We do a lot of hardcore, elbow deep, truck modification installs in Diesel Tech magazine. However, this isn't one of them. But every once in awhile we come across a unique product that appears to be so simple, yet effective, that we just have to test it out for ourselves.
In the summer I like to do a lot of camping and I've been enjoying the great outdoors for as long as I can remember. But never once did the thought of creating a tent specifically for the bed of my truck ever enter my head.
I came across Napier Sportz Truck Tents at the SEMA show last fall and the simplicity of the idea just struck me. The first Sportz Truck Tent was developed in 1990 and after over 20 years they've really got it figured out. I'm not apposed to just laying my sleeping bag out in the bed of my truck, but what a great idea to design and perfect a tent for trucks.
It almost looked too good to be true so I decided to give it a try. It comes in its own case and the good news is when you're done it actually fits in this bag, unlike most regular tents. I've owned tents where you can never get it back into the original packaging so this was a good start.
Anyone who has ever set up a regular tent can figure this one out with ease. You start by spreading the tent out in you truck bed with the door facing out the back. Then using the six hook straps, three on each side of the bed, you loosely clip the hooks on. There is even additional padding so you don't need to worry about scratching your truck, although with my 2002 Super Duty it's not really a big concern for me.
The poles are all color-coordinated and the instructions even tell you which ones to insert first. The only real difference compared to regular tents is the quality. The material feels extra thick so you don't have to worry about the pole tearing out while setting it up.
I currently have the AMP BedStep and BedStep 2 on my truck, which are fold down steps. One is located in the rear by the bumper on the driver's side and the other on the passenger side towards the front of the bed. These of course aren't required or even necessary to set up the tent, but on a side note it did make it easier. Plus getting in and out of the tent, especially at night, it was great having the rear BedStep.
After I got all the exterior poles set up and inserted, I came to one long one that I figured would be a pain to go over the top because of the height of the now fully-standing tent. But that's the great part. This skinny pole actually goes on the inside of the tent so for anyone concerned about the height, don't be. I climbed inside the tent and easily added the last pole that runs from front to back.
Another product already on my truck is the BedRug from Undercover. It's nice to have the added cushion and padding when you're in the tent, but again it's not needed to enjoy the tent. In fact, one of the tailgate straps in the center for the tent can't be used f you have the BedRug because of the design, but I didn't see this as a problem and it's worth the trade-off to have the padding.
Inside the tent it's huge and plenty big for two people. It feels very spacious and I really love the design.
With the tent now fully opened and ready for use, how could it possibly get any better? Well thanks to AirBedz, it can actually get a whole lot better. Again, this is one of those great products that makes you wonder why you didn't think of it first.
Pittman Products calls it "AirBedz, The Original Truck Bed Air Mattress" because the company conceptualized, designed and patented air mattresses for truck beds. We simply call it a great idea.
The AirBedz air mattress is designed specifically for your truck and includes the wheel well cutouts. But what impressed me the most is the built-in pump. After charging the removable battery for 10 hours the first time I got it, the pump was ready when I was. I simply rolled it out in my bed, turned the dial to inflate and stood back and watched it perfectly form to the bed of my truck. I also saw this product at SEMA and after they had 16 people stand on it, I knew it would easily support me.
After sleeping on it I have an even higher respect for this design. The support is great and it truly is comfortable. It's the perfect complement to the Napier Sportz Truck Tent and it's the ideal setup for anyone who likes to camp. I love being off the ground when I camp and this combination is just right for my needs.
To deflate the Truck AirBedz mattress I simply moved the dial to deflate and it sucked all the air out so it could go back easily into the original bag. I also ordered the side inserts (they Velcro in where the wheel well cutouts are) so I can also use this mattress in my home if needed. Pittman Products truly thought of everything.
The tent was just as easy to break down as well. Plus, because the tent never touches the ground it stays clean, so the tent going back into the bag is as clean as it was when you took it out.
The Sports Truck Tent comes in a variety of different sizes to fit different trucks and has a starting retail price of $259.99. The AirBedz mattresses come in a variety of sizes as well, starting at $209.99 (wheel well inserts $29.99).
Overall I couldn't be happier with this setup that seems to draw a lot of attention wherever I go. It's the perfect combination for those who want to do more with their truck than just get to your destination.
For information regarding the products used in this feature, visit our Aftermarket.