Truck Camping - The Complete Guide from A-to-Z

Truck Camping – The Complete Guide from A-to-Z

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Are you looking to convert your pickup into the ultimate adventure mobile? Truck camping is by far one of the best ways to get out there and travel, whether you will be going on weekend trips or a year-long outing.

Look to further than this resource for all your truck camping needs, from choosing a canopy, building out the back, selecting a mattress, and even the gear you need in order to get out there and get going. We’ll be going from more beginner concepts to more advanced and detailed information, and then finally, some road trip and travel resources to help you get out there on the road.

Truck camping is one of the most freeing and liberating ways to travel the world, and I’m so glad to have you here on Desk to Dirtbag, the Internet’s most detailed resource about truck camping.

Don’t miss out on joining the amazing Pickup Truck Camping group on Facebook.

Truck Camping 101

Here’s where to start if you’re new to the world of truck camping… We’ll be covering the many different truck camper setups, buying a new canopy, getting your sleep system setup, and building out the back.

Truck Camping - The Complete Guide from A-to-Z

Comparing Roof Top Tents, Canopies, Slide-In Campers, and Truck Bed Tents

If you are starting with a blank slate, then it is important to consider the pros and cons of the main approaches. How do truck tent campers compare to roof top tents? What about a traditional slide-in camper? Should I just go with a canopy camping setup? Let’s go over it all here before you make a decision about one or the other…

Truck Camping - The Complete Guide from A-to-Z

4 Considerations When Buying a Truck Canopy for Camping

Whether you are buying a used or new canopy with the intention of camping in the back, there are a few important considerations to keep in mind before you buy. These four items are what I’d consider to be crucial when adding a canopy to your truck. If you’ve already got a canopy, then you may just want to skip this one.

Truck Camping - The Complete Guide from A-to-Z

Elevated Sleeping Platform vs. the Back Shelf Approach

There are two primary approaches to building out a truck camping setup: either the elevated sleeping platform with gear storage below, or the backshelf approach. Like anything there are pros and cons to either approach, but here’s what to keep in mind when considering your build options.

Truck Camping - The Complete Guide from A-to-Z

Choosing a Sleeping Pad or Truck Bed Mattress

One of the most important aspects of truck bed camping is being comfortable while sleeping. I highly recommend not neglecting this aspect, but to get a quality truck bed mattress or truck bed sleeping pad. I’ve used a variety of setups over the years, both camping solo and camping as a couple. In this article we’ll discuss what has worked out the best and how to ensure you have a good night’s sleep.

Truck Camping - The Complete Guide from A-to-Z
What You Need to Get Started Truck Camping

Not sure where to start or what you need for your truck camper? Truck camping is an extremely accessible and affordable way to travel and enjoy the freedom of the road. Here are all the most crucial resources that you need to hit the road ASAP.

Truck Camping 201

Truck Camping - The Complete Guide from A-to-Z

My Truck Bed Camper Setup: Step by Step Directions

Lots of people have found my truck canopy camping build online and have replicated it themselves. But many have also reached out asking for more detailed plans or designs about how to build my truck bed camper setup, which is something I couldn’t really provide… Until now! I took advantage when I had my truck emptied out for cleaning and shot

Truck Camping - The Complete Guide from A-to-Z
7 Awesome Products for Your Next Road Trip

I’ve been living in my awesome truck setup for a while now, and I’m definitely starting to get a clearer picture of which items I brought along that I truly like, use frequently, and have really proved their worth over time on the road. Despite my imploring you to Stop Buying Things, and Start Doing Things, I just wanted to

Truck Camping - The Complete Guide from A-to-Z
Truck Camping Videos

As much as I’ve written about the subject of truck camping over the years, the written word usually only goes so far to explain my truck camping setup, how things work, and the pros and cons. The places where the written word fails to do justice can often best be supplemented by video, which is why I put together this

Truck Camping - The Complete Guide from A-to-Z

Pickup Truck Canopy Camping Frequently Asked Questions

I get a lot of questions about truck canopy camping thanks to this blog, but rather than write individual articles about each person’s question, I put it all together in one huge resource that covers all sorts of miscellaneous topics that didn’t fit elsewhere. If you’ve still got questions, there’s a good chance that I’ve covered them here.

Truck Camping - The Complete Guide from A-to-Z

A Guide to Outfitting and Living in the Back of Your Pickup

This is a monster post about truck camping, a full on guide to outfitting and living in the back of your pickup truck from the fundamental approaches, inspiration I turned to, and insights about life on the road.

Truck Camping - The Complete Guide from A-to-Z

Living in a Truck aka How to Turn a Canopy into an RV

Maybe not everybody wants to live in their truck, but it is a pretty awesome way to travel and live life on the road. Thanks to truck camping I’ve traveled across the American West twice for months on a time, and even drove all the way to Patagonia at the tip of South America.

Truck Camping - The Complete Guide from A-to-Z

Why You Need a Dual Battery Setup

Besides the actual canopy and build out, a dual battery setup with an isolator is pretty much the best addition you can make to your truck camping setup to improve life on the road. It basically allows you to run electronics from the back without having to worry about killing your starter battery. Very important!

Truck Camping - The Complete Guide from A-to-Z

All About Casino Camping

Did you know that many casinos across the US offer free camping, free drinks, cheap food and entertainment, and even offer up free money to play? Pretty awesome, right? Find out more about this under utilized resource for those on the road.

Truck Camping - The Complete Guide from A-to-Z

Pickup Truck Camping Gear

Here’s my super comprehensive guide to everything products for getting ready, getting outfitted, and getting on the road for your truck camping adventures. Truck camping is an incredibly freeing lifestyle, but is important to be both well prepared while avoiding overpacking.

Truck Camping Swag

About the Author
Truck Camping - The Complete Guide from A-to-Z


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Ryan is an author, adventurer, perpetual wanderer, and self-proclaimed dirtbag (but that might not mean what you think). Originally from Seattle, he headed to Washington D.C. where he spent five years working for Congress before heeding the call of the wild. He set out truck camping to road trip across the American West. Since then he set out traveling to Colombia, drove across all of Central America, and also wrote a best selling book: Big Travel, Small Budget. He just finished driving his old truck across all of South America. Follow the adventures on social media or read more about me.

Comments 5

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    Hi! Great article, super helpful. Do you have any favorite spots around Northern California for truck camping? I’m planning a trip with some friends, but we aren’t sure where we can legally park and camp for the night.

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      I remember some pretty nice primitive boondock camping in the Smith River National Recreation Area — not sure if you want that far north. A lot of my time was stealth camping along the NorCal coast, which isn’t exactly budget friendly. Check out for some better ideas.

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    I’m 67 single and ready to travel on my slim budget. I’m happy to have found your site. Looking forward with the joy of anticipation and adventure! Marsha

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