In case you’re running out the door, my top pick is the Napier SportZ Truck Tent.
Have you ever sat in your truck and thought “man, I wonder if I could sleep in my truck bed.”
That might seem strange, but I know I have! There’s so much space, why not?
The problem is simple – truck beds don’t protect you from rain, and won’t block out light.
To fix this, you could shell out thousands of dollars for a truck cap. Or, you could spend a few hundred on a truck bed tent.
In this article, I’ll review the top 5 best truck tents for camping on the go. Then, I’ll show you what to look for in a truck tent, and why you should get one.
Napier SportZ Truck Tent
As mentioned, the SportZ is Napier’s premium model. It’ll be more expensive than their BackroadZ model (discussed later), but the added features make it well worth it.
The biggest feature is the awning. This awning makes it so that you can unzip the tent without water falling into your tent.
You’ll stay dry and comfortable inside no matter how much rain comes down. It also gives you a nice shaded place to kick your legs out of the tailgate, crack open a cold one, and relax.
I also love the window options. First, there’s a window on the backside of the tent. This allows you to reach into your truck cab via the rear window.
Next, the windows open and close with zippers. For whatever reason, many truck tents don’t allow you to open and close the windows. The only way to close the windows is to throw on the rainfly.
Not with the SportZ tent. The windows are fully zippable, so you can have privacy without adding the rainfly.
If that basic tent isn’t enough for you, Napier offers some cool add-ons. You can supplement your truck tent with a 4-person room using the SportZ Link attachment. Or, you can purchase this tent in camo, which is a great option for hunting enthusiasts who want to blend in.
- Comes with a big awning which allows you to keep water out when entering or exiting.
- 5’8” headroom gives most people plenty of room to walk around.
- The sewn-in floor makes it so you stay clean from any dirt in the truck bed.
- Color-coded poles and cushioned strap protectors make setup easy and safe.
- The rear window allows you to enter your truck cab and grab any gear you need.
- Awning keeps you dry and provides shade for you to relax in.
- The door does not zip to the bottom, which can make entrance annoying.
- This tent’s price tag might be too high for more budget-conscious campers.
Best for: serious outdoorsmen who want a premium tent that’ll last for years.
Guide Gear Full Size Truck Tent
Despite being the most affordable tent on the list, it’s got a great track record helping campers sleep sound at night.
This is a basic, all-around high-quality tent. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the SportZ, but this tent will help your truck bed feel like your home bed.
- Most affordable truck tent available (great bang-for-the-buck).
- Its straightforward design makes it extremely durable, hard to break.
- 1500mm HH water-resistant coating and an added rainfly keep you bone dry.
- The spacious interior and added floor give you a relaxing camping experience.
- Very lightweight tent (only 10 lbs), so it can be stored in your truck indefinitely.
- Only available in two sizes
Best for: campers who want to “test the waters” to see if they like truck tents before splurging on a premium product.
Napier BackroadZ Truck Tent
This very popular tent comes with a full floor and is available in tons of sizes. It doesn’t have the SportZ model’s awesome awning, but it does come with a removable rainfly and color-coded poles (for easy setup).
This tent did not make my top pick because it doesn’t have the awning or windows that the SportZ has. Despite the price difference, I think the SportZ model is worth the upgrade. However, BackroadZ is still a great tent.
- Setup is very easy thanks to the straightforward pole design. Shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to have it pitched.
- Super high center height (5’6”) so you don’t have to crouch
- Features a gear net on the roof of the tent to store your iPhone, keys, or wallet.
- Great customer service – any issues will be resolved pretty dang quick.
- More affordable than the SportZ, but still an excellent option for truck camping.
- Windows don’t close without the rainfly, so ventilation options are limited.
- The floor design means you can’t have a toolbox on in your truck bed.
Best for: people who want the long-lasting construction of a Napier tent, but don’t need the extras that come with the SportZ.
Kodiak Canvas Truck Bed Tent
All of the other tents in this review are constructed with nylon. Nylon is a great fabric, but it’s not perfect. It whips in the wind, is prone to rips, and can let water seep in sometimes.
To counter this, Kodiak crafted a truck bed tent made with heavy-duty canvas. This canvas material is thick enough to keep you warm in the winter but is breathable enough to cool you off in the summer.
The truck tent is available in multiple sizes and has ventilation windows on every panel (including cab side).
This tent also uses a unique rail design to hold the poles up. Although it can be confusing the first time you install the tent, setup is a breeze once you learn the ropes. You’ll be glad you did the work when you see how much width and headroom you get with this tent.
- Heavy-duty canvas tents provide a comfortable camping experience in any season.
- The windows are made with a super fine screen. This blocks bugs from entering the tent but still allows you to open them for ventilation.
- Like the SportZ, this tent comes with a cab window, so you can grab gear out of your truck without going outside.
- Large, heavy-duty YKK zippers allow you to open and close the tent without worrying about ripping the fabric.
- Unique steel pole design maximizes truck width and provides superior wind protection.
- Canvas is pricey (but durable), making this tent less affordable than other tents on this list.
- First time setup can be difficult since you have to figure out where to place the pole rails.
- No floor means your butt might get dirty from sitting in the truck bed.
Best for: winter campers who want a super-warm tent and aren’t worried about the price tag.
Rightline Gear Truck Tent
It’s a well-rounded tent that provides a great camping experience. It comes in a ton of different sizes, so every truck owner can buy one. It’s lightweight so you can store it under your seats for on-the-go camping.
The only feature that sticks out is that it doesn’t have a floor. The only tents on this list that don’t have a floor are this and the Kodiak canvas. If you want a polyester tent with no floor (so you can have a toolbox), this is the choice for you.
- Removable rainfly so you can open up the tent and see the stars.
- No floor – so you can still use this tent if you have a toolbox. It’s also nice to have no floor if you want to use your own footprint (or tarp).
- Sizes available for compact, mid-size, and full-size trucks.
- Price is middle-tier – less than the Napier tents, but more than the Gear Guide tent.
- Lightweight (11 lbs) so you can keep it in your toolbox without taking up much space.
- No floor might be a drawback for some people since the floor might be dirty or wet. I suggest bringing a tarp or footprint just in case.
- Zippers are not the best quality and may get stuck.
Best for: campers who want a versatile polyester truck tent, but don’t want a floor attached.
Why Would You Want A Truck Tent?
At this point, you might be thinking “hmm, I like these truck tents, but there are some alternatives that look just as good.”
Here are some reasons why a truck tent is better than a ground tent or a truck cap.
Truck Tent vs. Ground Tent
Truck tents aren’t nearly as popular as normal tents (that set up on the ground).
I’m not sure why, but if I had to guess, I’d say it’s because trucks aren’t as popular as cars or SUVs (which can be used for SUV camping). My research shows pickup trucks make up only 15-20% of American cars.
My take is…their loss! Trucks are awesome and are made even better with truck tents.
The major benefit of using a truck tent over a ground tent is that you don’t have to sleep on the ground. Depending on your terrain, this can be a major perk. A truck tent allows you to park on any rocky, swampy, or bumpy ground without having to sleep on the ground.
Truck tents allow you to camp anywhere you can drive. That’s a great reason to pick a truck tent, in my opinion.
Truck Tent vs. Truck Cap
You’ve decided you want to camp in your truck, but maybe you’re tempted to get a truck cap (also known as a truck topper) instead. These caps are installed on the bed of your truck to provide permanent coverage.
The benefit to a truck cap is that it’s long-lasting and guarantees rain protection. The negative is the cost.
Depending on the size of your truck and the material you choose, a truck cap could cost anywhere between $750 and $2,200. Compare that to a truck tent, and the tent is looking pretty nice!
Optimal Strategies For Truck Tent Camping
You’ve decided you want a truck tent. Great!
Now, here’s some strategies on how to maximize your truck camping experience.
The number one issue when it comes to truck tents is compatibility. There are tons of trucks on the market and they all have different size beds. You must double-check to make sure your truck tent fits your truck.
Most truck tents specify what size beds they fit. Make sure you go out and measure your truck bed and confirm it matches the tent manufacturer’s specs. It’s much better to take 5 minutes to do this than to get a tent that doesn’t fit.
Number Of Guests
When you get your truck tent, you’re gonna be excited to open it up and get started. However, don’t rush out to the mountains before considering the size of the tent.
Heed this warning – most truck tents are made to only sleep two people. If you’re looking to camp with more than two, you might want to opt for a family-sized ground tent. Or, get the Napier SportZ and add the Link tent.
Strengthen Your Setup Skills
Finally, make sure you know how to set up your tent before you hit the road. Read the instructions and set up your tent at your house so you know what you’re doing.
You’ll quickly find that setting up a truck tent is much different than a ground tent. While ground tents use guy-lines and stakes to keep the tent tight, truck tents use straps that attach to the outside of your truck.
I’ve got two tips to maximize your use of these straps.
First, make sure you don’t over-torque the straps. It’s very common for people to over-pull the straps to keep their tent rigid. However, you’ll find that it’s easy to pull too much and damage your tent.
Be cautious, and keep this in mind when strapping down your tent.
Second, watch your paint job. Depending on the setup, your straps (or ratchet) might chip away at the paint on the outside of your truck.
You can prevent this by not over-torquing the straps, but you can also add some protection to your truck. A tarp, pad, or even just a towel can be placed under your straps to keep your paint job clean.
Don’t Camp & Drive
Whatever you do, make sure you tear your tent down before driving. Yes, even if you’re just going 10 mph, the wind from driving can toss your tent to the ground.
Don’t let your camping trip get ruined by trying to drive to the gas station with your tent still attached. I may or may not be speaking from experience on this one…
In conclusion, using a truck tent is an awesome way to get outside. Camping in your truck bed allows you to sleep on any terrain, kind of like a super-large cot. You might not be able to find truck tents at your local outdoors store, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a great choice for camping.
There are tons of truck tents on the market. Out of all of those, I think the best truck tent is the Napier SportZ Truck Tent. It might have a premium price tag, but it’s jam-packed with so many features that I think it’s well worth it.
Either way, all of the tents in this article will provide you an epic camping experience.