How To Pick a Truck Bed Tent for Your Pickup Truck


Are you gearing up to transform your pickup into the ultimate camping rig? Well, you’re in the right place. Truck bed tents are your ticket to camping comfort, and we're here to break down the nitty-gritty of picking the best one for your rig. 


Related Reading: How to Pick the Best SUV Roof Rack Awning

No more grappling with rocky terrain or waking up to creepy crawlies. It's time to elevate your camping game—literally!

What Are Truck Bed Tents?

Truck bed tents are a simple, smart solution for campers who love to hit the road. Instead of sleeping on the ground, these tents set up directly in the bed of your pickup truck. They're built to fit within the dimensions of your truck bed, anchoring to the sides for a stable setup. 

You'll find a range of truck bed tents tailored to different needs and trucks. Some have built-in floors to shield you from the bed of your truck, while others might skip the floor for a lighter, quicker setup. You can choose tents with mesh windows to keep the bugs out but let the air in, or opt for solid flaps for when you need to bunker down. 

No matter your truck or camping style, there’s a truck bed tent designed to match.

Why Opt for a Truck Bed Tent?

Let's talk about why truck bed tents rock. For starters, the elevation is a game-changer – you’re off the cold, damp ground and in the comfort of your truck. 

Plus, having your vehicle right there means you’ve got a lockable door between you and the wild, adding peace of mind to your Z’s.

Another sweet perk? 

These tents let you camp in spots where traditional tents can’t go. That means you can kick back in undiscovered or untraditional camp spots, away from the crowds, with views that are all yours.

Will Any Truck Tent Fit My Truck?

Truck tents aren’t one-size-fits-all. So, you can’t just strap on the first truck tent you find online. 

Truck tents typically come in three general sizes to correspond with the type of pickup you have: 

  • short bed (5-5.5 feet)
  • standard bed (6-6.5 feet)
  • long bed (8 feet)

Here’s a step-by-step guide for how to measure for a truck bed tent: 

Step 1: Get a Tape Measure

You’ll need to measure:

Length: Measure from the inside of the bulkhead (right behind the truck cab) to the inside edge of the tailgate.

Width: Measure the inside width of your truck bed from side to side.

Wheel Well Distance: Measure the distance between your wheel wells since this can affect the width of the tent's floor.


IMPORTANT: Do you have a bed liner, toolbox, or any other permanent fixture in your truck bed?


Step 4: Refer to Manufacturer Fit Guides

Once you have your truck's dimensions, it's time to match them to a tent. Use manufacturer fit guides available on their websites. These guides often allow you to input your truck's make, model, and year to find compatible tents.

Other Considerations: 

The fit of your tent is about more than just comfort—it's about safety too. A tent that's too small might not only tear or get damaged, but it could also scratch or dent your truck bed when you try to fit it. On the other hand, a tent that's too large might not secure properly to the truck, leading to flapping material that can be noisy and may even detach in strong winds.

Some trucks have tapered beds, which are wider at the top than at the bottom. This can also affect the fit of your tent. Remember to check this with your truck tent manufacturers’ guide.

Key Features To Look For in a Truck Tent

Choosing a truck tent is like crafting your ideal outdoor living space. Each detail counts if you want to enjoy every bit of the experience. 

Below are a few things to look out for: 

Tent Fabric

Your tent's fabric is your first line of defense against Mother Nature’s moods. There are usually two types of tent fabrics: Polyester PVC-coated fabrics and canvas.

Fabric Type



Polyester PVC-coated

  • Lightweight
  • Water-resistant
  • Generally more affordable
  • Easy to pack and transport
  • Less durable than canvas
  • Can get very hot in direct sunlight
  • Less breathable
  • May degrade faster with UV exposure


  • Extremely durable
  • Breathable, allowing for better airflow
  • Handles heavy rain and winds well
  • Insulates well in various temperatures
  • Heavier, which can impact portability
  • Typically more expensive
  • Longer drying time if it gets wet
  • Can require more maintenance to prevent mold and mildew

Floor vs. No Floor

A built-in floor serves as a solid barrier, protecting you from the truck bed’s surface. It keeps the interior of your tent clean and dry, shielding you from any moisture that might creep in from underneath. 

On the flip side, a floorless tent offers the ultimate ease of setup – there’s no need to empty your truck bed beforehand. 

So, how do you choose?

Well, it’s all about what’s most important to you: a pristine camping environment or the convenience of quick prep.

Awning vs. No Awning


Tents with awnings come with this extra bit of fabric that stretches out to create a covered area outside your tent. This feature is fantastic for several reasons:

  • Extended Living Space: The awning effectively increases the usable area of your tent, giving you an additional zone for relaxation or storage that's still sheltered from the elements.
  • Protection: It acts as a shield against rain and sun, allowing you to keep your tent door open for fresh air, even when the weather isn't cooperating.
  • Versatility: An awning can also serve as a makeshift kitchenette area, where you can set up your camp stove and cook in the open air without the sun beating down on you or rain spoiling your meal prep.

If you're someone who enjoys spending as much time outside as possible, a tent with an awning is likely the right pick for you. 

On the flip side, tents without awnings have their own set of advantages:

  • Simplicity: Without the extra material, these tents can be lighter and less complex to set up, which is great for those who want to hit the sack without fuss after a long day of adventure.
  • Wind Resistance: Less fabric means less sail area for the wind to catch, making these tents potentially more stable in windy conditions.
  • Compactness: If you're tight on storage space or just prefer a more minimalist setup, skipping the awning can trim down your gear load.

Note: When deciding if a tent without an awning is right for you, consider the climate you'll be camping in and your outdoor living needs. If you're a fair-weather camper who spends most of your time exploring rather than lounging at camp, the simplicity may be more appealing.

Ventilation Systems

Proper ventilation is crucial in a truck bed tent. Look for options with mesh windows or vents that allow for a breeze to keep you cool on warm nights and reduce condensation when the temperature drops. Some tents even come with adjustable ventilation options, so you can find just the right airflow for any weather.

Can I Use a Regular Ground Tent in My Truck Bed?

Wondering if the old ground tent gathering dust in the garage will cut it? Well, it might work in a pinch, but it's like using a wrench as a hammer – not quite the right tool for the job. 

Ground tents don't have the tailored features that make truck tents so slick, like custom fit or special access points. If you want to get the most bang for your buck, your best bet is buying a good truck bed tent.

Must-Have Accessories for Your Truck Bed Tent

So, you've picked out the perfect truck bed tent. But wait, there's more to this setup than just the tent itself. To truly elevate your camping experience, you need the right accessories. 

Here are some top picks that are worth considering:

Truck Bed Inflatable Air Mattress

Rest is vital when you're out exploring, and a good air mattress can be the difference between waking up refreshed or with a crick in your neck. The  Offroading Gear Truck Bed Inflatable Air Mattress molds to the contours of your truck bed, creating a sleep sanctuary free from the lumps and bumps of the ground. 

Related Reading: How to Pick an SUV Mattress

With an air mattress like this, you can recover from a long day's hike and be ready for whatever tomorrow throws at you.

Recovery Kit with Snatch Straps

For the adventurers who treat 'roads less traveled' as an invitation, a recovery kit is as essential as a compass. The  Offroading Gear 8 Piece 4x4 Recovery Kit comes with robust snatch straps that can get you out of a bind, whether you're stuck in mud, sand, or snow. 

Being prepared with a recovery kit means you can venture further with confidence, knowing you have the tools to handle tricky situations that might otherwise cut your trip short.

Winch Rope Kit w/ Snap Hook or Rubber Stopper

A reliable winch setup is your best friend in the wild. It's about self-reliance and the freedom to tackle challenging terrains without hesitation. The Offroading Gear Synthetic Winch Rope Kit is a lightweight, yet durable choice that's easier to maneuver than traditional steel cables. 

Related Reading: Wire Cable vs Synthetic Winch Rope

It's designed to help you, or a buddy, out of a jam without the added weight or risk of traditional cables. When you're miles from help, a winch rope kit like this could be your ticket to safety, or it could help make you the hero to a fellow camper in distress.

Final Thoughts

With the right truck bed tent, you can turn any spot into a cozy campsite, elevated above the cold, damp ground and closer to the stars. But remember, the tent is just the beginning. 

Equipping yourself with the right accessories like a cushy air mattress, a dependable recovery kit, and a trusty winch rope can make all the difference. These tools ensure your adventure is not only memorable but also comfortable and safe. 

So, gear up, plan your route, and hit the road with confidence!