The most important consideration when buying a truck tent is choosing a tent that is the right size for your truck bed. Most truck tents are available in multiple sizes, but not all. Typically, sizing is not model-specific and so some tents fit certain brands of trucks better than others. In general, you’ll want to measure your truck bed dimensions to make sure you choose an appropriate truck tent.
Hunter Gill, owner of truck accessory retailer TEQ Customs, says consumers need to weigh tent mounting position against their vehicle’s utility.
“If you’re doing a larger tent you’re going to want some kind of rack because it’s going to be nearly impossible to mount that in the bed itself,” Gill said. “And even if you did it would just take up all your space and make your [truck] bed somewhat useless.”
Gill added tents intended for truck beds often have longer setup and breakdown times.
Truck Tent Materials
Aside from sizing, you’ll also need to choose which truck tent material you’d prefer and what extra features are important to you. Most truck tents are made from polyester and use fiberglass support poles. However, not all polyester is made equal. The best truck tents are made with a durable polyester that won’t easily tear and is protected by a water-resistant coating to withstand all weather conditions.
Another common truck tent material is canvas. Canvas is extremely durable and can be waterproof. The downside to canvas tents is that they are much heavier and more difficult to store. Canvas tents are also less breathable than polyester, meaning they can get much warmer on hot days.
When researching the quality of a truck tent, consider not just the tent material, but also the seams, zippers, and buckles. Well-stitched, taped seams help prevent water from getting into the tent. Zippers are likely to be used a lot and one broken zipper can render an entire tent unusable – if you can’t close the front flap, for example.
Truck Tent Features
While most truck tents have a similar design, they aren’t identical in function. Some have a bed liner and some do not. A bed liner can help keep out moisture and better seal your tent against insect encroachment.
Another optional feature is an awning. An awning provides an extra space outside the tent that is shielded from the rain. This allows you to keep the front flap open for air circulation, even while it is raining. An awning also provides a space to dry wet boots and socks.
All of the tents we tested, and any of the best truck tents, will include a rainfly. A rainfly is an optional topper to a tent that helps repel the weather and is a must-have for any truck tent. Other standard truck tent features are side storage pockets and a lantern hook or similar lantern holder. Both of these are common and useful.
Another thing to consider is the carrying case. A truck tent is more convenient if it can be transported in a convenient bag. A good carrying bag will be as small as possible while still being large enough to fit your tent without too much struggle.
The cost of your truck tent partially depends on the size of your truck bed. Smaller tents cost less money.
Our top-recommended truck tent, the Guide Gear Truck Tent, costs around $200. This is what you can expect to pay for a quality truck tent made with polyester fabric. The Kodiak Canvas truck tent costs around $400, but uses higher quality materials and is likely to last for much longer and hold up to heavy use. If you want a truck tent that you won’t need to replace for decades, it may be worth spending the extra money.
Budget truck tents still cost around $150, or just under $100 for the smaller models. Truck tents in this price range are effective, but made from weaker materials and may tear or break more easily.
In addition to your truck tent, you will want some additional padding or cushion for the floor. While the tent may provide decent insulation from the cold, the bed of your truck will not. Most people who use a truck tent will also use an air mattress for cushion and insulation in addition to a sleeping bag. These can cost even more than the tent.