The last time I went camping with my grandson and his cub scout troop, I saw something that I thought was a really great idea. Camping out of the back bed of a pickup truck.
I know this concept has been around for decades, but I believe this concept can have new meaning and is a forgotten way of camping.
Back in my day, the aluminum bed covers were the thing for trucks and then as years went on fiberglass quickly took its place in history. These fiberglass models were sold as being camper tops for trucks and not just a work cover.
My brother whose first vehicle was a truck quickly installed his fiberglass camper top on his new 1977 ford pickup truck. He went camping and soon found out that camping in the back of a truck is more than just putting a top on the bed.
Today there are many truck bed tents available that are custom fit to your truck. This type of camper is easily installed and removed leaving you the full capacity of the bed of your truck when you are not camping.
It takes thought, planning, and preparation to successfully go out and do truck bed camping.
What are the best truck bed camping ideas available today for that successful weekend of camping?
How do I get started?
Well, if you have a truck, you are half-way there.
Deciding what type of camper top or tent you want on the back of your truck is the next decision. There are many options today to pick from and bigger is not always better.
Have you ever thought of putting a tent in the bed of your truck?
These come in many forms and shapes that are custom fit for your type of your pickup truck. The lightweight material as in regular tents make it ease to store and pop up for your camping trip in the back of your truck.
Unlike regular family tents, the tent for your truck is on an elevated platform (your truck bed) and better protects you from rain, wind, insects, and snakes. If firmly secured to your truck bed, you don’t have to worry about the tent blowing away or flooding water rushing in.
The truck bed tent usually takes less time to set up and take down. This leaves you more time for enjoying the outdoors.
One of the downfalls is there will be limited space as the bed of your truck will only sleep two or three adults comfortably. However, many people like the idea of just pulling the truck up and begin camping with little effort.
If you need more space, there are options of the truck tents that connect to ground tents allowing more people accommodations.
Plan your Pack
Organization and layout is the key.
You need to decide how you will pack and with what equipment. Here a list of items you will need that can help pack “small”, but efficient:
- Plastic bins are cheap and easy to organize if your label well. These bins will keep any of you camping gear dry and away from the elements.
- Coleman propane two burner stove or equivalent.
- Yeti cooler or equivalent. You will need to keep some things cold and these types of cooler become your refrigerator away from home. Don’t go cheap on your cooler because in a tight living space you will not have the opportunity to drain water as you would in a regular camp site arrangement.
- Sleeping bed pads or air mattresses.
Since the truck bed will be your sleeping area it is important to keep it clean. You should remove shoes or boots before entering into the truck bed tent.
Floor space will be an issue and one good idea is to sleep in a cot allow storage area below the cot. You will need to make sure your truck bed tent has enough head space to allow this.
You can also put camping gear into plastic bins or thick ply garage bags to store under your truck. I would use the contractor debris garbage bags because they are over sized and very durable.
Pick your truck tent camper!
How do I match my truck to the truck bed tent camper?
You can usually match your truck brand to the tent of your choice. Most manufacturers have guide charts that will properly match your truck to their tents.
Although there are plenty of truck tents to pick from, the important thing to know does it fit or is it compatible with your truck? There are models that fit over the tailgate providing more space for the campers.
Some models have poles and some are instant pop up.
What season will you predominately be using the truck tent as there are material choices that suit individual seasons.
The most common is the three season truck tent. These truck tents as regular ground tents are made of lightweight materials such a polyester and are easy to pack and camp with. They usually come with the same options as the family ground tent.
There are four season truck tents that can be used in colder weather. They can withstand some snow, but it’s advisable not to use them during the cold season. Furthermore, it should be noted that the 4 season tents can be priced higher than the 3 season tents.
Life is about Choices
Below are just a few choices of truck bed campers to give you a feeling of what is available and are some of the top picks in 2018 for their durability, flexibility, and value of cost (and popularity):
- Kodiak Canvas
- Made with Hydra-Shield, 100% cotton duck canvas that is durable, watertight and breathable. Compatible models include the Ford F Series, Chevy Silverado, GMC Sierra, Ram, Toyota Tundra, and Nissan Titan.
- Tunnel shaped design maximizes interior space tall 5 ft. ceiling height.
- Large D-shaped door with top of the line YKK zippers.
- Covered entry.
- Two convenient gear pockets
- Sturdy, 3/4-inch, steel tube frame connect to the clamp-on rails that easily mount on truck bed for secure fit.
- All-season use year-round, but not designed for heavy snow accumulations
- Napier Outdoors Backroadz
- Allows you to sleep comfortably off the ground.
- Sewn-in floor and Quick-and-easy set-up.
- Four large windows and 1 door.
- Provides ample ventilation.
- Full rain fly.
- Storm flaps in door enhances privacy.
- Travel bag included.
- Poles: 4 shock-corded fiberglass poles.
- Napier Sportz Avalanche III
- Roomy tent sleeps 2 people with over 5.5 feet of headroom and features a sewn in floor
- Color-coded, shock-corded fiber glass poles for a fast and easy set up
- 1 large entrance door and 1 rear access door lets you enter the truck’s cab through the tent
- 6- by 6-foot awning extends off the tailgate creating plenty of shade
- Includes 2 interior pockets and gear loft; carry bag for storage
- Rightline Gear Standard
- Please click on Application Guide under Technical Specification below to confirm which tent fits your truck
- Floorless design allows for set up without removing gear from the bed
- Protective heavy-duty straps and nylon buckles, won’t damage truck’s finish.
- Color coded poles and pole pockets for quick and easy set up
- Water resistant fabric with tape sealed seams (PU 2000mm)
- All truck tents sleep (2) adults
- Includes: tent, rain fly, stuff sack, and sewn-in set up guide
- Napier Outdoors Sportz
- This roomy tent sleeps 2 people with over 5.6 feet of headroom and is the only truck tent on the market with a sewn in floor
- Large rear access panel allows you to access the truck’s cab for additional storage while the large entrance door, 2 mesh windows and side vents allow for great ventilation
- No need for guide ropes.
- The 4′ x 4′ shade awning secures to the tailgate allowing it to be set-up anywhere
- Color coded pole and sleeve system allows for a fast, easy set up
- Includes a set of strap protectors to provide your truck with extra protection against the tent’s straps and a expandable carrying bag for storage
Pull off the road, now you are Truck Bed Camping!
As you can see the technology of the truck bed camper has come a long way in the last few decades from the classic aluminum camper top for pickup trucks.
So if you want to sleep off the ground away from pests or even snakes, this is the way to go. There will be a truck bed camper for the truck in your life and it can be ready to go in minutes.
With a little thought, planning, and preparation, your are ready to go camping!
I certainly hope you have enjoyed reading this article and have found it informative and useful for your needs.
My goals was to help you in making your next camping adventure as safe and easy as possible.
If you have any questions or comments, please fell free to leave them below and I will get back to your ASAP.