They don’t call it a truck ‘bed’ for nothing. The back of your pickup truck could be the perfect place to rest your head at night. Using a truck bed tent, you can stay sheltered from the elements as you sleep in your truck. There are lots of different truck bed tents on the market. Here is a guide on some of the best truck bed tents for camping so that you can make the best purchase.
Why get a truck bed tent?
If you’re a pickup truck owner that loves camping, a truck bed tent could be the perfect accessory to buy.
Setting up camp in your truck bed has lots of advantages over pitching up a tent on the ground. Firstly, it gives you more freedom to camp anywhere. You don’t have to worry about finding suitable ground to pitch upon. You can park up by the side of the road or set up camp in your relative’s driveway whilst visiting. Secondly, you don’t have the hassle of tent stakes coming out in the night. Or, having to deal with the boggy ground when it rains.
Truck beds tend to offer more than enough space for sleeping on. Some are even big enough for sleeping, two people. And of course, you don’t have to sleep on the hard surface of your truck bed. Some truck bed tents can easily house an inflatable mattress. This allows you to get a comfortable night’s sleep.
You can also take down truck bed tents to pack up so that you can still use your truck bed for other things during the day. Truck beds are versatile spaces and a truck bed tent is just one of the many ways of putting this space to use.
What should you look for in a truck bed tent?
So that you can buy the best tent for your truck, it’s worth looking out for a few key features. Here are just a few qualities to look out for when choosing the ideal truck bed tent.
A good tent needs to be able to take a lot of punishment. This could include being able to resist harsh winds. Or, simply being able to survive rough handling (i.e. zips shouldn’t come off if you pull them too hard). Look out for tents that use good quality materials and a high level of construction. Such tents are less likely to fall apart when exposed to a strong gust of wind.
A leaky tent is never fun. A good truck bed tent needs to have an impermeable material that won’t let in water. Many tents use polythene to keep the water out, whilst others use their own custom materials (some of which are a mix of natural and synthetic fibres). Durability also plays a part in water resistance. Ripped canvas will result in a leak, so you want to be sure the material isn’t prone to rips.
Ventilation can stop a tent from getting too stuffy. This is particularly important in the summer when there’s less of a breeze. At this time of the year, many poor quality tents can become suffocating. Most modern tents provide an equal mix of water resistance and ventilation. This allows the tent to get aired without letting in water. Vents and windows are a simple way of doing this.
The best truck bed tents are spacious. Ideally, you want to be able to use as much of your truck bed as possible for sleeping on. Fitting two people and an inflatable mattress can be handy. The height of the tent meanwhile can also be worth considering. Some truck bed tents have enough room to stand in. This means that you don’t have to spend all your time crouching.
Installing the truck bed tent shouldn’t have to be a hassle. A good truck bed tent ought to come with clear instructions. It has color-coded poles and simple strap options for connecting the tent to the truck. You should have the convenience of being able to set up your tent quickly if you pull over late at night. Of course, most tents will need a little bit of practice. But, on your second and third attempts, you shouldn’t still be struggling.
Truck bed tents aren’t cheap – you can expect to pay over $100 for something half-decent. But whilst you don’t want to be skimping out, you also shouldn’t be spending a fortune on a truck bed tent. Cost is likely to be more of an important factor for those on a tight budget. Be wary that a truck bed tent can be an investment – saving you from having to pay for campsite pitches or motels (it’s also a lot cheaper than buying a camper van).
Suitability to vehicle
Certain truck bed tents may not be suitable for certain trucks. This is an important detail worth looking into. Otherwise, you could end up buying a tent that doesn’t fit the dimensions of your truck. By and large, most of the tents mentioned in this post will fit most trucks. It’s the really small and really large models that you have to worry about.
The five best truck bed tents for camping
Now that you know what to look out for in a truck bed tent, it’s time to weigh up some of the best options on the market. I’ve included a description for each of the following truck bed tents, along with some of the pros and cons of each. We’ll then take a look at the results and see which is the best.
The Rightline Gear truck tent is notably different from all the other truck tents on this list in that it doesn’t have a bottom. There are advantages and disadvantages to a floorless truck bed tent. You don’t have to take everything out of your truck bed when you pitch up. But, there’s nothing to protect your belongings if your truck bed is dirty (in other words you may still want to bring a tarp).
This Rightline Gear truck tent also comes with a sky view vent to offer ventilation. By doing this, it also allows you to sleep under the stars. It’s also weather-proof so you don’t have to worry about the rain getting in. The tent is also large enough to sleep two people making it great for couple getaways. It’s also very easy to install, helping you to save time when out adventuring.
A major drawback is the basic quality of the fabric, which is prone to ripping. The straps also don’t come with a guard. If you’re as passionate about preserving your paintwork as I am, you could find this to be a slight nuisance.
· Easy to install – floorless design is a big help
· Sleeps two people
· Great view of stars/ventilation
· Materials feel a little cheap – prone to ripping
· No strap protectors
In contrast to Rightline Gear’s truck tent, the SportZ truck tent has a sewn-in floor. It also has strap guards to prevent rubbing to your truck’s exterior. It’s a roomier tent too with a headroom of 5.6 feet. It also allows two people to sleep in it (and enough space for a double inflatable bed).
If easy assembly is important, then you’ll also love the sportZ truck tent’s simple instructions. These involve color-coded poles and zero guide ropes. The poles are a bit fiddly, largely because they’re a little too long. Not only that, but they’re made of fiberglass. This means you do need to be careful when handling them. They can break more easily than materials like steel and aluminium.
· Sleeps two people and has lots of headroom
· Waterproof and well-ventilated
· Has strap protectors
· Color-coded poles for easy assembly
· Poles are too long
· They’re also made of fiberglass (and so are more prone to breaking)
The Napier Backroadz truck tent shocks a lot of people because of its affordability. Indeed, you do get a lot for your money. There’s a full rainfly to help provide ultimate weather protection. This will keep you dry in the most torrential of monsoons. It’s also got a large interior to rival the much pricier Sport Z truck tent. The interior contains a similar headroom of 5.6 feet and enough room for two people. The poles are similarly color-coded, helping to make assembly easy.
Unfortunately, you will have to put up with flimsy fiberglass poles and fragile fabric. Given the lower cost, you can expect this lower quality. Reports of broken pole and rips aren’t as regular as with some other tents.
· Very spacious
· Color-coded poles for easy assembly
· Full rainfly for ultimate weather protection
· Poles and fabric are a bit flimsy
The Guide Gear full-size truck tent also caters to the lower end of the market. However, like the Napier Backroadz truck tent, what you get is far from basic. This nifty tent deploys in minutes. It is highly waterproof with good ventilation as a result of its polyester coating. It’s not as spacious as some of the other tents here, but with a headroom of 5.2 feet, it’s hardly claustrophobic either.
It shares a few of the same problems that other cheap tents have. That is to say, the materials could be of better quality. Some of the stitching is a little weak and yet again you’re stuck with fiberglass poles.
· Waterproof and well ventilated
· Very quick to assemble
· Stitching and poles aren’t very strong
The Kodiak canvas truck bed tent is definitely a much higher quality tent than its competitors in terms of the materials used. You’ll have a hard time getting the fabric to rip. And, the steel tube frame is a refreshingly tough alternative to the fiberglass found in other models. Five windows meanwhile offer ventilation. A large D-shaped door offers easy access (the door also contains pockets for convenient storage)
For this higher quality, you can expect to pay a much higher price. There are also other flaws to be wary of. The tent is very difficult to set up. And, the 5ft head clearance is generous but not as generous as the space offered by other truck bed tents.
· High-quality materials
· Well ventilated
· Less affordable
· Not very easy to assemble.
Which Truck Tent Bed Is The Best For You?
When it comes to all-round benefits, the Napier Backroadz truck tent offers the best balance. It’s affordable so that you can buy it on a budget. It’s highly weatherproof, so you won’t get wet in a storm. If you’re looking for a spacious option, it’s also one of the roomiest options, sporting a height of 5.6 feet. Finally, it comes with color-coded poles for assembly.