Truck bed camping, overlanding, or sleeping in the back of a pickup truck has become increasingly popular, especially among outdoor enthusiasts and those who love to travel and explore new places. The rise of social media platforms like TikTok and YouTube has promoted this trend, as people share their adventures and showcase their customized trucks and camping setups.
Truck bed camping, also known as sleeping in the back of a pickup truck, is an exciting way to explore the great outdoors while still having the comforts of your own vehicle. It can be anything from blowing up an air mattress and putting it onto your truck bed to a fully kitted-out multi-level tent with all amenities above or under a truck cap.
The trend started as early as the 1950s when manufacturers saw that people used trucks as family transportation. They took up the opportunity to attach camper bodies to trucks, and since then, people have been creating their own versions.
People may favor truck bed camping over other forms of camping for multiple reasons:
- Flexibility: Truck bed camping allows individuals to travel and camp on their own terms, without the need for a large RV or camper trailer. It provides the freedom to stop and camp wherever they please, whether it’s in a secluded forest or a Walmart parking lot.
- Cost-effective: It eliminates the need for expensive RV rentals or purchases and allows individuals to use their existing truck as a camping platform.
- Easy to set up: Truck bed camping setups are relatively easy to install and disassemble, making them ideal for weekend trips or longer expeditions. Many truck bed camping systems come with pre-fabricated kits that can be easily installed and removed as needed.
- Customization: You can customize your camping setup according to your needs and preferences. They can choose from various materials, designs, and accessories to create a unique and personalized camping experience.
- Connection with nature: Truck bed camping enables individuals to connect with nature and immerse themselves in the outdoors. It allows them to experience the beauty of nature, listen to the sounds of wildlife, and enjoy the peacefulness of being away from urban areas.
- Social connections: Truck bed camping communities are growing rapidly, providing opportunities for like-minded individuals to connect, share experiences, and learn from each other. These communities offer a sense of belonging and support for those who share a passion for outdoor adventure.
With a little planning and preparation, you can create the ultimate truck bed camping experience. Embrace the unknown and get packing with these tips.
The first step in creating the ultimate truck bed camping experience is choosing the right truck and camper setup. Look for a truck with a spacious bed, preferably with a long-bed option for more space.
A long bed gives you over 8 feet of cargo space, allowing you to have a bed and camping accessories in one place. Plus, a truck with a long bed has a longer wheelbase, which offers a smoother ride, which is ideal for long trips and bumpy roads.
Consider investing in a high-quality camper shell or tonneau cover to protect your gear from the elements and provide additional storage. You’ll also need a comfortable mattress and bedding to ensure a good night’s sleep.
When it comes to packing essentials for truck bed camping, think minimalist. You don’t want to overload your truck with unnecessary items, but you do want to bring enough gear to keep you safe and comfortable. Some must-haves include:
- A portable stove or camping grill for cooking meals
- A cooler for storing food and drinks
- Camp chairs and a table for relaxing outside
- Sleeping bags or blankets for staying warm at night
- Flashlights or headlamps for navigating in the dark
- Waterproof containers for storing important documents and electronics
Once you have your truck and camper set up, it’s time to plan your route. Research scenic drives and campgrounds along the way, considering any road closures or restrictions that may affect your journey. Consider using apps like Roadtrippers or Google Maps to help you navigate and find interesting stops.
On your way to your destination, it’s a good idea to keep all your camping accessories in the back and passengers in the front. Maybe your state’s restrictions laws allow passengers to ride in the truck bed if it’s fully or partially enclosed, like in Colorado or Nevada. It’s still best to protect passengers and keep them upfront in case of an emergency or crash.
When you’re preparing for an off-road adventure, remember to pack emergency equipment and off-road tools such as recovery boards, a tire repair kit, and an air compressor.
Truck bed camping often means boondocking, or camping without hookups. To prepare for off-grid living, ensure your truck has a full gas tank and plenty of water on board. Bring a portable solar panel or generator to charge your devices and power lights, and consider investing in a portable toilet and shower system for added convenience.
To turn your truck bed into a cozy bedroom, lay down a durable tarp or bed liner to protect the paint from scratches. Take a page out of glamping must-haves and add a thick foam mattress pad or plush air mattress with a soft blanket and soft pillows for extra comfort. You can also hang curtains or privacy screens around the edges of the bed to create a sense of privacy.
One of the best parts of truck bed camping is enjoying delicious meals under the stars. Invest in a portable stove or camping grill, and stock up on non-perishable ingredients like pasta, rice, and canned goods. Remember utensils, plates, and cups, and consider investing in a collapsible cooler for storing perishables. For breakfast, try making omelets or pancakes on a skillet, and for dinner, fire up the grill for burgers, hot dogs or steak.
Take advantage of nearby hiking trails, go fishing in a nearby stream, or simply enjoy a picnic lunch in a picturesque spot. Bring along a frisbee, a soccer ball, or other games for entertainment. And when the sun goes down, gather around the campfire for s’mores, stories, and stargazing.
As interest in outdoor recreation continues to grow, truck bed camping will likely remain a popular choice for many seeking to explore the great outdoors. Now that you know about the trend, you can turn your truck into the ultimate camping experience.