How to Turn Your Pickup Camper Into a Tent

Written by jonathan pfeiffer
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How to Turn Your Pickup Camper Into a Tent
Tents can easily be prone to problems from extreme weather. (climbers about tents image by Galyna Andrushko from

Transforming your pickup bed into a tent is an economical way to camp out in the wilderness. Using a truck for camping is a safer and potentially more comfortable way to camp. Most people can convert the bed of their pickup to a comfy temporary outdoor refuge using items from around the house for very little cost. Also, using a pickup truck significantly reduces breakdown and set-up time involved when camping. During the daytime, the bedding and tarp create an ideal lounge and picnic location.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Soft padding
  • Blankets
  • Sleeping bags
  • Tarp with prefabricated corner holes
  • Mesh screen
  • Bungee cords
  • Twine
  • 2 metal poles, 6-foot
  • 2 stakes

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  1. 1

    Sweep out the bed of the truck to guarantee that any soft material or padding stays clean. Comfort is one of the top priorities while sleeping out in the wild. Place soft blankets or padding along the bottom of the bed of the truck. A great way to help soften things up as much as possible is the addition of egg-crate material or foam. Utilising sleeping bags or a couple of blankets can also be a useful alternative.

  2. 2

    Place a tarp over the back of the truck to provide cover from the elements. In cases where a truck does not have a camper shell, spread the tarp across the rails of the bed tightly. Secure the tarp on each side of the truck with bungee cords to the bed or to the frame. Let the rest of the tarp extend out from the truck.

  3. 3

    Use two 6-foot poles and place them in the prefabricated holes located at either corner of the tarp to hold the tarp up. Tie a piece of twine to the corner of the tarp, tie the other end to a stake and hammer the stake into the ground to keep the tarp completely stationary.

  4. 4

    Place the tarp over a truck with a camper shell starting at the back foot or so of the camper shell. Strap it down tightly using bungee cords and attach those bungee cords to the frame or wheels of the truck. Repeat the same actions to lock down the tarp as followed for the truck without a camper shell. If the tarp begins to sag in the middle from rain or snow, periodic removal will most likely be required.

  5. 5

    Use a mesh material to line the tailgate area. Mesh material is a product that is generally black in colour and looks like a screen, typical to windows and doors. It can be purchased from auto parts stores and hardware stores. The mesh will protect the occupants from insects and some smaller animals. It will also protect against the outside weather, but still allow a breeze and fresh air for the occupants.

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