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Can You Drive With A Truck Bed Tent

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Truck bed tents are one of the go-to camping methods for overlanders using a pickup truck. By utilizing the space of your truck bed, you have a space with side protection that can shelter you and stop you from falling off the truck while sleeping. But can you drive your truck while a truck tent is installed on your bed? In this article, we will answer exactly that based on our research. 

It is not advisable, and dangerous, to drive your truck with a bed tent erected. Not only could you damage or lose your tent, but you post a hazard to other vehicles if the tent obstructs their view or flies into their right of way to potentially cause a collision. So before driving off, secure your truck bed tent and make sure it is and stowed properly. When you arrive at your campsite, set it up.

Want to learn more about truck bed tents? Continue reading this post as we discuss more topics related to truck bed tents. We will also give you tips and suggestions to help guide you to achieve the most out of your truck camping.

A gray Toyota Tacoma parked in a large field for camping, Can You Drive With A Truck Bed Tent

Is It Bad To Drive With A Truck Bed Tent

Driving with your truck bed tent set up is a bad idea for many reasons. This is an accident waiting to happen. You might think of doing this to save time so that when you arrive at your campsite, you don’t have to set up your tent. However, please don’t attempt this!

  • There is a high probability of the tent flying loose and obstructing the view of another vehicle behind you or in another lane -causing a potentially fatal accident.
  • Another factor is aerodynamics; a truck bed tent is usually big and can interrupt the flow of air that hits the vehicle while moving. Having it stowed gives your truck a more aerodynamic profile while driving, meaning better gas mileage for your truck. 
  • By leaving your tent open, you could break your tent because of the force of the wind while traveling at fast speeds.
  • As mentioned earlier, you can also lose your tent because of the wind picking it up as you drive.

Having your tent packed securely while driving is the only logical thing to do. Having your tent stowed while driving allows sufficient storage space for your other camping gear to be safely packed.

A white single cab truck parked in the camping ground of a nature park with a tent set up on the top

Can you use a truck tent as a regular tent?

Yes, you can, but most truck bed tents are designed to be on top of a truck bed. To keep your tent upright, you need to use the attachment system of the tent that works with the vehicle, so it would be difficult to keep it upright on the ground. 

When you have your tent placed on the bed of your truck, you get added benefits of protection from the wet ground. Since you are elevated, pesky wildlife would not easily interfere or harm you while you are sleeping.

The walls of your truck bed can also serve as added protection and provide stability on the sides of your tent. The truck's sidewalls prevent you from rolling off or outside of the tent and help shelter you from the wind. 

But if you insist on using your truck bed tent as a regular tent, you still can do it. Just keep in mind that you are using something outside of its intended design, so setting it up can be your biggest problem. You might need to get creative for alternative securing methods.

Do truck bed tents scratch your truck?

A white pick up truck with a tent set up on top of it

Truck bed tents are manufactured specifically to be placed on your truck, meaning their designs are tailored to be compatible with your vehicle. Truck bed tents will not scratch your truck as long as you install them correctly.

Even with strong winds, your truck can be scratch-proof from your tent for as long as the proper procedures are followed when setting them up. So, look at the user guide that came with your tent and follow the instructions given to avoid any cosmetic issues with your truck or utility vehicle.

So don’t worry about your tent’s pole or its ratchet systems. These won’t scuff your truck’s paint because, unlike regular tents, these parts are usually covered with a protective cover to avoid rubbing.

Having your ratchet systems tightly fit is also okay to avoid it being loose, which can be the reason for scratching. So always refer to the user’s manual of your tent for the best result.

Are you having problems with cosmetic issues with your truck like dents? We wrote an article on how to get a dent out of a truck to help you remove those imperfections out of your beautiful trucks.

Can you use a truck tent with a tonneau cover?

Some tents like the Napier Backroadz truck tents will allow you to have your tonneau cover while your tent is installed, as long as your tonneau will not exceed six inches high. 

Click here to see Napier Backroadz Truck Tents on Amazon.

While some truck bed tents, like the one made by Rightline Gear, do not allow you to install tents while your tonneau cover is on your truck because some parts of its locking system on your truck will need to latch on where the tonneau is installed.

Click here to see Rightline Gear Truck Tents on Amazon.

If you opt to go with tents that allow you to use your tonneau cover while using your tent, space might be a compromise. Since the tonneau cover occupies some real estate in your truck bed, a smaller space will be available in your tent, and it might also affect your overall storage.

But if you often need your tonneau cover and after camping you need to use it, be it for your work or other matters, then a camping tent that allows you to have your tonneau still installed might well be the truck tent for you.

How can I sleep comfortably in my truck bed?

A truck tent set up on the bed of the truck

There are many ways to find your sweet spot and possibly even create it when sleeping in your truck bed tent. You should know your preference and apply these to your bed. High-quality air mattresses are recommended. If possible, memory foams are the best way to go. Since the surface of your truck is better than the ground, finding comfort is already easier.  

Good quality tents play a big part in your comfort because they are your main protection from the elements. Getting the right tent will get you a long way in terms of a good night's sleep, so get one that fits in your truck bed and has good weatherproofing for those harsh nights out in the woods. The bottom line is experimenting, try different setups and see what best suits you.

Will a full-size air mattress fit in a truck bed?

Most pickup trucks can fit full-size air mattresses and even a queen size bed one. Since the average length of pickup beds are six feet long, a full-size air mattress can easily fit as it is just about the same in length. If you opt for more space, you can either reduce the size of your mattress or get a longer bed-based truck.

When choosing size, take into consideration if you will be sleeping alone or with someone. After all, you are chasing for comfort while sleeping in your tent, so this should be one of the main considerations when putting up your setup for your camping adventure.

We wrote an article listing available pickup trucks with eight-foot beds in the market today, so go ahead and check it out. 

In summary 

A gray Toyota Tacoma parked in a large field for camping

Driving while your tent is set up in the truck bed is a bad idea, and you should avoid it. It would not just damage your tent, rendering it unusable, but this also poses a traffic hazard. Keep truck bed tents down, and securely stowed during transport.