The camping and recreational vehicle industry earn over $20.2 billion dollars a year.

It continues to grow with over 56% of people saying they plan to do more camping this year. 

Truck camping is a great way to enjoy more time outdoors fishing, hunting or relaxing with family.

It gives you the freedom of travelling cross-country while saving on hotel fees.

Along with mobility allowing you to camp in harder to reach areas and it’s very low maintenance.

If you fit in the categories above or you’re interested in learning more about truck camping.

Then, read on as we’ll cover the A to Z of truck camping. 

Find the best truck tents

See the best truck bed campers

2020’s Best Short Bed Truck Campers

Top Pop-Up Camper Trailers

Table of Contents

Camping in the bed of your pickup truck has a surprising number of benefits:

  • Low cost to start camping
  • Extreme mobility
  • Easy and low maintenance
  • Variety of camping options and modifications
  • Travel cross country while saving on hotels

Before you can get started truck camping you’ll need to decide on which sleeping style works best for you.

Don’t go all out right away pick a lower cost option and work your way up until you find the one that suits you.

Sleeping inside of your truck while not the most comfortable, it’s the easiest way to enter into truck camping.

There’s no preparation or set up necessary to get started.

Grab a pillow, blanket or sleeping bag and get as comfortable as possible.

Going camping in your truck for the first time couldn’t be easier than with a tent that pops up in your truck bed.

Popup truck tents are great because they elevate you off the ground for better comfort.

They are an awesome choice for anyone who enjoys camping. But, doesn’t want to spend lots of money on a truck camping setup.

Trying to find the best truck tent for you? Check out the best truck bed tents

  • Elevated off the ground
  • Minimal setup and maintenance
  • Low-cost truck camping option
  • Camp in isolated areas
  • Sweep off & clean the truck bed
  • Spread the tent out inside of the truck bed
  • Slide in the poles in their proper color-coded spot
  • Anchor the tent down to the truck using the straps included with the tent.
  • Lay the truck bed air mattress out inside of the tent
  • Hand pump or plug an electric pump into your vehicle
  • Turn on the pump
  • Inflate the air mattress

Brought the dog camping? Purchase tailgate stairs so the dog can go in and out

Anxious to tow a trailer for the first time? With a truck camper there’s no need to tow anything!

Slide-in truck bed campers sit on top of the truck bed with a sleeping platform extending over the cab.

Slide-in campers built from a hard material like wood or aluminum. They are very durable, lasting years before owners choose to replace it with a new one.

Slide-In truck bed campers are available in a wide range of styles and layouts. The majority of truck camper dealers offering a custom build option.

Trying to find the best truck camper for you? Check out the best truck campers

  • Most spacious truck bed camping option
  • Full kitchen and bathroom
  • Better gas mileage than towing a 5th wheel or travel trailer
  • Able to tow your ATV or other toys without removing the camper
  • Option to unload your camper for extended stays
  • Extreme versatility and mobility
  • Easy storage in the off season

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  • Remove the tailgate
  • Clean the truck bed & place protective rubber mat down
  • Jack up the truck bed camper to the appropriate height
  • Back the truck up to the camper making sure to stay centered (camper bumper kits help in getting the perfect placement every time)
  • Mount the camper down with 4 frame mounted tie downs & 2 turnbuckles

Popup truck bed campers are extremely versatile allowing you to travel off the beaten path.

They have soft walls that fold down when not in use. This means they are flimsier than slide-in campers but they’re still sturdy.

Trying to find the best truck camper for you? Check out the best truck campers

  • Lightweight and folds down when not in use
  • Easy one person set up in 2 minutes
  • Removal in under 30 minutes
  • Easy to maintain and fix
  • Full kitchen and bathroom
  • Very versatile
  • Spacious
  • Remove the tailgate
  • Clean the truck bed & place protective rubber mat down
  • Jack up the truck bed camper to the appropriate height
  • Back the truck up to the camper making sure to stay centered (camper bumper kits help in getting the perfect placement every time)
  • Mount the camper down with 4 frame mounted tie downs & 2 turnbuckles
  • Unlatch the 4 corners then place the handle in the hole on top of the tongue
  • Rotate clockwise to extend the roof
  • Pull out & fasten all the folding sections of your camper

Truck canopy camping is when you install a truck topper to your pickup. Then, you change the interior of the camper shell to be a sleeping space.

This type of truck camping can range from a very basic setup to an advanced one.

It could be as simple as a mattress thrown into the truck box or complex with a custom-built bed and storage units.

  • Extreme versatility
  • Stealthy
  • Lots of Customization
  • No need to tear down camping setup
  • Hardshell roof and walls to protect from the weather
  • Doesn’t affect gas mileage

Truck canopy camping can be very basic using an air mattress, pillow and blankets.

Truck cap camping can get advanced. There are a lot of the do-it-yourself methods that people are building and sharing online.

See some great resources for learning how to set up your own truck canopy camping setup at home.

If you’ve been camping before this is pretty basic for those of you out there. But, it can serve as a refresher to double-check your equipment before you head out.

  • No Glass – It doesn’t burn and the less garbage to carry the better.
  • Leave the campsite in the same condition you found it. Do not leave a pile of garbage!
  • Gas up well before getting to an empty tank. Gas stations may not be around and you never know when your next chance to get gas will be.
  • Prepare and organize ahead of time so you don’t forget anything last minute.
  • Last Of All Drink Cold Beers And Enjoy Mother Nature!

Plastic totes and containers are perfect for dry storage.

You should only need 2 plastic bins to store your goods depending on what you packed.

  • A bin to store all your daily essentials like cooking supplies, flashlights and accessories.
  • The other bin to store all your food and pantry items.

If you’re going to a campsite there should be clean water services located there.

If you’re going truck camping in a remote area you’ll need at least 1 gallon of water per person each day.

If you invested in a portable camping shower it’s a good idea to keep an extra 5 gallons of water on hand to wash with.

Coolers are a necessary accessory for keeping food fresh while truck camping.

You’ll need 1 or 2 coolers depending on how long your planning to camp.

  • One of the coolers is for all your perishable food items.
  • The other cooler can be for holding all your drinks and water.

A great way to save cooler space is to pre-freeze your water bottles to use them as ice packs.

Nobody wants to eat dried foods the whole camping trip.

Cook bacon, eggs, meats and whatever else you bring on your trip with a portable propane stove. 

Three great portable camping stove options for your truck camping trip are:

Keep your camp cookware to a minimum in order to conserve space.

The basic camp cookware to include in your camping set up are:

Keep a set of outdoor camping dishes stocked for every person camping.

Make sure to wash them before use when you arrive at the campsite.

Disposable dishes while convenient they are a recurring cost and waste of space.

If disposable dishes are your only option. Then, use paper plates, cups and biodegradable camping utensils.

The areas in North America where you can camp for free are:

  • Grasslands & National Forests
  • Bureau of Land Management Territory (Western U.S)
  • Crown Land (Canada)
  • Walmart, Truck Stops & Other Overnight Parking Locations

Some amazing free interactive tools that show places you can set up a campsite for free:

  • FreeCampsites –  an interactive map showing paid and free camping spots others found
  • Campendium – this tool allows you to search for campsites based on price and location
  • UltimateCampgrounds – an interactive map that lets you locate paid and free campsites
  • A small dry food storage container is perfect as a garbage
  • Turn your front seat into a bunk bed for your kids
  • Homemade Tank Cleaner – Mix 1 cup of dish soap with ½ cup of Calgon water softener
  • Hang string lights with badge holder clips
  • Use square containers for better storage
  • Use bubble wrap with big bubbles to insulate your camper
  • Mix your eggs in an empty water bottle
  • Put non-slip liners in your drawers to stop stuff from sliding around
  • Collapsible laundry baskets are great for campsite garbage cans

Truck bed camping is when you pack up all your camping gear into the truck, head to the campsite and sleep in the box of your pickup. 

2 of the best truck bed air mattresses are:

There are 3 different ways you can sleep in the bed of your pickup truck.

Some fantastic resources for finding free camping spots before you head out on your next truck camping adventure.

Check Out More!