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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi all, looking to turn my 2016 Base Soul M/T into a mini camper for one. I love camping, and when I go with the family, will use a roof rack and basket to haul gear and sleep in a tent with the rest of the family. However, I also go often by myself, and then I like to sleep in the car. My previous vehicle was a minivan, so no problems there, but it looks like I have plenty of room to do the same in my new Soul. I've already poked around and figured out that the following will work:

1 - remove all the rear shelf and organization foam widgets
2 - remove rear seats
3 - remove passenger front seat
4 - build a MDF shelf for the trunk area, level with the horizontal frame below the rear seats
5 - build a MDF shelf from the same horizontal frame towards the front, including the area of the passenger front seat

Doing all of the above will net at least a 7' horizontal space to sleep in, as well as plenty of cargo space for gear with 40" or so of vertical clearance in the entire car except for driver seat. Not quite bad for a supposedly 'compact' crossover!

I don't see any issues with this plan, except for two little bolt screws in the horizontal frame that supports the rear seats that poke up and is a hassle to deal with. If you look from the trunk area and look under the rear seats, they're located just to the left side of the bolt that holds in the lower rear seat (see red circles in attached). I've felt around the underside of the bolts, and they're not connected to anything that I could tell. Anyone have any idea what the heck these are for? My plan is to just cut them off at the base but thought I'd see if anyone knows anything about these...

Thanks, IMG_0516.jpg


Followup: turns out I didn't need to do anything with these bolts after all, as I ended up leaving the rear seat bottoms on. There might still be some benefit to cutting these off, but I left them on for now. See my post later in the thread for the actual camper soul 'mini-conversion' project
 

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Hey Skyline, welcome & man, great ideas you have for your Soul.

I camp in mine, but just throw a futon in the back, turn the back seat headrests 180 degrees and push the front row seats up. I love it. There's a reading lamp just above my head and the back hatch opens easily from inside.

Can't wait to see some pics of your conversions!

Soul with futon copy.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
GeoSoul - I was planning on doing exactly the same thing as you initially, but found that the back seats don't quite lie flat...and taking out the bottom of the back seats makes it go past horizontal, although obviously you can fix that easily by putting something in between there, but then saw how easy it is to take out the entire rear seat assy, so I'm going to give this a try. Only problem (besides those odd bolts) is that now I have to find someplace to store those platforms most of the year, which may be a deal breaker if I can't figure out how to make it foldable.

Anyways, loving the Soul so far, can't believe how well this car is made for the price. Will definitely post pics, and, assuming it goes well, will also post plans for anyone else with more time than sense on their hands...
 

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GeoSoul - I was planning on doing exactly the same thing as you initially, but found that the back seats don't quite lie flat...
I thought they lay very flat. There are things that can be done to lay the seats flat. Try these steps if you have not already. Turn the headrests 180 as GeoSoul suggested. I leave the center one but extend it. This extends the flat deck and bridges the gap over the rear footwells. Unclip the center seatbelt shoulder strap from its buckle. Let it retract. Some of it dangles. Tuck all the buckles into the provided seat pockets. Drop the seat backs. Any weight (i.e. your body weight) placed on them should settle it completely flat.

I don't sleep in mine but I do carry a load of kiteboarding gear. I like the futon idea though. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I think my cushions are still too new - I tried even removing all the headrests, but the best I can do is about a 10deg incline, with my weight on them. Perhaps they will flatten down over time, but either way, I really want the extra vertical foot or so of space from taking out the seats anyways...unfortunately, my first camping trip won't be until Sep or so...
 

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Skyline it sounds like we're up to the same kind of project. How has it been going? Do you have any photos to share? I would be very grateful!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
microRV, I'm still planning on doing this, although I've been too busy this summer to do anything.

I will be taking pics and posting an update as I definitely need to get this done before I head up for some JMT-related camping and hiking in September, but it'll probably be closer to late August...
 

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Sounds great, we're on a similar schedule too! Looking forward to your updates, I'll post mine as well as they happen. Do you have a sense of if the front seat is a big deal to remove? I've gone back and forth on that one, pretty sure I'm taking out the back.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
OK, finally got around to doing the project, and it worked out great. I ended up pulling out the front passenger seat, and the backrest of the rear seats. Both were quite easy to do, just a ratchet wrench and a few plugs to pull (for the front seat). I also pulled the center and right mounting brackets for the rear seat, but left all the bolts in (used later to keep the sleeping platform legs in place)

I then built a sleeping platform approx 75" long using two sections - one 48" long wooden platform, and one 56quart storage tote to support the lower legs.

The wooden platform supports the head and torso, so most of the weight, so I wanted it to be fairly sturdy. Dimensions are as follows for anyone looking to do something similar:
-Rear legs: 2x3's, 4" long, sits over the rear seat bolts (hollowed the leg bottom to fit around the bolts to keep it in place). See pic.
-Forward legs: 2x3's, 11.5" long, sits over the rear bolts for the front passenger seat (hollowed the leg bottom to fit around the bolt to keep it in place). See pic.
-Frame: 2x2's, 38" along the sides, and 18" along the back. The frame mounts over the legs. Not having a brace across the front means easier access to items stored underneath. Note that the frame is not rectangular - I found it easiest to position the legs first, then mark off the dimensions of the frame to make it fit over the legs.
-Deck: 1/2" plywood, approx 48"x23". You'll need to cutout some curves around the pillars towards the back. I positioned the deck about 1" away from the side of the vehicle, with about 7" hanging over the back of the frame. This gives typically 25" wide sleep pads an inch or so of overhang on either side, which is not noticeable.

The storage tote only supports the weight of the lower legs, so no need to worry about any serious weight. I put a few pieces of lumber to raise up the tote top to match the height of the wooden platform, but other than that, it's just an ordinary plastic storage tote. I use a 3" dual density foam pad, with an additional 3" memory foam on top. It's almost as comfortable as my bed at home.

All in all a great setup, I really like it alot, and it gives me almost as much room as I had in my old minivan. I get 75"x25" flat level sleeping area, and plenty of space for gear. I have a bunch of Sterilite 56Q totes I carry my stuff around in when camping, so I'll use those to measure storage space:
- one tote under the wooden platform just forward of the rear seat bottom
- one tote in front of that supporting the legs
- one cooler behind the wooden platform
- somewhere between 7-9 totes stacked to the left of the platform
- another 2 totes that can be stored on top of the sleep platform, and moved to the driver's seat when sleeping
- space for firewood behind the driver's seat.

It's probably overkill, but nice to have...

Hopefully someone will find this useful, I'm happy to answer any questions anyone has.
IMG_0598 reinstalled rear bottom.jpg IMG_0599 platform frame.jpg IMG_0600 platform rear legs.jpg IMG_0601 platform front legs.jpg IMG_0602 platform with top.jpg
 

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Ok looks interesting.

First do no harm.
I was wondering about the rear seat bottom.
I thought maybe removing it would get it out of the way. And it wouldn't be in there to get possibly damaged while camping.
Of course you need to find a safe place to store the seats while they are out.

1) Was there a reason for leaving it in the car?
2) Would it be more trouble taking it in and out, with little advantage?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I actually did initially remove the rear seat bottom as well - the rear seat bottom is actually the easiest of the seat sections to remove. Just one bolt on the center rear support, and then two pull tabs in the front. The problem is, removing it exposes a section with several wires and soft surfaces that are clearly not designed to support undistributed weight...so you'd end up needing to put something over it to protect it anyways. Also, not much space is saved by removing the seat bottom, as it's only about 6" or so thick.

So, at least for me, there was really no advantage to removing it, and lots of disadvantages.
 

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OK, I figured that you considered it. Now I know why it wasn't so desireable.

As far as camping goes. I see this year out by you it has been dangerously dry.
Over here in the midwest it's been very wet. And the mosquitos are now about able to pick you up and carry you away.
It's always somethin'.
 

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