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Sleeping in the bed of my truck

Question:  I am an outdoor photographer and I've never been camping.  Living in Florida, alligators and poisonous snakes are always a concern.  With Milky Way season upon us, there is a need to spend the night out in the wild.  I am considering sleeping in the bed of my pickup (no topper).  My question is:  air mattress, sleeping bag, or Bivy Sack?  It typically gets hot during the summer months with frequent rain.  I have a Thermacell to address the bug/mosquitos.  So my question is:  am I crazy?  Any gear related suggestions?  Thanks, Daryl

6 Replies

I love that idea!

Air mattress - yes, pick from the hundreds available, but since you're not packing it, get a 'camp' mattress, a little heavier, but lots more cushioning.

Sleeping bag - yes.  but consider a 30F quilt and a light weight blanket or a 'nylon poncho liner' for those hot-hot nights.

But if it rains....hmmmm, can you set up a tent next to the truck into which you can jump?  I don't know...check the forecast?

Setting up a tent in the back of the truck probably defeats the whole purpose, but that would work.  A tent with a net top so you can look at the night sky, and if it starts to rain, get out and put up the rain fly.

I also am looking forward very much to getting someplace where I can see the night horizon.

good luck!

REI Member Since 1979



Thanks Phil!                  AI0I9292-Edit-Edit.jpg

wow, the sharpness and clarity is wonderful!

REI Member Since 1979

@forrestgump Thanks for the question!

Sleeping in the bed of your truck sounds like a great option to meet your needs! There are lots of really good gear options to choose from, however, if you're just starting out with camping here some recommendations:

Hopefully this helps get you started, be sure to circle back here and post some of your pictures!

At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

What Phil said but consider a tarp to cover the truck bed in case of rain.  Since you are not carrying it,  a regular tarp will work but you may want something a bit more purpose made.  You will probably want some poles to give you some head space.  Here are some examples...

Personally I wouldn't rely on just the Thermacell although I don't have any experience with them but would get a net tent... which can work under a tarp.  REI have several options...

I would treat the net tent with permethrin...

Depending on the size of your truck bed,  another option might be use a hammock.  If you have a lumber rack or possibly a way to mount some supports on opposite corners...


@forrestgump there has been some good advice given, but another option would be a cot system in the bed of your truck. If you bed is 6.5' in length you can get away with a 6' cot like the Therma-rest luxury lite. This would keep you elevated off the bed of your truck in case rain gets into the bed area. There is a bug shelter that pairs with that cot which would save you from some of the more determined insects. With the frame of the bug shelter it would be fairly easy to set up a tarp over the entire bed area.