Tent camping has evolved over the years. From the first days when you needed a mule just to carry the heavy canvas dwelling, requiring rope, iron stakes, hammers, and hours of setup, to today’s offerings of lightweight, quick pitch shelters, and now … the industry has added vehicle tent options (also called truck tent camping). This category addition makes camping an even easier and more spontaneous experience. However, it’s important to understand that some research and preparation is required.
|Napier 57122 Full Size Regular Box 57 Series Sportz Truck Tent w/ Rain Fly||Truck Bed||4.8||$$$|
|Kodiak Canvas Long Truck Bed Full-size Tent||Truck Bed||4.8||$$$|
|Sportz SUV Blue/Grey Tent with Screen Room (10 x10 x7.25-Feet)||SUV||4.2||$$$|
|Tuff Stuff Overland Rooftop Camping Tent with Annex Room- Black Driving Cover||Rooftop - Can be used on Jeeps, SUV's, Pickup Trucks and more||4.9||$$$$|
|AirBedz Lite (PPI PV202C) Full Size Short and Long 6'-8' Truck Bed Air Mattress with DC Corded Pump (75"x63"x12" Inflated)||Inflatable air mattress for 8' and 6' truck beds||$|
Common Characteristics of Truck Tents
If you have ever considered camping in a tent that utilizes your car or truck, you should know that you couldn’t just drive to the store and arbitrarily pick one up off the shelf. The category of tent requires fit and functionality to pair with the vehicle of choice. Buyers must know their specific vehicle they intend to use the tent with and use the following categories to narrow your research to the best tent:
Make & Model of Vehicle
Truck Tents – There are several varieties of truck styles, but for tent purposes, the bed style is the most noteworthy. Truck bed styles range in size from short bed, long bed, full-size, step-side and compact. Each pickup bed design has varying bed sizes and require specific tents.
Above: Canvas Truck Tent 6 ft.
Rooftop Tents – Designed for Jeeps, SUV’s or Pickups, they come in several styles and often the tents designed for them are unique, but not always. Check carefully to ensure that the tent of your choice has functionality for your vehicle.
SUV Tents – The SUV subcategory is also selective as well, being that SUV’s can range in scale from midsized (i.e. Ford Explorer, Toyota Highlander, and Honda Pilot) to a full Size (i.e. Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon, and Ford Expedition). Review the specifications of your tent choice before purchasing to make sure that it can accommodate your specific make and model.
Van Tents – Minivans are relatively common in size and general shape. However, it is a good idea to know the specifications of each make and model (usually the measurements of the vehicle are sufficient).
Hatchback Tents – Some tents are classified as hatchback tents but fit into other make and model categories as well.
Tent Design Style
As previously mentioned, vehicle tents are designed to accommodate the specific car, truck, SUV, or van it’s accessorizing. Therefore, tents come in various design models:
- Roof tent models (or sometimes called truck top tents, rooftop tents or car top tents) usually come complete with a ladder and enclosure on the side or back of the vehicle, but the sleeping compartment is mounted on the rooftop of the vehicle
- SUV camping tent models cover the hatchbacks and rear portion of the vehicle and mount to the ground behind the car. A great example of this design is the Napier Outdoors tents.
- Pickup truck tent models cover the open portion of the truck bed and tailgate. They differ from models that end on the tailgate, never touching the ground, to those that extend from the cab, out past the tailgate and have a floor and door on the ground behind the vehicle.
Your tent purchase is an investment. Durability is important when you are set up for spontaneous camping in your car, truck, or SUV. If the tent cannot withstand the elements and the harsh conditions of being pitched and stowed multiple times, it’s not worth the price. As a wise shopper, you should know how well the tent is constructed and what the manufacturer is willing to cover under warranty. Kodiak Canvas makes a truck tent that stands out among the competition due to its unmatched durability, top quality construction, and heavy-duty weather resistance. The drawback is that it has more weight than other tents and can be trickier to pitch alone.
Ease of Use
The best tents will also pitch easily, with quick setups and stowing. The easiest designs will have foldable poles, color-coded pole systems, and strap protectors to protect your vehicle. Napier Outdoors has several models that fit this description. The Napier Sportz Truck Tent comes with all of the features mentioned here.
Features and Accessories
Manufacturers also make accessories to go with this kind of tent camping. Accessories include air mattresses specifically designed with wheel well cutouts to make your auto camping a comfortable experience. There are awnings that attach to roof racks, creating three walled screened rooms with insect netting, or creating an additional room on the side of the vehicle, or creating windbreaks. Manufacturers are producing LED light kits that connect to your vehicles power system for under awning and interior tent lighting, too. As the industry category continues to expand, so will the accessory options available.
Picking the Perfect Tent
Selecting the best truck/van/SUV tent is easier than you might think at first. Researching and shopping for your new tent can be exciting as you consider the possibilities. Remember though, that others have already gone before you and it would be wise to tap into that experience and knowledge by referring to the customer reviews. Unlike shopping directly from many manufacturers direct sites, finding those reviews is incredible easy at Amazon.com. Amazon allows tent users to rate their purchase of a product on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Those reviews make it super easy to know what benefits and limitations to expect with each purchase.
Truck Tent Reviews
Napier 57122 Full Size Regular Box 57 Series
This truck tent is specifically for truck beds and it is incredibly spacious inside. The truck tent fits an air mattress that is 6’5” in length. The dome top gives a lot of high head room so if you are a person of height then being you should not have an issue of feeling too tight inside one of these. This truck tent is big enough to have two people sleep comfortably. This is actually probably one of the few tents known to have a sewn in floor so that is an added bonus feature! Mossy Oak has also put their famous camouflage design on this tent to give it that nice finish most campers like. Along with the huge door that it already comes with, Napier also threw in a shade awning so on the days where it is incredibly sunny, you can relax in the comfort of your shady tent! The windows are on parallel sides of the tent and gives sufficient air ventilation. There is also a full rainfly to protect you from precipitation, which is also included with this truck tent that you can also detach if required. This is made out of a heavy duty nylon fabric so wetness should not be an issue for you!
Kodiak Canvas Long Truck Bed Full Size Tent
If you own a pickup with a full bed, this could potentially be your next purchase. The quality is impeccable. The fabric is made out of 100% Hydra-Shield cotton duck canvas so there is no way water is coming through your tent. They use a clamp-on system that uses clamps that go on the rails of the side of the truck bed and get stability from that. It has 3/4 inch steel tube frame that allows for an easy set up. It can attach to the cab so if you wanted to run a power cord to charge your electronics, it can be done! This tent has 5 mesh no see um windows so bugs would not be an issue for you and you will have a great amount of light and ventilation. This is good to use for any time of the year! This goes about 5 feet high and this also includes a shade awning so sunnier days will not be a bother to you!
SUV Tent Reviews
Sportz SUV Blue/Grey Tent With Screen Room
This SUV tent is great for those people who enjoy the outdoors with more than 4 people. The Sportz SUV tent has over 7 feet of headroom and includes a whole screen room that you can lounge in and not worry about being eaten alive by pestering bugs. On another side there is also a shade awning that can keep the hot sun out of your tent. The ventilation is great due to the large mesh windows and doors. The great part about this SUV tent is that it is a complete convertible tent! You can detach it from your vehicle and make it a regular camping tent if you truly wanted to by just removing the vehicle sleeve! The new steel and fiberglass pole structure allows it to be a one person setup. This is what I would call having the best of both worlds in camping!
Tuff Stuff Overland Rooftop Camping Tent with Annex Room
This is the rooftop type of tent. Maybe you are completely full in the trunk area and being as compact as possible is on your list of things to do. This tent comes with an aluminum ladder so you can conveniently climb up to your tent when you are ready to hit the sack. It already comes with a foam mattress built into it and you can set this up either sideways or parallel to your vehicle. The fabric that is used with this has UV and mold resistance, along with ripstop polyester and waterproof cotton. This SUV tent also has a black driving cover so setup and packing up is not a hassle and does not require any tools to set it up. There are 3 windows with awnings built in so lighting and ventilation are more than sufficient. This is large enough to sleep 2 people plus the annex room is also large enough to have a queen size bed, or a small dining table. This is great for the cross country traveler because you save so much money by just camping out in your vehicle. You truly do get your money’s worth out of this tent.
Tent Accessory Reviews
AirBedz Lite Full Size
These air mattresses are meant for truck tents and truck beds of course. They make the experience of sleeping in a truck tent so much more enjoyable. The AirBedz Lite Full Size air mattress includes an air pump so you do not have to strain yourself to pump the air bed yourself! The comfort coil system distributes air evenly to give all around comfort. This also has cutouts on each side which allow the mattress to comfortably fit around the wheel wells in the truck bed, therefore creating a sleeping area that utilizes basically the entire truck bed. The air mattress can also sleep two people easily! So gone are the days of looking for a way to trying to sleep well in a truck tent because this the solution to your issue.
Hit the Road!
As soon as you select that perfect tent and it’s delivered to your door, you are on your way. Load the car, gather your friends or family, and hit the road! Don’t be moved by the RV campers with their ultra-accommodations, or the traditional tent campers with their tent cities. They have nothing on you with your quick set, load-and-go capabilities. The possibilities are endless, if your vehicle can get there; your camping adventure is at hand.