truck cabinet conversion.


We all know living in a car, truck, or van is nothing to brag about. Usually it is a result of a person going through financial distress, or some kind of mental breakdown.  Our parents always warned us about the guy who lives in a parking lot nestled between Wal-mart and TGI Fridays.  Oh, and don’t forget about the couple that lives in the van full of birds under the Bklyn Queens Expressway. Despite these tall tales, and as glamorous as this does not sound to many, Sara and I have decided that this lifestyle sounds pretty good to us. Calling a vehicle home is an excellent way to travel. When traveling, lodging can take up a large percentage of your budget. By eliminating the lodging expense completely, we will be able to extend our trip by a matter of months. Now, this all depends on the person of course. Not everyone is open to sacrificing a certain amount of comfort in exchange for  the extension of a trip.  It is a personal decision that many travelers ponder. Or not.

With all this being said, I am in the process of making our 2001 Toyota Tacoma as comfortable as possible. Besides our roof top tent, which is where we will be sleeping, I have decided to build a cabinet / storage system in the bed of the truck. The system I built will contain a hand pump RV faucet with a 7 gallon tank, propane tank and hose hookup, a 12 volt cooler / fridge, electrical outlets, ample storage space, sleeping room and/or an area to chill out. Here is a rough step by step guide to the build:


First build your basic structure- notch out for wheel wells and anything else that might be in the way. You want this thing to be as tight as possible, and still have the ability to remove easily if need be. Before you go any further TEST FIT!


Once it fits, decide where all compartments will be located. I measured my fridge, propane tank, water tank etc so everything fits properly and can be easily removed if need be.


I painted the entire structure with 2 coats (all sides every piece) with herculiner truck bed paint. This is basically a rubber coating that will withstand abuse as well as water and moisture.


I then got some outdoor carpet and adhesive and covered all cabinet doors and the platform. I used piano hinges because they will help keep doors from warping and they have a low profile.


The RV pump sink works great.  It was easy to install and seems to be very durable. This will be great for drinking water. The small cabinets will probably carry basic every day things like toothpaste, toothbrush, suntan lotion, and hot sauce.


The fridge has a fan thats need constant ventalation, hence the blue vent on the sidewall. The 1 gallon propane tank has an access hole so it can be turned on and off easily. The propane hose runs through cabinet along the side of the fridge so it is not seen. When the stove is in use on the tailgate, the hose is accessible near bottom right side of fridge compartment.


The 7 gallon water tank is in the back right of the cabinets. In this location its out of the way, but can be easily removed or filled up. the clear hose runs through the pvc pipe. The pvc is only there to protect the hose from whatever storage is in the cabinet.


The center platform is removable, and fits on the floor when not being used as a platform. When the platform is not in use the space acts as an area to chill out. When the platform is in use it can be used as a sleeping platform, or a way to hide gear from wandering eyes. As you can see the cabinets provide a good amount of storage space for my machetes, bags of rice, and underwear.


Well here it is! its basically done except a few minor adjustments and additions. I estimate it weighs a bit over 200 pounds. We cant wait to go camping and test this thing out!

10 thoughts on “truck cabinet conversion.”

  1. Hi guys, amazing conversion work – Dean you are a cross between Buckminster Fuller and Houdini in the way you ideated, built and outfitted your overland rig. Next gig, post your return could be doing uber-micro apts in NY!
    (PS Lupe looks sweet – hope to meet her some day)

  2. very nice set up. i would consider getting a ten gallon water tank since you will be buying water in 5 gallon containers down there. the 5 gallon containers are the cheapest way to buy water in latin america. we use 10 gallons in 3 days and that is being stingy. also i would strongly urge you to get a solar system. they are little pricey but if you dont you will constantly be running your yellow top down and be forced to buy another after that thing is drained in 6 months. ask around to other travelers the fridge will kill your battery and force you to drive around just to charge which doesnt help save money either. ours is the thickness of a piece of card board and glued to the top of our camper. adds about 10 pounds to the rig and well worth it. we never once killed our battery.
    but really you are doing a great job with the rig.

    1. Thanks Jed. Yea besides out 7 gal that hooked up to out pump faucet, we also have an additional 5 gal tank. I also think we will carry an additional 5 gal water bottle or so just in case. Yea I thought about solar until i saw the price. Maybe now I will reconsider. Im not sure how much power our fridge will take, Its not a legit fridge, Its more like an electric cooler. We went this route because we don’t eat too much meat. Plus it was only $100. Im not too stoked on it, but we will see.

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