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Custom sleepers, while costly, can ease relentless OTR lifestyle

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Updated Jun 14, 2021

This story was originally published in February 2018.

Some of the best things about coming home from a long trip on the road are being able to cook your own food, stretch out comfortably to watch TV on a good-sized screen, and not have to walk across a parking lot to use the bathroom.

Those benefits come every day on the road for owner-operators running with a custom sleeper. Most feature kitchens with a refrigerator and freezer, stove top burner, microwave and sink. Most also have bathrooms that include a shower and toilet.

At a cost of $200,000 to $300,000, if not more, a new truck with a custom sleeper isn’t something for a novice owner-operator, but the amenities are worth it for many who spend a lot of time away from home.

Industry leaders Indiana Custom Trucks and ARI Legacy Sleepers offer total customization. ARI also has some base floorplans that can be customized, while most of ICT’s jobs are original custom work, with the rest based on some popular layouts.

“The easiest way to buy one is to get one of the cookie-cutter models with all the options,” says Bruce Richards, who’s leased to Florida-based Southern Pride Trucking. “To build a custom one, you start at a dealer, sit down with them and tell them what you want and how you want it, then they order the chassis and send it to ARI. They build the sleeper, send it back to the dealer, and you purchase the entire rig from the dealer.”

Richards and his wife, Heather, own a 2016 Volvo with a 168-inch ARI sleeper. Bruce says his first truck with a custom sleeper was a company truck, then he had a custom sleeper built for his Western Star. Now he’s in his biggest sleeper yet, which includes a full-size kitchen, a queen size bed and “all the luxuries of home.” The customized Volvo cost around $250,000 when he bought it in 2016.

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