Your Guide to Truck Camping by Jada Lippincott

Your Guide to Truck Camping by Jada Lippincott

I got the dreaded text from my landlord a few months ago telling me that they were selling the house that I was living in and that I had to be out in three weeks, or I could buy the place. There was only one option there, ha. I knew I didn’t want to get involved in another house, apartment or anything else that had a concrete foundation. That’s when I decided to buy a Toyota Tundra and move into it full time, my dog and me. 

Truck with camp storage pulled out

Which setup do you choose? 

In the truck camping world, there are a couple options regarding your truck camping setup. There are slide-in campers, roof top tents, truck bed tents, or truck bed/topper build-outs. All of these have their pros and cons and you should research each one thoroughly before making the decision. This is quite literally the biggest decision for truck camping, so it shouldn’t be rushed. We’ll start with the slide-in campers. This is going to provide you with the most “RV experience”. These typically have bedrooms, bathrooms, showers, living areas, etc. This is going to be your most “glamping” option. These will also be your most expensive option. The roof top tent option is quite literally taking the world by storm. There are a wide variety of kinds ranging from soft-sided to hard-sided, from seconds to put up, to a few minutes to put up. The biggest draw to this setup is that your sleeping quarters are completely separate from your playing, cooking, gear storage area. The truck bed tent option is going to be the cheapest option. These are floorless tents that you put up right in the bed of the truck. This is going to be your best option if you want something quick and easy to remove when you’re not using it. The last option that we have is the truck/topper build out. This is what I live in. I have the bed of my truck built out with a bed over top of a long drawer, plus additional storage on the other side of the bed. I decided to have my bed elevated to help with insulation during the winter months. I decided to go with this buildout option as I wanted something fairly cheap, yet permanent.

Back of truck at sunset

Selecting a Comfy Mattress 

If you’re anything like me, when sleep is your favorite thing in the world, you don’t mess around with it. As with everything else, when you’re camping you have options. There are many things you have to consider when choosing a mattress - temperature, moisture, etc. Since I will be spending my winters on the ski slopes, I knew I didn’t want an inflatable mattress. I also knew that I didn’t want just a cheap 2inch memory foam topper because once again, sleep is my life. I decided to jump feet first and buy a 6inch memory foam twin XL mattress. It’s the middle of summer but here in Yellowstone, temps are still dropping below 20 degrees. Now, I have my setup where my bed is set up all day meaning I do not roll up my bed after each morning, If a stowaway bed is something you’re interested in, I would recommend looking at the inflatable mattress for easability. Also, do yourself a favor and don’t buy a cheap truck bed mattress on Amazon. You’ll thank me later.

Open truck bed showing camping set up

How To Get Started 

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again.. The hardest part is simply just getting out there. Once you’re out there in nature, it’s a piece of cake. You can spend hours upon hours watching Youtube videos deciding on what is the right gear to have, to bring, or to get. All of this can be totally overwhelming but before we even get into the gear, let’s talk about the things that you get to have for free when you’re truck camping. We’re talking freedom, cozy, and mobility. You literally have the world at your fingertips, or steering wheel. 4WD allows you to get off the beaten path, which is what I am all about. When you’re in your truck, you don’t need tents nor do you need to pay for a hotel room. It’s all right there. 

Shelving in truck bed with water


It’s important to keep in mind that just because I have a certain piece of gear in my truck camping setup, doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to have that. Maybe you are interested in some pieces of gear that I don’t have, and so forth. Here is a rundown on what I have in the back of my Toyota Tundra that I have named Wilder Blu:

  • Mattress 
  • Pillow 
  • Battery 
  • Water Container 
  • Backpacking stove (I do not cook, so my backpacking stove is sufficient) 
  • Books 
  • Camp Chair 
  • Food storage 
  • Cooler 
  • Toy bin: I am a dog mom. 
  • Storage: I have customized this truck buildout to fit exactly what I need. You’ll see that I have storage under the bed, as well as along the opposite wall.

Lid being lifted up on a storage unit in the truck bed

I totally get it - truck life/van life is not for everyone. The idea of carrying around your whole entire life with you, everywhere you go may be scary for some. However, I can tell you that it is anything but scary for me. I am mad at myself for not moving into my truck sooner. There is information up the ying yang out there to get you started on your next adventure on the road, but I hope this is a great starting point.

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