honda crv sleeping conversion camper 1 - How to sleep in a Honda CR-V (2017) - no build camper

How to sleep in a Honda CR-V (2017) – no build camper

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Let’s explore how you can sleep in your 2017 Honda CR-V and turn it into a snug and comfortable camper without any DIY skills, or needing to build anything or removing the seats. This will be quite likely applicable to any other Honda CR-V (or similar SUVs) – don’t be afraid to get creative! This camping conversion is easy but doesn’t offer as much storage as a bigger, DIY conversion using a bed frame.

The good news is that the back seats in a Honda CR-V fold down flat – creating a big flat sleeping area for your bed (and storage boxes if it’s a single-person conversion). You will get approximately 64 inches (162cm) long and 35 inches (91cm) tall sleeping area which is about 39 inches (101cm) wide at the narrowest point – the wheel arches. The sleeping area can be made about 11 inches (30cm) longer by extending your bed over the empty area between the front and middle seats – more on that below.

The bed – choosing the right mattress

The foundation of a good sleep setup in your car is the mattress. A three-inch-thick foam rubber piece can provide the comfort you need without breaking the bank. You can pick one up from your local home improvement store. The key is to ensure it’s long enough for your height, with 72 inches being a comfortable length for someone who is five foot six. You don’t want it to be too thick as it becomes heavy and too bulky to handle and store if you are not using it.

The benefits of foam over air mattresses

Foam mattresses have many advantages over air mattresses, but the biggest one is their durability. You don’t have to worry about punctures or leaks with foam, and they can handle being used as a base for storage when traveling. Though bulkier than air mattresses when rolled up, foam provides a consistent sleep experience without the hassle. On top of that, a foam mattress doesn’t bounce around as much when you sit on one end – and see all the things on the other end thrown up in the air.

Read next: Everything about car camping mattresses – types, their benefits and disadvantages

Enhance your comfort with a carpet

Don’t underestimate the comfort that carpet and padding can add. Laying carpet over the back seats and under the mattress softens the sleeping surface and contributes to a homier feel. Plus, it will also keep the car interior much cleaner and the carpet is much easier to clean than the car interior. It’s also worth considering putting multiple layers of padding underneath the carpet, especially over harder surfaces like a cooler that’s supporting the mattress. With this set up, you’ll be comfortable even off the mattress!

Setting up your bed

Like a traditional bed, using sheets and blankets instead of a sleeping bag can elevate the comfort level significantly and will make you feel more at home. The CR-V allows you to fold down the rear seats, offering ample space to lay out a mattress that extends beyond the seats. To support the front of the bed (the bit that goes over the gap between the front and the middle seats), finding a cooler or a storage box that fits perfectly on the floor to prop up the mattress is an easy way to extend your bed and add more storage.

It’s up to you where you position your head – you’ll have more headroom if your head is just behind the front seats but you could sleep the other way around – with your head at the tailgate and your feet behind the front seats.

Storage and Accessibility

Space for storage is a must when it comes to car camping. You can fold back the mattress during the day for access to the cooler or a storage box without having to rearrange the entire setup. And, of course, there is the area behind the second front seat which you can fill with another storage box – or use it without a box too – actually – maintaining an open space here is crucial for the ability to sit and stretch out comfortably when you’re relaxing in the back (as you will not want to go to sit in the front seat during the rain, plus it will likely be covered with items you don’t need during the night).

Don’t forget about the space underneath the front seats (and the front seats of course)! If this is a single-person conversion, you can also have storage boxes next to you.

You could place cargo netting above your head (hanging off the four handles above the doors) to create additional storage space. Hanging it from the ceiling handles can keep clothes and other items out of the way without sacrificing headroom.

Here’s how I solved it in my Sharan sleeping conversion:

Ventilation and Privacy Measures

To keep the air flowing and maintain privacy, small battery-powered fans and nylon window screens are invaluable. Fans promote circulation, reducing condensation and keeping you cool, while the black screens keep bugs out and prevent prying eyes from peeping in, all while allowing you to enjoy a darkened space for a better sleep.

To prevent dampness, it’s always good to crack open at least one window – that’s where the window net below comes in handy. Buying a small battery-powered fan helps too.

Lighting and Comfort Details

Well-placed flashlights ensure you’re never left in the dark and will make you feel more cosy inside. Make sure to bring a few of your favorite trinkets and items – it’s the little things like this that can make living out of your car feel less utilitarian and more like a cozy den.


For privacy during the night and the morning, it’s a good idea to use a screen for the front window and nets for the side windows. Or you can cut cardboard (or any light but sturdy sheet material) to fit neatly into the window to block the light (and nosy passersby) from peeking in. Don’t worry about a perfect fit – it’s the utility that counts!

Sleeping in a car doesn’t have to mean sacrificing comfort. With a little ingenuity and the right supplies, you can create a compact, efficient living space that meets your basic needs and then some. Whether you’re taking weekend trips or trying out van life, a Honda CR-V could very well be your ticket to adventure.

Read next:

Find out more about camping in SUVs – more DIY camping conversions

Which SUVs (and other cars) are best for camping? Which have the biggest boot?

More about the Honda CR-V

This camping conversion will also work for:

(plus any similar cars where the rear seats fold down flat)

See the whole thing in action here:

Images and content credit: Rich’s Amazing SUV Channel.

Post author:


Founder of, avid traveler and outdoor enthusiast. Car camping and microcamping allows me to keep traveling and exploring with a much greater level of freedom & privacy – to go anywhere and sleep anywhere. I didn’t have 30K to buy a VW Multivan, so found my way to the world of everyday car camping conversions. Here I share my experiences and what I learn.

Check out my thoughts on a balanced life:

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