During our research for a new family camping tent, I looked at a few options where you pitch your tent over your truck bed. It looked interesting but we passed on it and bought the Kodiak Canvas Cabin Tent – which for family camping was a good choice.
However, there are times during the shoulder seasons where I wouldn’t mind going out for weekend or overnight and hauling the cabin tent is not an option. Hammock camping for me is past me, so what else could I do?
I returned to Kodiak Canvas website and saw that they offered a truck tent version. Their tent model was very simple; akin to a fitted bed sheet. So I got curious and decided to pull the trigger this season.
Welcome To Truck Camping
Yes, truck camping is a thing. I noticed it was gaining momentum a few years now where I first started seeing more of it being used during marathon events, ultra or other long term races in the woods. People would convert their truck cab, SUV or van into a sleeper. Cheap and easy camping option.
Then the world of overlanding started to come in and now a bunch of products and gear are available for a multitude of configuration options. It reminded me when I was hammock camping; the interest was being very modular and customizing the build based on your needs. Truck camping was no different, just the budget got bigger and I could use my backpacking gear.
The Truck Camping Build
I currently drive a Ford F150 short truck bed with a few accessories that I wanted to help with outdoor recreation but kept the truck useful for hauling stuff.
This is a headache rack that is an easy no-drill install at the front of the truck bed, protecting the glass of the cab. I got it to tie down down bikes, canoes and kayaks. It is an essential item if you intent to use your truck and load up the truck bed.
I also could, based on the site attach a rope from a post and pitch a tarp to give me some cover.
DECKED Truck Bed Drawer System
Instead of shopping for a tonneau cover or other tool box which shrinks down the size of the truck bed, I opted for the DECKED platform. This gives me two 150 litre drawers and four ammo can sized areas in each corner. I love this thing. It can support 2000lbs and you still are able to utilize the entire truck bed.
Since I have the short truck bed, I could not fit a camp cot into the truck bed, but the DECKED gives me a good flat surface and I still got drawers to use. You see a lot of youtube videos of people building their own system.
Kodiak Canvas Truck Tent (model 7206)
This is the truck tent model that will fit truck beds between 5.5 ft and 6.8ft. This looks like an old chuckwagon tent when setup and with the short truck bed, I have to roll up a bit of extra fabric. This doesn’t include a floor so essentially you are drapping a canvas sheet over the truck bed and use the support archs to make the shape.
Tent Is Not Perfectly In Place
My truck accessories at the front of the truck bed is restricting the truck tent from covering it completely.
The backrack uprights are situated on the side 1/3 from center. This allows me to access the corners of the truck bed with the tent no problem. There is a short 18 inch section that I need to clamp down or use magnets to cover.
But the biggest issue was the gab between the truck bed and backrack. Air would come in very easily. A quick fix is to find some pipe insulation from Home Depot and stuff it in between the gap. This fixed the problem.
Because of the short truck bed and DECKED, I could not lay flat and straight without having my feet dangling off the DECK over the tailgate. But an easy fix for that was to place a bin on the tail gate as an extension. This was a surprisingly easy fix. Plus I got a quick access bin for my gear.
My First Night Truck Camping
I decided to go for an overnight over at Five Islands Provincial Park, overlooking the Bay of Fundy. The camping is geared more for trailers and RV’s as you are up against a mountains side – everything requires you going up or down the hillside. That being said, enjoyed a good stay there and would go again.
So – doing a dry run setting up the tent is highly recommended. You simply work out the quirks and with this type of tent, it will speed up the process the next time.
I took 15-20 min setup to get the tent up and secured. I was curious to see how it would react under stiff wind or rain. I was hoping for either but I got wind. I was really surprised how stable the structure was.
Now – getting in & out of the truck bed….well that depends on how limber you are. A step ladder or bin as a step would be helpful or at the very least some foam on the tailgate for your knees.
But once in the truck bed and under the tent, I was pleased with the space the truck tent offered and the DECKED worked as a seat when you want to put on your shoes getting out of the tent. The DECKED also was a nice surface to sleep on.
Reduce Gear Footprint
I had a mix of regular camping and backpacking gear with me and now that I’ve done a few outings – I think I can reduce the reduce the footprint of some of the gear to pack it more efficiently in the truck.
I tried out two camping stoves: Coleman camp grill and a Coleman 2 burner Fold N Go stove. The stove I ended up liking more was the Fold N Go. Simply was the more compact and as usuable stove. The only downside is lack of wind guard but you can fashion something or only fold down one side and use the other as the guard. There is a one burner version and I might be interested in that down the road. But for now I’ll stick with the 2 burner.
I had bought these oversized Adirondack camping chairs from Home Depot and while they are fantastic, they are huge. I can’t fit them into my DECKED and have to haul them exposed in the truck bed. At the end of the day, I could return to the 10$ Walmart camping chair, but why stop there?
I got my eye on the Helinox Chair One XL. this thing packs down really small and supports more weight than the cheaper chairs.
I borrowed the GSI Bugaboo Camper cookset from the family camping bin and this is a great cookset for 3 people. But with my solo camping it’s a good choice but I want to reduce the footprint more. So this GSI Bugaboo Mess Kit is a good compromise but the GSI Bugaboo Backpacker might be just right.
The components I am interested in is a skillet, nested cups and something to boil water in and wash dishes.
I was using a Thermarest Basecamp XL which has been a very good sleeping mat when you can afford the size. However it rolls up kinda big and I would prefer something smaller.
I had found a Windcatcher AirPad but now you can see the technology used across the industry. Wanting a wider pad, I am getting my sights on the Klymit Static V Luxe pad.