My Honda CR-V Camper Setup (updated for 2021)

This is a simple camper setup for a 2007 Honda CR-V that allows for leaving the back seats in. Updates for 2021 include attaching legs to the bed platform and adding a side canopy.

my Honda CR-V camper setup - 2021 updates

After setting up my Honda CR-V camper last year and using it for winter camping, I wanted to make a few updates. The bed platform originally was supported by plastic bins and a folded down car seat, but I wanted a bit more stability for this year so I added legs. I also added a new canopy that can attach to the side of the car so I can stay dry on rainy trips.

 

Planning the setup

This is our only vehicle, so I was looking for a camping setup that is simple and easy to install – and just as easy to remove. After watching quite a few YouTube videos on how to convert a SUV into a camper, I found a setup that didn’t use a full platform. Since I plan on being the only person sleeping in it, I don’t need space for two people and the setup shown in the video was exactly what I was hoping to do in my car.

my Honda CR-V camper setup

This is what my Honda CR-V looks like before setup for camping

Simple DIY bed platform

The seats in older model CR-Vs don’t fold down flat, and since I didn’t want the hassle of taking them out and storing them, I needed to figure out how to keep them in and still have a bed platform. For the top of the platform, I used a 25″ x 72″ board. To make it easier to to get the board in and out of the car (and for storage), I cut the board into three pieces and added hinges to allow it to fold accordion-style. This also allows me to raise up the top board section to access gear under it.

To make space for the bed platform, I move the front passenger seat forward as far as it goes. Then I fold down the middle and right back seats, which go under the bed platform. I leave the left back seat up and slide it back as far as it will go. This provides an easy way to get in and of the bed, as well as a place to sit inside. For more leg room, move the driver seat forward.

Cold urticaria

making sure the bed platform fits in the space

adding hinges to the board

my Honda CR-V camper setup - 2021 updates

the bed platform with legs

Because the bed platform folds, we could only attach legs permanently to one of the boards, so we did this on the back section. For the other two sections, we drilled holes into the platform board and into 2×4 boards placed under it for support legs and put drop pins (which are just bolts without washers) in them. This way, the bolts just hold it together but can be taken out to store it. I added a bit of felt on the end so the wood doesn’t scratch up the interior of the car.

 

Side Awning

my Honda CR-V camper setup - 2021 updates

I added a canopy  to my setup this year and love how I can stay out of the rain when cooking or when getting in and out of my camper. The canopy can attach to the back or the side of a vehicle, but I like having it on the side since that’s where I need it the most. Long webbing straps can attach to roof racks, or in my case, I took it all the way over the top of the car and attached to the wheels on the other side. The canopy can also be staked, and there are additional tie-outs attached if needed. The poles are super heavy duty, so I think this will be solid in the wind. I know it is waterproof in the rain… on my first trip using the canopy, it rained quite a bit overnight and it stayed dry under the canopy.

 

Cooking under the canopy

my Honda CR-V camper setup - 2021 updates

For my cook setup, I added a folding camp table that is super small but just big enough for cooking with a backpacking stove. I also set my water container on it, and place a collapsible sink under the table for doing dishes. To one side of me is my kitchen bin, and my cooler is on the other. From here, I can reach anything for cooking and cleanup yet it doesn’t take up much space in my camper to store.

Sleep Setup

my Honda CR-V camper setup

Mattress

For the ultimate in comfort while sleeping, I use a 4″ thick self-inflating foam mattress. With an R-value of 6, this mattress helps me stay super warm at night. I like not having to blow it up, and I don’t worry about punctures like I would if using my backpacking air mattress. I also like the outer fabric… it feels durable but it’s also soft and feels similar to a flannel sheet. Since the board has hinges on the top, I use a yoga mat under the mattress to protect it.

Sleeping Bags & Pillow

my Honda CR-V camper setup - 2021 updates

For cold weather trips (which is when I primarily plan to use this camper), I use a down sleeping quilt and a synthetic blanket for warmth. I don’t want to rely on using the car’s heater to stay warm, so I’d rather bundle up. I’m used to cold nights on backpacking trips – and I find that sleeping in my car is much warmer than in a tent. My favorite pillow for camping, whether in a tent or in my car, is a compressible foam pillow from Therm-a-Rest. I have a medium-size and love how cushy it is while still providing support when I sleep on my side.

Window Coverings

my Honda CR-V camper setup

For me, one of the most important items in my camper setup are the window coverings… I wouldn’t want to sleep in my car without them. Not only do they provide privacy, they add a thermal layer on the windows to help retain heat. I found window coverings that are two-sided and custom-fit for the model of my car. One side is black and the other is reflective gold. For use in cold weather, place the black side out and while the sun is out, it will help warm the interior. The reflective side helps to retain heat inside the vehicle. In warmer weather, place the reflective side facing out to keep the interior cooler. The coverings are sized so you can press them into the window frame to stay put, although mine also come with suction cups to keep them in place.

Since condensation can build up inside overnight, I use a window screen over one of the passenger windows so I can keep it open partway while keeping bugs out.

 

my Honda CR-V camper setup

Lighting

my Honda CR-V camper setup: lighting

Instead of using my car’s interior lights and risk running down the car battery, I prefer to use a solar lantern and two light strings for lighting. I hang a solar lantern from the back seat grab bar. This LED lantern has four modes of light: high (120 lumens), low (50 lumens), amber nightlight, and amber candlelight flicker mode, and can be charged via solar or USB. The silicone globe collapses into the base to take up less space.

I add two light strings for soft light throughout the interior space. I love the fairy light ambiance that they provide. The lights I use can be powered via 3 AAA batteries, or by plugging into a USB power bank device. I hung them using Command hooks made for light strings.

canopy lantern

Under the awning that attaches to my car, I use a lantern that hangs upside down so I can see when I’m cooking. It also has a blue light that is nice to leave on at night.

  • UCO lantern (no longer available, but this model is similar)

 

Back Seat Lounger

my Honda CR-V camper setup - 2021 updates

The back seat ‘lounger’ is one of my favorite features of my camper. I use it to get in and out of the bed, and it gives me a place to sit up and relax inside. I added a backseat organizer with multiple pockets and a tray to the back of the driver seat – good for keeping all of those easy-to-lose items like car keys, eyeglasses, or a smartphone. On my first trip, the lounger came in handy when it was dark and raining and I sat inside journaling and then watched a movie before going to bed.

 

Storage

I use two plastic bins (23″ x 13″ x 9″) to store most of my gear: one for camp kitchen gear, and another for my camper setup gear including lighting, window screens, first-aid, etc. Additional storage space in my car includes the front seats and floorboards for extra items like my backpack and camera gear. Larger items such as my cooler and water container fit in the space behind the back seat.

 

my Honda CR-V camper setup

my original setup using plastic bins to support the bed platform

my Honda CR-V camper setup

front passenger seat storage

my Honda CR-V camper setup

floorboard storage under the bed platform

 

Overall, I’m very happy with how my SUV camper turned out. I like having an option for camping in inclement and cold weather, and I love how easy it is to load and unload for quick adventures.

 

 

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