Best Truck Tents: Sleep Comfortably a Few Inches off the Ground
Use your truck bed for a safe and comfortable night’s sleep with these top-rated truck tents
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PUBLISHED ON August 3, 2019
Truck tents are for people who hate to sleep on uncomfortable ground. They give you a sense of security and make you feel safe in your truck instead of pitching a tent out in the open alone and unprotected. Furthermore, sleeping off the ground feels almost as comfortable as sleeping in your bed at home. If you love camping and also have a truck, consider using these top truck tents.
- Best OverallNapier Backroadz Truck TentSummarySummaryA full-size truck bed tent that can fit two people. It’s well-ventilated and is compact enough to be a permanent part of your truck.ProsProsEnough space for two. Includes a sky-view design. Water-resistant. Includes a rain-fly. Sufficient headroom. Includes four windows for increased ventilation and views. Easy to set up.ConsConsMade of a fragile material. Expensive. Not great for windy weather.
- Best ValueGuide Gear Compact Truck TentSummarySummaryA fully enclosed tent that will keep you dry during rainy weather and clean from a dirty truck bed.ProsProsAffordable. Features a water-resistant coating. Fits well. Plenty of room. Good for windy and rainy weather. Comfortable. Includes a sewn-in floor. Lightweight.ConsConsPoor ventilation. Unclear setup instructions. Fragile tent pole.
- Honorable MentionRightline Gear Truck TentsSummarySummaryA floorless truck tent that encloses the truck bed and doesn’t collect any debris from the truck floor.ProsProsYou can set up and remove the tent without touching the bed. Great design. Includes color-coded poles for an easy setup process. Enough space for two adults. Excellent ventilation. Water-resistant.ConsConsDoesn’t hold up well in strong winds. Poor quality zippers, seams, and stitching.
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Benefits of a Truck Tents
- Convenience. Having a truck tent means that you won’t have to wander around looking for the best campsite. You get to sleep in a warm and dry place that’s not bug-infested. Also, you can set up the tent before you leave for your camping trip so that you could spend more time exploring the outdoors.
- Portable. Flood conditions, bug infestation, insufficient space, and other safety issues may force you to take down a pitched tent and change locations. However, if you have a truck tent, you won’t have to take down anything but simply drive your truck to a better location.
- Protect your belongings. If your camp location has plenty of wildlife then truck tents keep your personal property elevated to prevent scratches by small animals and pest infestation. However, a truck tent is not a guarantee against bigger animals like bears.
Napier enterprises were the first to invent tuck tents back in 1990. Roman Napieraj pioneered the invention. It’s currently one of the largest manufacturers and distributors of vehicle camping tents, and its tents are used all over North America, Europe, and Australia. The company markets two brands: Backroadz and it's signature brand, Sportz. Some of its best truck bed tents are the Napier Backroadz Truck Tent and the Sportz Truck Tent.
Loran Evans founded Rightline Gear in 2008 as an automotive aftermarket equipment manufacturing company. It specializes in a wide line of truck tents, car top carriers, cargo nets, jeep wrangler, and truck accessories. The company’s headquarters and product testing facility is located in Asheville, N.C., and its products are sold internationally via a chain of retailers. One of its best truck camper tents is the Rightline Gear Truck Tents.
For over a decade, Kodiak has been supplying the automotive industry with some of the finest and most comfortable canvas tents available. It manufactures flex-bow, cabin, screen house, swag, and truck tents. The company is based in Layton, Utah, and its tents are made from 100 percent cotton. Kodiak also designs sleeping bags, tarps, and floor liners. One of its best pick-up truck tents made from cotton duck canvas is the Kodiak Canvas Truck Bed Tent.
Truck Tent Pricing
- Under $150: The truck bed tents within this price range are typically easy to assemble and offer a fast and comfortable shelter for a maximum of two people. However, most are poorly ventilated, fragile, and aren’t as weather-resistant as high-end tents. These cheap versions are recommended for occasional campers and typically do well in warm weather.
- $150 to $300: This mid-range price level contains some decent truck tents that come with great designs but short service lives. It also includes some of the best weather-resistant tents. It’s the convenience features that sells these products. For instance, a tent with more windows, a bathtub flooring, interior storage space, and a flap on the entrance door will be more expensive than one without all the extra features.
- Over $300: Most tents within this price range have a tough construction that gives them unsurpassed durability. The tents either come in fully enclosed or floorless designs, have sufficient headroom, and can fit in most trucks. Most of these tents also come with a weather-resistant package.
Look into the height and width of the tent to determine comfort level. Also, check how many people it can accommodate. If you are a tall person, you will want a lot of headroom so that you won’t have to crouch and strain when entering or leaving the tent. If you have a partner or children, choose a tent that’s as wide as your truck bed.
Ensure that the tent has enough mesh windows to promote air circulation. The design needs to promote the flow of cool air into the tent and hot air out. A poorly ventilated tent can get very stuffy and make for an uncomfortable camping experience, especially if you have a sleeping partner.
The tent capacity is almost never an issue with a single traveler. The problem comes when you have a partner or children who camp with you. Truck tents only offer as much space as you have on your truck floor or less. Most are big enough for two adults or a single adult and two children.
The tent should be compatible with the size and design of your truck. There are universal fits that can fit most pickup trucks, but there are specific models designed for your vehicle’s make. Measure your truck bed, and choose a tent that comes with similar dimensions.
- Auxiliary Features: Extra features like cab access panels, internal storage pockets, exterior vestibules, extra windows, a detachable rain-fly, a door flap, and built-in floors will enhance your camping experience.
- Seasonality: If a tent is described as a three-season tent, it will cover you through summer, spring, and fall. A two-season tent is only good for summer and spring, and a one-season tent will only cover summer.
- Weatherproof: For a tent to be weatherproof and have the ability to hold up against heavy rainfall, the tent material has to be water-resistant. Most tents include a rainfly, which is a secondary, water-resistant covering for the tent. It’s like an umbrella for your tent.
Best Truck Tent Reviews & Recommendations 2019
Best Overall: Napier Backroadz Truck Tent
This is a standard truck tent for the casual camper. It has enough room for two adults, and there’s adequate headroom for you to stand and move around the tent without ruining the set up. The tent features four large windows that zip up and a large door that provides ample ventilation. It also includes a sewn-in flooring that keeps you clean, warm, and completely enclosed. The floor material is made of polyethylene, and it has a storm flap at the door for extra protection and privacy.
The structure offers adequate rain protection as it includes a full rainfly for when the weather changes unexpectedly. The unit is ideal for tall people and boasts a large interior that’s around 5.6 feet tall. You will have an easy time installing the tent as it has shock-corded fiberglass poles that help you know what goes where when setting up the structure. In addition, the unit includes intelligently placed strapping that holds the structure firmly on the truck bed to provide sufficient resistance to strong winds.
A major drawback of the Napier is that it’s made of fragile material, and the zippers may come off, the poles may snap, or the fabric can rip if you are not gentle when installing it. It’s not recommended for a frequent camper since it has quality issues. In addition, the product is expensive, and the quality of the material doesn’t make up for its heavy price tag. Also, its windows have no covers, and you may have to suffer through strong winds.
Best Value: Guide Gear Compact Truck Tent
The Guide Gear Compact truck bed tent has a lightweight design and construction quality that’s top-notch. It has a sewn-in polyethylene floor with enough room for a twin-size mattress. The flooring also improves the sturdiness of the structure. It has a large interior area with slightly under five feet of headroom. Mesh windows improve ventilation within the structure, and the unit is easy to set up since it only has four fiberglass poles.
The polyester tent has a water-resistant coating, 59 inches of waterproofing material, and holds up well in rainy weather. It also includes a detachable rain-fly to keep you totally dry in the rain. In addition, the unit includes heavy-duty straps that anchor the tent onto your truck to keep the entire structure taut. Generally, it’s a comfortable shelter that keeps you off the ground and your property clean. The unit fits compact trucks such as Dakotas and S-10s.
The main drawback of the tent is that it has insufficient mesh windows, and therefore the structure is poorly ventilated. You may be forced to leave its door open on some warm nights. Moreover, the tent poles are fragile and may snap when handled roughly or may lose their shape with time. Despite being a small truck tent bed, you may have a hard time setting it up as the instructions are unclear, especially for a first time user.
Honorable Mention: Rightline Gear Truck Tents
The Rightline Gear Truck Tent has a floorless design that you can install and remove without removing anything from the truck floor. It has enough room for two adults, but its floorless design allows room for more. The unit features heavy-duty buckles and straps that hold everything in place. Furthermore, the tent can be installed in almost all trucks.
The poles are color-coded to eliminate confusion when installing the tent, and it only takes 20 minutes to set it up. The tent bag has sewn-in, set-up instructions for ease of access. The tent includes a rainfly, which you can add to the structure during rainy weather. Also, the seams are tape sealed to give the tent good water-resistant capabilities.
A downside to the product is that it doesn’t hold up in strong winds and heavy rain. It is more of a warm-weather type of tent. Also, it’s made of poor quality zippers and straps that may break off with time, and there’s poor stitching on the seams. Additionally, the straps may scratch your truck paint, and it has fewer windows than most premium truck tents.
- Clean the tent with mild soap and lukewarm water. Never put the tent in a washing machine, use detergents, or put the tent fabric in the dryer as the water protective coating may dissolve or thin out.
- Use a dry cloth to wipe the poles to prevent corrosion, and dip the zippers in water for a quick wash without soap to remove any debris that may be stuck on the teeth.
- Consider using a tent seam sealer to reinforce the seams and prevent water from penetrating the tent. Apply several thin coats of sealer on the floor and fly seams, and leave it to dry for about an hour.
- Ensure that you park your truck in a shaded region to prevent ultraviolet rays from weakening and discoloring the tent fabric. In case there are no trees around the campsite, you could use the rainfly to block out the sun.
- Try to keep your tent clean at all times. Sweep the truck floor before setting up the tent and always sweep away small stones from the tent as they could damage the flooring. Also, avoid wearing shoes inside the tent.
Q: How much weight can a truck tent hold?
A: Weight isn't necessarily an issue with truck tents because it uses your truck bed as the base that supports the weight. It's the width of the tent of the truck bed that will determine how many people it can house.
Q: Is it safe to drive with the tent up?
A: It depends on the design of the truck tent and the area you will be driving through. A protruding tent may get caught in tree branches, and generally, the tents aren't designed to withstand the strong winds at highway speeds. However, you can drive around the campsite with the tent on the truck bed if you are circling through a short distance looking for a nice parking spot.
Q: How do I get rid of the musty smell in my truck tent?
A: If you notice a musty smell in your tent then it’s probably covered with mold or mildew.
You can wash the tent in a solution of hot water and half a cup of Lysol to get rid of the mold and the stench. Alternatively, you can use a soft brush to get rid of the mold and leave the tent to air dry in the sun for several hours.
Our top pick for the best truck tent is the Napier Backroadz Truck Tent. It’s a full-size truck tent that allows you to sleep on a clean floor surface, and its large windows provide enough ventilation for a good night’s sleep.
However, if you are looking for an affordable and compact truck tent, then consider the Guide Gear Compact Truck Tent.