Truck Bed Camping Vs Pickup Truck Camping: Vital Information to Guide You!

One of the best ways to explore California or just about any other place with motorable roads is by using a truck bed camper. This is because such a camper will allow you to explore many places even if you are on a budget.

When thinking about truck bed camping, it is easy to get confused about how to prepare, the camping gear you need to carry, and so on.

However, when things get confusing – always look at the bigger picture. In this case the bigger picture will be the adventure or the fun you will be having traveling and seeing places while sleeping in your very own truck.

In this post, I will share with you everything important you need to know about truck bed camping. This information should help you to prepare adequately to go embark on that adventure you’ve been dreaming about since you left college.

By the time you read the conclusion to this post, it will be difficult for you to be confused about most things relating to truck bed camping.

Let’s begin.

Types of truck bed camping

There are four main ways you can do truck bed camping – using a truck bed camper, using a camper shell, using a truck bed tent, or using a ground tent.

Camping using a truck bed camper

There are several companies around the United States and elsewhere in the world that make truck bed campers.

Truck bed campers are like mini houses that are built to attach to truck footbeds. A very good example of a company that makes truck bed campers is Four Wheel Campers. This company makes campers for all types of trucks.

Camping using a truck bed camper is the best way to go camping with your truck because most truck bed campers have just about everything you need for a somewhat luxurious camping experience.

Most of them have a big sleeping mattress over the cab, a mini kitchen with a sink and a cooktop, a toilet, a seating area for meals and relaxing, a TV, and so on.

The best thing about camping in a truck bed camper is that you will be pretty much comfortable especially if you do not mind operating in a smallish space.

Camping using a pickup truck camping shell

Because truck bed campers are kind of like RVs, they tend to be expensive. Because of this, some people simply get a camper shell to attach to their truck instead of attaching a whole new RV.

When compared to the real deal (truck bed campers), camper shells are very cheap. This is because they are literally shells with no amenities inside. The best thing about getting a camper shell is that it will provide you with protection especially against the weather.

And the second best thing about getting a camper shell is that you can easily customize it to look exactly the way you want.

The only downside is that it is going to be a bit time-consuming getting a camper shell to look like a camper.

Nevertheless, it will save you a lot of money to simply get a camper shell and make it comfortable rather than spending money on a complete truck camper product.

Camping using a truck bed camping tent

A truck bed tent is a special tent that is designed to be set up on a truck bed. In other words, it is a tent that allows you to use the bed of your truck as a ground.

Because truck beds are raised and more protective, it is much safer to set up your tent on your truck bed than on the ground.

Compared to getting a truck bed camper or getting a camper shell to go truck bed camping, you will find that it is much cheaper to go camping using a simple truck bed tent.

While it is cheaper to go camping this way, you will most likely find the process of setting up a tent on your truck every day to be a tiring and exhausting experience.

So if you have the money, get a camper or a camper shell for your truck.

Camping using a ground tent

There is no need to explain this a lot because it is the traditional method of camping. It simply involves you getting a conventional ground tent and traveling with it in your truck.

When you get somewhere suitable for you to sleep, you simply need to set it up on the ground just like you would set up a tent when going for conventional camping.

Ground tents tend to be cheaper and easier to purchase than truck bed tents. So if you do not have time to get a truck bed tent or you want to save money, you should get a ground tent.

Of course a ground tent will not be as luxurious as a truck bed camper but it will give you a bit of protection and a nice place to sleep every night.

truck bed camping

Sleeping Gear for truck bed camping

If you want to enjoy truck bed camping, you should not engage in a purchasing spree and buy all sorts of camping gear and emergency stuff on the internet.

Of course, there are some things you really need to buy or to have. However, you should bring a long as few things as possible to ensure your truck is always lightweight (so as to reduce gas mileage).

While it is advisable to carry as few things as possible, you must make sure you have all the proper sleeping gear for truck bed camping if you want to have a truly fun and relaxing camping experience.

Because sleeping well every night is important to ensure your body and your mind are well-rested and re-energized for the next day.

Furthermore, if you really want to look forward to every new day and to look back at your truck bed camping experience with a smile on your face, you need to make sure you are sleeping well every night.

Below is everything you need to sleep well

  1. Mattress

If you want to be comfy every night you need a comfy mattress. Of course, you most probably do not need to get a mattress if you get a good truck camper. This is because it is going to have a good mattress that you can sleep on.

If you want to save money, you can use an old mattress of yourself as a camping mattress. If you want great comfort, you can go for an inflatable mattress or a sleeping pad.

  1. Sleeping bag

In most places around the world, temperatures go down at night time.

This is the same in America, Europe, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and many other countries around the world. Because of this, smart people who go camping typically carry a sleeping bag.

The best sleeping bags tend to have very good insulation. They are designed to keep you warm when the temperatures go down at night. So if you are going truck camping especially in a place where it gets really cold at night.

  1. A pillow

If you are the type of person who likes to sleep with a pillow, you should not forget to carry one. A pillow is not really necessary for truck bed camping, but it can make your nights more comfortable.

Truck bed camping meal preparation

Since you are going camping, you will need to prepare your own meals if you are not going to be eating out. Preparing your own meals will not only save you money but also ensure you are eating healthy in the long run.

If you buy a truck bed camper, it is most probably going to have a mini kitchen where you can make all your meals.

The mini kitchen will probably include a small countertop, a sink, a cooktop or burner range, and storage compartments. You can prepare a quick meal quickly on the mini kitchen.

Some truck bed campers have an external kitchen for BBQs or to allow you to prepare a meal will taking in the views and admiring the tranquility of the surrounding environment in your camp.

In case your truck camping setup does not come with an internal or external kitchen, you will have to get a camping stove.

The best camping stove is at least a two-burner to allow you to prepare at least two things at the same time. There are three types of camping stoves on the market – budget, mid-range, and high-end.

Budget camping stoves are cheap and very versatile. However, they are not really eco-friendly as many of them utilize regular gasoline to work.

Mid-range camping stoves, on the other hand, are also are known to be quality products and are generally very reliable. There are many mid-range stoves on the market with different fuel sources.

The high-end stoves are the most expensive ones. They tend to be propane stoves and, therefore, burn more efficiently.

Truck Bed Camping kitchenware

You need a good kitchenware set to enjoy preparing and consuming your own meals when camping. Luckily, there are many camping kitchenware sets on Amazon.

The best ones are the ones that will come with all the stuff one needs to prepare food in the wild.

A typical camping kitchenware set will include cooking pots, plates, cups, spoons, and so on.

If you have to purchase one, make sure it has got everything you personally need in terms of kitchenware to be able to quickly make as many meals as possible for yourself and even to have plates, spoons and cups for two or three visitors.

Truck bed camping storage

You need good storage for your clothes, gear, drinks, and food. Good storage will not only allow you to carry everything you need but also make sure that your truck does not look like a young boy’s  room with everything on the floor.

General storage

To make sure you carry all your important gear, you should store things in bags. You should clearly label each bag with what is inside to make it easy for you to find important gear quickly whenever you want to.

You can get plastic boxes for your stuff to make your truck and stuff to look even more neat and orderly. However, the boxes will occupy a lot of space and leave you with very little space to manoeuvre.

Water storage  

Traditional RVs have their own water storage tanks. Some of them have big tanks that can provide fresh water for days.

You are going to need a water storage container to have some water with you when you go camping. There are dozens of water tanks available on Amazon at a low cost.

Food storage

To ensure all the food you carry with you to go camping does not go bad, you need a mini refrigerator. There are many mini refrigerators on Amazon. Some of them take less time to refrigerate something, while others can produce even ice.

A good example of a mini refrigerator perfect for camping trips is the Igloo BMX Cooler. It can keep food fresh for a long time.

Truck bed camping safety

In some locations around the world , you are more likely to be robbed, kidnapped, raped.

Even in the United States there are places where you should not venture to especially at night as a crime is more likely. So do not just go camping anywhere you want.

Pickup Truck Camping
Credit: Flickr

Below are other safety tips you should be aware about’

  1. Do not draw attention to yourself, your camper, or location

Drawing attention to yourself by playing loud music, displaying a lot of exterior lighting, flying flags, spreading your stuff in the campground, and constantly posting updates about what you are doing on social media will compromise your safety.

Doing such things will alert people to your camper, your presence, and your location. The next thing you know could be a break-in and your things getting stolen or worse.

  1. Use game cameras

If you can afford to purchase some game cameras please do and set them around your truck. Game cameras are wireless cameras set to stealthily record a video of an area.

By buying two or three cameras and positioning them to record your truck at night, you will quickly notice any suspicious activities around your truck.

Most game cameras can record very well at night. Moreover, if you do not catch humans, you will catch interesting wildlife activity.

  1. Keep animals at bay

Most people go truck bed camping in distant locations away from civilization. Because most people go camping away from civilization, most people end up near areas where there is plenty of wild animals.

Therefore, you should make sure that wherever you are camping is not an animal migratory route. This will reduce your chances of meeting a wild animal.

If possible, you should also keep your food some distance from your truck. When you do this, any wild animal that finds your truck will be attracted to the food rather than your truck.

  1. Carry your winter gear during winter

You need to stay warm especially during winter to survive. If you lack a proper winter sleeping bag, you should get one to keep you warm at tonight. If you lack the right winter clothing, you should get them go keep warm during the day.

It is only by carrying your winter gear and using them appropriately that you will be able to escape the wrath of winter.

  1. Prevent starting a huge fire

If you are in an official campground, you should strictly follow the instructions you are given especially about fire safety and campfires.

You should also clear the area around your campfire especially of things that can be set on fire quickly.

Lastly, after extinguishing your campfire when you are done, you should monitor the ashes for about twenty minutes. This will help you to tell if you have truly extinguished the fire.

  1. Avoid getting lost

Before leaving for a pickup truck camping trip, you should let someone close to you know about where you are going, what you will be doing, and when you will be back.

This information will help the person close to you to find you or to inform the police in case you are lost or when something has happened to you.

The final words

Truck bed camping is a cheap and convenient way of exploring the world. As long as you have gas, you can use your truck camper to visit as many places as you want to at the fraction of the cost you could have had to pay if you simply flew around and stayed in hotels.