Car Camping in a Kia Soul

Kia Soul Build Out for Car Camping

Calling all car camping newbies. This one's for you! As an individual who craves a weekend adventure and occasionally going off the grid, kia soul car camping sounds ideal. It is a low cost way to see the world and keep it moving. I have a 2013 Kia Soul Sport (in light green for anyone who is curious). I purchased my awesome Kia in 2017 knowing that I wanted the option to car camp on the West Coast. I actually went to a small dealership alone and handled my shit! It was nerve wracking honestly. After some tough negotiating and dramatically driving off the lot in my old Audi, I returned to purchase my Kia Soul, now known as Kiwi. Over a year later, I have yet to go car camping in my Kia! Kiwi deserves better.

I have never really camped in the traditional sense. (I actually did sleep in a tent once and I was up all night awaiting a bear attack).

Over the years, I have lived in less than stellar conditions around the US. I was a camp counselor in Big Bear, CA and a swim instructor in Preston Park, PA. I was a TV production assistant in Brooklyn, NY and a flight attendant in Minneapolis, MN. So I can be flexible, and my desire to travel around is a lifestyle for me at this point.

I am making moves on my desire to car camp because graduate school is coming to an end. You all might know that graduate school has made me depressed. In a previous post I proposed [weekend getaways] as one way to make it through the semester. So I began my research. I found the perfect tutorial from Votive Photography. It clearly explained the items they bought to create a wooden sleeping base for their 2010 Kia Soul. It serves as a strong and smooth surface for the full sized air mattress. I assumed the instructions would be the same for my 2013 car, and it was!

I also created a short vlog showing the step by step for building the base.

Build Instructions:

What you need to turn your 2010 or 2013 Kia Soul into a car camping dream:

  • 1 -  board of plywood cut 51" Wide X 42" Long - Then cut in half so you end up with two 25.5" x 42" boards. (I got one that was ⅝ thick, and they cut it for free at Home Depot

  • 1 -  30" Piano Hinge

  • Some foam pipe Insulation - (optional to avoid scratching your car, but I skipped this purchase)

  • Coleman Single High Quickbed - Full Size (not twin, queen, or king)

  • Air pump

Additional Tools that were used:

Large wooden work bench

Measuring tape - to make sure everything was accurate

Skill saw - to cut out the sides around the wheel bearings (we took out sections that were 4”x8” on both sides

Jigsaw - to create a neat little oval handle for easier carrying (you can also just pick up the whole thing and carry it, it is not too heavy).

Impact Driver - to screw in the hinge

Sandpaper - to smooth out the handle and the edges (this is why I skipped using foam, but may add it later)


I have yet to purchase the air mattress, but I wanted to share this tutorial because I had so much fun making the base! I will definitely post an update when I make my first trip. I might even add a Kia Soul Tent, to expand my comfort. Thanks for reading and Seize Eternity!

Jobs by Joce Car Camping Kia Soul