than just an upgrade to car camping. It was, dare I say, luxurious!

So, how do we go about making this better? 

How to Turn Your SUV Into a Camper

That was the question we asked ourselves – how do we turn our SUV into a rolling campsite?

It turns out there are plenty of things that you can do to make this sweet little setup even better. Over the next few weeks, we will be exploring some of those with you and put some of them to the test on our next expedition. 

The first thing we wanted to do was find a way to create a space for sleeping while still storing all of our camping paraphernalia. 

After some research, we came across some plans for building your own platform bed in your car. 

I’m a fan of Bourbon Moth and was inspired by his build in his friend’s Subaru Outback. 

I come from a background in carpentry, so I could build an SUV bed platform myself. So I set out to make some plans for our Pilot. 

The Downside of Building Your Own SUV Bed Platform

So during our research phase, we kept bumping into the same issue: once installed, this platform converts our vehicle into a mobile tent. 

What we love about our Pilot is the versatility. With 3 rows of seats, we have the option of loading it with our friends and running into town or the trailhead. 

Or we could keep the 3rd row up and have tons of storage while still having 5 seatbelts. 

And with the 2nd row folded down, we have the capacity of, I don’t know, a hearse?

Anyway, building our own platform would mean we lose all of those configurations. 

I seem to have commitment issues where I like to leave my options open. So, how do we make the platform transformable to get the most use out of it?

Enter TrunkMate!

The Easy Way to Build a Platform Bed in Your SUV

Ok, if you watched the video from Bourbon Moth you’ll see that there is a lot of trial and error to get the platform bed just right. 

And while it comes apart easy enough, it takes up a lot of space when it’s not being used. 

But we stumbled across a no-brainer, done for you, universal platform bed: TrunkMate. 

While this seemed like a mythical creation at the time, we were blown away by its design. 

It ticked off all of our lists: 

  • A mobile bed ✔️
  • A storable kitchen ✔️
  • Drawers for our clothes and camping gear ✔️
  • Easy to remove ✔️
  • Packable when not in use ✔️

This was the ultimate solution! A mobile kitchen and bedroom that would easily disassemble for universal use of our SUV. 

That’s right, our Sport Utility Vehicle would be truly utilitarian. 

We reached out to TrunkMate and they were gracious enough to provide us with some photos of their new product.

However, this is not a sponsored post. Just an honest review of what we think of an up-and-coming company in the camping space.

Will it improve SUV camping? Let’s find out.

TrunkMate SUV platform bed setup in car
Photo credit: TrunkMate

Does TrunkMate Work for Everyone?

Ok, so obviously this is a great solution for us. We can build things and we have tons of space in our Honda. 

But, what about you? Would this be a good fit if you’re not handy? Or if you have a different vehicle?

That’s the beauty of this thing! It’s universal and easy to assemble. 

Easy to Assemble

First off, I want to cover the easy to assemble part. While I am handy with my tools, I don’t mind the simple installation of anything. 

My uncle once said, “give a lazy man a hard job and he’ll find an easy way to do it.” 

Now I don’t promote laziness. Unless it can get me into the woods any quicker. Then I am all about working smarter. 

So if you have ever assembled IKEA furniture before, you can put this little piece of camping heaven together. It even comes with a screwdriver. 

Actually, the instructions are written in words, not Nordic hieroglyphics. In that sense, it’s much simpler than IKEA. 

Not to go down the IKEA road too far though. This is built with solid birch plywood, so it’s heavy-duty and will withstand repeated assembly and disassembly. 

Which you will do quite frequently with ease. It comes apart enough to fit into your cargo area with all of your seats up. Well, at least the second row seats up. You will need the cargo room, so if you have a third-row seat, it will have to be stowed whenever TrunkMate is in your SUV.

TrunkMate-Stowed-In-Carco-Area
TrunkMate in stowed configuration. Photo credit: TrunkMate

But that still leaves you with 5 seatbelts when driving to your campsite. This is great anytime you are not using it and want to have space for your friends. Or your kids.

But you don’t have to tell your friends or your kids that you have room for them. TrunkMate provides a good alibi for a quiet drive into the woods. (I didn’t say that out loud. That was just the thought in the back of your mind. It’s ok. You’re still a nice person.)

It’s good to note, there are absolutely no alterations to your car. You don’t need to remove any seats. And there is no drilling into your vehicle. 

Universal Fit

TrunkMate-Fully-Installed-Wout-Mattress
Photo credit: TrunkMate

The second part is that TrunkMate will fit in almost any SUV or minivan.

Because most seats don’t lay flat, the elevated platform provides a level surface for the base of your bed. 

And thanks to its modular design, you can configure it to be the full width of the cargo area or set it up to fit next to the 60/40 split rear seat. This would allow it to be set up with one back seat still upright. 

TrunkMate-With-1-Seat-Up
Alternate set up for an extra passenger while set up.

For solo campers, the extra space could be used for a single mattress while still allowing room for a camping fridge.

Fully Functional Campsite

Our final point is the functionality of it. Once set up, the drawers pull out and a platform is raised to set your camp stove on.

Below that is the built-in cutting board countertop to set up and prep your meal. And afterwards use the included pop-up sink to clean up in.

Plus it comes with a camp stool to do it all in comfort.

TrunkMate-transformed-into-a-camp-kitchen
Camp Kitchen anyone? The combination of setups is astounding. Another reason to look into this alternative as the best camping kitchen and camp bed platform.

These features makes a complete camp bedroom and camp kitchen in one compact space. No need for extra tables and stands.

Our Take – Is TrunkMate the Best SUV Bed Platform?

This is one of the best new ideas we have seen this year. With the increase in interest in camping and the outdoors, I think TrunkMate is going to be a hit. 

Because of it provides a universal fit, requires no carpentry skills, and stows easily when not in use, we think this will have a wide appeal to a lot of happy campers. 

The price tag is just under $2000, which is a bit of an investment. But compared to the alternatives of renting or buying an rv or staying in a hotel or house rental, it would really pay for itself on one or two camping trips.

We haven’t pulled the trigger on this deal just yet. But we will keep our eyes on it over the next year or so. 

At any rate, TrunkMate has definitely grabbed our attention. It rightfully deserves its place on some of the coolest camping gear of 2021.

You can find out more by visiting their website at Trunk-Mate.com.

More Great Camping Guides

We aim to provide the most valuable guides to camping including where to camp, how to camp, and how to improve camping.

If you are just getting into camping, we want to welcome you. For those of you that already love to camp, we’re glad to have you, too.

Whether you’re a seasoned camper or just starting out, here are some of our suggestions to get you in the woods, on the mountain, near the beach, or under the desert stars.

If you are into setting up your own camp rig, check out our camping fridges review. We compare the top 16 portable camp fridges to find the winner of the best camping fridge of 2021.

If you want to dream of the best places to camp in the world, we have a whole series on it. In fact, may I suggest starting with our first article: Bucket List Camping?

We start with some big suggestions and then break down the world into regions. Where would you like to start?

You can find all of our camping articles, hiking descriptions, and road trip advice here or under the menu above. Enjoy!

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