One of the downfalls of a traditional slide-in camper and pickup combination, is that you lose all of that glorious storage space in the back of the truck. For shorter trips this isn't as big an issue, but we wanted to bring along a good selection of tools, recovery gear, and outdoor camping items.
Many people solve this problem by putting their "outdoor" items in tubs, storing them in the camper and then removing them as needed. Others simply remove the rear seat of the truck, and store these things there.
We wanted to make setting up camp and using our camper as quick and easy as possible, so wanted to avoid placing outdoor items inside. Our truck is also simply a regular cab, which makes it a nice easy length to shepard through tight trails, but doesn't leave us with much extra space in the cab.
Our solution was for me to build a custom, one-off truck bed that would integrate storage boxes into the sides, and folding panels that would allow access to the space below the camper and around the wheel-wells.
We considered modifying an existing flat-bed, or a utility box, but rejected those ideas because we felt that a traditional flatbed with tool boxes stacked on it would have to be mounted so high to clear our tires, that the center of gravity would be impacted.
The other option, a production utility bed was difficult to source. Most are made much too tall to accommodate a slide-in camper.
Both of these options would be heavier than the stock steel pickup box as well, and I'm trying to minimize weight wherever possible.
I chose to build from aluminum to save weight. This was my first real project with aluminum, so there was a lot to learn, but it was definitely fun to work with.
So far we've been really happy with the result. We've found there is plenty of space for our stuff, and we don't have to share our living room (dining room/kitchen/bedroom/office) with my Hi-lift jack.
Check out the build-thread links for more detailed info, I could never have done it without the help of so many talented and experienced people-