Truck Camping Setup: Ideas & Tips for Your Truck Camper

TAXA Woolly Bear with gear loaded on

Camping doesn’t necessarily mean sleeping on the ground in a tent. If you’re looking for a mobile camping experience with a unique blend of adventure and comfort, consider truck camping!

Truck camping involves transforming your truck’s bed into a cozy truck camper for your outdoor adventures. Most people use camper shells or rooftop tents and sleep directly in the truck bed. This approach to camping will give you the freedom of life on the open road, as well as some amenities of home so you can explore breathtaking landscapes comfortably.

If exploring the great outdoors from the convenience of your truck sounds like the ideal adventure for you, but you aren’t sure how to choose a truck camper and set one up, you’re in the right place. In this comprehensive guide, we’ve included our favorite truck camping ideas along with a plethora of truck camper tips and tricks to start you off on the right foot.

What you need in your truck camping setup

Once you’ve picked out your truck camper, there are a few more things you’ll need to do before you hit the road. After all, camping isn’t just about gear.

First, ensure the place you’re planning to camp allows truck camping. Some areas require special permits, while others prohibit sleeping in a vehicle overnight altogether. So, do your research before heading out.

Similarly, you’ll want to be up to date with local regulations. Does the area you’re planning to camp in have any specific rules regarding campfire restrictions, waste disposal, or wildlife interactions? Being informed about these regulations not only ensures your safety but also helps preserve the natural beauty of the environment for future generations.

Keep your pickup truck in good shape

One of the most important truck camping tips is to keep your pickup in good shape. Not only is it crucial for your everyday driving but its also essential for a successful and worry-free camping experience. Routine maintenance ensures that your vehicle is reliable, efficient, and ready to tackle the demands of the outdoors.

Before heading out:

  • Check your tires: Not only should you check your tire pressure, but you should also pay attention to your tires’ tread depth and overall condition. Also, make sure you have a properly inflated spare tire.
  • Ensure your brakes are functioning correctly: If you notice any squeaking, grinding, or reduced braking efficiency, have them inspected and serviced.
  • Top up and replace fluids: If your engine oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid, coolant, or windshield washer fluid levels are low, top up.
  • Inspect your battery: Look for signs of corrosion, ensure terminals are clean, and test your battery’s voltage.
  • Replace any burnt-out bulbs: Not only will you need to check your headlights and taillights, but you should also check your turn signals and brake lights.
  • Check your HVAC system: Also, ensure your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system works correctly, as it can impact your comfort during camping trips in extreme weather conditions.

Keep a well-stocked truck kit

Keeping a well-stocked truck kit is a smart and proactive approach for any truck camper. This kit should be an integral part of your truck’s cargo, always ready and easily accessible, as it can make the difference between a minor inconvenience and a major setback while truck camping. 

Here are some key items you’ll want to include in your truck kit:

  • Jumper cables: Whether you need a jumpstart yourself or can assist a fellow traveler in need, jumper cables are a must-have to keep your adventure on track.
  • A toolbox: A toolbox with essential tools like wrenches, pliers, screwdrivers, and a tire pressure gauge is invaluable. It allows you to address minor mechanical issues and adjust as needed while on the road.
  • A flashlight: A reliable flashlight with spare batteries is essential for nighttime emergencies, inspecting your truck in the dark, or navigating campgrounds with limited lighting. LED models are particularly efficient and long-lasting.
  • A tire repair kit: A flat tire can happen at any time — and you need to be prepared. A tire repair kit with a plug or patch can help you temporarily fix a punctured tire until you can reach a professional repair service.
  • Duct tape and zip ties: These versatile items are excellent quick fixes for unexpected issues, such as securing loose parts or temporarily sealing leaks.
  • A Swiss army knife or multi-tool: These compact tools can be a lifesaver for various tasks, from cutting to opening bottles and cans.

Choose a durable covering

Canopies, often referred to as camper shells or truck toppers, are enclosures that will fit over your pickup truck’s bed. Not only do they provide shelter from the elements, but they also offer security and storage — and they can have a major impact on your overall truck camping experience. After all, the canopy you choose will determine where you can go, how much room you’ll have in your truck bed, and how warm and dry you’ll be.

There are several different types of truck canopies, but most are made from fiberglass or aluminum. A fiberglass canopy will usually be more form-fitting. As a result, they’ll also be more aerodynamic, meaning you’ll have less wind drag and better gas mileage. In comparison, aluminum canopies are less streamlined, but they are much easier to find and are quite sturdy. Plus, you can more easily modify these types of canopies to suit your needs. You can also buy a wedge camper truck canopy, which has a built-in pop-top and offers enough space to stand.

When choosing a durable canopy covering, you’ll want to think about:

  • Ventilation: Having regular air movement is a must. After all, you don’t want your truck camper setup to get hot and uncomfortable.
  • Fit: Look for a canopy cover that fits your truck bed tightly. This will ensure there aren’t any gaps for cold wind and water to get through.
  • Insulation: Truck camping can get cold, especially if you don’t have the right canopy. So, make sure your truck camper can be insulated when needed.

Know your setup and takedown 

Being proficient in your truck camping setup and takedown procedures not only saves you time and frustration but also ensures that you can safely and efficiently create your home away from home on the road. 

Pay special attention to the stability and secureness of your canopy when setting up your truck camp for the evening. You should also carefully organize the interior of your truck bed. As you’re packing up, secure any loose items. To do the best job possible, consider investing in tools like leveling blocks or jacks, wrenches, screwdrivers, chocks, lubricants, camper tie-downs, and gloves.

Plan for the right gear

The right gear can make tasks like cooking, setting up camp, and staying organized more efficient, allowing you to spend time enjoying nature. Create a truck camping gear checklist to ensure you don’t forget anything, and categorize items by purpose. Then, test and organize your camping setup before you head out.

Remember, your truck isn’t a van, so you’ll need to be intentional when packing. Ask yourself:

  • Do I have adequate storage solutions to keep my gear organized and accessible?
  • Do I have tools to secure loose items to prevent shifting during travel?
  • Have I packed food storage containers to keep items fresh and secure?
  • Do I have the necessary cookware, utensils, and fuel for my planned meals?
  • What is the expected weather during my trip, and do I have appropriate clothing and gear for those conditions?
  • Have I packed extra layers, rain gear, or cold-weather essentials as needed?
  • Do I have a reliable cooler to keep perishable items cold?
  • Do I have essential tools for minor repairs or adjustments to my truck?
  • Is my vehicle maintenance up to date, including oil changes and tire checks?
  • Have I included a first-aid kit and necessary medications?
  • Do I have communication devices like a cell phone, two-way radio, or satellite phone for emergencies?

Store your gear wisely

With limited space available in a truck camper effective storage solutions are important to ensure you have everything within easy reach. Knowing what goes where (and sticking to that plan!) can help reduce clutter and prevent items from getting misplaced. Try grouping similar items to streamline access. 

Since there isn’t a lot of square footage in a truck or truck bed, you need to make the most of vertical space. Consider using stackable storage containers or bins — and don’t forget to label them for quick identification. Also, remember that it’s usually best to use several small boxes or bins rather than one or two larger ones, as you can grab what you need faster instead of digging through a massive bin to find one item.

Be prepared for emergencies

Being prepared for emergencies is a fundamental aspect of responsible and safe truck camping, especially when venturing into remote or hard-to-reach areas where help may be far away. While no one hopes for emergencies, having the right supplies can make all the difference. Here are some important considerations and items you should keep in your truck camper for emergencies:

  • A First-Aid Kit: A comprehensive first-aid kit is essential. It should include bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, tweezers, scissors, adhesive tape, and any personal medications you may need. In remote locations, access to medical care can be limited, making a well-equipped first-aid kit invaluable.
  • Communication Devices: Reliable communication devices, such as a cell phone with a backup battery or charger, two-way radios, or a satellite phone, can be lifesavers in emergencies. 
  • Navigation Tools: Always carry navigation tools like a map, compass, or GPS device. Getting lost or disoriented in remote areas is a real possibility, and these tools can help you find your way back to safety.
  • Fire-Making Supplies: Fire can provide warmth, signal for help, and cook food. Carry fire-starting materials like waterproof matches, lighters, and fire starters.

Don’t forget about sleep

Without a good night’s sleep, you won’t wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the next day’s adventure. You may even find yourself making silly mistakes or having slower reaction times, which could put you in danger. 

To get the best possible night’s sleep, invest in quality sleeping options. Consider:

  • A sleeping platform: A sleeping platform is the perfect addition to your truck camping setup. This raised surface will serve as a barrier between you and the ridges on the bed of your truck, helping you get better quality sleep.
  • An air mattress: Adding an air mattress to your sleeping platform can be the key to a good night’s sleep.
  • A camping cot and a sleeping pad: If you don’t want to deal with inflating and deflating an air mattress, you can also sleep on a camping cot paired with a sleeping pad for additional comfort. They’re lightweight and easy to pack, though they may not be as cozy as some other options.
  • A pillow: It might be tempting to skimp on a pillow and just take an old one from the bottom of your closet, but the right pillow can make all the difference when truck camping. Also, remember that memory foam pillows will get harder when it’s cold, so stick to traditional pillows if you’re planning on truck camping in cooler climates.
  • A sleeping bag: A high-quality sleeping bag that’s appropriate for the season will keep you comfortable all night.

Build your perfect adventure habitat with TAXA

Truck camping is fun and exciting, but you need the right equipment. Not only do you need to think about whether you’re using a ​​camper or pop-up trailer, but you also need to carefully consider which interior accessories to bring along and how you’ll store everything. It isn’t easy, but TAXA can help.

At TAXA, we’ve always been committed to delivering innovative camping solutions that cater to your specific needs. We’re thrilled to announce that exciting developments are on the horizon, promising even more tailored and exceptional camping experiences. Stay tuned for our upcoming news to discover what we’ve been working on.

In the meantime, explore our range of smaller trailers, such as the Woolly Bear and TigerMoth, which offer versatility, mobility, and comfort for your outdoor adventures. Begin your journey with TAXA and gear up for unforgettable camping experiences today!