The 7 Best Truck Bed Tents for Camping, Exploring, or Bug Out

Best Truck Bed Tents Review

Whether you need a solid truck bed tent for camping, or you’re prepping for a bug out situation, I think you will find this page informative and helpful.

If you’re here just wondering what truck tents are, basically, they’re compact camping tents that fit in the bed of your pickup truck. They pretty much turn your truck into a rudimentary camper of sorts. Truck bed tents are limited in their size because they are designed to fit comfortably in the bed of a truck. If you need more space but still prefer a truck bed tent, there are also available annex tents that can give you the extra space you desire.

These tents, owing to their mobility, quick setup, and compact nature are loved by survivalists and “preppers” alike, as they provide a solid, mobile structure in case you need to get away from large population centers due to the breakout of war, disease, lack of food, or other breakdown of normal society; and as such, having one of these tents in your supply cache may just save your life in the event of a major catastrophe; at least, they sure beat sleeping exposed to the hazards of the environment around you.

Camping with Truck Tents

They are held down with some sort of built in anchor, usually heavy-duty straps, in order to keep from sliding and to increase stability of the structure. They allow you to sleep in the bed of your truck, thus raising you off the ground, which can be a concern, and sometimes even a deal breaker, especially for those people who would otherwise love camping but cannot bring themselves to sleep on the ground for fear of insects, spiders, animals, and other living things.

If you find yourself fitting into one of these categories, or if you just want a cool, convenient, quick tent for your next camping trip, adding a truck bed tent to your available options may be the way to go to get you back out into the woods and into the joys of camping.

5 Tips to Find the Best Truck Bed Tent for You

Size: It has to fit your truck. Most will come with a manual that will specify compatibility guidelines, such as compatible brand/make, model, and model years that will fit the tent you are thinking about buying. This was, you don’t actually have to deal with measuring out the dimensions of your truck bed just to purchase a tent, although it won’t hurt anything if you measure everything just to be confident before spending the money to purchase the tent.

Design: This comes down to personal preference and requirements of functionality. Do you want a camo print so that you feel more blended in with the natural surroundings of the woods, or do you want a solid color?  Would you prefer a vertical zipping door or a D-shaped door that unzips all the was around?  Does your tent have appropriate ventilation for your intended use/number of occupants?  Does it have an optional shade shelter (like a mini covered porch or awning) so that you can sit a chair underneath without and enjoy the beauties of nature surrounding you without the sun or rain beating down on you?  All of these questions should be considered when choosing the right truck bed tent to ensure that you choose the model that meets all or as close to all of your preferred features as possible.

Material: Most truck bed tents will be made of synthetic waterproof fabric material like nylon or polyethylene. The main function here is keeping you safe and sheltered from the elements, while other materials provide varying levels of protection against fire as well, in case you are running a space heater or in case you accidentally knock over a gas-powered camping stove or lantern. The material that the tent is constructed from will affect its characteristics as well, including temperature inside the tent, so choosing the correct material for your needs should be one of the main purchase points to consider when buying a truck bed tent.

Weather/Temperature: Are you looking for a truck bed tent primarily for a single trip, or are you planning to use it over and over again?  If you are buying for single use, the weather, temperature, and seasonal characteristics of the area you are camping or traveling will be more of a minor consideration than a defining selling point. However, if you plan to use the tent over and over again, especially if you are an avid camper and not just a road-tripper using the tent to save on hotel costs; then you are going to want to take into consideration the average weather of the region for the time of year you are going when you are considering the tent to buy. Once you have bought your tent, you can plan your trips around the protection characteristics that your tent will provide you with.

Time to Set Up: Most truck bed tents feature quick, almost instant (minutes) set up via the use of a snap-pole frame and tie-down straps that secure the tent to the truck bed. When choosing a tent for your truck, in addition to making sure all of the other specifications meet your needs, but make sure also that the time to set up is also within your needs. From model to model, the variation in time to set up will not be too much of an issue, so this feature point will end up being more of an afterthought instead of a primary selling point or deal breaker.

Here Are the Best Truck Bed Tents in 2019

1. Rightline Gear 110730 Full-Size Truck Bed Tent

Rightland Gear Full Size Truck Bed Tent

This full-sized truck bed tent features a floorless design, which means that you can place a space heater or personal air conditioner on the ground without fear of catching the floor material on fire as well as the ability to leave you gear and other belongings packed in the bed of your truck without removing them each and every time you pitch or tear down.

Featuring a sleep space of 6.5 feet in length, even the very tall among us will be able to comfortably fit in this tent’s space with a few inches to spare.

At under 200 dollars, it is a moderately priced tent that won’t set you back too much, but at the same time, there are other full-sized truck bed tents on our list that are much more affordable. At 9.5 pounds, it is relatively lightweight, about the same as a fully-featured business or gaming laptop computer and just about a pound and a half more than a gallon of milk.

Special features include two built-in gear pockets for keeping your valuable gear close by, a lantern hanging hook, highly visible, glow-in-the-dark zipper pulls, and a sky view vent for added ventilation as well as a view of the stars.

Comes with a truck sizing guide that specifies dimensions and measurement instructions for ensuring compatibility with your make and model of truck.

Key Features:

  • Floorless design allows you to keep your gear in the truck bed during setup/teardown.
  • Full-sized tent.
  • Packed full of special features.

2. Napier 57 Series Full Size Tent

Napier 57 Series Truck Tent with Rainfly

At under 300 dollars, this is one of the most expensive truck bed tents on our list, but it is unique in design and features, and is literally the only truck bed tent on the market equipped with a patented sewn-in floor. This tent features a rear access door for accessing the contents stored in the truck cabin. This rear access door can also allow you to feed air conditioning or heat from the truck as well; but to do this, you need to take into consideration your fuel level, as you will need to keep the truck running to keep the battery charged while cooling or heating the tent this way.

At 5.6 feet of available head-space, this is not the largest tent on our list, but will allow you to move around without hunching over too much, unless you are super tall. This tent is constructed of polyester and nylon, sleeps two, and is meant for camping in 3 out of the four seasons. It also includes an interior pocked, two windows and a divider for extra ventilation, a color-coded pole system for easy, foolproof setup; as well as a full rain fly to keep you dry in even the wettest of weather.

Key Features:

  • Packed full of features
  • Full rain fly for protection from the wettest downpours.
  • Large and roomy interior.

3. NAPIER Backroadz Truck and SUV Tent (Best Value)

Napier Outdoor Camping SUV Tent

This truck tent has many of the features of the more expensive model immediately preceding, including a sewn-in floor, full rain fly, and only sacrifices one inch of available headroom, coming in at 5’5”. However, at around 150 dollars it is half the price. It is specially designed to fit in the back of your truck or attach to your SUV with the door open so that you can access extra living/storage space as well as use the heating and A/C of the SUV for a momentary warm-up or cool-down.

This tent, while not the cheapest in our list, is the best value with regards to cost-to-features ratio out of all of the truck bed tents we have reviewed.

This tent also includes a full rain fly for protection from the wettest conditions.

Special Note About Rain Flies: It is a good idea to test the water resistance of the of any rain fly, not just the one that comes with this tent, before taking it out into the field. If you find that your rain fly is not 100% waterproof, using a waterproofing material to coat the rain fly cover before use will make sure you are completely prepared for whatever conditions you face.

Key Features:

  • All the features; half the price.
  • Includes travel bag.
  • SUV compatibility.
  • Full rain fly for extra protection from the elements.

4. Kodiak Canvas Tent (Recommended)

Kodiak Tent for Truck Bed

This tent is unique. There’s no other way to describe it. It is made of 100% cotton canvas, meaning that it is watertight and breathable, so you will stay protected from the elements while not suffering from overheating in the summer. It is useful for camping in any condition, and it has a unique tunnel shape that maximizes the available space.

It is the most expensive tent on the list, but it is packed full of features that are superior to other tents on the list in terms of quality and durability. The frame is constructed with 3/4”-diameter steel tubing, so it is built to stand to to whatever you can throw at it.

Also features tailgate-down design to increase available floorspace, and is one of the few tents rated for all-season conditions for year-round use. Finally, when you combine it’s 5 windows with the breathable canvas fabric design, ventilation will never be a problem. If you can afford it, there’s no better tent for year-round use.

Key Features:

  • Steel frame that securely mounts to truck bed.
  • Tailgate-down design.
  • Unique tunnel shape for maximum space utilization.
  • Breathable canvas material and 5 windows for amazing ventilation.
  • All-season.

5. Tuff Stuff Ranger Overland Rooftop Tent (Most Spacious)

Huge Truck Bed Tent

This compact truck bed tent deploys almost instantly, in several minutes, and provides a comfortable shelter that, like all truck bed tents, gets you and up to one other camping partner up off the ground. It includes polyethylene flooring and a large interior area. Slightly smaller than some of the other tents listed here, it is worth sacrificing the very negligible amount of lost space for the price tag, which comes in just under $75. Other similar but slightly larger truck bed tents can go for upwards of $300, and while they may include some other creature comforts, this tent here has every you could ask for in a quick, reliable, comfortable shelter. Throw in a compact air mattress for added comfort.

Key Features:

  • Most features and freebies of any tent reviewed, including annex and mattress.
  • Most spacious of any tent on our list.
  • Aluminum frame means it is strong but lightweight at the same time.

6. Guide Gear Compact Truck Tent

Small and Compact Truck Tent by Guide Gear

This compact truck bed tent deploys almost instantly, in several minutes, and provides a comfortable shelter that, like all truck bed tents, gets you and up to one other camping partner up off the ground. It includes polyethylene flooring and a large interior area. Slightly smaller than some of the other tents listed here, it is worth sacrificing the very negligible amount of lost space for the price tag, which comes in just under $75. Other similar but slightly larger truck bed tents can go for upwards of $300, and while they may include some other creature comforts, this tent here has every you could ask for in a quick, reliable, comfortable shelter. Throw in a compact air mattress for added comfort.

Key Features:

  • Well designed (compact).
  • Polyethylene flooring.
  • A lot of space in the interior.

7. Milliard Truck Tent for Standard 6.5ft Bed

Millard Truck Tent for 6.5 Foot Bed

Rounding out our list is this full-sized offering from Millard. While it is not as feature-packed as many some of the other tents on this list, it is a great value at under $100. It is designed for quick deployment and setup, and features tie-down straps to secure it to your truck bed. Includes a rainfly and a sewn-in floor so you won’t get dirty from debris on your truck bed floor, as well as a privacy-enhanced mesh door so no one can see in. It is constructed of super-tough rip stop material so you won’t have to worry about snagging the fabric and damaging your tent.

Key Features:

  • Very affordable.
  • Includes rain fly and sewn-in floor.
  • Designed for quick and easy setup and tear down.
  • Comes with one lantern hook and one storage pocket.

Uses for Truck Tents

Camping: Obviously, the number one reason for buying a truck bed tent is to take it on a leisurely camping trip. They provide an extra layer of comfort as opposed to a two-man tent on the ground, as it may be possible to slide open the back window of your truck and use either a built-in feature (or a self-modification) to climate-control the inside of the tent with the air conditioning or heater of the truck itself. While it will definitely take fuel to do this just a quick session with the heater or A/C will do the trick, and as soon as you are comfortable, you can shut it off again to preserve fuel.

Travel/Exploring: If you are traveling a long distance on the road in your truck, you can use a truck bed tent to stop and get rest when you need it instead of stopping at a motel or hotel. Most of us have a finite amount of monetary resources budgeted out for these types of trips and freeing up some of your funds that you would have normally spent on lodging at a hotel or motel means that you can save more of your hard-earned money or spend more of it on something you actually want to spend it on.

Bug Out: Bugging out is the process described above of “getting out of Dodge” when things get catastrophic, either because of an action taken by an oppressive government, martial law, natural disaster, or other situation in which normal society ceases to function. The process describes going to a distant, secluded place in the middle of nowhere to protect yourself and your loved ones by leaving large population centers to avoid the potential violence and chaos that occurs when these kinds of catastrophes happen. Truck bed tents, with their fast set up and ability to allow you to remain mobile by staying attached to your vehicle, are a perfect choice in case you ever need to take off in a hurry. Hopefully, this never happens, but if this is why you are buying a truck bed tent, the peace of mind you get just from knowing that you already have the problem of shelter already figured out can be priceless.

FAQ

Are there any 4 season truck bed tents?

Yes. In our list above, the Kodiak offering is rated for all-season use. Most of the others on our list are rated for 3-season use, but depending on where you are geographically, you may be able to use it year round. Furthermore, using a space heater (or even the truck’s heater for models with rear access panels) for a brief period of time will warm you up very quickly, and your body temperature and sleeping bag will take care of the rest. Just make sure that you observe common-sense safety precautions when using any electrical or heated device inside of a closed space, and always ensure that adequate ventilation is present to avoid the buildup of carbon monoxide.

During the summer, you have the option of cooling down with either a portable fan or a personal air-conditioning device.

However, if you live in an area that is prone to heavy snowfall, you may want to make sure that no snowstorms are forecasted before you embark on your journey, as none of these tents are designed to handle the weight of a large snowfall accumulation and the stress of the load could overwhelm the frame and cause structural failure of the tent.

Can I use a truck bed tent in the winter?

You certainly can. Even if your truck bed tent does not come stock with an opening in the back, with very little modification, you can have the air from the truck cabin circulated into the tent by opening the back sliding glass window on your truck. Then, you  can modify the tent to push right up against the back glass, crank the truck, and turn the heat on.

That’s just one suggestion for keeping warm while camping during the winter. You can also use a portable space heater, which will heat up your tent in no time. However, these can become very hot, very fast; and you want to make sure that your tent material is flame retardant. If you opt to use a kerosene heater or other type of space heater, make sure you are mindful of and loose material surrounding it. The last thing you want is a fire started by something that could have been 100% avoided by employing simple safety measures. Because of this, some camping experts will advise against using space heaters inside of your tent, and will simply suggest that you warm up around a campfire and then zip up in your sleeping bag to keep warm. While this method may be satisfactory, it is not really comfortable by any means if you are camping in close-to-freezing weather. This is why we are of the opinion that, so long as you observe simple safety precautions, you will be fine.

So, the answer is a resounding “yes,” just like you can camp I the winter in a regular tent of just about any size, you can do the same in your truck bed tent. The key is simply to observe good safety practices, not just when utilizing space heaters, as mentioned above.

Furthermore, the decision of whether or not to camp in the winter is going to have quite a bit to do with your geographic location, as well. For instance, in Florida, you can camp in the winter and your body heat, combined with a zipped up sleeping bag and tent, will produce enough heat for your tent to remain pretty toasty from this alone. However, if you are going on a winter excursion somewhere with a much colder winter, such as Ohio or other areas in the northern part of the United States, you are definitely going to want to use something else to keep warm.

Personally, I like the idea of opening up a back flap and connecting some sort of vent (like a dryer vent or similar) to move the heated air from inside of the truck cabin straight into the tent.  You would not need to do this very long, and once the tent is warmed up, again, your body temperature (about 1000 BTU per person is the average amount of heat produced by the human body) will keep the temperature inside to a manageable state.

As a matter of fact, you may actually find that you enjoy winter camping a bit more than camping on a hot summer night. For instance, the risk of annoyance and itchiness from bug bites drops to almost zero when the temperature drops past a certain degree. If you live in an area that has known cases of exotic, mosquito-borne diseases, such as the terrifying Zika virus, camping in the winter literally eliminates the chance of contracting the virus, as it is only transmitted via blood-to-blood. Without mosquitoes to spread it in this way, your risk goes away.

Our last winter camping trip is the most obvious and really needs no explanation. That is, if you plan on participating in some fun winter camping, bring winter clothes and layer them. In more temperate climates, this may be all you need to keep warm in conjunction with your sleeping bag and campfire.

How long do truck tents take to set up?

That depends on the model you purchase. Many snap-pole models can be set up within minutes, just like any other snap-pole tent. Larger tents with frames made from multiple pieces of steel or aluminum tubing may take a little longer, but the trade off that comes with sacrificing super fast set up in order to camp in comfort with peace of mind is well worth it.

What are some recommended accessories to pair with a truck tents?

  • Lanterns for seeing your way around in the dark.
  • Fan or personal air conditioning device.
  • Blow-up air mattress or foam mattress.
  • Small generator for electrical power.
  • Solar panel-powered charging station to keep your electronics operational without wasting generator fuel.
  • Annex tent for changing clothes and extra storage.

Final thoughts

Here are some of my References:

Wikipedia: Truck Tents

Quora.com: Types of Tents

Recreation.gov: Information on Camping

If you have a truck or SUV, a truck bed tent or SUV-compatible tent is an efficient way to basically turn your truck into a small camper. The only thing you will be missing is the in-camper restroom and kitchen. When choosing a truck bed tent, consider the possible conditions of the area you are camping in and pick the tent that will meet all of your needs.

After all, if you overestimate you needs, you can deal with the additional features by simply not using them. However, if you underestimate your needs, there’s nothing you can do to make up for it besides just grinning and bearing it.

Let me know if you have any questions or comments below.

Semper Fi,

Corporal Wabo

Leave a Comment