About Me

Hello and welcome to my blog, Love and Trails! My name is Morgan and I am the author, educator, map creator, chef and inventor around here! Love and Trails was born out of my passion for the outdoors. It is an avenue for me to share my knowledge and skills with others. Through it I hope to inspire others to embark on adventures of their own.


Up-Cycle Yourself The Ultimate Car Camping Bed Roll

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.

Required Materials 

  • 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 Topperthere 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!

Sewing Guide

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.

Love and Trails - Car Camping Bed Roll

As you can see the Double Memory Foam Topper is just a little too big to fit perfectly in the back of the Honda Pilot.


Love and Trails - Car Camping Bed Roll-3

After a little trimming the topper is just the size we need. Remember if you cut too many jigs and jags your sewing project will get very challenging! I found the foam to be fairly easy to cut with a utility knife.

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.

Love and Trails - Car Camping Bed Roll-5

Here you can see the two sides of my cover, top and bottom sewed as well as the seams where the base of the topper narrows.

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

Love and Trails - Car Camping Bed Roll-4

Here you can see the rectangle with pressed edges lined up on the memory foam topper. Next I will pin it in place and then sew the sides and top edge.


Love and Trails - Car Camping Bed Roll-9

To put it into perspective this is the final goal!

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!

Love and Trails - Car Camping Bed Roll-6

As you can see i didn’t bother turning under the material before sewing it to the zipper. Two reasons: 1) its a camping mattress, who needs perfection! 2) I needed the extra length to fit just perfectly!

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.

Love and Trails - Car Camping Bed Roll-10

Here we go, all cinched up!

Mission Accomplished!

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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!

Sewing Guide

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Jeffrey Whitaker
Jeffrey Whitaker

Is the reason why you made a zipper is to when you’re traveling solo to detach the other half of the mattress? If so that’s genius! Also, where do you store your linens? I’m also looking into memory foam and thermarest! Does your interior windo get lots of moisture in the morning? Especially when it’s cold outside? I have a lil buddy heater and I’ve been told it’s too much heat for an SUV. Do you use the heater outside or inside the SUV?

John Forrey
John Forrey

What purpose do the thermarest inserts serve?