How to Start Truck Camping

What you need to get started in Truck Camping

Truck camping has now become a massive industry in its own right, and it’s still growing exponentially with no signs of a pause. More and more people are jumping on the bandwagon everyday so to speak.

Why? You may ask. One of the major benefits of truck camping is that it makes it very easy to move from place to place without packing up cluttered RVs or taking down Base Camp Tents for instance.

Trucks, being the size of a car, are also easy to easier to navigate around town than bulky and long RVs.

Another plus point for Truck Camping is the convenience factor. You can use your/an everyday truck. There are a multitude of free resources with some amazing ideas for Modular or Permanent Rigs for the back of your faithful workhorse. No need to spend tens of thousands on a state of the art Camper Van or RV.

If all of this and a bit daunting don’t worry we’ve done the research for you. I will be giving you plenty of resources for you look through in your own time.

There are some truly amazing and innovative ideas freely available online from our faithful band of DIY Engineer brothers, if you know where to look. Hint. I’m going to show you…

So, what’s the Best type of Truck for Truck Camping?

To be fair, it’s a subjective choice. It depends on what you plan to do in it, where you are going to take it and how much and what type of equipment you are taking in it.

Generally, if you’re anything like the majority of Truck Campers, you are going to go for a Pickup.

Realistically, deciding on a Pickup is only going to narrow down the field of contenders a tiny bit as you still have to decide.

  • How many seats?
  • How old?
  • What Fuel?
  • Economy/Fuel Efficiency?
  • Off Road or Not?
  • Price Point. What’s your Budget?
  • New or Second Hand?
  • Lightweight or Heavy Duty?
  • Engine Size/Power?
  • How much Storage Space do you need?
  • 2 Wheel, 4 Wheel, 6 Wheel Drive?
  • Will you be Sleeping in it, on it or by it?

Are you starting to get the picture? There are a multitude of variables to consider. Or, you could just use the truck you already have and adapt. (My preferred option).

Truck Camping Equipment

Ok, let’s imaging we have decided on out Truck. What Truck Camping Equipment are we going to need?

Let’s start with the absolute basics. You are going to need to check that your truck has a “Useable” Spare Tyre, Jack, Wheel Brace and Pump. You and everyone else who is going are going to have to know how to Change a Tyre. If it’s a case of having to do it at your front door before you leave for practice/training, then do it. You will be glad you did if an emergency situation occurs.

Don’t forget to throw in your Toolbox. You can almost guarantee that you will need something out of it if you don’t…

Which brings me nicely on the the next item. A First Aid Kit, and just as important, knowledge of how to use it. If you truly don’t know any First Aid, visit Google and YouTube, they can help.

Food and Water. Totally obvious, but I thought I’d mention it for the “Hard of Thinking” contingent.

A means of Heating/Cooking the Food and Water. Again, the choices are endless from Multi Fuel Cookers, Wood Burners, Mini Microwaves that work from an Inverter, Butane Canister Cookers and even a Campfire!

Shelter. For any new starters to Truck Camping, you are probably going to want to keep the costs and the complexity down. The simplest solution is to have something like a Pop Up Tent and put it up by your Truck. If you are more adventurous there are Hammocks, Bivouacs or Bivvy Bags.

Looking for more comfort? There are Tailgate Tents, Awnings, Roof Top Tent Setups or you could even sleep in the back of an SUV or Hatchback.

Truck Camping Specialist Equipment

The type of Specialist Equipment you should take depends on your tolerance to Adventure.

For real Off Road Adventures, we are talking Winches, Sledge Hammers, Recovery Ropes and Sand Ladders.

For the On Roaders like me, we could be talking Mountain Bikes, Climbing Equipment, Kayaks, Paragliders, Ski’s, Windsurfers or Paddle Boards. Storage is obviously going to become an issue if you need these types specialist kit, so again this would have been a factor when picking your Truck Type earlier.

There are many Outdoor Adventures that need little to no Specialist Equipment too, such as Walking, Trail Running, Orienteering and Geocaching, so don’t be put off getting out there if you are pushed for storage space..

Truck Camping Sleeping

No matter which of the options you choose from above, you are going to need something to sleep in and something to sleep on.

For Sleeping in, it is going to be Sleeping Bags or Bivvy Bags (or Quilts for the Glampers amongst you). Sleeping Bags come in 2 main types. Mummy Sleeping Bags, which are broad at the shoulders then narrow at the feet, or Envelope Sleeping Bags, which are a set rectangular shape all the way down (my preference).

For Sleeping on, you are going to need some form of cusion. Sleeping Mats and Inflatable Mattresses are the norm.

Sleeping mats have come on leaps and bounds in technological terms. We did a trial here at of Inflatable and Self-Inflating Sleeping Mats a Year or so Back [Here is a link to our Sleeping Mat Trial]. It was a real eye opener for me, who had spent many years in the Marines sleeping on a thin Yoga style mat. I only wish I’d known about Self-Inflating Sleeping Mats earlier as their performance is exceptional.

Truck Camping Storage

As I alluded to earlier, your chosen Outdoor Hobby is going to dictate the amount of storage needed. When I was researching for this Post I came across a few fantastic resources, especially for Truck Camping Storage and Rigs Setups.

More than likely you are going to use your truck as a Base Camp, so you will want to make sure you take along everything you could need to make your trip as comfortable as possible. You are going to have to be creative to get is all in and still be able to use your truck as a vehicle.

This PInterest Account had my head spinning with great ideas. Also this Blog Post gave some great Truck Camping advice especially for beginners.

If you have a spare few hours a couple of Google Searches for “Truck Camping” will light a fire under your enthusiasm for sure.

Truck Camping Eating and Heating

Cooking on an Open Fire sounds so adventurous, but try starting one in the wind and rain when you are cold and hungry. It soon gives you a dose of reality.

Take some sort of Stove. Something simple can be picked up cheaply. A Stove with 2 rings is ideal, so that you can heat food while boiling the kettle.

Speaking of Kettle’s, you are going to have to take along Kettle, Pans, Cooking Utensils, Cups, Plates, Bowls, Knives, Forks and Spoons. Don’t fall for the hype either and take a Spork, they are next to useless and save an inch of space!

A Folding Camping Table and Stools are ideal, especially if the ground is wet and rocky, not nice for sitting on.

You could take an inverter, a small kettle and some clip on lights to make life more bearable. Just be careful not to flatten your Truck Battery through overuse.

Add Ons and Accessories to make Truck Camping more Comfortable

This could possibly turn out to be an endless list, as anything that makes your life easier could potentially be a Truck Camping Accessory.

However, here’s a list of things that are: Useful, Reusable, Suitable, Durable and that should Add some Value to your trip.

  • A Cool Box (Powered or not)
  • A Small Beer Fridge (Essential!)
  • A Thermos Flask
  • GPS or SatNav
  • A Satellite Phone (great for Emergencies when there is no Signal)
  • Toolbox
  • Inverter and Spare (Charged) Battery
  • Truck Battery Booster with Built In Light
  • Jumper Leads
  • Electric Winch
  • Sledge Hammer

Quite seriously this list could be endless, so I will stop there and I hope it has given you some ideas.

The next step in your Truck Camping Adventure is to just go out and do it. We started camping from the back of our Hatchback with a Pop Up Tent and hardly any luxuries and built up from there.

As a disclaimer, we did go out, buy and renovate a Camper (RV), but please don’t judge us. We loved the renovation and the times we went away in her, she has gone now due to us needing the cash that we got for her at the time. Sad but true…