How do you sleep in a short bed truck?

In today’s blog post, we will answer the following question: How do you sleep in a short bed truck? We will also give you advice on how to find the best spot for camping your pick-up truck and how to do it safely.

How do you sleep in a short bed truck?

We know that sleeping in a short bed truck may seem like a challenge (especially if you are tall), but short bed truck camping is actually quite popular and easy to do. With a little extra time, planning, and a few props, your short bed truck can become your accommodation too. 

Plus, besides saving you money, the pick-up truck bed is efficient and can be incredibly comfortable when done right. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Insert the air pump nozzle into the air bed air hole and pump air through the mattress until the desired firmness is achieved.
  1. Place the air bed in the pick-up bed and cover it with an unzipped sleeping bag or heavy blanket or quilt, tucking the corners under the mattress.
  1. Hang the bungee cords in all four corners of the tarp, attaching two of the cords to the truck cab (at least one foot from where the cab ends and the truck bed begins).
  1. Pull the other end of the tarp over the bed of the truck, and behind it, stretching it out like an awning. Hold these two end corners in place by hoisting them with a tent pole at each corner. Push the other end of the posts into the ground behind your truck. This part of the tarp should be slightly lower than the ground, so that rainwater can drain off.
  1. Add your blanket and pillow to the truck bed and you are good to go. Plus, if you don’t want to be woken up by the sun, point your truck directly towards where the sun will rise. This will save you a bit more time and prevent the bed from overheating.

Some basic rules before settling in a short bed truck

After establishing that sleeping in a short bed truck is more than easy, it is best to search for your camping spot while it is still daylight. At night, you will not see the environment in the same way, you may not be so serene as in broad daylight. Or you might not sleep very well because you couldn’t see what was around you. 

So take some time out of your day to find your little piece of paradise. Do not hesitate to take the small paths, it is sometimes around these that you find the best spots!

Once you have found the place, analyze your surroundings: if you are near a city, watch out for streetlights that could prevent you from sleeping! Also check whether there are any signs prohibiting the parking or whether parking is restricted for a given period, for example. 

Regarding the place where you want to “put” your vehicle, check that the ground is not too sloping. The ideal spot: flat, discreet terrain, where you feel good and with a nice view as a bonus! If you have any doubts about the place, if you do not feel safe: go your way. There’s no point in torturing your brain all night long!

So, you’ve found the perfect spot: it’s okay you can unpack the table and chairs, heat the water for the pasta, open the packet of crisps and enjoy a small beer. All you have to do is enjoy it! Some tips to make the night go well:

  • Stay discreet! Avoid spreading out all of your stuff to get too flashy. Keep what you need to cook, relax …
  • Before you go to bed, make sure you pack all of your belongings inside the van. Or at the very least, be sure your belongings are safe.
  • Opt for curtains: in addition to making your interior opaque, this will isolate you from outside view.
  • You can opt for additional locks. Locks that are placed on the side door or the rear doors, allows you to have an additional secure closure (locks from the inside and the outside). For 100 $ you can also opt for an anti-theft door bar: it gets stuck between the 2 front doors with a key lock.
  • Put away your keys! To avoid wasting time finding them the next day, remember to keep your keys always in the same place! A small hook is a good tip.
  • A few items to have in your bed truck: a headlamp or an LED that hangs on (for the time being reading, for example), a blanket for cool nights, a mask for sleeping, curtains …

Where can you sleep in a short bed truck?

Finding the ideal spot to sleep in your pick-up truck is not necessarily easy, but there are several solutions available to you. However, you must pay attention to the regulations in force in the state in which you are located.  In the United States and Canada, it is prohibited to sleep in your car in a car park not provided for this purpose or in national parks. Watch out for awakenings by rangers or fines!

  • At a campsite: a rather comfortable solution because you will be able in particular to benefit from facilities such as toilets, showers, drinking water… The quality of the campsite and the services offered depend on its classification (instars). Prices also vary according to the season (more expensive in July-August). On the other hand, for the “alone in the world” side, you can go back: you will often have a neighbour!
  • Service/parking area: Service/parking areas are generally located near a town, close to shops and in a quieter environment. They can be paid or free but very often, it does not exceed 10 $ for one night. Convenient to be as close as possible to a tourist centre, the feeling of being on top of each other is a bit dominant … Too bad!  
  • Camping at a farm/among the winegrowers: you can stop at a campsite on the farm, at a winemaker or a craftsman … All with the possibility of buying the products, discovering the manufacturing processes, discussing with the locals … A good solution when you like to discover the riches of the local and culinary heritage!
  • Homestay campsite: also ideal when you like to meet people! Put your pick-up truck in a local’s backyard and you’re done! Ideal for trying new experiences, you will feel at home and can even enjoy a swimming pool or a breathtaking view. 
  • On public roads: note that with your pick-up truck, you are authorized to park in the city, along the road. Some cities may adopt signs limiting or prohibiting these parking lots (especially for motorhomes). You can do your little thing in your pick-up truck (eat, sleep, etc.) as long as you don’t go camping. 

Do not take out the table and chairs, stove, awning, clothesline… It would be a bit of abuse and above all, you will risk a fine! Generally, the parking time is limited to 7 days.

Final thoughts

When you go camping with your pick-up truck, make sure you have packed everything you need. Have a checklist that you can go through before you go out. Also, take note of the weather. Bring plenty of clothing and blankets even if it’s hot because nighttime temperatures can be shockingly low in these environments.

Also, if the clothes turn out to be too much, you can always store them in the cab or under the base of the pickup. Weather conditions can also change during long trips, so plan ahead. As for the other items, take as much as you can. It’s better to have items you don’t need than to need items you don’t have!

Please feel free to share your thoughts, comments or questions about camping with a pick-up or sleeping under a tonneau cover!

FAQ on How do you sleep in a short bed truck?

How do I keep my truck camper warm?

The best way to keep a truck camper warm is to use one of the following heating sources:

  • Gas heating
  • Auxiliary gas heater
  • Integrated electric heating
  • Auxiliary electric heaters
  • Diesel heating.

Can you camp in a truck camper off the truck?

Yes, you can camp in a truck camper off the truck, as long as it is removable and you unload and secure it properly! 

Can you sleep in a parked car?

The quick answer is yes, it is totally possible to sleep in a stationary car, as long as it has been parked correctly and in compliance with the Highway rules. Sleeping in your car is, in fact, highly recommended after driving for many hours. It is advisable to stop for a nap if fatigue takes over.

Where can I sleep in my truck?

There are many authorised and free camping areas if you need to sleep in your truck. If you are travelling with your vehicle:

  1. In the middle of nature 
  2. At camping sites 
  3. With local people 
  4. At a farm 
  5. In the street or in a parking lot
  6. At Walmart.

Other FAQs about Truck campers that you may be interested in.

How much does a truck cap weigh?

How do box trucks make money?

How do you seal a truck topper?


Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!