Trucks are more than just vehicles; they’re tools. These utilitarian beasts can help you perform any number of tasks, but one of the most recent inventions to help you utilize your truck is the truck bed tent. This type of tent allows you to put your campsite up and on wheels, both of which can be incredibly useful. It’s not hard to see why truck tents are gaining popularity.
[amazon box=”B0034VYQQ6,B00FSBE7MI,B003C4XJX6,B004O74Y7K,B00ASYOUFE,B003C53BGA,B004O74Z0G,B0031IOXSS,B007WT1GYQ,B004HLZTHM” template=”table”]
There are plenty of styles of these tents available today, even with a small fraction of outdoor gear companies manufacturing them. Because there are so many different types, it’s difficult for some consumers to sift through what will work for them and what won’t. We wanted to take some of that work away, so we’ve come up with a buyer’s guide for you to use when shopping.
To give you the most possible help, we’ll go beyond the buyer’s guide. We’ll go over some frequently asked questions about truck bed tents, talk about the best tents on the market today, and help you to discover which one is the best for you.
What is a Truck Tent?
image via: pixabay
A truck tent is a type of tent specifically designed to attach to your vehicle. That can mean that the tent is designed to sit in a truck bed, on the ground attached to the back of an SUV or minivan, or on a trailer. Obviously, the type of truck tent that will work for you varies based on the type of vehicle you have, along with many other factors.
These tents either give you much more room than a standard tent by encompassing your vehicle into the interior space, or they allow you to utilize your empty truck bed, rather than to allow it to be wasted space once you arrive at camp and unpack.
In addition to being space saving by nature, the tents that sit off of the ground on a trailer or in a truck bed get you up and out of harm’s way. When you’re camping, especially near a river or lake, you run the risk of waking up very wet. It’s an unfortunate reality, and even though tent manufacturers have done their best to counter this, nothing helps like being off of the ground.
Buyer’s Guide: What to Consider Before Buying a Truck Tent
image via: pexels
A tent is not a cheap purchase by any means, especially a truck tent, so it’s important to take some things into consideration before you pull the trigger on buying your tent. Here are several things we think you’ll want to look into before you buy:
- Ventilation Points
- Built-in Floors
- Cab Access
Ventilation is an important consideration in any tent. If you have inadequate ventilation, you may be depriving yourself of oxygen, and you’re definitely risking condensation occurring on the inside of your tent. It’s important to ensure the vent points or windows in your tent will be above the sides of your truck bed, or they may as well not exist at all.
Ventilation can come in the form of small mesh holes or pockets at inconspicuous points on the tent or windows that you can zip and unzip as necessary. How many windows or vents you need is up to you, but we recommend not buying a tent that doesn’t have at least two windows and at least a few vent points for maximum comfort and reliability.
Most truck tents are pretty straightforward regarding installation, with the average installation time running under 30 minutes, but it’s never a bad idea to look out for installation features that will make your life easier. Obviously, the size and number of poles that come with the tent will play a role in how easy it is to install, but a few other things will factor in as well.
Features like color-coded poles and pockets, automatically raising tents, and pre-installed poles are all bonus features that will make your life easier when you first arrive at camp. Keep an eye out of these and other features to encourage simplicity of installation.
Almost every truck tent comes with poles, as with ground tents, but what those poles are made out of can affect your ability to enjoy your camping experience. Aluminum poles are strong, but lightweight, so they are ideal for camping in all weather conditions, including high winds. Fiberglass poles are light as well, but their strength is questionable, especially in cold or windy conditions.
Tents come in a variety of different materials, but the majority are made from either nylon or polyester because these materials are inexpensive, light, and quick to dry out. The only dilemma with these manmade materials is their lack of insulation and their lack of natural breathability. They are also noisy, so sleep isn’t always so easy in nylon and polyester tents.
Cotton and canvas tents are also available, but they typically come with a higher price tag than their counterparts. They are great because they can breathe and absorb water, nearly eliminating any condensation issues you would normally have. They are also heavier, so they tend to be better insulators for fall or winter camping. Bonus: they smell nicer than other tents.
There are also poly-cotton tents, which are made from a hybrid of polyester and cotton materials. These tents pretty much take every good thing about both tent types and put them together into a super tent. These are the hardest to come by, and definitely the most expensive on the market, which is their only real drawback.
One feature that truck tents don’t share with your typical tent is that not every one of them comes with a floor. This may seem odd, but floors have their advantages and disadvantages when you’re setting up a tent in your truck bed. The bed itself can act as the floor, and not having a built-in floor can help save you time clearing out the bed of the truck during setup.
On the other hand, having the floor can put an extra layer of comfort between you and your truck bed, or between your air mattress and your truck’s bed. Floors also act as a way to seal out the outside completely, whereas not having a floor can allow a little too much nature in at times.
Most tents come with at least one or two storage pockets, but some do not. It’s always good to ensure you have storage in your tent for smaller items like glasses or other things you will need with you, but don’t want to be rolling over all night while you’re trying to sleep. It’s a small thing, but you will miss it if you don’t have it in your new tent.
Some truck tent models come with a window in the rear that is meant to hook up to the window in the back of your truck cab. That may seem arbitrary, but if you want to put purses and wallets safely within the cab, but still have access to them if you’re the first one up or if you need them quickly, it’s a great feature. Not a necessity, but something to consider before you buy.
How We Choose Our Ratings
So now you know what to look for in a truck tent, but which ones are the best on the market today? We’ve found ten that we think are excellent, and we know that you’ll find one on our list that works for you.
Not only do we base our ratings on the specs of each truck tent, but we also spend time checking out what other customers have to say. Considering positive and negative feedback, we select a rating using a five-star system.
[amazon link=”B0034VYQQ6″ title=”Kodiak” /]
If your goal is to purchase a heavy-duty truck bed tent that will work in almost any size bed, the Kodiak Canvas is a great choice. It features duck canvas exterior and steel poles for strength and durability. It also has five windows, so you’ll never feel closed in or have moisture issues. One of the windows even connects you to your truck’s cab for extra security.
This is the only canvas tent on our list, and that does come with a hefty price tag. With unmatched durability and usefulness in almost any weather, this is a great tent for serious campers who will go out all times of year and want a product that will last for years to come.
[amazon link=”B00FSBE7MI” title=”Rightline” /]
This truck bed tent comes in a variety of sizes for your convenience. It’s highly rated across the board and gets excellent customer reviews. The tent is large enough for two full-size adults to sleep in comfortably and is easy to set up with color-coded poles and pockets. The tent isn’t as simple as some for a single person to put together, but with a second set of hands, it’s a breeze.
The Rightline Gear full-size doesn’t come with a built-in floor, which means you won’t be stuck unloading your truck bed entirely before you put it up. It does, however, mean that you might get closer to nature than intended, and you may want to bring an air mattress or cot with you for comfort. A bonus of this tent is that it comes with a hook for a light inside.
[amazon link=”B003C4XJX6″ title=”Guide Gear” /]
With over 5’ of headroom and a large enough space for an air mattress for two, Guide Gear’s full-size truck tent is a great value. The tent is made from waterproofed polyester, comes with mesh windows for ventilation, and a rain fly for privacy and protection from the elements. This tent is also equipped with a built-in floor to put a little bit of fabric between you and your truck bed.
The downside to this tent is that it comes with fiberglass poles, which aren’t quite as sturdy as their aluminum counterparts, and that it doesn’t come with options for various bed sizes. The lack of specific sizing may become an issue on your truck, so it’s best to look carefully at measurements before you buy.
[amazon link=”B004O74Y7K” title=”SportZ ” /]
This stylish and roomie truck bed tent is popular for a good reason. It features two large, mesh windows on the sides and a third access panel that meets up with your truck’s rear window for access to the cab from your tent. The Sportz truck tent even comes with an awning that hooks to your tailgate to help protect you from the sun as you enjoy your morning coffee.
This is another tent that comes with color-coded poles and sleeves for easy setup. It also has a sewn-in floor, something that is hard to come by in truck bed tents. The tent comes in multiple sizes that fit true to your truck bed, so you’ll have to do much less work ahead of time to ensure you purchase the correct size. The downside on this one is that the door is a bit awkward.
[amazon link=”B00ASYOUFE” title=”Napier” /]
This tent can work for both trucks and SUVs, which makes it a great option for families with both types of vehicles, or if you’re not ready to commit to a truck bed tent just yet. It comes in a variety of size options to fit your needs, and all sizes allow for at least two adults to sleep comfortably. The sewn in floor puts space between you and the elements as well.
Privacy isn’t the most pressing matter with this tent, as the only thing between you and the outside world is the rain fly, so if you are in need of more ventilation, you may find yourself getting to know your neighbors a little more intimately than planned. Aside from that, this is a solid tent by a well-known brand. It’s lightweight, easy to set up, and great for beginners.
[amazon link=”B003C53BGA” title=”Guide” /]
With its big brother making our list earlier, it’s not shocking that the Guide Gear compact tent would come up as well. This tent is a smaller, but still solid, version of the other Guide Gear tent we’ve discussed. It comes in the same waterproofed polyester material with a built-in polyethylene floor and mesh windows for excellent ventilation.
When we say compact, we mean compact. This tent doesn’t give you anywhere near the space that most of the other tents on this list give, but if you’re only using your tent to sleep you shouldn’t have a problem. It comes with a rainfly to protect you from the weather as you sleep, and the low price is enough to intrigue almost any consumer.
[amazon link=”B00YXZJMCK” title=”Napier” /]
If you have an SUV and space is the name of the game, look no further. The Sportz SUV tent is just as solidly built as it’s truck bed brother, but with the space and luxury you’d expect in a typical ground tent. This model sleeps five to six people comfortably (four to five adults), and attaches to your vehicle through a cargo sleeve, so you have access all night long.
The pole structure is easy enough for one person to set up, although it can get heavy since the poles are made of steel and fiberglass. As an SUV tent, the built-in floor is a must, but the addition of a “porch” area on the front is just a bonus. Another bonus is that this tent can be transformed into a traditional tent when you need to take your SUV on a day trip.
[amazon link=”B0031IOXSS” title=”Napier Outdoors” /]
The third and final tent by Sportz on our list is the Avalanche III. The name comes from the design, which was built specifically to fit on the Chevy Avalanche. Despite the debates about the merits of a truck like the Avalanche, the team at Sportz wanted to give Avalanche drivers a way to utilize their beds as the big boys can and created a solid tent to help them do just that.
The awning on this tent is larger than on the regular Sportz model at 6’ by 6’. The tent comes with two interior storage pockets and a gear loft, so you’ll never feel like you’re running out of storage space. The sewn-in floor will help to keep you away from the elements, and this tent is still able to sleep two adults comfortably with five and a half feet of headroom.
[amazon link=”B007WT1GYQ” title=”DAC Full” /]
This is not the prettiest of the tents we’ve seen here today. However, it is incredibly versatile and easy to use. This tent fits trucks and SUVs that have tailgates that are equal to or greater than 58” wide. It can also fit over carrier racks and on flat back camper tops, so you’ll likely never run out of uses.
The DAC full-size truck tent has the best ventilation of anything on our list, but that does come at a price. It tends to allow too much nature in at times, with an inability to keep out bugs or rain incredibly well. It’s a great model for overnight camping if you’re in a hot, dry environment, though.
[amazon link=”B004HLZTHM” title=”Honda” /]
This is an SUV tent made specifically for those of your with a Honda CR-V, Element, Odyssey, or Pilot. It has a 6’x6’ rainfly to add protection even over a small outside area where you can enjoy morning or evening views from your campsite. The tent offers full vehicle access on one side and a traditional D-shaped tent door on another, so you’ll never feel trapped.
This can be used as a stand-alone tent as well as an attachable tent, which is great if you need to leave your campsite with your vehicle and come back later on in the day. It comes with a double-coated ripstop polyethylene floor to keep wear and tear to a minimum, but it can get pretty heavy, so it’s best if more than one person handles setup and tear down.