Honda Element: bed platform

The last big upgrade for my Honda Element was to build a bed platform to use for car camping. I worked on this a little bit at a time over about a month. I was inspired by designs from other people, but ended up just sketching out something that I thought would work for me.

I wanted it to be exactly the size of a twin mattress. Also wanted enough space for storage underneath, but not so much that I would feel cramped with limited space from my head to the roof. I got a trifold, 4-inch mattress on Amazon. The platform itself would be in two sections, with one section folding down over the front seats when set up as a bed.

First building the basic structure:

Not pictured, later I ended up adding little metal braces everywhere for more support. Screws alone did not hold the legs in well. It was too wobbly and would even come disconnected. In hindsight, I might’ve been too worried about minimizing weight. I used pretty thin pieces of wood, mostly pine.

I sanded everything, stained it, and added hinges:

Testing it in the car, fully extended and folded up:

I plan to do another coat of polyurethane later. By the time I was ready to use it, I felt like it was really only about 90% done. You can also see some screws poking out from the hinges, which I covered up with several layers of tape after these photos were taken.

Here’s the final bed set up, plus a shot inside at night from camping at the Davis Mountains State Park:

Overall, very happy with my little micro camper. I learned a lot during the first trip and there are some obvious things to improve for next time. I’ve collected the posts in this series in a category on my blog here.

Conversation on

Manton Reece @manton