Camping is one of the greatest hobbies you could possibly look into. Not only will it give you a chance to get adventurous and connect with nature, but it also gives you the chance to unplug from all the daily stress, to unwind and discover places and things you never knew about. It also gives you the opportunity to bond with nature and anyone else joining you on your camping trip.
People who camp do so in all sorts of vehicles, from passenger cars to recreational vehicles to trucks. You might not always think so, but the most optimal way to camp is with your truck; your little home on wheels that will take you practically anywhere you want. It's one of the most affordable ways to camp, making it accessible and easy. There are some pretty good reasons why you should choose truck camping:
Freedom: The entire idea of camping is to get a rush of freedom! When you're in your own truck you're not constrained to anything. You just go and come as you please, sleep, eat, drink and enjoy your time without anything restraining you like when you're at a hotel or motel, for example. You also don't have to worry about pitching up a tent every time you want to sleep or just get some shuteye from the long drives.
Mobility: You're not really considered free unless you have unlimited access to the places you want to camp at, and truck camping offers you that. You can literally go anywhere, even across borders (as long as you have proper documentation) and discover new places with a fraction of the cost it would take for you to travel by plane or other commercial ways of travel.
Home comfort: You can't enjoy any trip of any kind unless you're feeling comfortable and cozy. When you use commercial travel, you are often restricted in what you can and can't take along with you. By plane, you'll be restricted by how much weight you can carry and forced to leave behind some personal items. With all your needs right there in the truck you're driving, you can have many of the comforts of a home away from home.
All that makes truck camping an adventure worth going for. But it also needs some planning to get it right. The thing about truck camping is that it can be as rugged or as comfortable as you make it. While it's tempting to just hop in your truck and hit the road, that's not going to work if you want to enjoy your trip and be as comfortable as possible; you need to prep and plan beforehand to ensure you have everything you need.
Even if you’re not an avid camper, you just might become one when you read these quick ways to make camping more comfortable.
Conversion camping is the broadest form of camping. As you can tell by the name, it’s a way to convert your vehicle into a livable, functional, and comfy camping vehicle. People can convert their car, RV, van, SUV or truck for camping. Turning your truck into a comfy camping vehicle has some pretty great advantages, such as:
Setup to your taste: When you setup your own truck for camping, you’ll be doing it with your own expectations. This gives you the advantage to what you want in the way you see fit. It’s often going to be the cheapest way to set off for your camping and moving around from place to place.
Security: You’ll feel safe knowing there is a roof over your head, so to speak. Knowing you can be in the security of a locked vehicle with walls around you gives you more comfort if sleeping outdoors isn’t your favorite option. It also allows you to stay parked in designated areas. Besides, you’ll also be safe from weather conditions that can shift suddenly during different seasons.
Now let's have a look at some essential things you'll need to consider and do to get ready for the camping trip of a lifetime.
This is the first thing you'll want to think about to get set up. Anyone who goes camping knows they have to take into account the weather conditions and shifting temperatures. Lots of camping areas can get chilly and downright freezing at night. By the same token, it can just be unbearably hot as well. So, here are some things you would need to purchase if you don't already have them.
Know the region: It’s important to know the climate of the region(s) you’ll be camping at. Nothing will ruin your camping more than being too hot or too cold.
Trunk liner: The trunk liner will help keep cold and chilly weather at bay. It provides insulation in your ride.
Fan: You can have a portable fan with you, though it might take up more room than you’re prepared for. Another option would be to have a built-in roof fan. There are lots of solar gadgets you can find when you’re off the grid.
Base: Just rolling a sleeping bag on the back of your truck isn't going to be comfortable. There are a few sleeping setups that you can come up with. So you can start with some plywood as a base, according to the size of the end of your truck. If plywood isn't your thing, there's also the option of using a piece of carpeting cut out to fit. Using a piece of short-haired carpeting will be more flexible if you need to extend it onto the tailgate. You can tape it down using duct tape. That will give you more warmth and can work just fine, but may need a bit of care and maintenance, like not walking on it with muddy boots and the likes.
Elevated vs back shelves: There's a debate around if the sleeping base should be elevated, making room under the bed for drawers to carry some of your belongings, or a lower sleeping base and make room in the back for shelves or drawers. It's sort of a preference, but for long camping trips, you might not be too comfortable with elevation, since you'll be too close to the roof. Essentially, elevated sleeping base favors gear storage over livability, while the second approach favors livability over gear storage. Most experienced campers do prefer the second approach.
Mattress: Your mattress is going to be your ticket to a good night's sleep, so don’t get skimpy on that. The most important thing is to get one that suits your height. There are lots of mattress brands that keep in mind particular details for truck camping, such as having mattresses that are inflatable and stain-proof. The longer your camping days, the more you’ll need a mattress that is easy to clean and easy to pull out so that you are able to refresh it with fresh air. You could get a foam one which does take a lot of beating, but might also be too thin, as well as takes up the room even when folded.
Real pillow: Many experienced campers will advise you to get yourself a real pillow. Don’t use a makeshift pillow from a jacket or any other type of material. This will easily give you neck pain and can’t be done for an extended period of time.
Not every camping style is the same. There are basically 4 travel styles, and depending on what you’re planning, one of these styles will suit you.
Traditional tent camping: This mainly involves just one, lightweight tent that is pitched on the ground. It doesn’t require much to do in your truck except for some basic organization to make room for gear and other belongings. Tents are at ground level, making going in and out of them easy, and provide enough room for at least 2 people.
Truck tent: For truck camping, you want to get the most room possible. A good solution to avoid too low or too narrow a sleeping base would be to purchase a truck tent. It will probably be your biggest purchase, but it will make your trips a whole lot more comfortable. All camping stuff's review will give you an array of choices in tents and other camping gears that have been already assessed for you. You need to really study your available options and compare them to each other to make the best choice.
Rooftop tent/canopy: It’s undoubtedly one of the most comfortable ways of truck camping. A lot of them come with real beds with beddings. The largest cost comes in the form of purchasing a bed canopy if your vehicle is a pickup, bakkie, or utility truck. These tents are usually easy to set up, and give you the comfort of a real home. Unlike a lightweight tent, they have a heavy canvas siding. Since they’re elevated, you’ll catch a nice breeze on stuffy or muggy summer days.
Roof rack: It’s definitely helpful to have one that will give you that space you need for storage. Get one that is easy to pack or undo from either side. You might also be better off with ones that are not too high, and don’t pack them too high either. Some passages you will be taking might have areas where you can’t get through if the roof of the truck is too high. So spread belongings horizontally as much as possible rather than vertically.
You will have to put a lot of thought on how you’re going to store items without crowding yourself or having difficult access to them. So here are some ways to go about that.
Build-in drawers: If you’re good with your hands and carpentry, you could go with built-in drawers and make your own. You can build pull out drawers under the bed. If you want it easier but with more costs, purchase a bed with its own built-in drawers.
Bins: Lots of campers will just use transparent bins to store their things in an organized fashion. It’s important that they’re transparent so you could see what’s in them, or if not, at least label what’s in them. For smaller items, you can get bins with divisions so things don’t get strewn around or lost. Always keep your camping gear in an easy accessible area.
Vertical storage: Small vertical storage baskets, like ones used in bathrooms, can work as well. You can easily find narrow, tall ones that will give you enough drawer space, while not taking up much room.
Velcro: Velcro tapes work well for small items that you can hang. Just make sure any item isn’t too heavy or cause any sort of distraction when driving.
Food and Kitchen
When it comes to food, you will use a lot of dry products, but you’ll probably also want some cooking options and know how to handle that.
Fridge: Some hardcore campers might choose to opt for a small fridge. While it goes without saying that it has great advantages, such as different temperatures for different divided sections, keep in mind that it also has a steep price. It could also have extra costs because of its energy consumption, and that might mean installing a dual battery system.
Coolers: Coolers are more commonly used to store food and beverages. A heavy duty cooler can keep meat or poultry fresh for around a day, so you would need to cook the food as soon as you possibly can to avoid the risk of it going bad.
Burner system: Unless you plan on surviving only on roasted marshmallows, you’d be better off with a camping stove. Most campers get by with either a one or two burners, using a liquid fuel stove. But there are camping stoves that go up to 4 burners. It’s really a matter of what your cooking needs are.
Best tools: It seems to make sense at first to pack your second-rate kitchen tools for camping. But when you’re using a dull knife to cut up something, for example, it’s just as frustrating as it is at home. It’s even worse since when you’re at home you have the luxury to just pick up another knife. The same goes for a worn out pan. So bring along your better kitchen tools.
You will be doing things differently while camping than when you’re at home. And you know camping involves unfamiliar places and surroundings, and throw in a lot of evening darkness and that can get quite uncomfortable. You have some choices to see the light:
Flashlight: Obviously, that’s basic to have with you. But you can also have a propane camping lantern that is designed for easy carrying.
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Fairy lights: Instead of fumbling around in the dark, you could hang up some solar fairy lights within your trunk. They give a nice, soft color and keeps the bogeyman away if you’re a bit scared of the dark. They’re especially helpful if you have kids with you on your trip.
Solar lights: These are pretty cool and can be pitched into the grounds to provide light like around a tent area or around your truck. They’re usually the same type you would see in a garden or garden pathway.
A few comfort hacks
We can’t leave you without giving you some comfort hacks that will surely make any camping experience one worth repeating over and over again.
Cooking on an open fire? Coat the bottom of the pan with dishwashing liquid to keep your pan from getting inevitably black at the bottom to make for easy washing.
You can have your eggs and eat them too by cracking them before you leave into a wide-mouthed jar. Just pour them out into the pan for some scrambled eggs.
Use block ice instead of cubes in your cooler. Block ice takes a longer time to melt and has less surface than separate cubes.
Trick birthday candles, that really don’t have much use except for two-year-olds, make a good fire starter when you can’t get a good fire going.
The idea of camping is to live with a minimalist approach, but that doesn’t always have to mean sacrificing all comfort. It’s not always going to be easy living out of your trunk, but that’s the beauty of it all. When you’re able to bring in a little bit of home comfort into your trunk, you can camp at any age, and practically anywhere on earth.