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Tent Guides

Car Camping: Getting a Vehicular Tent

After months of being cooped up in the office, going for an outdoor camping trip is an excellent use of your vacation time. With the right equipment, leaving behind the modern amenities of urban living can still be a convenient, comfortable, and enjoyable experience. A vehicular tent adds space to your truck or SUV, turning it into a cozy sleeping shelter. Whether it's for a family camping trip or a stopover snooze during a long, cross-country drive, getting a vehicular tent is one of the best ways to equip your ride for the great outdoors.

Types of vehicular tents

You have a wide variety of vehicular tents to choose from, depending on your needs and the kind of vehicle you have. Generally, there are SUV tents and truck tents.

With truck tents, you have a sleeping quarter set up right on top of the truck bed. The tent often doesn't touch the ground at all so you won't have to worry about finding dry ground or a good campsite. Unfortunately, truck tents usually accommodate only two or three people. Some well-known truck tent brands include Rightline Gear, Napier's Sportz, and Kodiak Canvas.

SUV tents have more room, with some being able to accommodate up to six people. These essentially become extensions of your SUV, allowing you to easily move from your tent to your vehicle and vice versa without having to go outside. These can be classified further according to how they are positioned with respect to your vehicle.

Vehicular tent positions

  • Rear-mounted - These tents are the most spacious. The rear of your vehicle is opened and creates a closed connection between the tent and your SUV. Some well-known brands include DAC, Rightline CampRight, Napier Sportz tailgate, and Safari Softshell Sleepers.
  • Side-mounted - These tents usually employ a lean-to design, with the side of your vehicle serving as the second of the tent's two legs. They are designed to be quick shelters from the sun and the rain and don't fully enclose the people underthem. They are often used as outdoor sign-up tents or for small, casual, outdoor gatherings. Kelty is one popular brand for this type of tent.
  • Roof-mounted - With its elevated position, you are protected from animals and crawling insects. Like rear-mounted tents, rooftop tents can also form a direct connection with your vehicle through your vehicle's sunroof. Some are attached to aftermarket roof racks instead and have a ladder propped up outside for easy access. Popular brands include ARB and Lofty Shelters.

Make sure you get a tent that is compatible with your vehicle. Most tents are designed for specific types of trucks or SUVs, accounting for details like the length of the truck bed or whether it uses a tailgate or a liftgate. However, some are also designed to be compatible with a wide variety of vehicles. Happy camping!

Trucks Gone Wild: Erecting Your Truck Tent

Camping out in the wild to enjoy the great outdoors makes for an excellent vacation. A truck tent allows you to just drive to the campsite of your choice, and then convert your vehicle into a spacious and comfortable outdoor shelter. Designed to fit your vehicle, erecting a truck tent is a hassle-free job that you can enjoy with your family.

Difficulty Level: Easy

Here's what you'll need:

  • Wheel chocks
  • Truck tent (with all the required poles and straps)
  • Rubber mallet or hammer (a hard rock will also do)
  • Help from your kids (optional, but highly encouraged)

This guide was written with Napier's Sportz Truck Tents in mind.

Here are the steps:

  1. Park your vehicle where you want to set up camp. We recommend finding flat, level ground if possible and away from low-hanging tree limbs. Engage the parking brakes and place the wheel chocks behind the wheels so your truck doesn't roll while you work.
  2. Open your truck's tailgate. Unpack your truck tent package in the truck bed.
  3. Unfold your tent in the truck bed. The tent's door should be facing the tailgate and its sides will overlap the sides of your truck bed.
  4. You will find three straps on either side of the truck tent, as well as three more straps near the tent's door. Hook the side straps to the body of your truck, with the center straps secured to the wheel well.
  5. Hook the tent door straps to the bumper. You will hear a click with each strap as it is secured.
  6. Take the tent poles and assemble them by pushing the individual segments together.
  7. Slide the two, long, tent poles, one at a time, through the diagonal sleeves of the tent. You will end up pushing each pole through the sleeve, to the opening at the center, then threading it through the opposite diagonal sleeve, and all the way out the other end and into the corresponding grommet.
  8. Take the shorter tent pole and slide it through the door sleeve. Hook each end to the corresponding grommet.
  9. Unroll the awning and pull it out the door tent.
  10. Take the two awning poles and hook the pointed ends in the corner grommets at each side. Erect the awning poles on the ground.
  11. Pull the awning guide to the ground and secure it by hammering a peg into the ground.

The securing straps, although loose at first, will tighten once the poles erect the tent.

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