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Turn Your Pickup Into a Camper With a Truck Bed Tent

Turn Your Pickup Into a Camper With a Truck Bed Tent

Did you know you can easily turn the bed of your pickup truck into a camper for less than $200? If you want to try camping in your truck while being protected from bugs and the elements, try out a truck bed tent. 

In this article, we’ll dive into the world of truck bed tents. Learn how they work, how much they cost, and the pros and cons of owning one. 

What Is a Truck Bed Tent?

A truck bed tent fits in the bed of your pickup, turning it into an off-the-ground camper. They come in many varieties and sizes. Some only utilize the bed for the tent, while others have multiple rooms that use the ground for support. Many tents are designed for specific pickup models, so they fit perfectly into the bed. 


If you’re an SUV owner, you have tent options too! Check out the 7 Best SUV Tents for Camping.

Can You Put Any Tent in the Bed of Your Truck?

This depends on the length and width of your truck bed versus the length and width of your tent. Technically, you can put some tents in your truck, but using one specifically made for your vehicle will improve your experience. They attach to the vehicle and make the best use of the space. You can’t really secure a regular tent into your pickup.

The Benefits of a Truck Bed Tent

These tents have many benefits. This unique way of truck bed camping can provide more comfort than regular tent camping. 


Truck bed tents are convenient. Many love the ability to set up camp right in their vehicle. There’s no need to find a flat or clear spot of ground or worry about sleeping on rocks or roots. Plus, anywhere you can park your truck, you can set up camp. 

Truck bed tent
Never underestimate the security and comfort of sleeping off the ground.

Being Off the Ground

Camping off the ground has many benefits. Other than comfort, the bottom of your tent isn’t as susceptible to dew and moisture. You don’t want to wake up to water seeping in. Additionally, you’ll stay up away from bugs, rodents, and other animals. 


Some consider it a glamping experience. A truck bed isn’t the most comfortable thing to sleep on, so you typically want to bring along something like an air mattress, sleeping pad, or a cot. However, you may enjoy not having to worry about sloping, uneven, or rocky ground. You may get a better night’s sleep on a level surface.  

Couple sitting in front of a pop-up truck camper
You don’t have to choose between an expensive pop-up truck camper or sleeping in a tent on the ground. With a truck bed tent, you get the best of both worlds at a reasonable price.

Cheaper Than Camper Shells

If you want to turn your truck bed into a camper but don’t want to pay for a topper or camper shell, then you may love this option. A truck bed tent doesn’t cost much more than a regular, quality tent. You can find them starting at around $130. Compared with a truck camper shell that starts at around $1,500, you’ll enjoy tons of savings.

Disadvantages to Truck Bed Tents

Truck bed tents are fantastic, but they aren’t perfect camping solutions. Here are the main downsides to camping in one. 

Limited Footprint

The bed of a truck is only so big. So you won’t have a ton of space to move around. While this won’t bother some people, others might need more space. They may work best for one or two people, though you can get some that extend, providing more space.

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Set Up Can Be Challenging

Set up can be challenging because it utilizes every part of your bed, making it hard to get leverage. For tall trucks, you may need a stepladder or other object to stand on to get your tent erected and secured. 

Must Break Down Camp to Drive

With a truck topper or camper shell, you don’t have to do anything when you drive away. With one of these, you have to take it down and secure it before going anywhere. This can be annoying when you simply want to move campsites.

Couple disassembling a tent
Never drive with a tent on your truck. Always disassemble, fold up, and pack away your tent before leaving camp.

How Do Truck Bed Tents Attach to Your Truck?

Truck bed tents use different mechanisms to attach to your pickup. It assembles inside your vehicle’s bed and can then connect in a variety of places. Some secure to the truck bed rails. Others clip into the fender wells. There typically aren’t ropes and tent stakes involved in setting it up. 

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How Many People Can Sleep in a Truck Bed Tent?

Since truck bed tents utilize your vehicle’s bed as the ground platform, don’t expect to fit 14 people in one. Most can comfortably sleep two to three people or a few more if you have small children. 

For the most comfort and room, we’d recommend not sleeping more than two people in one. This gives you plenty of space to stretch out and provides room for your gear unless you choose to keep it all in the cab. 

Father and son sitting on truck tailgate
Two people can fit comfortably in a truck bed tent, although some models for long bed trucks may fit more people.

Are Truck Bed Tents Worth the Money?

These tents are a great way to turn your vehicle into your own campsite without investing a few thousand dollars (or more!) on a truck shell or truck camper. High-quality ground tents cost the same as many truck bed tents on the market. So we say go for it! They’re definitely worth the money if you don’t travel with large groups. 

Trailer tents are another popular option for people who love tent camping but desire the comfort and security of being off the ground. Learn more here: What Is a Trailer Tent, and Is It Better Than Tent Camping?

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About Mortons on the Move

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of “Go North” on Amazon Prime Video, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for and an Arizona travel guide.

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