Ultimate Guide To Camping With Truck Tents: Price To Advice

What is a truck tent?

Truck tents are designed to fit the bed of a pickup truck. Before their invention in the early 90’s people would create makeshift tents for their trucks using conventional tent pitching methods. This has many drawbacks, hence why the truck tent was born.

A truck tent is just like a normal tent. However, it adds the protection of being able to sleep off of the floor. Although adored by trucking enthusiasts, truck tents are limited in that you can only camp where your truck is able to travel. Other than that, they’re great and highly recommended.

Are truck tents expensive?

As anything, you can pay a variety of prices and receive a variety of different product qualities and brands. But on the whole, truck tents are very affordable. The price can range from well under $100, for a generic no-frills truck tent, to paying into the thousands for something special like an ARB Rooftop Tent.

Are truck tents safer than normal tents?

As a general rule people believe that truck tents are safer than regular tents. This is because you are raised off the ground. Which means you have better protection from flooding during a down poor. Check out our article on wet tents and camping in the rain for everything you need to know. It also means you should encounter fewer insects, snakes and other unwanted wildlife.

However, please bear in mind that the tent, when attached to your truck, brings a host of responsibilities that you wouldn’t encounter using a normal tent. Ensuring brakes are applied properly and there are no dangerous leaks and making sure the ground in which you choose to park the truck is stable enough, for instance.

Are truck tents universal fitting?

Truck tents are not universal fitting in the sense that one size fits all. Neither are they tailor-made to specific makes and models, as general a rule, although there are exceptions. When shopping for a truck tent you really need to know the size of your truck bed. So rather than searching for a Dodge Ram 1500 extended cab truck tent. You would search for a 6-foot 4-inch truck tent.

What size truck tent do I need?

Not all truck tents are restricted to the size of the truck bed. So, although they come to fit a certain size, 6ft 4″ for example, it is possible to get tents that stretch beyond the bed. This is something to bear in mind if you’re quite tall and want the extra leg room or would simply like the extra space.

Do truck tents fit over a rolled up cover?

This depends on the brand and model of your truck tent, some will accommodate a rolled up cover whereas other won’t. This is a very regularly asked question on amazon Q&A so we would advise giving this a quick check whilst shopping around. If worst comes to worse you can usually remove and replace the cover quite easily but it is possible to find truck tents that will fit whilst the cover is rolled up.

Can a truck tent be used on the ground?

It is possible to use a truck tent on the ground without a truck. However, the whole design of a truck tent centers around being anchored to the truck. So if you try and use one on the ground you are going to struggle with fixing it from blowing away ect. Also, the majority of truck tents are designed to fit around the truck bed which has sides. The sides would not be present when you set the tent up on the floor. This means that it would not sit properly on the ground.

So the answer really is, yes you could use a truck tent on the ground. However, they’re not designed for this and you will have issues when erecting and securing the tent. Unless its an emergency or a freak situation, you’d be much better off carrying a normal tent for when you must leave the truck.

Do the wheel arches make a difference to the fitting of a truck tent?

By wheel arches, we mean the raised arches within some truck beds. Others are all flat. The arches do not make a difference with regards to the size of the truck tent you would need to order. However, they would make a difference to the size of the air mattress you would use if the design of your truck tent means that you will be sleeping on the truck bed.

So for instance, if your truck bed is 5 foot wide but you only have a 4-foot space between the arches. You would use a truck tent that was 5 foot wide but you would use a 4-foot air mattress. Otherwise, your air mattress would need to bend and wedge, to fit, which could lead to leaks and breakages.

However, with all this been said, if you are looking to purchase a new mattress then there are specifically designed air mattresses to solve this issue.  These mattresses allow you to utilize the full space of the truck bed rather than losing the space above the wheel arch.

Can I erect a truck tent alone?

In the sense of difficulty to erect, truck tents aren’t much different to regular tents. In fact, some would say they’re more simple. This is because the truck eliminates the need for bending and kneeling which is necessary to erect a regular tent on the ground.

The first couple of times may take you a while but once you know the instructions, and have the hang of it, you will be fine. So the answer is yes, providing you have the patience and don’t have a disability, that may hinder your tent building abilities, you should be fine.

How small is a truck tent when packed for travel?

Again, truck tents are similar to regular tents in this respect. The size will fluctuate depending on the make and model of the truck tent and also the size of your truck bed. But in general, they won’t take up too much room at all.

Especially when you take into consideration that you are actually taking your truck on your adventure and many hikers carry their tent on their backpack. In fact, considering the quality and size of the end product, a packed truck tent takes up not much room at all. Even more so when compared to alternatives.

Can I drive while my truck tent is erect?

You can drive while your truck tent is erect, whether the tent will survive or not is a different story. We would advise using your initiative. If you are moving your truck a few feet, at a slow pace then you should be fine. Provided that the design of your truck tent doesn’t interfere with the moving parts of your truck.

However, if you’re actually going to drive on roads or highways and will be traveling at any significant speed what so ever then we would not advise leaving your tent erected. The structure of your truck tent will most likely not be able to withstand the pressure and will most likely buckle. Not only will this break your tent but it could also be dangerous for you and other drivers should your truck tent manage to detach. We would not advise traveling anywhere whilst your truck tent is erect.

Which truck tent brand is best? – Who makes the best truck tents?

This really depends on a few things. The price you want to pay, the type of truck you would like it to fit, the size and the type of the truck tent. Below are some ballpark ideas dependent on your price range.

For truck tents under $100 dollars, the most popular brands are Milliard and Guide Gear. Don’t get us wrong, these aren’t the best truck tents on the market but they make a great start and get good reviews amongst enthusiasts. For less than $100 dollars, these tents are a great way to try out the experience for cheap.

Napier has some good truck tents between $100 to $300. Although we wouldn’t turn another brand down to exclusively own a Napier model at this price, they are definitely a popular truck tent within this range.

Kodiak begins to come into play at the $300 to $500 mark. Napier however, still have some great models.

Check out these truck tents


At $500+ is where you start to see the special truck tents that are usually purchased by seasoned enthusiasts. But if you know you’re serious about purchasing a truck tent and plan to use it for a long time then this is where you want to be looking.

A lot of these tents don’t only utilize the truck bed, but also the space around it. Utilising extra platforms, ladders and creative designs, some of these truck tents are simply awesome. There’s no way you could create the same dwelling with a regular tent as the extra stability from the truck is utilized to help strengthen the structures. “Tuff Stuff” is a popular brand at this price range.

Check out these truck tents