Last week a friend posted a link on Facebook about outfitting the back of a pickup truck for camping by building boxes for storage and a platform for sleeping. I’d recently slept a couple of nights uncomfortably in the back of my 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee (WJ) and seeing that website spurred me into action–I’m actually disappointed that I didn’t come up with the idea fully on my own. The problem with my Jeep is that the bottom of the rear seat folds forward in order for the seat back to lie flat. The bottom of the rear seat then occupies the space normally reserved for the rear passengers’ feet, which robs valuable space for anyone wishing to stretch out in the back. I’m 5’11”, but there was only 5’4″ of available sleeping area in the back of the Jeep. These simple modifications increased the available space to 6’9″. First I unbolted the rear seat bottoms, drilled out the permanent hinge pins, and replaced them with removable pins. It was a simple process that took less than two hours, including getting out all the necessary tools and going to the hardware store to buy new pins. The new hinge pins have a cotter pin in the end that hold them in place. To remove the seat bottoms I only have to pull the four hinge pins and pull the seats out. It literally takes about a minute.
Now that the seat bottoms were easily removable I was left with a void behind the front seats. I solved this by cutting some pieces of 3/4″ plywood to fit the empty spaces and attaching 2×4″ supports to hold them up. I finished them by stapling automotive carpet to the tops, and I cut a handhold in the center of each platform so they could easily be set into place or removed. Putting these in place takes perhaps another minute, so in just a couple of minutes I can transform the Jeep from a five-passenger family carrier into a one-man (and two-dog) campmobile. I was hoping to try it out this weekend but on Friday I was hit with a cold that had me down until today. Next weekend I hope to give it another shot and sleep in the back of the Jeep comfortably.