How to Pick a Pickup Truck Tent

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Having a truck tent is a great alternative to something that you can simply put on the ground or mount on a roof rack, especially when you’re off camping or normally on-the-go.

Got a pickup truck? If so, you can turn your truck’s bed into a tent.

In this article, we’ll help you consider why you should get a truck tent and what factors to consider so you get the winning match of convenience and functionality. If you opt for a rooftop tent, click here.

Why Get a Pickup Truck Tent?

Pickup truck tents have one main advantage over regular ground tents: they’re not on the ground! Being on the ground means that you’re subject to an uneven sleeping surface and more prone to bugs and other critters getting in your tent. With a truck tent you can also easily hook up power into your tent to get the added convenience of electricity in your tent.

What Size Pickup Truck Tent Do You Need?

Pickup truck tents typically come in one of three sizes:

Truck Bed Model Length Width
Full-size Long Bed 8’ 63′-66′
Full-size Standard Bed 6.5’ 63′-66′
Full-size Short Bed 5.5’ 49′-63′

Truck tents will typically accommodate one of three truck bed sizes: 8′ lengths, 6.5′ lengths and 5.5′ lengths. You need to pick the model according to your truck bed length. Remember, your bed length is always measured excluding the tailgate.

Most pickup trucks won’t be EXACTLY the lengths above (for example, most Dodge Ram standard boxes are 6.4′ long and most Ford F150s are 6.6′ long) but it doesn’t matter. There’s enough wiggle room built into the tents to allow for this variance.

Truck bed widths are fairly standard, except in smaller compact trucks, so width isn’t as big of consideration as the truck length.

For detailed discussions on sizes, visit Truck Bed Dimensions.  

How to Install/Setup a Pickup Truck Tent

Most pickup tents install much like a regular ground tent with the exception that there will be clips that go onto your wheel well.

There is one pro-tip for setting up and installing your truck tent: set it up on the ground first AND THEN move it to your pickup truck bed. 

Truck Tent Fabric

Learning about the weather condition of where you’ll be going, lets you know what to expect as it eliminates the element of surprise.

With this in mind, choose the right truck tent fabric for the job. If you’re going to a rainy place, look for truck tents either made from Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC-coated) or Polyurethane (PU-coated) Canvas because they’re extra resilient against water.

If you’re going somewhere sunny, getting truck tents with polyester fabric is an excellent choice because it has a special Ultraviolet (UV) layer that preserves its lifespan against the sun’s heat.

Some Popular Truck Tents and What They’re Made Of

Napier Backroadz Truck Tent

Made from Polyurethane (PU) Polyester Taffeta (Photo from Amazon.com).

Kodiak Canvas Truck Tent

Made from Pure Cotton Duck Canvas (Photo from Amazon.com).

Guide Gear Full-size Truck Tent

Made from 190T Polyester (Photo from Amazon.com).

Sportz by Napier Avalanche Truck Tent

Made from Polyester and Nylon Taffeta (Photo from Amazon.com).

Rightline Gear Truck Tent

Made from 2000-mm Polyurethane (Photo from Amazon.com).

Sewn-in Floor vs No-Floor

Offroading Gear’s truck tent sewn-in floors keep you comfortable and dry during rainy nights.

Truck tents are generally going to come in two types: those with a sewn in floor and those without a floor. For example, the SportZ Truck Tent from Napier that has a sewn-in floor that prevents worms and other creepy crawlies from ruining your sleep and are generally ‘cleaner’ On the other hand, Rightline Gear’s Truck Tents have no sewn in floor but are also more affordable.

 

Sleeping Capacity

Young adult couple sleeping in a tent on the beach

Given the standard widths of trucks, unfortunately, truck tents can only accommodate two adults comfortably (and perhaps one child).

If you need something larger, unfortunately you may want to consider a traditional ground tent or larger roof top tents.

Budget

Overview

Truck Tents Price Range
Branded Tents $259-$339
Affordable Tents $164-$210
Cheap Tents $94-$135

Spending more than a few bucks for a truck tent is normal but going after what you truly want is a different thing. The truth is, truck tents can cost more than $300 but can also be inexpensive at around less than a 100. Prices are determined according to the design and other bonus features they bring to the table.

Usually, what makes other truck tents expensive is how they’re designed. If they come with many extras like a full rainfly, PU or PVC coating, and color-coded poles for quick setup, those automatically add to the cost because of the increase in lifespan and usefulness.

Truck tents with large entrance, windows and toolbox containers or mini drawers, are also a plus because they mimic the natural concept of home.

Although be very careful with truck tents that can be made from pure nylon because they don’t provide much elemental protection (especially from rain) and are only good in the short run.

 

Interior Pockets

Now, if you’re the kind of person who loves bringing small items on the side or if you can’t get rid of your digital camera despite having an iPhone, your truck tent should have interior pockets.

The interior pockets will help you organize your belongings by keeping them in place and prevent your truck tent from looking messy. A standard truck tent contains 1-2 interior pockets. But if you’re looking for large versions, they’ll have 4-6 interior pockets.

One thing to note about interior pockets though is choose those with deep-hole designs, especially if you’re planning on stuffing them with some of your valuables such as; memory card, flashlight, extra batteries, etc., to prevent them from sliding and getting lost. Interior pockets with long sleeves are also essential against the unpredictable weather.

Cabin Accessibility

Easy access to the cabin area lets you instantly charge electronic devices.

Not all tents come with a rear access window. Why is this important? A rear access window allows you to access your cabin and easily charge devices (I know- you would never check your phone while camping)

If you expect to need to access your truck’s cigarette lighter for charging purposes, look for a tent with a rear access window such as Offroading Gear’s Granville II truck tent.

Conclusion

These are the factors you must always consider in picking a truck tent. Doing so, helps you invest in the one that matches your camping or on-the-go requirements and give you peace of mind, wherever you are. Share us your thoughts below.