If you have the traveling adventure bug like most campers and RVers you have that unbridled itch to leave home (at least for a while) and set out on the road. And whether you’re a free-spirited, Kerouac-esque road-tripper, or a wilderness travel junkie, one of the first things you’ll need to think about is where you’re going to sleep.
This is where the truck (and SUV, minivan and hatchback) tent comes in. Napier has actually designed a tent that fits perfectly inside your pickup truck bed so it can go with you anywhere!
Being a road-trip fanatic myself, when I first saw the pictures of this brilliant contraption one thing came to mind — Rocinante. If you love traveling and you haven’t read Steinbeck’s 1960’s travelogue depicting his trip around the United States with his standard poodle, you need to pick up a copy of Travels with Charley right now.
The centerpiece of the trip and the book is Steinbeck’s pick up truck, which he had converted to a camper. He lovingly named it Rocinante, after Don Quixote’s horse from The Man of La Mancha. And it was this makeshift camp truck that carried him on all his adventures across his homeland.
So if you’re ready to take on the road and have a camping adventure, Napier has made the preparation much easier and much more affordable.
What is Napier’s Truck Tent (and What it Isn’t)
Napier has designed a series of truck tents that fit in a wide variety of pick up trucks. It looks like your average 2-4 person dome tent, with the light canvas top, a screen door, and rain fly. But it fits inside the truck bed (with the tailgate down).
While there are other truck tents on the market, Napier’s a bit different in a few ways. The tents have a floor made of very durable material. Why is this important? When you’re not using your truck for camping, you’re probably using it to haul a number of things that leave the bed dirty or dusty. The tent floor keeps you, your air mattress and your camping gear dry and clean.
Another major pro to this tent is you have the option of setting it up inside the truck or outside the truck. And both assemblies are very easy. When setting the tent up inside the truck, it just takes a bit more maneuvering to get the poles secured and the clips on since there is less space for you to move around.
One thing to keep in mind is, don’t buy this tent for its versatility. These tents are specifically designed to be used in a truck bed of a specific size. While you can set it up on the ground, there is no way to stake it or keep it upright without using the clipping system that works with a vehicle.
And don’t be fooled. You cannot drive your truck with this tent set up. Maybe to adjust your parking position. But definitely not from home to the campsite.
Why a Truck Tent Rather than a Regular Tent?
You might be asking why you would opt for a truck tent over a traditional camping tent.
The first major benefit to a truck tent over a traditional tent is you can camp anywhere your truck goes. As long as the ground is somewhat level, you can set up camp. You don’t even need to find a campground. Plan a weekend road trip and don’t worry about booking a hotel. Go camp at the beach and forget about finding a suitable tent space.
The second major advantage to the truck tent is being off the ground. For years campers have been trying to get off the ground. We’ve tried cots, hammocks, and even tree tents. Being off the ground means you are further from the elements like pooling water, further out of the reach of animals and insects, and typically warmer.
And a minor benefit but still a perk is you don’t have to lay a footprint or a tarp to protect the bottom of your tent from dirt, water, or rocks. As long as there is nothing in the bed of your truck that could puncture or damage a normal tent, you’re good to go as is.
The assembly was just as easy if not easier than your traditional tent that stays on the ground.
Whether you choose to set it up in the bed of the truck or outside on the ground makes little to no difference. You will have more room to maneuver on the ground if you have an area (approximately 10 x 10) to work in. If not, you can either work from inside the truck bed and move the tent from side to side or work outside by standing on the tailgate and tires.
You’ll start by unfolding and laying the tent flat. Make sure the door is facing the tailgate.
Next, you will want to extend the tent poles, sliding each piece together. These are the same as most other modern tent poles. And bonus! There are only three of them.
The black poles will fit through the pole sleeves in an “X” across the top of the tent.
The gray pole will go straight across the top of the tent underneath the pole sleeve that crosses over the middle of the ceiling.
The green pole will go through the sleeve in the front of the tent over the door.
Once you have put all of the poles where they belong you will secure them by tucking the ends into the pockets provided. Then you can connect the clips that secure the tent to the poles.
The tent should be in a mostly popped up standing position now. If you put it together on the ground you can go ahead and lift it up into the bed of the truck.
Once you have arranged it in the bed you can connect the straps. There are 3 straps on each side of the bed and 3 straps that will go through the tailgate.
The straps that connect to the tailgate can be a bit tricky to pull through. It is helpful to have someone else lift the tailgate while you feed the female end of the straps through the opening. Watch your fingers!
Your truck bed tent is all set up! If you want to add the rain fly, drape it over the top of the tent with the “Napier” decals on the sides and the Napier tag on the front above the door. Clip the rain fly down and make sure to pull it over the green tent pole in the front to keep the rain from coming in through the door.
The full assembly takes about 10 minutes, 15-20 if it is your first time doing it. Overall it is simple and requires only one person. However, it is much easier if you have another set of hands to help with the trickier parts.
What We Loved
Just as it says on Napier’s site, “Home is where you park it.” This phrase no longer only speaks to owners of pricey RVs or even pop-up campers.
Napier has put a lot of love into this tent. They’ve designed it to be rugged like its users and functional like the trucks it fits in. Aside from the “cool” factor that you have quickly converted your vehicle into a home for under $200, it really is an extremely functional option for certain camping circumstances. It truly caters to the adventurous hearts and spontaneous souls.
The tent itself is compact when folded down so it tucks away underneath the backseat. Unlike most tents on the market, it actually fits easily back in the bag it was sent in, with the poles and the rain fly. So no more zipper wrestling or complicated folding patterns.
For being a specialized tent, it is incredibly easy to set up. The floor is so durable and tough that not much would be able to tear it. The tent sides have windows making it breathable and the door offers a screen to allow more airflow without the bugs. The inside of the tent is surprisingly roomy and tall enough that you won’t feel claustrophobic.
They’ve designed it so the sides of the tent come over the sides of the truck bed with the tension from the straps. This way the rain does not get between the tent and the truck and water won’t pool underneath you.
The instructions are also easy to follow and they’ll guide you through setting it up on the ground or in the truck bed itself. You can get a digital version of the instructions right on their site or find them inside the storage bag.
Where to Get One
Remember, not all truck’s and truck beds are the same size. So use their truck bed sizing chart to figure out which tent is right for your truck.
And while you’re on their site, check out all the ways Napier is helping keep our world a little greener. For one, every time you purchase a BackRoadz tent, a tree will be purchased through Trees for the Future.
To Keep in Mind
Make sure you check with Napier if you have any after-market parts that attach to your truck bed. Parts like roll bars, slant-slide tonneau covers, and soft roll covers may need to be removed before you can put the tent in the bed and get a good seal on the sides.
The wheel wells do take away from some of the space in the bed. You should keep this in mind when purchasing a sleeping pad or air mattress for inside the tent. Two people may also sleep more comfortably if they sleep with their heads near the tailgate and their feet towards the back of the bed.
Overall this tent is a great choice for campers on the go and anyone looking to take a trip where it might be hard to set up a traditional tent. It is well made, easy to use and store, and incredibly convenient. We’re pretty sure Steinbeck would approve.