How to Build a Foldable Sleeping Platform for a 2018 RAV4 for Camping

This spring I built a foldable sleeping platform for my Hybrid 2018 Rav4. I had outgrown my Prius set up, plus my boyfriend wasn't a fan of the tight quarters. I used just some basic pieces of hardware (which cost less than $20) and some wood that my dad had leftover from his own campaign project. (about a sheet of 1 inch Baltic birch that costs less than $80, and 100 inches of 2x4s which cost about $5.) In addition to raw materials, you will also need tools for cutting wood, measuring, and some sand paper. Here is a breakdown of how it works and the measurements, so you can recreate it. 

a picture of my finished Rav4 Sleeping platform

Why I Designed a Foldable Sleeping Platform for my RAV4

I am a weekend only camper. As much as I would love to do the full time van life thing, It won't be in the cards for a while. I wanted something that would allow me to make use of all space, without requiring the back seats to be taken out. Seats in 2028 hybrid RAV4s do not fold flat, so not using a platform was never an option. I’m also incredibly lazy, and I need to build something that I could actually trust myself to put away. So, I decided on a trifold sleeping platform design that could sit in the trunk of my Rav4 when not in camping mode. 


Diagram of the measurements need to build a sleeping platform

Measurements and Blueprints for a Trifold Sleeping Platform

The first step of my project was taking measurements of my vehicle. If you are not building for a 2018 hybrid RAV4, you will need to make sure you plug in your own measurements.

I found that my trunk was about 44 inches wide above the wheel well, which means I did not have to cut down my wood to match the width.

Then I needed to measure where the seats started, (36 inches) which would determine where the first fold would be. Next, I measured the distance to the back of the front seats, (70-75 inches depending on how far back the seats are) and the distance to the point where the sleeping platform would rest on the folded back seats (58 inches). Finally I measured the height that the platform would have to reach to rest on top of the folded back seats, (10 inches) and the length of the removable legs for the front. (20 inches.) 

Once you have these measurements, visualize where your first hinge would sit in the air, and measure the distance from the imaginary hinge and the ceiling. Compare this measurement to the length of your middle board  to make sure there is enough room for the hinge to swing. 

Here is a diagram of each section you will need to make for a trifold sleeping platform: 

Diagram of the hinges and cuts needed build a RAV4 sleeping platform

Cutting and Construction of a RAV4 Sleeping Platform

When It came time to cut down my wood and assemble, I borrowed some tools from my boyfriend's dad and had a little help. Here are the steps for cutting and constructing.

  1. Mark down your measurements for the three sections on your board, and draw cut lines on your boards. Make sure you double check before cutting.
  2. Cut your board into three sections using a table saw or jigsaw. 
  3. Draw curved lines on the corners of your pieces like in this diagram, and cut. You will need curved corners to make sure your tailgate shuts and to make sure the moving parts don’t get stuck on a curved ceiling. 
  4. Take some sandpaper and sand everything! You don’t want to get a giant splinter in your leg when you use your sleeping platform, and you don’t want to ruin your car’s upholstery either. 
  5. Take your 2x4s and cut 6 legs for the part of the platform that will stay in the trunk. Then cut two legs for the front end of the platform
  6. Take your short 2x4s, and screw them into your largest board, two at the center and two on either side. 
  7. In the top of your 2x4s, drill a hole wide enough for a long-ish threadless bolt. Then drill a matching hole in the non-round corners of your smallest board. The threadless bolt will be used to hold the board in place when the Sleeping platform is finished
  8. Add the hinges. Be careful to make sure everything folds in the direction it needs too. We used 4 medium sized hinges at each joint to help support the weight of two people. You will probably need at least one person to help you hold the boards as you screw them together. 
  9. Fold up your sleeping platform and set it into the trunk of the RAV. You can now unfold the platform and attach the front legs using threadless bolts. 

What if I Only Want a One-Person Bed Platform for my RAV4 or SUV?

If you want some space for a chair or mini-kitchen, you can absolutely modify this sleeping platform. Just change the width to match the wide or narrow side of the back row of seats. Then, use 4 short trunk legs instead of 6. 

Are The Hinges Actually Stable When Someone Is In The Bed?

Well, sort of. I will admit, the platform isn’t as stable as I expected it would be when I built it. But, it hasn’t really been a problem. I slide in our camp chairs underneath the back hinge, and sometimes towels. This is just enough support that we have never been worried about the bed falling in. If you don’t have something appropriate to store here to  support the sleeping platform, you could make a wedge from 2x4s or use leveling blocks. 

Final Thoughts About My Foldable RAV4 Sleeping Platform

This design has been working really well for me. Having storage above and below the bed platform while solo camping in my RAV4 is game changing! It’s also great for camping with my partner. Since installing this non-damaging sleeping platform, we have even bought an inflatable kayak. We also use some puzzle shaped exercise mats as flooring on top of the map. This prevents splinters or laying directly on the bump of a hinge.

If you found this post helpful, please check out my other articles on camping in your car. I have some great lazy camping recipes, how to cook while car camping, and why I think coolers aren't always the best food storage solution

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