How to Prevent Your Truck from Getting Damaged: Tips for Camping with a Truck Tent

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You love being outdoors. Recently, you bought a truck tent and are wondering if it will scratch the bed of your vehicle. Scratches and gouges in your truck's paint can expose the body to the elements, leading to rust. 

Truck tents are explicitly designed to fit comfortably on the back of your vehicle. In addition, the tent is specially padded to protect your truck from any damage. That keeps you and your car safe. However, there are exceptions, such as using standard camping tents.

Keep reading to learn how to prevent your truck from getting damaged. 

Why truck tents don't scratch

Truck tents have been around since 1990. They are a substitute for the traditional camping tent and fit snugly within the confines of your truck bed. 

However, you may wonder if truck tents are okay for those who don't want to scratch your truck. 

After all, scratches create an unwelcome cosmetic scar on your truck. On top of that, they expose your vehicle to the oxidation process (I.e., rust).

When rust starts to form, it can quickly spread. Now, the beauty of your truck is under threat. But, will a truck tent harm your vehicle?

The main parts of the tent that can cause damage are the poles, ratchets, belts, and buckles.

If you get a purpose-built truck tent (one made specifically for your truck's bed), you should be fine. The tent poles are padded at the bases of their feet.

The belts and buckles are constructed from truck-friendly material. However, if you don't secure and tighten these components correctly, then there is a chance they could move. That opens up the possibility of your truck being scratched. 

Put up your tent carefully. 

You need to ensure that you install your tent correctly. If you don't, there is the chance of the poles, straps, and buckles scratching your vehicle. 

Carefully read the instruction manual that came with your truck tent. Then, follow the steps precisely to avoid causing damage to your truck's paintwork. 

Once your tent is up, make a habit of double-checking the ratchets and poles. See if they are tight and aren't rubbing against the surface of your truck bed.

Wear and tear on your tent can expose the metal of the poles. Check your tent's fabric and patch up any rips or tears as part of your regular maintenance. 

For extra protection, you can consider padding out the back of your truck. We'll run you through how to do this later. 

Can I use a camping tent?

You may want to consider using a camp tent as a replacement for a truck tent. 

There are a couple of reasons why you may consider doing so. 

First, it can be cheaper than buying a truck tent. 

Also, there is the convenience factor. Why have two tents when you can have one? 

What we mean by that is, if you often go camping somewhere remote. For example, if you love exploring places inaccessible by your truck, it makes more sense to have a camp tent that you can use both on and off your vehicle.

But these types of tents have unprotected metal. So now we face the potential of scratching your truck. 

Of course, you can take the lead from the truck tent book. Place padding around the bare metal. That provides a buffer that keeps your truck bed safe. 

How to line your truck bed

As we mentioned earlier, you can provide extra protection for your truck by lining the back. 

Let's take you through the process

  1. Create templates

Tape sheets of paper or cardboard to your truck bed's base, sides, and gate. Create outlines and mark out any holes you need to have access to.

  1. Cut the lining and carpet.

Place your templates on the carpet. Get a piece of chalk and draw around the templates. 

Double-check that the size is right. To do this, use a measuring tape and record the length and width of the truck bed, sides, and gate. Then measure the size of the outlines you created with the chalk. 

Once you are happy that all the dimensions are correct, cut out the shapes you have marked on the carpet. 

  1. Prepare the surface

Sweep out the back of the truck or use a vacuum cleaner to remove the loose dirt and debris.

Give the bed a good wash using a cleaning solvent. Next, dry off the bed using a cloth. 

  1. Do a dry run

Before permanently fixing the carpet to the truck bed, do a test run. Layout everything along the sides, bed, and gate. Look to see if everything will fit snugly together. You don't want any gaps exposing the paint or metal of your truck bed. 

If you're satisfied with the way things look, remove the carpet pieces. Then, give the back of your truck another wipe-over.

  1. Glue it in place

You don't want to rush this final process. But, on the other hand, a small error that goes unnoticed could cause you grief later. So, take your time and pay attention to the task at hand. 

Starting with the base of the truck bed (cab side), spread your adhesive over a 15-inch horizontal line. Next, carefully lay your carpet down over the glue. Repeat the process as you work your way towards the gate. 

Return to the cab side of your truck bed. Apply your glue to the side that sits directly below the cab. Place your carpet in this area. 

Carry on with the same procedure for the remaining two sides (start from the cab side) and the gate. 

Cut out any hole markings you made, and then let everything dry. 

  1. Test the gate

When the glue has dried, close the truck's gate. Check to see if it shuts securely. Also, look for gaps between the gate's carpet and the carpeting of the adjacent sides. 

If you spot any gaps, you'll have to cut extra carpet pieces to cover them. Yet, hopefully, you have done your measurements right the first time. Remember the carpenter's motto: Measure twice and cut once).

Other ways to protect your truck bed

Perhaps decking out the back of your truck seems over the top to you. If so, there are alternative ways to protect your vehicle from nasty scratches.

●       Lay down a huge sheet of tarpaulin: Secure the sides to stop them from folding back over into the truck bed, exposing the metal you're trying to protect.

●       Keep your straps tight: We mentioned how loose straps can cause damage. Especially when the wind picks up and rattles them against your truck.

●       Make sure your truck tent fits: Truck tents come in all sorts of sizes, so make sure you get one that fits the back of your truck. An ill-fitting tent can cause scrapes and scratches.

●       Carefully examine second-hand tents: If you decide to purchase a pre-loved truck tent, closely inspect the wear and tear. As we mentioned, exposed metal, loose straps, and ratchets can wreak havoc on your beautiful paintwork. 


Truck tents are made to fit on the back of your vehicle. They have padding on the poles and other metals to prevent scratching.

However, if your straps aren't tight, there is the possibility of scrapes occurring on the truck bed. Therefore, after setting up the tent, double-check to ensure no wear and tear on the padding.

If you use an alternative method for a tent, you can cover your truck bed with a sheet or tarp. This will keep your truck safe from damage.

Enjoy camping and know that your truck is still going to look beautiful. 

About the author 

Vieira Babeker

Hi! I'm Vieira. I've always been interested in different Auto Accessories

My passion here at is to provide helpful straight forward clear advice and tips for Automotive Accessories.

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