If you own an SUV, a van or a truck, then there is likely a tailgate tent suitable for you. Tailgate tents are available in a range of styles, from simple canopies for daytime use to fully waterproof models that clip onto the back of a vehicle or connect to the bed of a truck. Some even have sleeping quarters and can be used as a regular tent for camping trips and festivals.
Deciding which tailgate tent is best for you will depend on how you want to use it and in what type of weather. The Kodiak Canvas Truck Bed Tent is designed for flatbed trucks such as the Ford F Series and the Nissan Titan. It has a 5-foot ceiling height and can easily accommodate two people. Alternatively, there are many other designs worthy of consideration, which are suitable for most budgets.
How you plan to use your tent will determine the design that you need. For light daytime use, a simple canopy is often sufficient. However, these usually don't incorporate walls or a floor and don't offer much protection from the elements. For camping and overnight trips, a fully enclosed tent will offer privacy and protection similar to that of a regular tent.
The size and shape of your vehicle will dictate the type of tent that can be used. Some are designed to attach to the back of the vehicle with the tailgate open, allowing access to the rear. Some use the bed and sides of the truck with the tent forming a roof, whereas other, larger models are erected behind the vehicle and incorporate the trunk for sleeping quarters.
The material of the tent is an important factor for several reasons. Canopy-style tents are mainly used as shade from the sun and offer little protection in cold or rainy weather. Canvas is a good all-around choice as it’s hard-wearing and should provide years of service. If you want to camp in inclement weather, then a dual-walled tent with taped seams will offer the most protection.
How difficult and the speed with which a tent can be erected varies from model to model. A canopy can be set up in a few minutes, as it has few parts to assemble, while larger, multi-room tents will often require two people. A tent with color-coded poles makes it much easier to locate each part and can be a fun learning exercise for children.
If you plan to use the tent for camping, then be sure it is large enough for the number of occupants and their belongings. Usually, sizing runs a little small; for example, a two-person tent is just big enough for two people to sleep but doesn’t offer room for much else.
All tents are available with additional features, which, depending on your budget, may or may not be necessary. Any kind of extras that improve the tent’s weather resistance is beneficial for those who want versatility from their investment. Twin zips, mosquito nets, built-in groundsheets and internal stash pockets are all handy but do increase the weight and overall price.
Prices range significantly depending on the size of the tent. A simple canopy can be purchased for under $200, whereas a larger, multi-room tent will start at around $800.
A. Backpacking tents are usually constructed using ultra-lightweight materials. However, since these tents are designed to be carried in a vehicle, this isn’t necessary. A canopy-style tent with steel poles weighs around 20 to 40 pounds; a tent suitable for camping may be double that.
A. Unfortunately, putting a tent in a washing machine will impair its waterproof properties. Instead, use clean water and a mild detergent to clean any dirt or stains by hand. Always make sure your tent is completely dry before storage to prevent mold and mildew.
What you need to know: This two-person tent is designed for use in the back of a truck and is available in different sizes for different bed lengths.
What you’ll love: It is made with cotton duck canvas that is durable, watertight and breathable. It has a large D-shaped door and two zippered windows.
What you should consider: It doesn't have a built-in groundsheet; rather, the bed of the truck becomes the floor.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: This universal-fit canopy shade fits most small-to-midsize SUVs and minivans.
What you’ll love: It is ideal for fishing trips, picnics and barbecues. It provides almost 3 feet of shade and has a built-in mesh to keep out bugs.
What you should consider: It cannot be used on an SUV with a barn door.
What you need to know: This versatile gazebo has a pop-up design that takes under a minute to erect.
What you’ll love: It is 7.5 feet tall at its highest point, making it large enough to fit over the back of a truck or an SUV. It can accommodate eight people and a picnic table.
What you should consider: When packed into its storage bag, it is still rather large and bulky.
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Chris Gillespie writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.