Sleeping Platform in the Jeep

Design from with modifications for the Jeep JK

A member in the Hamilton Area Jeep Club has this great design to create a sleeping platform inside the Jeep. No mounting hardware and no screws needed, it is a truly ingenious design for the traveller on a small budget. But don't take our word for it, have a look at The documentation here has the changes for the JK and builds on the original design from It is important that you watch and read the CheaperJeeperTV instructions first.

1976 VW VanThe design reminds me of my “Shaggin' Wagon” I had in the 70s. The sleeping platform was a wood frame with panels. The table supported the panels that folded to a bench during the day. This VW Van got me the 3,800km from Zürich in Switzerland all the way up to Nordkapp in Norway. This three months trip ignited my craving for travels to remote areas. Norway, Sweden and Finland are as beautiful and wild as Canada. Needless to say, I'm not the beach going type.
Back then, I invested in solid plastic storage boxes that are still being used today on our travels.

Back to the sleeping platform in the Jeep. My wife and I talked about this great idea from Sometimes we just want to go for two or three days. Any fun destination is 400+ km away, one way. Hotels are expensive, or fully booked. Setting up a tent works in some cases, but takes time and requires a flat ground and no rocks. And since the fish bite best early in the morning, I can roll out of the bed and reel in breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sleeping in the Jeep seems like an excellent idea.

Some minor modifications are required.
The height of the platform has to increase by 1 inch. Remember the plastic boxes I talked about above? Most of the tools, gear and food are in them and the boxes are just over 9 inches.
The Cargo Section remains in the Jeep during the active travel season, that's from January to December.
The front panels are stored in the Garage and installed when we need them. On longer trips, the seats will be removed from now on. We easily fill the Jeep with gear when we're on the road.

We discussed the idea to use plastic panels, actually HDPE Sheets, instead of wood. They could be transported on the roof rack. Read more about the HDPE Sheets at the end of this page. We love the material, about double the price of wood, maybe three times. HDPE is almost indestructible and it is food grade plastic. (NOTE: We decided to use wood panels)

With the COVID-19 lock-down this spring, we had some spare time and started with scrap panels to build a prototype. The design is based on a JL. It turns out that the cargo area in our JK is wider. The rear door hinge attachment is inside the sub-woofer casing, therefore leaving more width immediately behind the seats. The width of the seats is likely the same and a 4 foot wide panel fills the space.

Now to our fancy cargo platform. This is how it fits into the back. The white platform is the prototype. The red lines mark the JL width from The JK has more width closer to the seat. The sub-woofer needs space to the rear.
The increased width to the front depends very much on the height of the platform. The rounded wheel well makes it a hit & miss jig saw adventure. The final measurement is further down.

Cargo Platform Prototype

Cargo Leg LayoutAfter we assembled the platform, we didn't like the spacing of the Cargo Legs. The grey boxes don't fit snug between them. The 3/4" wood panels are strong enough to span more than the 22 inches.
We added a hinge (for now). The split of the cargo panel was based on the size of the scrap wood we had, purly coincidental.
With the carpet left in the rear, the OEM scissor lift jack and storage compartment below the carpet are inaccessible. This will change when we hit the road, carpets will be left in the garage.

JK modifications
Cargo Cross Piece mod for JKWe started with minimal changes to the overall width of the Cargo Cross Piece. The driver side cut was moved to the left by about 2 inches. There is no need for the bottom cut-outs on both sides of the cross piece. The JK has a flat cargo area.
What we learned: Check the size of your storage and tool boxes and make sure they will fit under the platform. Adjust the cuts accordingly. We had to increase the width between the cargo legs to 24 inches.
The Cargo Cross Leg was a piece of art and did the job very well.

After a few weeks, we decided to replace the Cargo Cross Leg. After adjusting the front platform size, we knew that the Cross Piece had to be as wide as possible. Fitting the piece, we had to find the correct placement so the bolts and tie-down loops are not obstructing the cross piece. They are actually just behind the board and hidden from view when looking into the cargo area.

Cargo Leg with cut outs for JK

The final version is simpler. It turns out that the cuts are evenly spaced in our installation. No obstruction on the Jeep floor. We didn't make the cuts that support the front platform. As a result of the COVID-19 restrictions, our travel plans changed and we won't be using the sleeping platform this summer. We did however measure and cut the boards. Details are below.

Final Cargo Leg with cut outs for JK

The Cargo Leg on the passenger side is about two inches from the sub-woofer. Works for us and wastes very little space. We cut two holes into the panel. Just behind the sub-woofer is a power outlet, which is now accessible again. Towards the front of the Jeep, the 2nd hole makes it easier to get access to smaller pieces. We always travel with toilet paper, spare garbage bags, rubber gloves, a blanket and emergency rain gear. And that's where we keep it.

Cargo Leg with cut outs for JK

And the final version looks like this. The tape is there so we don't get splinters. We used a low grade board for this.

Cargo Leg Final Version

After the modification, the boxes fit.
Easy to slide out and access the storage space.
Cargo inside view
  Still enough room on the left for more "stuff"
  A big 1 by 2 feet box closes the remaining space.
  Cargo layout modified

The cargo platform rests on a 10 inch high frame, the original design from uses a 9 inch frame. When you change the height, the front panel my need the cuts adjusted.
The measurements we used are as follows and based on two boards with a hinch to connect them.
The front one is 48 by 18.5 inches with the cuts for the wheel well.
The rear one is about 41 by 14.5 inches with the cuts for sub-woofer and door handle.
We left a gap on both sides to slide a pool noodle on the edge. Now the panel is wedged in the back and won't move or rattle. We marked the exact location of the hinge AFTER we placed the two pieces on the Cross and Cargo Legs. They didn't line up in the exact centre and are off by close to an inch. But they have enough play and don't touch the plastic side panels.
NOTE: The prototype in the pictures above is not exactly cut to the specs below. We learn as we use the platform in our daily trips to the grocery store. Not many other options during the COVID-19 lock-down. The prototype is cut from two panels of the same width. It is therefore not possible to completely fold the rear panel back and leave it folded. The drawing fixed this issue.

And the final version is here:

Final front-half cargo cover for JK

Final rear-half cargo cover for JK

Hinges on orderWe ordered hinges to keep the two panels in place. We'll update the pictures when they are installed.

Now working on the front platform. We hope to have the updated version by the end of May.

Up to now, we documented the modifications to the Cargo Platform.

Front Section of platform
We increased the width of the platform to 52 inches and the length is 39 inches. The layout is different in the JK and the Front Cross Legs have to be built with two pieces.
The center console extends behind the front seats. The Front Cross Legs are two equally cut pieces.
The odd shaped cut is due to the folded seats head rest. We used 3/8th plywood and enforced the legs.
The Front Leg is from an 18 by 18 inches board. We extended the top by two inches for additional support. The 18" width is an exact fit to place the feet between door frame and the center shaft tunnel.

Front Legs

The front panels fit perfectly with the front seats moved all the way forward and the back fully flipped forward.

Front Platform

This is where we paused the project for now. Our camping trailer is parked in the driveway and needs prep work. Installing the battery, testing and cleaning the water supply, mount the solar panel on the roof and inspecting all the pieces. The Ontario Provincial Parks will open in a few days and we want to be ready.
We are getting ready for our first trip. It is likely the Finnlayson Provincial Park and/or Crown Land around there.

Plastic Panels
Ever heard about HDPE Sheets aka Puck Boards? Greyco Products in Dundalk has the 4' by 8' sheets. A white half inch sheet is about $125. You can cut HDPE sheets, but it does require some tricks. Any cirular saw blade will cut and melt the plastic, it is a bit of a mess. You can invest in a special blade that will cut plastic sheets, but an old blade mounted backwards will work as well. Work slowly and don't let the blade get too hot. Short cuts are no problems, long cuts may require the special blade.
NOTE: We did not use the HDPE sheets for the sleeping platform.
An easier option is to order the sheets cut to size. Another shop that will cut them to size is just down the road from Grayco Prodcuts. It is Dundalk Plastic-Fab.

HDPE panels as equipment protectionWe installed two 1/8" HDPE sheets to create rock guards for the trailer and for some gear on the roof rack. The 1/8" can be cut with a sharp utility knife. The plastic is virtually indestructible and comes in different colours. We bent the white 1/8 inch sheets to fit the gas canister and protect them from dents and scratches. They also block the direct sun light to prevent excessive heat.
HDPE will shrink when cold. A 4 foot panel may expand 1/4" in summer. Make sure there is room to grow. You can bend the HDPE sheets with a heat gun and they will keep the shape.
The panels for the sleeping platform may require support on the edges along the doors. They have to hold the full weight of a person and may bend slightly. They will return to the original form again. Only when we applied excessive heat with a heat gun were we able to "break" the panels.

First published on April 13, 2020