- When outfitting a truck for camping, choose gear that’s light, versatile, and durable enough to stand up to rough terrain.
- Keep it simple, too — If you’re trying to get away, don’t go overboard in bringing what you need and remember the less you have, the easier it is to pack up and clean at the end of your trip.
- We tested gear from brands like Camp Chef, Roofnest, and Yakima to find the best truck camping gear fit for everything from weekends spent at the campground to multi-day overlanding trips.
A pickup truck has always been the original adventure rig. Even before the #vanlife movement started taking off, truck camping served as a more rugged alternative to the plush experience of hitting the road in an RV or pull-behind trailer — and one of the main reasons why is that trucks can go almost anywhere.
If you load your truck with enough gear, not only are you able to spend a few days relaxing in the great outdoors, you could take that rig deep into the backcountry and be sufficient for days on end. Put plainly, it’s the most versatile adventure vehicle there is, allowing you to explore on- and off-road routes and turning into a full-on mobile campsite wherever you end up.
How to shop for truck camping gear
You’re only able to fully realize that versatility with the right gear but there’s more to outfitting your truck for a weekend away than just throwing a cooler, sleeping bag, and tent into the bed and hitting the road.
First, it’s important to make sure your truck is capable of handling the kind of trip you have in mind. Whether you plan on off-roading for several days or just checking out a few local campsites, you’ll want to get a proper tune-up to make sure it runs smoothly.
And don’t get the wrong idea here, either — you don’t need some fancy new truck to go truck camping. As long as you have something that’s reliable and able to get you from Point A to Point B (with however many stops in between), you’re likely set. But again, get your truck inspected first to make sure it’s up to the task.
From a gear standpoint, one of the basics we’d first recommend is outfitting your truck with a suitable roof rack. A roof rack provides additional storage space, freeing up valuable cargo room in the bed of the truck, while also allowing for the attachment of something like a rooftop tent (more on this below). It significantly adds to the versatility of your truck and, ultimately, what all you’re able to tote along.
For the rest of the gear, consider what it is you plan on doing. If you want to be on the road for several days (or even weeks), a reliable method for cooking and storing food is vital, so you might want to spend more for a premium cooler and some quality cookware. If it’s just a shorter weekend outing, perhaps you don’t need as much gear and can pick and choose what to add to your budding kit.
To help, we’ve compiled the following list of gear that we keep stashed in our truck for almost any camp trip we head out on. Of course, some of what we include can sort of mix and match together depending on the trek, but serves as a great checklist for anyone looking to do more camping in their truck.
Here’s the best gear for camping in your truck:
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