Staff, Courtesy of Guide Gear
The options for camping setups these days are nearly endless. From a basic ground tent to expensive Sprinter Van, the sky’s the limit when it comes to comfort—and price. One unique option for pickup drivers is the truck bed tent, which combines the lightweight familiarity of a ground tent with the comfort and ease of setup of a rooftop tent, transforming your truck’s bed into a camping palace. Here, we’ve rounded up the best in a range of sizes, prices, and compatibility. But first, some things to keep in mind as you’re determining which could work for you.
What to Consider
Ease of Setup: Pitching a tent in the bed of your truck means you won’t have to worry about rocks and roots, or muddy, wet ground dirtying up your tent and gear. Some truck bed tents are easier to set up than others, but they all involve some steps associated with traditional tent setup, like inserting poles into sleeves and wrapping straps around the bed of the truck.
Space/Comfort: Truck beds aren’t particularly large, so any added headroom and space while camping is welcome. Most of these tents are designed to sleep two adults comfortably.
Durability: In our experience, there’s no reason to look for lightweight materials in a truck bed tent since your vehicle is doing the carrying. You should opt for the most durable, waterproof materials you can find, like sailcloth or canvas, so your tent lasts a long time.
Price: Just like with traditional camping tents, truck bed tents run the gamut of cheap to very pricey. With that said, on the whole they’re far cheaper than comparable rooftop tents and still offer the benefits of sleeping off the ground, so you’re getting a lot of value with them.
How We Selected
For our choices, we considered the ease of setup, comfort, durability, and affordability (or lack thereof). We’ve made sure all of our selections have at least four or more stars on Amazon, along with great reviews from trusted sources like Parked in Paradise and Business Insider. Bryan Rogala is a longtime truck owner with extensive experience reviewing overlanding and camping gear for Outside Magazine, Gaia GPS, Popular Mechanics and other publications.
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Napier Sportz Truck Tent
Napier is one of the biggest names in truck bed tents and has been making tents since 1990. Reviewers rave about being able to set the Sportz up in 10 minutes and the massive amount of space you get from the 70-inch height. The slightly more expensive Sportz model gets you more waterproofing, a floor made from a more durable, polyester oxford material, an awning, and an additional window over the Backroadz model. It also features a window that allows access to the cab of your truck, which is nice so you don’t necessarily need to exit the tent to grab something from inside, especially if it’s raining. Napier makes five sizes, so there’s one for every style of truck on the market. And inside you’ll find traditional tent features like a gear loft and lantern holder.
Softopper Truck Bed Cap
The Softopper Truck Bed Cap gets the nod for versatility. Think of it as a bimini-style boat cover for your truck—it folds down and out of the way when you need your whole truck bed and pops up in an instant when you need a camper shell to protect your gear or sleep under. It’s made from three-ply, laminated PVC-coated, four-season sailcloth and is completely waterproof. The aluminum frame is strong enough to support snow on top and stands up to wind without a problem. I run one of these on my truck and have been pleasantly surprised at how it’s held up since installing it. The best part is just how versatile it is—if you need to haul something large, you can fold the Softopper down in seconds and utilize your whole truck bed as it was designed. You can sleep under the Softopper on its own, or you can add the optional Camper Top Tent ($199), which fits around the Softopper and under your tailgate to create more waterproof and ventilated space for sleeping, which is especially useful if you have a short-bed truck.
Kodiak Canvas Truck Bed Tent
At 44 pounds, the Kodiak Canvas Truck Tent is no lightweight—thankfully, since you set this up in the bed of your truck, that doesn’t matter too much. This tent gets our pick for durability. Its 100 percent Cotton Duck Hydra-Shield Canvas and ¾-inch steel-tube frame construction means it will hold up better over the long run than polyester tents, and it’s far better suited for wet and cold weather. In fact, Kodiak markets the tent as being appropriate for year-round use (though it’s not designed for heavy snow loads), which is a boon for anyone who lives in colder climates. There’s no floor, which means faster setup time, and five windows provide plenty of ventilation. The tent’s design is a tunnel shape, which allows for five feet of headroom throughout the entire length of the tent—versus just in the middle—which is a nice feature to have in the relatively small space of a truck bed.
Best for Camper Shells
TopperLift Kit with Weekender Camper
If you run a camper shell on your truck but would like the space a truck bed tent provides, there’s the TopperLift Kit with Weekender Camper Package. It’s expensive, but its unique design utilizes the shell you already have to create what is likely the most durable and weatherproof tent on this list. The TopperLift itself is a 12-volt electric lift that raises your camper shell 17.5 inches off the bedrails of your truck, giving you more headroom and turning your bed into a usable camper. The Weekender Camper Package adds three canvas side panels that bridge the gap between your shell and the truck bed, as well as the Weekender Back, which extends over the truck’s tailgate to give you extra room. After the initial install, setup is as easy as pushing a button, inserting one tent pole, and Velcroing the back panel onto the tent when you’re ready to camp. You can also forego the lift and opt for the cheaper Nomad Package, which works with any camper shell and consists of just the Weekender back panel.
Rightline Gear 110730 Truck Tent
Rightline’s Truck Tent combines the looks and materials of a traditional ground tent with a floor-less design. Losing the floor allows you to set up and take down the tent without removing anything from the bed of your truck, which can be a helpful time-saver. (Given that truck beds do contain some gaps, if you live in a particularly buggy area, it’s important to remember that a floor may keep out a few more crawlies.) To help with setup, the poles and buckles are color-coded and the straps attach to your truck without the need of a step stool.
Guide Gear Full-Size Truck Tent
The least expensive truck tent on this list, Guide Gear’s Full Size Truck Tent features a sewn-in floor, over five feet of headroom, and a 1,500mm water-resistant coating on the tent fabric. It weighs just 11 pounds and has two interior storage pockets and mesh windows for ventilation. Despite the low price, the Guide Gear has a 4.5 star rating on Amazon with over 1,500 reviews, testament to its incredible value.
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