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HomeHiking10 Truck Tenting Ideas for Newcomers – Bearfoot Idea

10 Truck Tenting Ideas for Newcomers – Bearfoot Idea


People have been sleeping in autos for the reason that invention of the wheel however by no means earlier than in human historical past has the thought of it been fairly so… glamorous. For many people outdoorsy folks, an honest portion of our social media feeds are crammed with van lifers, RVers, skoolie-dweller, and truck campers. We’ve in all probability additionally spent an excellent chunk of time desirous about what life on the highway may seem like and what sort of automobile would finest go well with our wants. As with most decisions, each type of automobile has its deserves and limitations.

For me, in terms of life on the highway, nothing beats an excellent ol’ normal pickup truck for truck tenting. Vehicles are easy, accessible, and reasonably priced. There are a whole lot of explanation why a truck is smart however most of all, truck tenting offers you simpler entry to off-road locations. They may not be as spacious or have as many conveniences as vans or RVs, however vans can get you locations that your different choices merely can’t. If getting off the crushed path is your important aim, a truck may be the most effective automobile for you.

I’ve discovered quite a bit over the previous couple of years of sleeping in my truck and listed below are my prime 10 truck tenting ideas for newbies.

All photographs courtesy of Jono Melamed

Discover the Proper Mechanic

The primary rule of truck tenting is that you simply gained’t be tenting anyplace in case your truck can’t get you there. That’s why my first tip is to search out not simply any mechanic, however one which understands the type of driving and off-roading you’ll be doing together with your truck.

You don’t need a mechanic that may simply undergo the traditional oil modifications and tire rotations. As an alternative, you wish to discover somebody that may assist you make choices about upgrades and offer you concepts about arrange your upkeep schedule. Most significantly, an excellent mechanic will construct a relationship with you and your automobile over time and learn to take care of it by doing so.

Not like different autos, investing in an journey rig is greater than only a monetary funding. It’s an emotional one, too. Autos that you simply take into the backcountry will develop into a part of essentially the most memorable experiences that make your life so particular. End up a mechanic that truly desires to be part of that.

Pickup truck with camper parked in front of mechanic shop with yellow sign that says "Quality 4x4"
Discovering an excellent mechanic that perceive your truck tenting way of life is crucial

Choose a Sturdy Truck Camper Cover

I’m now on my fourth iteration of truck tenting and, after two vans and 4 canopies, I’ve discovered that your cover is definitely extra vital than your truck. Your cover dictates how a lot room you’ve, the place you may go, and the way heat and dry you’ll be.

Truck canopies are available in all sizes and styles and are designed with a wide range of functions in thoughts. Some are constructed for easy storage whereas others are constructed to be a bit extra utilitarian.

The 2 fundamental supplies that truck canopies are made out of are fiberglass and aluminum. Fiberglass shells are typically extra form-fitting. They’re extra aerodynamic and lower down on wind drag, providing you with higher gasoline mileage. Aluminum canopies, then again, won’t be as streamlined, however they’re simpler to search out and could be simpler to work with in case you are pondering of doing modifications whereas designing your construct.

You’ll need a truck camper cover that’s:

  • Tight becoming: You don’t need gaps for water or chilly wind to get by means of.
  • Might be ventilated: Truck campers get scorching and smelly… You’ll want a approach to maintain air transferring all through.
  • Might be insulated: It is a large one. It might probably get chilly whenever you sleep in a truck, so that you wish to make sure that your truck camper could be insulated.
Rear access to truck camper with both doors open to the sides, showing platform bed and living space
Take your time selecting a truck camper cover since that is what’s going to maintain you heat and dry

Your Truck Isn’t a Van

This may appear apparent, but it surely’s price mentioning as a result of truck tenting and van tenting are sometimes fairly totally different.

The web has SO many concepts for construct out a automobile and whilst you can positively adapt some van life vibes to suit a truck camper, nearly all of van builds merely aren’t constructed to face as much as the beating that your truck may take nor do they accommodate the distinctive spacial challenges that come together with residing in a truck.

Whereas each model of residing in a automobile requires you to pair down your bodily possessions and embrace a extra sparse way of life, truck tenting is by far essentially the most minimalistic. You’ve got much less room to work with and chances are high, you’re driving on some fairly tough terrain, which tends to wreak havoc on all the pieces within it. It’s simply one thing to bear in mind.

From books to my favourite pocket knife, I’ve had nearly all the pieces you may consider scratched, sanded down, or in any other case ruined from rattling round in my truck. I’ve discovered to concentrate to how my belongings are stowed in order that they don’t bump towards one another whereas I drive. I’ve additionally discovered to line the underside of any not-so-smooth storage areas with a layer of froth or shelf liner and wrap delicate objects in material or retailer them in baggage the place they gained’t transfer round a lot.

Pickup truck with camper on remote dirt road is the desert with rocky mountains in the background
Truck tenting permits you to entry locations different autos can’t go, however you do need to sacrifice house and different ‘luxuries’

Plan Your Construct Round Your Gear

Earlier than you resolve in your truck camper construct, take into consideration what gear you’ll be bringing with you most frequently and design your construct round that.

Inquiries to ask earlier than planning your truck camper construct:

Asking your self questions like these will prevent a whole lot of grief down the road must you begin constructing and notice one thing vital doesn’t match. It’ll additionally give you a chance to look into your gear and substitute issues that would possibly match higher.

For example, through the years, I’ve both purchased or randomly discovered myself in possession of water jugs of all sizes and styles. As soon as upon a time, after I used to camp in a Subaru I saved my water in these 4-gallon cubes. Once I was desirous about placing collectively my first truck construct, I thought of my water state of affairs and determined that these jugs didn’t actually work, so I designed my construct round two Reliance 7-gallon Jumbo-Tainers. If I had designed my construct for the water jugs I had on the time, I wouldn’t have been in a position to match the jumbos which have now develop into my favourite water jugs.

Now, I’m not suggesting upgrading your entire gear earlier than you construct one thing in your truck. As an alternative, I’m suggesting performing an intensive audit of your gear and placing some actual thought into what’s working for you and what isn’t. If a specific piece of substances is totally good on your wants, nice! Plan on having one thing that dimension and form in your closing construct design.

Then again, if one thing isn’t actually doing its job and you’ll be changing it in some unspecified time in the future, perform a little research and give you an concept of what you may substitute it with down the road to be able to issue that in whereas finalizing your design.

Person filling cup from blue water jug in back of truck camper
Considering by means of your construct and designing it round your gear will save a whole lot of complications down the road

Give Every thing a Residence

Conserving your truck organized is nice for not solely your stuff but additionally your sanity. Creating an excellent organizational system will take a while, however belief me, it’ll be price it. It doesn’t matter if one thing lives in a bag, in a bin, or in a compartment of some form so long as it lives someplace. Some individuals choose to construct out drawer methods below their mattress, which could be very useful however can even add a bunch of weight to your truck camper. I personally choose to make use of plastic bins for smaller objects after which throw the entire large stuff in “the attic” cargo field up prime.

Listed here are a couple of useful group ideas for truck tenting:

  • Group objects collectively primarily based on what you employ them for. For instance, maintain cooking provides close to your meals bin, additional bedding multi functional place, and telephone and digital charging cords near your charging station.
  • Group issues primarily based on whenever you use them. For instance, objects that you simply don’t use fairly often can go in more durable to succeed in spots whereas belongings you use day by day needs to be extra simply accessible.
  • Have areas devoted for issues which may get put away moist, muddy, or in any other case disgusting. Life on the highway isn’t all the time the cleanest, however it can save you your self a whole lot of sanity if you happen to isolate the grimier features of it to some areas.
  • In terms of bins, bins, and baggage, select a number of small ones as an alternative of 1 or two large ones. This makes it simpler to seize simply what you want as an alternative of getting to lug round or unload all the pieces simply to search out one merchandise.

Optimize Your Outdoors Vibe

You set out on this journey so as to have the ability to spend extra time outdoors so don’t overlook to contemplate the realm round your truck as a part of your rig. The tailgate is the obvious and common out of doors function of your truck, however different areas will also be utilized and or designed round.

Arms-down, my favourite elements of my rig are those that permit me to comfortably be outdoors my truck whereas cooking, consuming, or working.

Listed here are my truck tenting out of doors necessities:

Campsite lit up by fire with double camp chair and truck camper nearby
Maximize your out of doors residing areas so you may take advantage of truck tenting

Get a Full-Sized Spare Tire

Ditch the donut… Simply do it. Normal subject spare tires aren’t made for adventurous people. As an alternative, they’re designed that will help you hobble residence on the pavement. I’ve seen greater than my fair proportion of spare tires explode whereas attempting to make it again to civilization and have since misplaced all religion within the donut.

Virtually each mechanic within the nation has a couple of outdated tires laying round so simply make a couple of calls and decide up one thing cheap however dependable so that you simply’re coated within the case of an emergency. It doesn’t need to be fancy, model new, and even match the model and mannequin of the remainder of your tires. It simply must be the identical dimension.

After you’ve ditched the donut and gotten a full-sized spare, test it typically. The one factor worse than having to drive by means of the backcountry on a donut goes to alter flat in the course of nowhere to search out out that your spare is someway additionally flat.

Carry an Emergency Communication Machine

In terms of trunk tenting, or actually all backcountry wilderness experiences, peace of thoughts goes a great distance. That’s why I consider everyone who spends time within the open air ought to have an S.O.S button and communication system in case of an emergency.

Having a approach to talk with the surface world is all the time a good suggestion, but it surely’s an particularly good concept when you end up someplace distant, like 15 miles into the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, the one place that I’ve ever really gotten caught in my truck.

There are a lot of options for backcountry communications, however I select the Garmin InReach Mini, which can be Kristen’s best choice.

Garmin inReach mini emergency communication device clipped onto black backpack

Have a Strong Truck Equipment

Having a strong assortment of truck instruments is not going to solely assist you out if and when issues go unsuitable however it is going to additionally allow you to assist others who discover themselves in equally precarious conditions. It’s crucial that the objects in your truck equipment are devoted to your truck and your truck alone. When you begin utilizing these instruments for different functions, the possibilities of them not being within the truck whenever you really need them will increase, which defeats all the goal of getting a truck equipment within the first place.

Right here’s an concept of what an excellent truck equipment seems to be like:

  • Jumper cables. Batteries die, it’s a easy truth of life.
  • Restoration straps. Having a restoration strap and a pair strong D rings has gotten me and my mates out of fairly a couple of predicaments. You by no means know when somebody may get caught and it’s all the time a good suggestion to have the ability to pull them out.
  • A foldable shovel. Having the ability to dig a gap is fairly helpful open air. Whether or not you’re burying a fireplace, digging out a caught automotive, or making your self a cat gap for an excellent morning poo, a foldable shovel is an effective factor to have mendacity round.
  • Work gloves. There are such a lot of causes to guard your fingers within the wild with work gloves.
  • A multi instrument. I’ve two of the very same multitool, a leatherman wave. One is normally on my belt or in my pack whereas the opposite lives in my glove compartment.
  • A toolbox. Everybody has a distinct concept of what must go in a truck toolbox however desirous about it and having considered one of your personal goes a great distance.
  • Tire strain gauge. Invaluable if you happen to’re going to be airing down your tires whereas offroading and likewise simply in terms of understanding what’s occurring together with your tires on the whole.
  • Ice scraper. De-icing with out one is a ache
  • Emergency batteries. Get your self an honest quantity of AA and AAA batteries and by no means ever use them until it’s an emergency. Critically, you wish to have them round.
  • Tarp. You by no means know whenever you may have to make an impromptu shade construction of maintain an space dry throughout a storm.
  • Emergency flashlight. Have you ever ever had your headlamp die whereas attempting to alter your good friend’s flat tire? I don’t suggest it.
  • First support equipment. It’s not a matter of if you happen to want a primary support equipment, it’s a matter of when. Being ready to deal all the pieces from minor cuts and bruises to extra main medical points is an integral a part of residing an adventurous life.
  • Rigging gear. I’m all the time amazed by how typically I find yourself needing to rig stuff on the highway. An excellent rope, some paracord, a couple of assorted bungies, and a pair ratchet straps goes a great distance.
  • Blankets. Having an emergency blanket within the truck that by no means comes out for laundry or for use in different tenting conditions could be the distinction between a brisk time and a harmful expertise.
  • A hearth starter equipment. Having the ability to make a fireplace is extremely useful in each the most effective and worst of instances. Having a couple of dependable lighters, some lighter fluid, and a few kindling could make you each the lifetime of the occasion and a lifesaver, relying on why it’s essential to fireplace.

Canines are a Truck’s Greatest Pal

It’s no secret that canine make just about all the pieces higher however when truck tenting, canine are greater than only a good time. Other than the entire enjoyable, a canine can present a truck camper with two fundamental however crucial utilities: warmth and safety. First, canine produce a whole lot of warmth which could be very helpful within the colder winter months. An excellent blanket and/or sleeping bag is certainly essential to maintain you snug at evening, however a pleasant snuggly pup can bridge the hole between snug and comfortable. Put them in your sleeping bag or subsequent to you below a blanket and prepare to get toasty.

When sleeping open air, security ought to all the time be a priority no matter whether or not you’re sleeping below a tarp, in a tent, or in a automobile. Selecting to sleep outdoors all the time brings with it the opportunity of an unwelcome encounter with wildlife or lower than savory personalities. Truck campers and different automobile dwellers have an added layer of this as a result of, regardless of how onerous you attempt to keep away from it, if you happen to spend sufficient time sleeping in autos then in some unspecified time in the future we’re gonna find yourself sleeping in a parking zone, on the aspect of the highway, or at a trailhead the place you won’t be alone.

Having a canine with you is rather like putting in an additional cute and moveable safety system. A loud and free alarm that acts as each an alert as to what’s occurring outdoors your truck and a deterrent for anybody or something in earshot.

No one desires to mess with a barking canine inside a truck… no one!

Black dog sitting on platform bed in back or truck camper lookout out over Utah canyonlands
Canines not solely maintain you firm, however they supply additional safety and heat as effectively

There are such a lot of alternative ways to go about tenting in a truck and everybody goes to do it otherwise. There’s no proper or unsuitable means, these have simply been a couple of issues that I’ve discovered throughout my time truck tenting.


Do you’ve your personal truck tenting ideas and tips? We’d love to listen to about them and your truck camper set-up. Tell us within the feedback beneath.

Curious about truck camping? Learn our best truck camper tips for beginners including what gear you need, how to prevent mishaps, and more.

Written by
Jono Melamed

Jono is a desert-dwelling artist, author, and designer that spends most of his time in a tiny purple pickup truck along with his canine, Leonard. The very first thing he remembers wanting in life was an olive. Subsequent, it was a canine. Then it was to go anyplace and in every single place, a lot in order that his dad and mom needed to put up a fence to maintain him from wandering into visitors. It’s been over three many years and that also says most of what it’s essential to find out about him. You’ll be able to be taught extra about what Jono does on his web site or his Instagram.

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