As technology has advanced, many comfortable and achievable DIY camping options have become available. For dedicated campers with various sized pickup trucks and truck beds, turning the bed of your truck into a tent can be affordable and practical. Truck tents are versatile options that can be installed in locations ranging from one’s backyard (for at-home, camping adventures with the kids), within forests, and amidst great campgrounds.
To turn a truck bed into a tent, you need the necessary materials. To safely install your tent, careful instructions must be followed that require cutting A-frames, placing 90° and 45° fittings, and connecting PVC pipes and T- connectors.
Whether you are new to the outdoors or an experienced camper, you can turn your truck bed into a tent for the first time by following the instructions outlined in this article. Read on for step-by-step instructions and information regarding the pros and cons of turning your truck bed into a tent.
What You Need to Turn Your Truck Bed into a Tent
Generally, and according to TrucksAuthority.com, the supplies that you will need for your project include:
- Adhesive tapeBedrug
- Camper mounting tape
- Hammer drill
- Nuts and bolts
In addition to these accessories, you will also need your pre-made truck tent! You might want to purchase either the Milliard Truck Tent (starting at $79.99) or the Napier Backroadz Series Truck Tent (starting at $219.99) for the most cost-effective solution. On Amazon.com, both are labeled as Amazon’s Choice.
How to Make a Truck Bed Tent
You can also make your truck bed into a tent without purchasing one in advance. According to this page of the auto-insurance company and vehicle-related informational guide website, GetJerry.com, the following materials may be used for a setup involving the least hassle:
- 4x10 foot PVC pipes, 1 inch wide
- 8 x T- connector
- 2 x 90° fittings
- 4 x 45° fittings
- A tarp
- A pool noodle: While this is optional, it is recommended
Furthermore, and also according to the DIY Truck Bed Tent Guide on GetJerry.com, the following step-by-step instructions describe how to fasten an A-frame tent to your truck bed:
- Cut your A-frame’s legs: Your measurements will differ depending on your specific vehicle and whether you would like your truck’s tent stored in a bag. At the end of each leg, attach 45° fittings. Then, atop those, attach T- connectors.
- Cut and shave the noodle: The first tier of your legs should measure roughly one foot in length. You must cut the noodle to be placed on the first tier of the A-frame’s legs, and then shave pieces of the noodle, so it can be placed in the holes of your truck bed. This will better fasten your tent’s legs and eliminate rattling noises due to wind.
- Connect the PVC pipe to the T- connector: For increased stability, attach a PVC pipe running from the front to the back of the truck bed. Then, cut and add 4 additional, 3-foot-long (roughly in size) PVC pieces to the opposite sides of the T- connectors. Last, attach more T- connectors to the tailgate.
- Repeat the last step: Now, attach an additional set of corresponding PVC pipes above the previous stage. Then, attach more PVC pipes, with 90° fittings, to the top ends of the T-connectors.
- Place your tent: Secure your tarp with bungees or clamps once completed your A-frame.
Now that you know what tools you will need and what steps may be taken to turn your truck bed into a tent, you may be asking: is it really worthwhile?
Should You Turn Your Truck Bed Into a Tent?
Turning your truck bed into a tent has many advantages. These are some of the greatest conveniences that truck tents have to offer:
- Truck tents are mobile: Instead of sleeping in a rest area, your car, a hotel, or on the ground in the wilderness, truck tents offer a comfortable and affordable solution to the elements.
- Truck tents allow campers to remove themselves from crowded and enclosed public areas: Lodging that may expose campers to common communicable viruses, like COVID-19, may be avoided.
- Lodging does not typically cater to pets: If you are traveling, truck beds are convenient alternatives to leaving your pets at home (which can also be costly).
- Unlike traditional tents, truck tents are off the ground: Truck tents protect you from the wilderness, which may include animals, bugs, and moisture seeping into your tent.
- Truck tents eliminate the worry of sleeping on uneven ground: Because truck tents are attached to your truck, you will never have to worry about searching for level ground.
Despite many positive reasons for turning one’s truck bed into a tent, disadvantages also exist. For example, there is no substitute for lodging with bathrooms and kitchens, hot running water, air conditioning, doors that lock, internet, cable, and a full-sized bed.
The Cons of Turning Your Truck Into a Tent
Regardless, camping still has advantages when compared to traditional lodging. However, truck tents are usually inconvenient for the following reasons:
- You must empty your truck bed to set up your tent.
- Most truck tents only allow space for up to 2 or 3 people: RV and travel information website, Mortons on the Move, recommends that for ideal stretch and comfort, no more than 2 people sleep in the back of one truck bed. If you have small children, you may have additional room in the back of your truck. However, ground tents are likely the best option for families.
- Truck tents are most comfortable with padding: You will likely want to purchase an air mattress or sleeping pad for maximum comfort.
- You can only camp where you can safely park your vehicle: With traditional camping, you have more options because you can venture to the middle of the woods to a hidden or serene location. However, if you plan to turn your truck bed into a tent, you can only park on trails or in areas that aren’t obstructed by trees or vegetation.
- Your tent must correctly fit your vehicle: Because truck tents come in different sizes, you must carefully know your tent’s measurements. Additionally, if you buy a new truck, you may also need a new tent.
- Entering and exiting the truck bed can be challenging: Because truck beds are high off the ground, it is easy to stumble and fall when leaving or entering, especially when first waking up or in poor lighting.
Despite such shortcomings, truck tents are great options for travelers or for those who enjoy the convenience of being able to recuperate on the road and at their leisure.
Truck tents are often less expensive than traditional camping shells. However, they hold fewer people. In addition, truck tents are usually more costly or within the same price range as small two-person tents, with about the same number of people.
With this in mind, it is best to weigh out your options when considering whether to turn your truck bed into a tent for any upcoming camping trips or adventures. However, if you simply enjoy the idea of truck tents and their convenient nature when long-distance traveling, they are probably worth investing in.
Turning your truck bed into a tent can be a rewarding experience, and there is nothing like relaxing while enjoying the beauty of nature outdoors.