January 12, 2022 3 min read

HEST Rigs We Dig GMC Sierra Camper Buildout Back of truck Dually

Your name: Curtis Behrens
Location: Tenino, Washington
Vehicle Make & Model: GMC Sierra 1500HD with a 6'6" bed
Year: 2006
Automatic or Manual: Auto
HEST product:  Dually Long
Critical dimensions for your bed platform: full/double
Length: 74 3/4"
Width (@ narrow point): 53 1/8"
Height: 10 3/4" clearance or 11" w/o the rubber mat. The areas w/o the 2x4 have a clearance of 12 1/2" under the sleeping platform.

Is this your daily driver or getaway car?
Getaway/adventure/still use as a truck when needed to tow/haul. I put this together for "Overlanding/boondocking" situations where it's not always an option to throw down a tent or hang a hammock. Also for sleeping at trailheads to get an early start, ski resorts, and sand dunes camping. I wanted something versatile and practical for all uses.

What do you like most about your rig?
Versatility and options as well as comfort. It's very practical

HEST Rigs We Dig GMC Sierra Camper Buildout Back of truck platform bed with storage below

On your average weekend adventure, what is the gear set up you bring with you? How did you navigate gear storage needs into your rig setup?
As seen in the pictures, the normal camping setup...stove/cookware, cooler, chairs, and a sleeping arrangement as well as whatever gear I need for the time. Also, as you can see in the pics, I previously had an air mattress that didn't allow for storage. I've always had to store inside the cab. It also would leak air and my son and I would be laying on top of each other by morning. It was time for an upgrade!
I am also now comfortable taking this to a ski resort for the night before, allowing for my gear to be stored underneath the platform. It will be optimal for hitting a trailhead the night before a hike to get an early start, so my backpack, stove, trekking poles and boots, all will store underneath the platform now. Behind the back seat of my 2nd row, I also have a back seat organizer and extra space to store emergency supplies. It stays stocked with dry food, stove/fuel, matches, blankets, shovel, folding saw, knife, and medical kit. I am a firefighter and rescue technician, so I tend to think of worst-case scenarios and don't want to become complacent in nature. I'm very familiar with Murphy's Law! I've considered keeping my Garmin InReach charged and in my vehicle for especially winter travel. You never know when you're off-grid and needing help.

Any cool custom details you’re proud of?
The only specific detail I'm most proud of (other than this plush mattress) is the IKEA bed slats instead of plywood. The platform itself is not a new idea, but in my research of truck bed platforms, I hadn't seen the use of a slat system yet and wanted to share it. I ran into it while looking at van builds. I'm a bigger guy (260 lbs) and while I slept well on the mattress on the ground, I wanted a little more underneath. These slats make me feel like I'm laying on my bed at home. They're very reasonably priced ($80). In fact, the last I checked, a quality sheet of 1/2" plywood was about the same.

HEST Rigs We Dig GMC Sierra Camper Buildout Back of truck camping set up with platform bed

Sickest place you’ve taken your rig to?
I've done multiple trips with it over the last couple of years that I've owned it, but I would say probably North Cascades National Park! I want to go back with the kayaks for some boat-in-only camping.

Any projects in the pipeline to get your rig even more adventure ready?
I think it would be great to implement some 12v power in the bed! Something simple. It's not always being used for a camper.

Biggest challenge in your build out?
Finding a way to keep it simple, yet functional and non-permanent. I still use my truck for everyday things. It hauls lumber, my work gear, and my dog. I considered putting this on a Decked platform, but ultimately I didn't want to lose that space permanently. This setup is super quick to put together and take down for when the adventure is over. I also had a hard time deciding on a mattress for it. I'm 6ft, so the Dually Wide wasn't quite the length I wanted, but would definitely consider an upgrade again in the future if you made a Dually/Wide/Long! We are completely content with the Dually Long though! it's no smaller than our backpacking tent floor dimensions, and we don't fight for space in there.

Tips for others looking to do the same to their vehicle?
Maybe to just do your research before pulling to trigger on purchases. I almost went multiple other directions before everything fell into place on this. I'm glad I wasn't in a big hurry.