A truck bed tent is a great way to get all the benefits of tent camping without some of the difficulties. Truck bed tents are easy to set up, elevated and super comfortable. Plus, you’ll get to use that truck bed!
If you’re looking for the best truck bed tents for your camping adventures, we have you covered.
We’ve got all the info you’ll need to know to start your search for the perfect truck bed tent, and we’ve even picked out some of the best truck bed tent campers on the market to help get you going.
- Fits most full-size truck beds
- Easy to set up
- Water Resistant
- Sky view vent
- 1 year warranty
- Waterproof construction
- 100% cotton duck canvas
- Maximizes space
- Weather resistant
What is a truck bed tent?
The best truck bed tents are probably exactly what you’re thinking. They’re simply tents that fit into the bed of a truck. They come in many different sizes and styles but most of them look like a standard ground tent that’s been put into a truck bed. That simple elevation offers a whole lot of perks.
Pickup truck tent campers tend to be larger than you might expect, easily fitting 2-3 people with a surprising amount of headroom. They set up and take down in a flash and offer a slightly more elevated (pun intended) camping experience.
The best truck bed tents offer protection from the elements, a rainfly, ventilation and pockets for storage. Some even have awnings to give you shade from the sun.
We’ve rounded up the best truck tents on the market for your camping adventures.
The best truck bed tents for sale
- Features: Sturdy, 100% cotton duck canvas, durable, watertight and breathable, 3/4-inch steel frame, Interior pockets
- Price: $340 – $424
- Height: 5 ft
- Floor: No
The Kodiak truck bed tent camper does a great job of maximizing a truck bed’s footprint. The main frame is three half-circle awnings that canopy over the truck bed. Compared to a more standard peaked tent design, this really opens up the tent into a much more functional space.
This truck bed tent clamps on to the sides of your truck bed, rather than sitting inside of it. That means the floor of your truck bed is the floor of your tent.
The Kodiak is made of a durable 100% cotton duck canvas, making it hardier against the elements than other types of truck bed tents.
While most reviewers love this tent, others said set up has quite the learning curve.
“The Kodiak truck bed tents come in 3 models and they are the best on the market. 100% waterproof and you can touch the wall, they will not wick water unlike cheaper canvas tents. The tent seals tight around the truck and not having a floor is absolutely not a problem. They are very easy to set up, too!”
- Features: 800mm PU Polyester Taffeta, Fits most truck beds, even with tool boxes, Large viewing windows, Optional rainfly
- Price: $165-$175
- Height: 5’ 6”
- Floor: Yes
As with all Napier tents, the Backroadz truck tent camper includes a full, waterproof floor. This is really important if you plan to camp in intense weather or rain.
Many of the best truck bed tents are really more of a rainfly, providing a roof and cover that extends past the edges of your truck bed but doesn’t actually seal anywhere. In heavy rains, this can fail and be an absolute detriment to your trip.
Napier solves this with a full floor, like a standard ground tent. In fact, the whole design of this tent from its color-coded poles to its rainfly exterior is strikingly similar to a standard tent and is a great option for someone looking for a happy middle ground between the two.
This tent is lighter weight and cheaper than the Napier Sportz pickup truck bed tent, which we’ll talk about below.
“We like the versatility of being able to camp out of our truck using the Napier Backroadz without needing to tow around a camper. It goes up pretty quick and when we’re done, it folds up into a small bag for easy transport. The downside with the tent is camping in cold weather can be rough, and that you have to remove the tent anytime you want or need to drive the truck somewhere. Overall it’s a great inexpensive option that offers more luxury than a standard ground tent in that you’re camping off the ground.”
- Features: 800mm PU Polyester Taffeta, Convenient extended awning, Fit for compact 5 ft. truck beds, Works with sprayed or prefabricated liners
- Price: $236-$290
- Height: 5’ 8”
- Floor: Yes
The Napier Outdoor Sportz Tent has a distinct feature that makes it uniquely desirable to some. Its large, extended awning provides weather protection outside the confines of your truck bed.
This might not seem like a big benefit to some, but to others, this small space acts as a mudroom of sorts and is absolutely essential to a clean and therefore enjoyable camping trip. Or, use the large extendable awning as a sun shelter during the day.
The Napier Outdoor Sportz truck bed tent is different from the Backroadz version in that it is more expensive, and it has a rear-access window so you can reach inside your pickup if need be.
The Sportz Series is also constructed of 75D 190T Polyester Taffeta with a 1200mm PU Coating while the Backroadz is 68D 185T with an 800mm PU Coating.
- Features: 190T polyester,1500mm water-resistant coating, fits most full-size truck beds, large D-shaped door
- Price: $90-$100
- Height: 5’ 3”
- Floor: Yes
Yes, you read that right. No, it’s not a typo. You really can get a fully-lined truck bed tent for under $100 with the Guide Gear Full Size Truck Camper. This truck bed tent seems too good to be true, and it might be, but the several hundred positive reviews suggest otherwise.
One Instagram camper, @bwoodsssss, wrote me this about the Gear Guide: “I love being off of the cold/wet ground and there’s an added sense of security, being with my truck.
The first time I set it up I was alone in the pouring rain. It dumped for 12 hours and I stayed dry with no tarp cover. So I can actually vouch for that!”
However, she did tell me a pole snapped on her second trip and there’s no easy way to get a replacement pole.
While this isn’t the roomiest tent on the market and it doesn’t have some of the features as the others, it seems to be extremely reliable, easy to set up and take down, and totally water/weather resistant. And at this price, it’s kind of a steal.
This best truck bed tent offers excellent cross-ventilation, a couple storage pockets and a full rainfly.
“The Gear Guide is usually is the tent I recommend to others to get started out on just due to the price point. While there are some quality issues, the competition has the same yet at 2-3x the price. The feature I like the best is the zip-up windows. The tent next up in price is a budget offering from a competitor and has no windows that can be zipped up for privacy, just a rain fly. Plus another thing I like is that it only takes 4 poles that are easy to figure out where they go.”
- Features: Sky view tent, PU 2000mm weather resistant, glow in the dark zipper pulls, 1-year manufacturer warranty
- Price: $130 – $250
- Height: 4’ 10”
- Floor: No
This sleek Rightlight Gear Truck Bed Tent offers some fun and thoughtful features. When the rainfly is off, you can take advantage of this tent’s unique sky view vent, offering upward views of the sky and stars while you sleep. A big plus for those looking to get a bit closer to nature.
This is the best truck bed tent if you are looking for a floorless design. That allows you to easily set up the tent without removing gear from your truck’s bed.
This truck bed tent camper comes in several different sizes: Mid size, full size and compact.
Some reviewers complain the tent is poorly constructed and rips easily. Others give it raving reviews, saying it holds up in wind and rain.
“I like that I can camp where ever I can park my truck. It’s a very quick and easy tent to set up. One downside is the Rightline gear tent has no bottom liner so if the truck bed is wet or dirty you are placing your stuff on that. I use a small tarp in that case to protect bedding though and it works well.”
Features to look for in a truck bed tent
While the best truck bed tents look similar from the outside, there are a few features you should consider to pick the best tent for you.
Here are some of the key differences.
Floor vs. no floor
There are two schools of thought when it comes to truck bed tents. A tent with a floor or without a floor?
A truck bed tent with a floor is more like a normal ground tent. A thin floor keeps out the elements and protects against insects. People also like that any road grime stays off your bedding.
However, some campers prefer a truck bed tent without a floor. With these, your truck bed serves as the tent floor. This is great if you have a lot of of gear in your truck bed. Just set up the tent around your gear and you’re good to go.
With a floorless tent, some campers use a piece of plywood or a rug to make their living space more comfortable. You can also use a tarp or a cot.
Awning and Rain Fly
It’s also good to see just how waterproof your truck bed tent is. Does it have a rainfly? Or is the rainfly built in? Be sure to read reviews from others to see how their truck tent handled rain and wind.
Some truck bed tents also come with an optional awning. This can be a great addition if you’re looking to create shade for your camp chairs.
Access to the cab
Some of the best truck bed tents offer a small window into the cab of your truck. This can be handy if you need to get ahold of your car charger or keys.
Pay close attention to the height of the truck bed tent you’re looking at. Some are easier to stand up in than others. The truck bed tents we feature here range in height from 4’10” to 5’8″.
Ease of Set Up
Some truck tents are easier to set up than others. Be sure to read reviews about how easy the truck bed tents are to set up. And practice in your driveway before you head out on a camping trip!
Look for the number of poles included with the truck bed tent which will most likely indicate how easy it is to set up!
Tents for pickup beds usually come with several screened windows all around. Some tents have flaps that cover those windows for privacy, others don’t. If a tent doesn’t include privacy flaps, you’ll feel more exposed when you remove the rainfly.
Truck Bed Tent Camper Pros
Is a truck bed tent the right option for you? Here’s a quick glance at the positives and negatives of using a truck tent camper for outdoor expeditions.
The initial installation of your truck bed tent might take a bit of time, but once it’s installed in your bed, set up and take down are a breeze. This is especially beneficial if you plan to be moving locations frequently, as you can pull in and get set up in a new spot much quicker than you could with a standard tent.
A few feet of elevation might not seem like much, but in poor weather conditions, staying high and dry away from impending rain or snow is a huge plus. No more feeling the rain gather beneath your tent!
The height of the best truck bed tent campers also means not only protection from the elements but from critters or crawlers that might otherwise try to sneak their way into your tent.
Whether you’re staying at a campground or in the wilderness, people that camp are seeking solitude. With a truck bed tent, you’ll find you feel a bit less open and exposed than you might in a traditional ground tent.
If you can get there with your truck, you can now comfortably and conveniently camp there, too. Truck bed tents tend to set up and take down much quicker and easier than standard tents once they’ve been installed, and much of your gear can remain inside your closed tent in the truck bed. That increases your packing space a ton and means a huge amount of time and effort saved.
Access to amenities.
Being in your truck also means direct access to your truck’s amenities. This varies widely based on different truck models, but if your truck is equipped with outlets or lights in your truck bed, those are hugely valuable resources to have camping. If your truck has an opening window to the truck bed, you can also feed warm or cool air into your tent, dramatically increasing comfort in extreme weather.
Truck bed tent camper cons
Here are some of the not so good things about truck bed tents.
While popping up your tent once it’s in your bed is a breeze, actually getting it into your bed might be a different story. This factor varies a lot depending on the actual truck bed tent, and some are much easier to install than others.
But in general, installing this in your tent will be more difficult than setting up a standard tent. Similar to a rooftop tent, if you can install once and leave it for the season, this is not a huge factor, but if you need to be taking the whole tent in and out of your truck bed frequently, this could be a big annoyance.
Beyond the initial install, setting these up isn’t quite as intuitive as setting up a standard tent, and there might be some learning curves until you get the hang of it.
As mentioned in the point above, once your truck bed tent is installed, you’re not going to want to take it out until you’re home and done. There’s no way to set it up on the ground to standalone, it stays in your truck for the whole trip. For some people, this is a non-factor.
But others can’t imagine having their truck bed filled up and unusable for an entire camping trip. If this is you, a truck bed tent is probably not your best option.
I’ve mentioned the comfort of truck bed tents a few times. I should probably clarify. Most people use sleeping mats, cots, or inflatable mattresses in their truck bed tent. Sleeping directly on the floor of a truck bed is going to be ridiculously uncomfortable. That’s not what these tents were designed for. If you plan to sleep with just sleeping bags, you will be very, very uncomfortable on a hard, corrugated metal floor.
This depends a lot on how high your tailgate sits, but some users find the height uncomfortable for getting in and out of a tent. With a traditional ground tent of course, you’re having to get all the way on the ground and back up, so this factor really varies person to person.
Q&A about truck bed tent campers
Q: Will a pickup truck tent camper damage my truck?
A: No. If installed correctly, truck bed tents can be removed without leaving any lasting damage. There is no need to install any extra mechanisms as you would with a 5th wheel camper hitch. Truck bed tents simply clamp into your truck bed.
Q: How do you set up a truck bed tent?
A: Truck bed tents all have unique installation instructions. If you don’t have your model’s specific instructions, you should try to find them online. You will also likely be able to find helpful installation videos and guides to help make the process even easier.
Q: Can you use a truck bed tent on the ground?
A: No. Truck bed tents are designed to be used in the truck bed and use the walls of the bed as part of its framework. That means there’s no way for it to stand alone on the ground.
Q: How do I measure my truck bed?
A: Take a tape measure out to your truck. To measure the length, determine the distance from the inside of your tailgate to the inside of your truck bed’s bulkhead. Divide by 12 if you want to know the distance in terms of feet and inches. This is the measurement you’ll need to know to purchase the proper truck bed tent.
Thinking you want something a little more solid? Check out The 11 Best Mini Truck Campers On The Market.
Conclusion on the best truck bed tent campers
Truck bed tents offer a great and simple step up (again, pun intended) from traditional tent camping. With the added comfort and increased convenience of a truck bed tent camper, you might find yourself making more time to get away and go camping.
Whatever your reason for getting out there, a good truck bed tent can help you do so more often and more enjoyably.
This article is a great place to get going, but it’s just a start. Comment with any questions and let us know what else you’d like to know about truck bed tents.
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Kristin Hanes is a journalist who founded The Wayward Home as a place to learn about alternative living. She currently lives on a sailboat and in a Chevy Astro van, and has written articles about alternative living published in Good Housekeeping, Business Insider, Marie Claire and SF Gate. Read more about Kristin here.