While it may be a while yet before I get my RV, the truck I bought to tow it with has already come in handy for another use: truck camping. By this I don’t mean buying a camper that slides into the bed of a truck, but rather just sleeping in the bed of the truck as-is. I first attempted this last November when the roomie and I went up to Charlotte, NC for a weekend to attend a renaissance festival. Here are my thoughts on the experience.
First off, I think truck camping could be as simple or complex as you want to make it. I opted for simple, the idea was to save money on hotel costs. The majority of our trip was going to be spent out doing stuff, and we only needed a place to sleep. Staying in our tent wasn’t very viable, the temperature was suppose to get below freezing one of the nights and on the night we drove up, we didn’t arrive in Charlotte until well after dark. Trying to put a tent up in the dark with cold fingers just isn’t fun. Hence, the idea of sleeping in the truck bed.
There isn’t really much you need if you want to try this yourself. Having a cap/cover/camper top/whatever-you-want-to-call-it is important for protection from the elements. If you’ve been considering this form of camping, you likely already have one. If you don’t though, you should seriously think about if this is something you want to be doing before shelling out the money. Depending on size, utility, sturdiness, and complexity, prices can run from a couple hundred to a couple thousand. If this is something you are truely interested in, shop around. A quick google search will reveal several manufacturers who make numerous different models.
My topper seems to be a cut above the standard ones. It slopes up in back for more head room, and has screen windows on the sides that can be opened to provide ventilation (despite the freezing temps I still kept them open a crack for our trip, this kept the condensation from getting too out of control). And the latch in the back locks, which makes the whole experience safer.
Aside from a top, something to sleep on or in is also a good idea. Because it was predicted to be cold, we brought our thin foam backpacking rolls to provide some insulation underneath our sleeping bags, and then we brought pretty much every blanket and comforter we had in our apartment to put on top of them. It worked remarkably well, we stayed quite warm. Because neither of us is very large, there was enough room even with the wheel wells cutting down on space. I have seen pictures where people have built elaborate platforms above the wheel wells to increase the sleeping space, and used the space underneath for storage. One such picture may be found here.
The only other thing I would call a necessity would be something to cover the windows with to provide privacy while sleeping. Our first thought was curtains, but this idea was dismissed on the grounds of being too complex with the way my particular cap curved. What I ended up doing was buying some cheap black fabric and a roll of Velcro. I cut the fabric to fit the windows (there were 6 of them to cover, it took some time) and put Velcro squares on the frame of the windows and the edge of the fabric to stick them in place. It isn’t very elegant, but it works to keep the light and prying eyes out.
The first night, we stayed at a truck stop that allowed overnight parking. It was pretty bright even with our window covers in place, but it worked. The second night we stayed in a Wal-Mart parking lot which was quieter and not as bright. We were not disturbed at either location. For both places we called ahead of time to make sure overnight parking was allowed before showing up.
I considered this first experiment a success, and tomorrow after work the two of us will be doing the same thing again when we travel up to Myrtle Beach for a couple days. I’m really looking forward to getting out of town and traveling again, even if it is just for a weekend.
Have any of you out there ever slept in the back of a truck? What did you think of the experience?