SUV Camper Conversion

During this “Safer at Home” time the COVID-19 pandemic has given us, we’ve all likely been looking for projects to do around the house.

I’ve been wanting to trick out our 2013 Honda Pilot for a while now, so we can go camping and comfortably sleep in the back. I’m just getting started on this project, but here’s a rundown of how I’m approaching it:

First, we removed the middle row of seats. Since it’s split-folding, there’s actually two bench seats to remove. You just need a 14mm ratchet and some patience. It’s surprisingly easy; you just pop off some plastic covers and unscrew 8 bolts. The larger seat is almost 100 pounds, so you’ll probably want a friend to help you lift it out of the vehicle without scratching up anything.

Next, in the exact same way, remove the back row of seats. At this point, it means you’ve just converted your SUV into a 2-seater… so maybe don’t do this until you’re really ready.

We then spent a lot of time discussing, measuring, and designing what the sleeping platform should look like and how to maximize storage space underneath it. After attempting to build a small-scale model out of cardboard, I thought there must be a better (and more precise) way.

Honda Pilot camper platform top

Being a Software Engineer, I decided to make a CAD model:

I’d never used AutoCAD or anything similar before, but I always wanted to learn. Luckily, there’s a great free software package named FreeCAD. It’s not for the faint of heart, but if you enjoy the tedium of software development, and have a project building something requiring precision and rework, CAD software might be the answer for you.

Here’s a video of what my (semi-finished) design looks like:

The great thing about using CAD software is that when you’re done, you have a list of every piece of material you need, and it’s exact measurements!

This design should fit any 2009-2015 Honda Pilot. Here’s my current FreeCAD data file. You can easily download FreeCAD for yourself and check it out in detail.

I’m sure I’ll be updating this design as I start buying materials and actually building the platform. I’ll post more details as I make more progress.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.