DIY Homemade Truck Camper Tie Downs (How To Tie Down)

There will be those times when the commercially made tie downs just won’t work for your camper set up. Or they are just too expensive to buy. That is where being a DIY expert comes in handy. Improvising a good tie down alternative can solve your problem as well as save you money

A little square tubing, some angle iron, and a welder would be all that you would need to make your own tie downs. If you can weld, you can create a great set to make sure your camper stays where it is supposed to stay.

To learn more about this project, just continue to read our article. It has the information to put you on the right track to making your own tie downs. Take a few minutes to see how this information can help you avoid paying big bucks for the commercially made options.

Do Truck Campers Need Tie Downs?


The term camper has been used to describe trailers. It is one of those generic terms that gets used for all sorts of RV options. In this case, the term camper refers to those slide in the pick-up bed types many people used to own.

Because these truck campers slide into the truck bed, you will need tie downs to secure them in place. It certainly would not be any fun to look in your rearview mirror and see that camper slide out as you accelerated.

The requirement for tie downs is that there must be two for the front and two for the rear of your pick-up. Usually, they are sold in pairs so two sets will be all you will need.

What you need to be aware of before you buy is that some trucks need model-specific tie downs. Just any old pair will not do. This restriction can be overcome when you make your own.

The other aspect of this topic you need to be aware of is that when you attach them to your truck, they need to be very secure. Finding the right posts to attach those tie downs is essential for safe travel

What is The Best Way To Tie Down a Truck Camper?

The best way to tie your camper down is to attach the tie downs to your truck’s frame. You can bolt the tubing or weld it in place but this is the most secure you have.

Then you will need turnbuckles to tighten the hold between the camper and the tie down. Anything else is an inferior option and may not be as safe as turnbuckles.

There is another method and some truck owners prefer it. You can drill holes into the bed of your truck and rear bumper to install your tie downs. One commercially made system operates in this manner.

The second option is said to prevent side-to-side sliding of the camper but the bumper tie downs have been known to fail when over-stressed. Then there is one more option that you need to consider before starting your project.

If you are still under warranty, you may not be able to create DIY tie downs. The best option to secure your truck’s camper would be to do as your warranty says. When you are free from your warranty, then you can be as creative as you want to be as long as you make those tie downs very secure and safe.

Homemade Truck Camper Tie Downs


These are hard to list here. The reason for that difficulty is that those owners who do their own work do not market their designs. They may place their achievement on the many truck camper and RV discussion forums where they are members but that is about it.

If you are lucky, some of these owners place photos of what they did to show others how they can duplicate their work. One example is at Good Sam RV Net and this thread ‘How To Fabricate Truck Camper Tiedowns’

Due to technical difficulties, we cannot put the link here. One tip, if you are using a current receiver hitch on your vehicle, make sure to drill a hole in the tie down and the receiver hitch to add a bolt.

That bolt will keep the tie down from sliding out as you travel. One owner was not as elaborate as the member on that website. What he did is as follows:

But what I did, when I was hauling around a slide-in was, to get some square stock (2"?)(about 3ft long) and slide it into the ends of the receiver. Then welded on some tabs for the tie-downs.

For the front, I went across the frame, underneath the truck with some square stock. Fastened it to the frame with 4 tabs. one on each side of the frame.” (source).

One reason owners make their own tie downs is because they cost a lot of money. The commercially made options can run you between $700 and $800 for a full set of 4 tie downs. Some brands are cheaper and others are more expensive than the average.

DIY Pickup Camper Tie Downs

As we said earlier, most owners that make their own do not advertise the fact that they make their own. They will openly share what they did on the different discussion forums but those threads are also few and far in between.

Even after several searches, there were not that many DIY tie downs to mention here. But here are some points to consider when you want to make your own:

1. Make them very durable and strong- do not skimp on the type of metal you use. Steel is the best option and it is the strongest option. These tie downs are going to be holding a lot of weight for a very long time so make sure you use top grades of steel with a high weight capacity.

2. Add a finishing kit- the commercially made ones may not work for your custom tie down set-up but the concept will apply. You will want to protect those metal pieces as best as you can so add in a weatherproof spray, etc., to help keep dust, moisture and rust away.

3. Pick the right straps- you have gone to all of that work and attach a very secure and strong tie down system to your truck. Now do not waste that effort by using cheap and weak straps.

Pick up some of the best tie down straps available today. Your tie downs are only as effective as the straps you use. You can read about different straps in our article Can you tie down a truck camper with straps?.

Even the best DIY tie downs do not work when the straps break halfway through your trip.

How To Tie Down a Truck Camper


1. The first step in this process is to decide which type of tie down you want attached to your truck. The first method is the custom frame mount method, since you are making your own,m and you design the tie down to fit your specific truck model.

The second method would be bed mounted but this option is not the most secure method you can use. It is better to use this as extra support when you use the frame mount method.

The third option would be your bumper mount. This is okay but it does have its drawbacks.

2. The second step in this process would be to select your materials. If you are good at welding, then you should use an angle iron, steel tubing, and a welder. You can also cut heavy chain links to help attach the turnbuckles.

You will need steel plates, nuts, and bolts to secure the tie down in place.

3. Once you have your materials, you can start welding. Make sure the square steel tubing will fit any receiver opening on your truck. If you do not have that then you will have to pick up a bit of larger square tubing to slide the tie down into.

You are also going to need some iron plates to attach to the tie down. The iron plate will need holes drilled through it to place the bolts. These bolts hold the tie down to your frame.

If you can’t weld, then ask a friend who can to help you out. This will be the strongest method you can use.

4. Another method would be to drill holes into the bed and bumper of your truck. Then place threaded eye hooks through the holes. Do not forget the washers as those will help give you a more secure hold.

Then tighten the eye hooks in place with bolts and another washer. Make those bolts nice and tight. Then attach your turnbuckles to the eye of the eye hooks.

You will find that there are many versions of both of these methods online. Just pick the method that will work the best with the design of your current vehicle. Since all trucks are not designed the same, one method may work while the other ones won’t.

Truck Camper Without Tie Downs

This has been done many times before. It is not recommended and you will have to check the state laws to see if it is legal or not. But many truck camper owners have admitted to doing this without any real problem.

One of the main reasons that they do not use tie downs is because the camper is very heavy. Even with high-speed gusts of wind, the camper did not lift off the truck or flip over backward.

Other truck owners only used their tie downs with an inch or more slack on their 4 tie downs. The tie downs were only used as safety chains for trailers. The tie downs were there for those just-in-case situations.

But that does not mean that truck campers do not slide out or flip over. There are many more cases where truck owners watched their campers slide off their trucks, etc., when they did not use tie downs.

These situations also happen when they were only driving short distances. They did not make that mistake a second time. But it is going to be your call when it comes to using tie downs or not.

We did check to see if there were states that required tie downs all the time. So far, we have not come across any state regulation talking about this situation. You should be able to drive without tie downs in any state legally. Unless things change between now and whenever.

Where To Buy Truck Tie Downs


DIY tie downs are unique and usually one of a kind. You will not find too many owners who made their own selling them at eBay or some other marketplace.

They may not be willing to share their plans either due to liability reasons. If you cannot find a good plan to follow in the DIY side of the truck camper market, then you can always try to buy commercially.

Amazon has a wide selection of tie downs at reasonable prices. Some are top name brand manufacturers and their prices look very affordable. The amount you will pay will depend on the design of the tie down that will work with your vehicle.

Happijac makes different tie down systems. They make them model specific in many cases. Torklift is another top tie down manufacturer. However, unlike Happijac, they do not have an online store.

You have to see their products at one of their authorized dealers.

Some Additional Words

It is better to install tie downs than not to have them. These little additions to your truck keep your expensive camper nice and safe. There have been too many accidents taking place without those tie downs to convince everyone they should either have a commercially made set or a DIY set.

There is no excuse really to go without truck camper tie downs. They are a sound safety item.

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