Truck bed camping

Ttannahill14

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Jan 26, 2016
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Central Kansas
Doing a solo mule deer hunt this November and considering camping out of the bed of my truck. 2005 Nissan Titan. Been trying to pick up a topper shell on Craigslist.

Pros/cons vs tent camping?

Anyone have experience in this category of camping?
 
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Wherever the bugles are
Ouch November sounds cold, I've only done it during September elk hunting. I prefer it sometimes because I can stay easily mobile but it's not everybody's cup of tea. I think the biggest thing I've found is building some sort of platform to sleep on versus just sleeping pad in the bed and a good sleeping bag to stay warm. Make sure you pack strategically so you have plenty of room to sleep and store cooking gear, food, coolers etc. I always used the cab of the truck to keep my bow and pack out of the way.
 

406LIFE

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Bitterroot Valley, MT
I camp out in mine quite a bit. It's just me when I do, or the dog. I have built a set of drawers and carpeted the top. I have a topper on the back. I open the windows if need be. Or turn on the mr buddy heater if need be. Don't skimp on a sleeping pad. I've only gone down to about 32, don't want to go below freezing. I really like the freedom and ability to go where I want.

If its just you, it is very worth it.


PROS
-Dont' have to setup camp.
-Always mobile.
-Convient for afternoon naps.
-Don't have to pay.
-No trailers to pull.


Cons
-Truck better be level.
-Need topper and platform.
-only room for me.
-some storage lost to creature comforts.
 

LopeHunter

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MO-->CA-->NW-->AZ&NW
I pack my gear in tubs. Carry a tarp. At night, I move most of the tubs out of my vehicle and put tarp over if expect rain. I am never around other campers so not worried items will be stolen as I sleep. I sleep corner to corner in back of SUV Ford Escape. Lay seats flat, move driver's seat forward. If gets really cold, I turn on engine for a few minutes to knock the chill off air. If warm, I put down a window and put mosquito netting over the gap. I use a couple of pads under a large, wide sleeping back and put sheets in the bag. Use full size pillow. Use ear plugs and eye patch. I sleep good. If a bit of a slope then I park so my head is a bit higher than my feet. If am parked on really sloped ground I have even place nose of SUV uphill and reclined driver's seat to sleep as if in a lazy boy chair.

I have "camped" in the SUV during a 14 year span in temps that were in teens at night to 70s at night. The heater comes in handy and not much effort to start the vehicle in middle of the night or in the morning as am waking up. Moving camp is fast and easy.
 

tarheel

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Piedmont region of North Carolina
I like to sleep on the tailgate so I don't have to make room for my body.
I could never do that since I roll and tumble, kick and flail all during the night. You're like my wife; she could sleep on a rail fence.

Over the years I've camped in my old '55 Chevy SWB PU and tarp to cover, Ford PU with shell, S-10 with utility box, '78 Bronco and more recently in a '94 Dodge Minivan with the back seats removed, canoe rack installed and a 5" thick foam twin mattress (old bones need caring for). My wife thinks I'm nuts to be roughing it at my age but I've slept under a tarp in a driving lightning and rain deluge, brush shelters and under a large leaning rock following a blizzard in NW CO. In the Smokies nearby they have a saying; "Rough weather makes good timber". I've about had all the rough weather I can stand though.
 

AggieOutlaw

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Lots of people do this way better than me. But it’s my preferred method. I’m just usually not at the truck. I find it very comfortable with a good sleeping pad.

I know a gal who built a storage platform that has two slide out drawers which contain all her supplies and a kitchen. She can cook outside her camper shell. And sleep on the platform above the wheel wells. The platform has some carpeting for style and comfort. It was slick.
 

Randy11

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Khunter

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hunt alone most of the time. sleep on a cot on the ground under the stars most every day the opportunity presents (not expecting precip) for any hunt where mobility is key. Do not have a topper becaise I take an ATV often enough in the back of truck
that I do not want to mess with putting it on and taking off and storing it.

I am in the “I am here to hunt, not camp” camp or maybe too lazy to take time to set up/tear down tents and camp ‘stuff’ daily.

Often I take a 6 man tent and a tiny backpacker tent. the latter sets up in a few minutes and is my go-to if expecting precip. The 6 man gets use if expecting regular precip or very cold weather and planning to stay in one spot for more than a night or two.

Dont really enjoy camping out in this way when temps are well below freezing but suck it up.

One consideration for me is I almost never “go back to camp” to hang out during day, at all, so a “home base” is completely unnecessary. I decide where/how to sleep at dark or latwr every day to expediently knocking out a meal and quick,y getting to sleep are priorities the preceding approach supports.

one of the most fun hunts was 7 days/nights bowhunting pronghorn in AZ and never slept in a tent or under shelter. Set up backpack tent one night but ended up not needing it. Did same on NV weeklong lope hunt.

Have hunted with a few guys now and again who were pretty freaked out at prospect of not having a base camp/tent set up. not for everybody.
 
Last edited:

Ttannahill14

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Central Kansas
I do it all the time, especially in the summer. It's the reason I'd never own a pickup without a topper.

I've never understood why people build platforms. I just use a cheap cot like this- https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B005NIAJCS/ref=mp_s_a_1_20?ie=UTF8&qid=1520088593&sr=8-20&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=cot&dpPl=1&dpID=31R6Et7I9ML&ref=plSrch

Way more comfortable than sleeping on a piece of OSB, and a lot easier install.
I like this idea better than building a platform. Seems more comfy too.
 

Ttannahill14

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Jan 26, 2016
Messages
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Location
Central Kansas
I camp out in mine quite a bit. It's just me when I do, or the dog. I have built a set of drawers and carpeted the top. I have a topper on the back. I open the windows if need be. Or turn on the mr buddy heater if need be. Don't skimp on a sleeping pad. I've only gone down to about 32, don't want to go below freezing. I really like the freedom and ability to go where I want.

If its just you, it is very worth it.


PROS
-Dont' have to setup camp.
-Always mobile.
-Convient for afternoon naps.
-Don't have to pay.
-No trailers to pull.


Cons
-Truck better be level.
-Need topper and platform.
-only room for me.
-some storage lost to creature comforts.
I agree with you a little worried about the cold. I won’t be at much elevation so should hopefully not be too terrible. It can’t be any colder than a tent thought right? I have a window from my cab to the bed so I could crank the heat right before bed to get warm. Buddy heater worth it?

I’d assume I’d half to crack a window for condensation?
 

Camdu7

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Sep 29, 2015
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Duluth, MN
I have used the buddy heater. Mostly in the morning to warm it up before climbing out of the bag. I just grab my CO detector from my boat and velcro it to the ceiling in my topper. Kick the heat on 10 min before getting up and its nice and toasty. Just gotta watch the down bag and the heater. Would be a smelly hot mess.
 

Kaitum

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Bitterroot Valley
I sleep in the back of my truck each fall but 3-4 nights in a row is about my maximum. I don't build a shelf across the entire bed as my top is level with the cab of my truck and I appreciate the headroom of being able to sit upright to change clothes, etc.

I do have a shelf in the front of the bed that spans the full width and is about two feet deep. I put gear on top of that. The large action packer that holds my truck jack, tire chains, tow straps, etc slides under that shelf. To sleep I turn the action packer lengthwise and sleep along side. Gear goes on top of that, the shelf, or stays in the truck cab. I've slept like this in single degree weather. Not ideal but not bad. A good sleeping pad and bag help. A low profile cot like Randy showed would be even better. I keep a side window cracked open and never had an issue with condensation.
 

Nameless Range

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Back before I had kids, my wife and I would sleep in the back of the truck all the time while camping. We would use a blow up air mattress. Not the backpacking kind, like a queen sized one that was 6 inches thick when blown up. Had a cigarette lighter outlet air pump. Pretty much as comfy as a real bed.
 

elkduds

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CO Springs.
A gas lantern provides some heat. deadly if not vented. There will be condensation from your breath and other sources (propane lantern). Bare aluminum topper or fiberglass/plastic will drip that condensation on you, carpeted liner will not. Insulate under you, including between your bag and an air mattress. I use an old quilt for this, can put 2 layers under me or one under, one over.

Do not arm you vehicle alarm @ night. When you toss/turn, it will go off. This will scare off the game grazing on your leftovers just outside the truck, not to mention anyone else nearby.
 

Bambistew

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Chugiak, AK
I sleep in the back of my truck, probably 25 nights a year, between fishing and hunting trips, 90% of the time there are two of us. I pack light, and stuff things in the cab at night. A small shelf at the front of the bed is a great idea. Going to build one now.

I have 1/2" close cell foam (two cheap sleeping pads) under carpet on the floor of the bed, then sleep on my regular camping pad. Saves the knees when crawling around, and also adds some insulation/warmth. I've thought about adding another 1" of blue board insulation under it, for the colder months, but haven't yet.

I've tried the Buddy heaters a few times, but the condensation/venting/heat just wasn't worth the hassle of not melting my sleeping bag and making everything damp inside. I have thought about getting a small electric heater and running it off a deep cycle battery, and rigging it to charge when driving. A friend used to run one in his work truck to keep the tools/parts from condensating.

A tarp awning is very useful for cooking/lounging and keeping out of the rain. There are various kits that work, but a blue poly tarp tied to a roof rack works fine if there are a few trees around to tie the other end to.

Given the choice between truck and tent, its always the truck. Cleaner, warmer, dryer, faster setup, easily mobile, etc. I usually don't camp in the same spot more than a night or two however.
 

HowaMini

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Apr 22, 2017
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I don't have a buddy heater but I throw a small blanket on the defroster and heat it up and throw it in the bottom of my sleeping bag. It warms my bag up and being able to stick my feet in the blanket adds a few degrees to my sleeping bag.
 

rideold

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Oct 28, 2015
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Front Range of Colorado
We used to camp in the truck bed when I still had a truck. Built a shelf over 1/3 of the bed on the cab end and piled everything up on it at night. Had a thick foam mattress out of a tent trailer that rolled up under the shelf. It was very comfortable. Never did any camping in too cold of weather but it was warmer than a tent and easier.
 
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