The Best Truck Bed Tent for Your Pickup - Your Ultimate Guide
If you enjoy camping, you’ve probably wondered what the best option is for providing temporary shelter. There are a wide variety of options on the market. While most people are familiar with the ground tent. This tent type can be complicated and time-consuming to set up. An increasingly popular alternative to the traditional ground tent is the truck bed tent.
Types of Truck Tents
Regardless of the type of truck tent you choose, they all elevate you off the ground, so you don’t have to deal with rough, uneven, or cold terrain. A truck tent can also help minimize other hazards and inconveniences related to camping grounds like predators and dampness.
Truck Bed Tents
Your truck bed provides a solid surface for placing a sleeping bag or mattress, and a truck bent tent, also known as a truck bed tent camper, allows you to erect a protective structure to protect you from the elements.
For added comfort, choose a tent for a truck bed with a sewn-in floor. The Kodiak Canvas truck tent is made from hydra-shield, a cotton-based duck canvas that is watertight and breathable. This tough fabric is supported by a steel tube frame, which Kodiak has arranged into a tunnel shape to increase the amount of space available to you — five feet of headroom.
If you need extra space, this truck bed tent camper design accommodates you by lowering the tailgate. For the maximum degree of ventilation possible, the Kodiak design also features five windows, including a cab access window.
Rooftop Truck Tents
Not every camper wants to sleep on the ground. A truck bed tent already raises you off the earth, but some truck tent campers prefer even more verticality. The rooftop truck tent originated as a way to avoid predators and venomous snakes in the African and Australian bush. However, today the rooftop tent is about comfort and simplicity.
A rooftop truck tent is ideally suited to an SUV or truck with an enclosed bed. It has a solid base that secures to the roof and is accessible via a ladder. These models are typically cumbersome, so you need to consider your truck’s payload capacity before purchasing.
Three-Season Truck Tent
Truck tent campers enjoy spending time outdoors, no matter the weather. The more seasons a tent has, the more weather-resistant it is. A three-season tent is a highly versatile option for those interested in camping in the spring, summer, and autumn. A three-season tent often features additional vents for summer camping, allowing more air circulation than the four-season variety. It is also lighter and more portable.
An Alternative to Truck Tents: Ground Tents
While the ground tent is usually what comes to mind when someone thinks about camping, the pick up truck tent — whether bed or rooftop — offers a more convenient alternative for those who own pickup trucks. For those who don’t, the ground tent is the simplest option.
If you want a more wind-resistant ground tent, you may consider the dome tent. This design is lower profile and can shed wind more efficiently. Its design also affords increased strength.
However, if you want to increase the amount of livable space available to you, you may prefer a cabin design. The cabin ground tent has four vertical walls, increasing the peak height for increased headroom.
Important features to consider:
If you are an avid truck tent camper and are looking to upgrade your current accommodations, there are several key features to consider when purchasing a new tent for a truck bed.
Truck Tent Doors and Windows
If you prefer multiple tent doors, this can be more complicated in a truck tent as the truck cabin typically prevents you from having a rear door.
Ventilation is crucial not only for your comfort while camping but also for preventing mold and mildew development. Ensure your truck tent has several mesh windows on either side of the structure, as well as a cab window so you can access the cabin if necessary. If you have rooftop truck tents, a rear window in addition to side windows ensures an outstanding view and optimal airflow.
Truck Tent Floor Design
Don’t neglect the floor design of your pick up truck tent. These can make a significant difference to your overall comfort. A sewn-in floor provides an extra layer of security against insects, spiders, snakes, and cold air.
This design’s disadvantage is that a sewn-in floor is more challenging to clean because you can’t remove it. After a long day of hiking, hunting, fishing, or other outdoor activities, it’s easy to track dirt into your tent.
On the other hand, zipped-in floors allow for full or partial removal of the floor for cleaning and other purposes. If you decide to cook inside your tent, being able to roll up part of the floor can minimize the dangers of damage to the floor from hot liquids, sparks, or other heat sources. However, zipped-in designs don’t provide the same level of protection against pests that a sewn-in floor does.
Rooftop truck tents have a solid built-in floor to mount on your truck’s roof racks.
You should also pay attention to the floor coverage that a truck tent provides. Some companies offer tents that provide full floor coverage for most pickup truck models.
Storage in a Truck Tent
Regardless of the type of tent you choose, consider looking for one that has storage pockets. These can allow you to keep your clothes, camping supplies, and other belongings neatly organized. It can also make you feel more at home in your temporary shelter. Look for built-in storage pockets on the interior of the tent.
You also need to consider storage in terms of transporting your tent. Most truck tents fold down to compact dimensions that fit in a storage bag to be carried in your truck bed.
Truck Tent Fabrics
Pick up truck tents are made from a wide range of materials, from Cordura nylon to polyester. The right type of material for your tent depends on several factors, including your budget, where you intend to camp, under what conditions, and at what time of year. Tent fabrics can be strong and expensive, comparatively cheap but weaker, and waterproof or breathable. You’ll want to investigate these materials carefully to determine the optimal choice.
For example, polyesters are not as durable as Cordura nylon, but they’re also generally less expensive.
The type of truck tent you choose should also depend on the weather conditions. This is why the difference between three-season and four-season tents is so important. If you’re camping in the middle of winter and want additional protection against snowfall and blizzards, a four-season tent may be a better option.
However, if you’re camping in the spring or summer and only expect to encounter light to moderate rainfall, a three-season tent is lighter, easier to transport, and often less expensive. It’s also more breathable for hotter environments.
Options for Your Truck Size and Budget
Truck bed tents are typically more affordable than rooftop models, as they are often made from light-weight materials and require less structural support. However, rooftop tents provide increased protection from predators and ground hazards and can last longer.
When choosing your truck tent, it is crucial to measure your truck bed before making your selection. Truck bed tents need to have a snug fit to increase their stability as they are not tethered to the ground with stakes.
You also need to consider the truck bed’s load capacity regardless of which type of tent you choose, as the weight of the tent may limit the number of people you can safely sleep inside. Consult your pickup truck’s manual to find out the maximum safe load weight.
Protect Your Truck Bed With Durabak
When you’re setting up a tent or hauling camping equipment it can make short work of a truck bed’s finish. The bed of your pickup truck needs to be protected against the elements and whatever you transport. This calls for a coating that can endure heavy use, protect the bed’s finish against corrosion and scratches, and one that won’t fade in direct sunlight.
Durabak, either rolled or sprayed on, can fulfill these requirements. If you intend to sleep on the truck bed, this finish will also dampen vibration and absorb sound, helping you sleep soundly. It also won’t chip or peel, so you can rest assured that it won’t leave residue on your tent or other camping equipment.
What’s the difference between a three-season tent and a four-season tent?
A three-season tent is designed for three seasons: spring, summer, and fall. It’s a general-purpose option for protecting against rain, insects, and light wind. A four-season tent, on the other hand, is designed to withstand harsh weather conditions.
Why use a truck bed tent instead of a camper?
A truck bed tent is a cost-effective alternative to purchasing a recreational vehicle, such as a campervan. If you find that you no longer need a tent for your truck bed, you can simply uninstall it.
How do I know what model of tent to order for my truck?
Measure the bed of your truck with the tailgate closed. Tent manufacturers may have online tools or sizing charts to help you choose the right tent for your vehicle.
Can one-person set-up a Napier truck tent by themselves? How long will it take?
Yes, one person can set up a Napier truck tent, but it’s easier for two people. The initial set-up time is approximately 15 minutes, according to the manufacturer. Subsequent set-up times should be around 10 minutes.
Can you fit a tent over a bed toolbox?
Yes, but you should take care to cover any sharp corners or edges to protect the tent fabric and prevent injury.
Will the tent fit with a tonneau cover?
It depends on the design. Retractable tonneau covers and those that can roll up to a height of less than 6” may be compatible. If the cover is foldable or hinged, you may have to remove it. Consult the tent manufacturer.
Will the truck tent work with a back rack (headache rack)?
If the back rack does not interfere with the rails, it should not interfere with the tent. However, you should contact the tent manufacturer’s customer service regarding your back rack model to ensure compatibility.
Will the truck tent work if my truck has a camper shell/cap on it?
No. You’ll have to disassemble the camper shell/cap before you can install the truck tent.
How can I make sure that my tent is the most water-resistant that it can be?
Choose a tent fabric that is water-resistant or has a waterproof coating. Check the seams and apply a seam sealer to protect against moisture.
Your flysheet should have a durable water repellent (DWR) coating. This is what causes water to form beads on the outside of the tent fabric. You may need to re-apply this coating if water has begun to soak through.
Truck tent campers understand the importance of elevation for safety and comfort while camping. Regardless of what tent option you find the most suitable for your camping style, the bed needs protection against the elements and rough handling if you own a pickup truck.
Durabak polyurethane paint is a quick and simple way to protect your truck bed from the elements and prolong its lifespan. Contact us today at (303) 690-7190 to find out more about our range.