I set forth from Truckee, California with a truck loaded to the max with truck camper accessories. I’ve done a lot of RV travel and road trips in the past, but I’d never really set out to live out of my truck for an extended period before.
So, while I had some idea of the supplies and accessories I’d need to make life comfortable on the road, I obviously had some learning to do.
In the past several months, I’ve compiled this list of the best truck camper accessories for life on the road.
As you’ll find, some of them are meant to provide organization when living out of a pickup truck, some will make life easier in your camp kitchen, and others will help digital nomads, like myself, stay connected on the road and help you avoid falling behind your remote work schedule.
Keep reading to find the truck bed camping accessories you need for your next trip!
The Best Truck Camper Accessories
To be honest, there’s constantly a revolving door when it comes to my truck camping gear collection.
That’s partly because I believe in the constant process of evaluating (and, hopefully, improving) my systems. But it’s also because I’m kind of a gear-nut!
At the moment, however, these are my picks for my favorite pickup truck camping accessories.
I have, unfortunately, left out some essential campfire cooking tools because most of my early travels have been in regions with intense fire restrictions.
But you might check back in a few months as I continue to tweak my setup and pop back in here to update these picks!
Truck Camper Accessories: Camp Stove
I personally love to cook whether I’m relaxing in the comfort of my home or I’m out on the road. But life on the road presents different cooking challenges than you might be used to at home.
There’s no need, however, to be challenged to simply get enough heat to cook and prepare your favorite camping meals.
I’ve used a camp stove with a single burner before and, I must say, it left me feeling less-than-satisfied.
The ability to use multiple burners will allow you to cook more varied meals when camping and it will also help you dial the timing of your meals in so that certain components aren’t getting cold while you’re finishing others.
For this reason, I recommend choosing a camp stove with a minimum of two burners.
But, if you can find one with more than two burners, it’ll just give you additional capacity to heat up multiple pots and pans at the same time.
Truck Camper Accessories: Camp Table
A collapsible or folding camp table is also essential to your truck camping gear setup because it will allow you to set up your outdoor kitchen without only relying on your tailgate.
Of course, this is an essential step if you’re tent camping on the ground (like me) or you have a pop-up tent camper on the top of your truck.
I personally love this collapsible Alps Mountaineering Guide Table because it adjusts to several heights and the top has a sort of laminate finish that’s super easy to wipe clean.
That adjustable height also allows me to set it up as a standing desk if I’m hanging in a park and working for the day before heading out of town to find a dispersed campsite.
Truck Camper Accessories: Camp Chair
At the end of the day, you’ll obviously want somewhere to sit down and get off your feet.
I picked up this Rendezvous Folding Camp Chair from Alps Mountaineering at the beginning of last summer to add to my truck camping gear and it has proved quite useful for multiple purposes since then.
I personally like it because it’s light enough to sling over my shoulder and carry into a lakeside or riverside beach for a relaxing afternoon lounging in the sun.
But, some folks have commented on how low this chair is, which does make it a little harder to get in and out of when you’re feeling a little tight in the hips.
So, if you’re looking for something with less recline, I’d recommend checking out the REI Co-op Camp Xtra Chair.
Truck Camper Accessories: Solar Lantern
I really don’t spend all that much time awake once the sun goes down when I’m truck camping.
But if I’ve arrived at a campsite a bit late and I’m just struggling to see where I threw my tent in the back of my truck, my Goal Zero Crush Light Lantern always comes in handy.
I love this lantern because it collapses down and I can just place it on the dash of my truck during the day. It charges up (as long as there’s ample sunlight during that day) while I’m driving and it’s ready for me to use as a campsite lantern when I pull over for the evening.
Plus, it has a handle on top that makes it easy to hang from the center of my tent with a carabiner if I want to crawl in early and read or journal before laying my head down for the evening.
Check out some more of our favorite solar lanterns here: The Best Solar Camping Lanterns to Light up Your Night
Truck Camper Accessories: Solar Shower
I didn’t add a solar shower to my pickup truck camping accessories because I’m a neat-freak. And I honestly don’t use it to shower every day.
But the shower head also provides an easy hand washing station around camp, which is essential when you’re thinking about food security and sanitation when you don’t have easy access to running water every day.
I chose this Advanced Elements 5-Gallon Solar Summer Shower because of its large capacity and the fact that it was very affordable.
So far, I’ve been very happy with how easy it is to hang and utilize for cleaning off after particularly sweaty day hikes.
It does take 4-5 hours to heat up when full, however, so you’ll need to plan for it to have full sun exposure for most of the day if you want to take a shower later that evening.
Truck Camper Accessories: Pot Holders
This can be an easy one to overlook when you’re putting together your truck bed camping accessories for cooking.
I was lucky to throw in these two pot holders from my previous apartment and I quickly realized how essential they were. This is because the plates and pot that I have are made of steel, which is highly conductive.
I like these steel plates because they retain heat better than plastic (plus, I’m not using plastic!). But they do have the downside of getting super hot when I use them to cover my cooking skillet.
So I just keep these pot holders handy so that I can cook just like I was at home. Plus, they also keep me from setting super hot pots and pans down on my camp table and burning it!
Truck Camper Accessories: Expandable Water Carrier
When I was traveling into Death Valley for three days, there was quite the need to carry a lot of water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning.
I didn’t want to leave my dishes dirty for days at a time and I knew that I’d need quite a lot of drinking water because of the 15+ mile hike I was planning for the second day.
Fortunately, I was able to pick up a couple two-gallon expandable water carriers and fill them before I drove up the mountain.
Moving forward, I’ll probably look into something like this Reliance 5-Gallon Folding Water Carrier so that I have to refill less frequently when I’m on the road.
I’ve personally found that it’s better to err on the side of carrying too much water rather than risking running out when you need it most.
Truck Camper Accessories: Collapsible Wash Basin
Doing your best to keep your cooking and eating utensils clean before you store them back with your other truck camper accessories is vital to your health on the road.
Bacteria can be more likely to remain on dishes and utensils that aren’t adequately cleaned with soap and warm water after each meal.
When you’re living on the road, you can use one of the water carriers I mentioned above as a faucet to clean your dishes under.
But you should also grab one of these UST collapsible wash basins to place underneath your dishwashing station.
This will capture food scraps and also keep you from creating a mud puddle in the middle of your campsite.
And you’ll be able to carry your dirty water a good distance away from camp before you dump it so that curious critters are less likely to wander into your camp once you head to bed.
Truck Camper Accessories: Folding Cooler
While there are certainly benefits to getting a hard-sided cooler that is exceptionally well-insulated (like a YETI cooler), a folding cooler is great for truck bed camping because it can be lighter and less bulky to move about when you don’t actively have it full of perishable food items.
I personally really enjoy the Kelty Folding Cooler that I added to my pickup truck camping accessories because it has a removable inner liner.
That makes it easy to clean and dry without having to hose out the entire cooler. It also has four drink holders built into the lid, which allows me to use it as an end table next to my lakeside lounge chair.
Truck Camper Accessories: Backpacking Stove (Plus Dehydrated Meals)
If you arrive at camp late or you simply don’t have the energy to cook a full healthy camping meal, having a small backpacking stove and a collection of dehydrated meals is a great way to get your nutrition with minimal effort.
On those long days of driving, you shouldn’t always have to set up your entire camp kitchen and cook a full meal.
Plus, when you roll back into camp after a long day hike or a full day of rock climbing, boiling water and adding it to a dehydrated meal is basically the truck camper’s equivalent of ordering food for delivery!
Lessons From The Road (Truck Camping Tips)
In addition to refining my setup, there are also a few important lessons that I’ve learned over the first few months of living on the road. If you’re considering living out of a van, RV, or pickup truck, these lessons might help you avoid some of the early mistakes I made!
Plan In Advance
Depending on where exactly you’re heading, mobile service may not be reliable enough for you to always have answers at your fingertips. When we’re at home, we can easily forget that mobile connectivity is a relatively new technological advancement, and it doesn’t exist everywhere.
That’s why it’s so important to plan in advance when you’re living on the road.
When you do find a coffee shop or town square where you can link to Wi-Fi (or just good mobile service), you should always take those opportunities to look ahead a little ways and prepare for what’s to come.
This will help you from feeling ill-prepared and winding up having to just pull over and park on the side of the road for the night because you don’t know there’s a campground or dispersed camping site just a few more miles down the road.
Seek Local Knowledge
Even though the Internet has made it easier than ever to find information about our favorite camping destinations, there’s truly no substitute for asking locals about their opinions on sites you’ve read about online.
This is the same reason why I recommend hiring an experienced guide if you’re new to any outdoor activity.
But, that’s slightly beside the point. When you roll into a new destination, stopping into a local gear shop or café is a great way to ask locals about the spots you’re thinking of camping that night.
Sometimes, this requires a strategic approach because some locals will be a bit reticent to give up their secret spots (rightfully so, in many cases).
It’s important to show respect to every new destination that we visit and practicing Leave No Trace camping is always recommended. But seeking local knowledge can often lead you to stumble across breathtaking campsites that you would never find otherwise.
Make Camp Early
For me, there’s nothing worse than rolling into a spot at dusk and finding it full when you’ve been anticipating camping there all day.
Because of this, I always try to make camp by about 4 or 5 pm, at the latest. Of course, this changes slightly with the longer summer days, but the idea is still valid.
Rolling into camp early takes a lot of the stress out of whether or not you’re going to find a comfortable campsite for the night. And it will also give you several hours before the sun goes down to explore and really enjoy the sites you select when you’re truck camping.
Depending on the season, there are certain times of the day when it makes more sense to drive than others.
For instance, I prefer to get up early and get most of my driving out of the way in the morning during the winter. This puts me in the comfort of my truck cab while it’s still warming up and often frees me up to explore outdoors during the warmer part of the day.
During the summer, however, I sometimes flip that schedule so that I’m driving during the hottest part of the day.
This allows me to get up and enjoy a sunrise hike or paddle before allowing the A/C in my truck to keep me cool as I’m moving on to my next destination.
Truck camping inspiration: Family of three travels in DIY truck camper.
Additional Truck Bed Camping Accessories And Resources
Getting the information you need for route planning and campsite selection is essential when you’re out on the open road. Check out a few resources that I’ve come to rely on over the last several months.
The Dyrt Camping App
I stopped in Mammoth to pick up locking cam straps for my kayak rack and just happened to ask the salesman about hot springs and dispersed camping sites in the area.
He proceeded to tell me that he had just returned from a 10-day road trip and has used The Dyrt Camping app to find free campsites along the way.
I quickly downloaded it and have been putting it to use ever since.
This app not only has a wide selection of dispersed camping sites throughout the U.S., but it also has regular campgrounds and RV parks listed on there as well. And it allows you to filter your results depending on what type of campsite you’re specifically looking for.
While I still use my phone’s internal GPS to plan routes and map my travels when I have service, there’s no substitute for a paper road atlas. This is especially true when you’re seeking more remote destinations where service is unreliable along your final approach.
Along the first stretch of my journey, I had an inkling that I’d like to explore Death Valley National Park. And it just so happened that I camped next to two gentlemen that were on their return journey from the park on my first night on the road.
I informed them of that inkling and they came over to show me their Death Valley Nat Geo map that they had relied on while off-roading in the park.
I quickly found a store where I could purchase my own map before I lost service in the park and I have since purchased a few more Nat Geo maps of other locations that I’ve been lucky to explore.
They are incredibly handy when you don’t have service and can help you plan your drives, hikes, paddles, bike trips, and much more.
Whenever you visit a park, park rangers are an excellent resource for the most up-to-date park information possible. You can ask questions that you simply won’t get complete answers to on the phone or on the park’s website.
This is usually true for national and state parks, but some areas will obviously be more fully staffed than others.
But my luck of running into a park ranger in Death Valley helped me confirm that the remote campground I intended to drive about two hours to reach indeed had availability and was a good place to set up a basecamp before summiting Telescope Peak (the highest point in Death Valley) the next day.
Final Thoughts On Truck Camping Accessories
While I hope you’ve found my choices for the best truck camper accessories useful, I must admit that I realize every truck camper is different.
And we all have slightly different preferences when it comes to how we like to travel and where we like to stay (and/or camp!).
Because of that, we’d love to hear about some items you’d choose as the best truck bed camping accessories that we might’ve left off our list. And we’d also love to know why those accessories are so important to you and your truck camping style.
Feel free to drop a comment directly below this article and share your favorite truck camping accessories with us!
Find more awesome truck camping posts below: