When I first outfitted the Honda Pilot for sleeping in I was a solo adventurer taking to the road for weeks at a time. Like all things, time has changed my ways and my solo road trips have turned into weekend camping with a handsome man.
Last year, as I slept on my plush ikea mattress, Gerald was left to his Thermarest, and more often then not, the awkward gap between our beds. For the sake of our car camping sanity I decided to up-cycle a few pieces of old gear to make the ultimate car camping bed.
- 2 Old Thermarest’s – the kind you are no longer willing to pack in (heavy!) nor sleep on (thin!) but are simply to fond of to just part with.
- 1 Old Memory Foam Mattress Topper – there is a good chance some one you know has one lying around. Failing that they are near free on Kijiji.
- 4.5m or 15ft of fabric – preferably a nice, durable outdoor fabric that grass and dirt wont stick too.
- A 4m or 13ft zipper – in my case, stolen from the cover on the memory foam topper.
Required Tools and Skills
- Sewing Machine – Any old machine will be just great!
- Basic, and I mean BASIC, sewing skills – Trust me I am no expert in this department.
In a large part this came to be because we had a memory foam topper and a plethora of old thermarests lying around. And of course, a large need for a better sleeping solution!
Step 1: Sizing Up Your Space
The first step is to size up exactly how much space you have. In our case the back of our Honda Pilot is very spacious, and almost rectangular, nearly perfect for our Double Memory Foam Topper. We simply made a couple of slight modifications to the bottom half. If you were less picky you would simply measure out a large square that would fit in the space. For us we wanted to maximize the mattress size near our heads.
Step 2: Sewing the basic cover
As far as the cover itself goes the sewing is very simple. Simply cut two lengths of fabric to match the length of the memory foam topper, plus a little extra for seams. Turn the fabric inside out and sew the top and bottom, if your new to this simple fold over the top edge by about a 1/2 to 1″ and iron it, then sew it. If you are making a simple rectangle your work here is done and you can move to the next step. If you are shaping your cover you will then want to lay it on top of the foam topper and trace the edges of the topper onto your fabric. Then sew along the line, again be sure to leave an extra inch or so to take into account the width of the memory foam.
Step 3: Sewing the Thermarest Slots
If you looked close at the above photo you can also see the slots for the thermarests, I got a little ahead of myself and forgot to take pictures! In this step you will want to cut rectangles of fabric, folding over and ironing the edges. Then you will sew them to the bottom of your covers. Be sure to measure the thermarests you intend to use to make sure your slots are wide enough and correctly spaced
Step 4: Adding a Zipper
The next step was to attach the two sides together. For this I up-cycled the zipper that was on the cover around the memory foam topper, if you don’t have this you will want to acquire a very long zipper! Simple sew the sipper to each of the edges of the cover and zip it up!
Step 4: Sewing the Buckle Attachments
The last thing I wanted to add was the ability to easily roll the mattress up when we needed it out of the way. For this I acquired 7m of 1.5″ webbing and three buckles.
Because this project was experimental in nature I definitely learned more than a few things along the way. As such I have put together a sewing guide to help you avoid making the mistakes I made! Check it out and by all means comment with any questions, and photos of your wonderful creations!