- Truck-bed tents are designed to help campers sleep off the ground and rest more comfortably.
- These tents create a sleeping area using the entirety of a truck’s bed, and are compatible with most truck sizes.
- Our top pick, the Napier Outdoors Backroadz, has a sewn-in floor, lots of headroom, and sets up quickly.
While the popularity of camping continues to grow, the methods by which people enjoy the activity has steadily evolved, as well. Gone are the days where the only option for sleeping is a ground tent that takes 30 minutes of fumbling with poles to set up. Campers today have many options for how they sleep including travel trailers, roof-mounted tents, or, the latest craze, truck-bed tents.
As the name suggests, truck-bed tents sit in the empty bed of a truck to create a similar structure to that of a ground tent. Like the size of the truck beds themselves, these tents vary in size, shape, and ease-of-use. The best models feature a sewn-in floor to offer added protection, while others have large awnings to provide added shade or an area to keep dry while it rains.
Even before I first used one, it was easy to see their benefit. Like rooftop tents, they allow you to sleep off the ground, protecting you from animals, insects, and an uneven sleeping surface. Most are designed to have plenty of interior space as well, creating a roomy sleeping area that affords campers enough room to store additional gear.
After spending just one night in a truck bed tent, I was hooked – it delivered on the perks I mentioned above and then some. Though using one does require all gear in the bed of a truck to be cleared out (which can admittedly be a bit annoying), the sleeping area it creates made me wonder why I ever slept on the ground while truck camping.
If you’re still on the fence, that’s understandable. Not only is it an odd way to camp but knowing where to even start looking for a tent can be difficult – not to mention knowing all the features one should have. To help, I’ve compiled a few of my favorite truck bed tents that are perfect for warm-weather campers, owners of compact trucks, and everyone in between.
Here are the best truck-bed tents:
- Best overall: Napier Outdoors Backroadz
- Best for durability: Kodiak Canvas Truck Bed Tent
- Best for rainy weather: Napier Outdoors Sportz
- Best for smaller truck beds: Righline Gear Compact Truck Tent
The Napier Outdoors Backroadz fits a wide range of truck bed sizes, has a full floor, can fit around truck-bed toolboxes, and features an easy-to-pitch design that can be set up in roughly five minutes.
Though the market for truck-bed tents continues to grow, no brand does it better than Napier Outdoors. With the Backroadz, Napier delivers a tent with quality materials, thoughtful design, and a fully-covered floor that’s easy to assemble. Not only is it our favorite tent we’ve tested, but it’s one of the least expensive.
The tent features 5.5 feet of headroom which may not allow most people to comfortably stand up but does give the interior a roomy, spacious feel. Its fully-covered floor means that it’s able to sit on top of even the dirtiest truck beds without bringing any of that dirt or grime inside. It also helps keep rain from dripping down the sides and into the tent.
Its color-coded tent poles make it incredibly easy to pitch, and it can even be done with just one person, though we recommend getting a second person to help. The tent is also versatile enough to be pitched on the ground and moved into the truck bed, or constructed in the bed itself.
The Backroadz comes with an included rain fly to protect against rain or snow, and its entryway extends to the end of a bed’s lowered tailgate, providing extra space to store luggage, gear, or pairs of shoes. One downside, however, is that it doesn’t come with an extended awning, which would offer even more protection in inclement weather.
With a price tag under $200, a roomy interior, and an easy-pitch design, the Napier Outdoors Backroadz is not just our favorite truck tent but one of the best on the market.
Pros: Inexpensive, color-coded poles make pitching easy, 5.5 feet of headroom, and fits many truck bed lengths
Cons: Doesn’t feature an extended awning
The best durable
Gear takes a beating while camping but the Kodiak Canvas Truck Bed Tent is designed to withstand whatever the outdoors throws at it, thanks to its watertight, waterproof 100% cotton duck canvas exterior.
One of the most important qualities of any type of camping gear is its durability. Regardless of its use, you want it to last. For the Kodiak Canvas Truck Bed Tent, durability is its best asset.
Constructed out of a 100% cotton duck canvas shell (Kodiak Canvas calls it Hydra-Shield), the tent is tough enough to withstand a beating. Its heavy-duty materials don’t limit the tent elsewhere, however, as it’s still highly breathable and offers a watertight fit into the bed of a truck.
The actual design of the tent differs from the others in our guide in that it’s shaped like a tunnel, and less like dome. This helps maximize the amount of interior space and helps it feel much roomier, even though it only has a 5-foot tall ceiling. It also has an extended awning that helps prevent rain from getting inside and creates a sort of staging area for getting in or out of the tent.
Its interior features gear pockets to stow headlamps, smartphones, or other smaller pieces of gear. Since it extends to the end of a truck’s tailgate, the opening creates a small area to store backpacks or duffle bags, as well.
One downside is that it doesn’t come with its own floor. This means the bed of the truck stays exposed the entire time. It also isn’t as comfortable as a tent with a built-in floor. We brought along a sleeping bag to help with this.
It’s the most expensive tent on this list, but for anyone who camps often and wants something capable of holding up in extreme conditions, the Kodiak Canvas Truck Bed Tent is the best pick.
Pros: Has a durable canvas exterior, its awning adds protection from the elements, able to be used in nearly any weather condition
Cons: Expensive, doesn’t come with its own floor
The best for rain
When the inevitable rainstorm hits, the Napier Outdoors Sportz tent has you covered with its 6-by-6-foot awning and rear access door, which lets you get inside your truck’s cab without having to step outside.
Camping in the rain doesn’t have to be a miserable experience, so long as you’re prepared. With the Napier Outdoor Sportz truck bed tent, being prepared is as simple as pitching a tent. Featuring a nylon exterior, tape-seamed rainfly, and a huge extended awning, this tent offers plenty of protection from inclement weather.
Measuring 5.6 feet in length with 5.5 feet of headroom, the Sportz offers enough interior space for two people plus gear. It even has a built-in gear loft which helps free up valuable floor space. The Sportz also comes with a sewn-in floor, which is considered a luxury for truck-bed tents.
Its tape-seamed rainfly and nylon exterior work well in keeping moisture like rain or condensation out, yet still provide enough ventilation to keep it from getting too stuffy. Its best feature is its 6-by-6-foot awning, which works well at keeping the entryway dry while also creating a sort of staging area directly outside. This is great for changing into dry clothes or having an area outside the tent for fresh air.
Napier color-coded the tent poles to allow for easy setup, though pitching the tent is much easier with two people. Expect the process to take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes depending on if there’s help or not.
The Sportz is well worth the investment for anyone who camps in areas with frequent rain, or who enjoys camping in either spring or fall. Napier makes some of the best truck-bed tents available and its Sportz is no different.
Pros: Has a large, 6-by-6-foot awning, features a rear access door for entry to a truck’s cab, has a built-in gear loft, and comes with a sewn-in floor
Cons: Setup can be difficult with just one person
The best for small truck beds
Rightline Gear’s Compact Truck Tent features smaller dimensions so it can fit inside a smaller truck bed, but it still feels roomy and comfortable.
One of the biggest factors to keep in mind before buying a truck tent is knowing the length of the truck bed you’re shopping for. You don’t want to be stuck pitching a large tent on a short truck. For smaller trucks, Rightline Gear’s Compact Truck Tent is the best option available as it’s compatible with a wide range of compact trucks from brands like Nissan, Toyota, or Ford.
The tent is constructed of water-resistant fabric with fully-taped seams, making it viable in both warm weather or rain. Setup requires just a few color-coded tent poles and can be done with just one person, though we recommend two to make it easier.
Its interior is noticeably smaller than other picks on this list, but Rightline Gear does a good job with the design to make it feel roomier. The tent’s shorter length and headroom is easily noticeable for taller people, but for a short truck bed, there aren’t many viable alternatives.
The tent features a large D-shaped entryway, a sky view window for stargazing, and several mesh windows which allow for increased airflow. Interior storage pockets flank either side of the tent and are good for storing smaller gear like smartphones or headlamps. It also features glow-in-the-dark zipper pulls and a lantern hook.
The Rightline Gear Compact Truck Tent is small without being inconvenient, and it’s one of the most cost-effective options for anyone who owns a shorter truck.
Pros: Fits shorter truck beds easier than a standard truck tent, weighs just 10 pounds, features glow-in-the-dark zipper pulls, and has fully-taped seams
Cons: Less than five feet of headroom can feel cramped for taller campers
The qualities that make a good truck bed tent aren’t entirely dissimilar from what you’d find in a standard tent, though there are some key differences. Here are some answers to the questions I hear asked most often:
What makes a truck bend tent different from a normal tent?
The name “truck bed tent” is no play on words; these kinds of tents are literally designed to be pitched in the bed of a truck. Aside from that major difference, truck bed tents are mostly carbon copy replicas of their on-ground kin. There’s a zippered door for getting in and out of the tent, likely a few windows for air circulation, and various other features like storage compartments, rain flys, and awnings.
What features should a truck bed tent have?
Most quality truck bed tents come with the same selection of features including a durable footprint (i.e. the bottom or floor of the tent), an entryway that sits at the tailgate of the bed, a set of windows that can zipper open and closed, and some form of storage.
More advanced truck bed tents may also come with some sort of extended awning that can act as outdoor shelter in inclement weather. It’s also recommended that you look for a tent that comes with an included rainfly. Even if you don’t plan on camping in the rain, it’s always smart to have a rain fly with you just in case.
Are truck bed tents harder to pitch?
The pitching process of a truck bed tent is probably its most glaring difference compared to on-ground tents. Though you’ll still use a series of poles to erect the tent, there are also a number of straps that you’ll need to use to actually secure the tent to the truck. This process can be a little tricky, especially for first-timers, but it’s always a good idea to follow any included instructions on how best to secure the tent.
What do I do with gear I’ve packed along in the bed of my truck?
One of the major downsides of a truck bed tent is having to clear out all gear or equipment you’ve packed along that’s in the bed of your truck. Though some campers may very likely already have everything unpacked and set up around camp, I’m the kind of person who leaves at least a cooler and a bag or two floating around while camping.
It’s certainly a hassle to have to essentially unload your gear from the bed of the truck and then reload it into the cabin, but it’s your only option when camping with a truck bed tent. Of course, you could leave any unloaded gear around your campsite, though I do recommend taking extra precaution and locking it up inside your car when you’re asleep.
How we test truck bed tents
Each of the truck bed tents featured in this guide went through a series of field tests to see how well they stacked up across these four categories: Ease of setup, durability, comfort, and value. Here’s how each category specifically factored into which tents made the cut:
Ease of setup: Setting up a truck bed tent certainly isn’t a walk in the park but you don’t want to be fumbling with tent poles and straps for 30 minutes. What I looked for when testing was both how intuitive the pitch process was and how clear the manual laid out each required step. Truck bed tents by nature are hard to set up but a clear explanation for how to do it can make a major difference.
Durability: Truck beds aren’t exactly soft, cushy areas to lay a tent — though, they are a bit less harsh than the actual ground. This means that any truck bed tent (namely, its footprint) should be able to withstand being in constant contact with the hard surface of a truck bed. This includes during setup, but also while you’re actually inside the tent and moving around. The tent should also be able to hold up to a variety of weather conditions (rain, wind, maybe even light snow).
Comfort: The exact comfort level of a truck bed tent can be improved upon based on the kind of sleeping bag, sleeping pad, or mattress you use, but comfort as it relates specifically to the tent deals more with how much available interior space there is. Cramped tents don’t make for many happy campers, and since there’s really no reason for a truck bed tent to not be at least as big as the bed it’s going into (along with what’s essentially an infinite amount of vertical space), a quality truck bed tent should never skimp on comfort.
Value: Value among outdoor gear is most often subjective to how you plan on using it, how often you plan on using it, and when you plan on using it. Truck bed tents are no different. While the tents I recommend aren’t exactly inexpensive, they are worthy investments that offer a great deal of value for anyone interested in doing more truck bed camping.
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