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Truck tent and heater
I’m going to be spending a couple weeks in Nevada in November with Toyota Tacoma I am borrowing from my brother who lives in Vegas.
I’m debating buying a tent meant for that truck that goes up in the bed and a heater that plugs into the 12 V cigarette lighter.
A recent post on here about a vehicle microwave got me thinking about heater. I found one for $40 that draws 300 W does anyone have a clue how long I can run that before an average battery won’t start the truck.
Not sure how good the tents that go in the bed of a truck are so let’s here your comments on that. Also occurred to me just to get a big piece of canvas and drape it over it.
I usually hunt early spring for turkeys and fall big game and camp out in my pickup topper shell in my Toy Tundra for a week or 2 at a time. I'm not sure if a shortbed Tacoma would have much room to stretch out in though? I'm not sure how the wind blows where you'll be hunting in NV but I would never try a truck tent in a place like Wyo where the wind howls just about every day. Parts of the truck tent would likely end up somewhere in Nebraska! A tarp would likely end up in Illinois!
If I'm hunting from my truck it's pretty nice to camp where I end up each day and already have my topper set up so I don't need to set up a tent. I don't have to worry about wind, sleet, rain, or snow in the topper. I've hunted Wyo and Colo in Nov and even Dec and never worried about a heater. I just wear layers to bed. I am usually so tired that I don't have problems sleeping.
If your brother doesn't have access to a topper you may consider renting a 4x4 SUV that the back seats fold down so you can sleep in the back. I've done that on several Alaska trips where it's nice to get out of the rain and away from bears.
You can rent toppers, I've done it. Seems like it was expensive from what I can remember.
take a deep cycle marine battery along. it will last days and you can start the truck and hook jumper cables to charge it are buy a solar charger. no need being stranded with a dead battery and no heat.
Don, just get a big cheapo tent online and have it delivered to your brother’s place and use a Buddy Heater. You’ll be more comfortable with a ton of room.
Fire up the heater when you get in for the evening and then set your alarm for an hour before you get up in the AM and fire it up and go back to sleep.
sleeping on the ground would be warmer. 300 watts is not much and the steel truck bed will get cold especial if the wind blows cold air under the truck. hot air rises so the steel will never warm up just get colder and chill you to the bone.
Stupid Tacoma’s don’t have steel beds! LOL all plastic now days! They are great if you want anything you put in there to slide around!!!!
I have rented an SUV before with fold down seats nice but usually terrible tires and low clearance. Plus to spare tires - I have 2 or 3 with rims for my brothers truck. This is for Nov in NV. Agree heater is small but any source of heat over the course of a night will really help.
Marine battery is a great idea.
The big issue is not having my own truck without a looooong drive.
I’d bring along one of those 1lb cylinder propane heaters and pick up a case of tanks when you land in town and load up on supplies. Pulling 300 Watts all night I’d be surprised if it even started after one night.
I had a truck bed tent and the downside was that you had to take it down (stating the blinding obvious) before you drove anywhere. It was a major hassle. Better to just pitch a tent.
Do as Ike said. But a tent and a MR buddy heater. Lots of room and comfort.
An oversize Tentcot and a tarp should work for that situation...
I have an all-weather bed liner on my truck's bed, sides, and roof. I place an air mattress under my sleeping bag. It was -9 windchill a couple winters ago in Wyo and I never felt cold from the metal floor. Sleeping inside a topper sure is warm and dry. The photo of the camp with tarp doesn't look too terribly comfortable to me....especially if it starts snowing and blowing! Fire may be ok but you have to collect wood and keep it going.. plus you and your clothes will smell like a smokestack!
If I had a high demand tag I had been waiting years for I would probably suck it up and drive my truck and gear out so I have everything I need for an extended trip that I could live fairly comfortably. It can be an ordeal bringing gear via airplane. If it's just another tag a topper on your bros truck with a few essentials would likely suffice but you may not last as long and have as enjoyable hunt without your truck.
300 watts is 25 amps at 12v. It won't take much time to drain a battery down, and quite frankly you will not get much heat from a 300 watt electric heater.
It would probably be warmer and less of a hassle to go a different route.
That little hatchback subcompact I saw you camping in in AZ would be warmer than the back of a truck.
As someone correctly said, unless you insulate yourself from all of the metal...it gets cold. Its not worth using the trucks battery for something like that...it would have to have an external power source. I would think something like a buddy heater would be too warm.
I say just Just pile on the insulation.
I do exactly what Idyllwildarcher suggested. Plenty of room, I have the buddy heater on in the evening, get everything ready for the morning. I sleep on a cot and turn the heater on in the morning about 30 minutes before I need to get up. Drape a blanket over the cot so it reaches the floor of the tent to keep cold air from seeping under you and you have a really warm, roomy and easy setup for cold weather.
Holiday Inn Express...Bam! :-)
I bought a soft topper last summer. If you don’t need a lot of camping gear with you they are great for being mobile.
The little 12 volt heaters wouldn’t work in my truck. I tried 2 different ones and both like blowing fuses.
If you need a source of heat a buddy heater would be what I would use. Since it is propane make sure your vented good. You don’t want the O2 levels getting to low.
As you can see I built a wood floor in my truck. It is at the same height as the top of the wheel wells. Not only do you gain the space the wheel wells take up but under neath you add space. My truck has 9” of clearance underneath. Walmart sells totes that will fit perfect in that space.
I'd say sleeping on a cot with cold air under the bag would be mighty cold if you don't have a heater running all night. I'd rather sleep on the ground or truck on top of a thermarest. Layer up and you'll be fine!
Plenty of good advice above.
I have slept in the back of the truck, but there are a lot of downsides.
If you are hunting out of the truck, it takes time to re arrange and that can burn valuable hunting time.
Truck beds are cold. You will stay a lot warmer in a tent with a pad on the ground.
You may want to start checking around for a tow-behind camper to rent. There are probably options in Las Vegas.
Just buy a tent and have it delivered to your brother's house. You can sell it after the hunt, or you can rent one.
Thanks guys. Those heaters make me nervous! CO poisoning - even with shut off and CO detector. Last year I got a lot of stuff from my brothers to lay down first - rubber mat, old blankets etc so it worked good. I bought a tarp to rig a tent in bed. Yikes that was one of my worst engineering designs. Wind, movement etc. Finally got a "system" and it was ok. It got below freezing with some wind and it was ok.
Driving is basically 2 full days each way - meaning 2-3 days hunting lost vs. flying.
I have a great lightweight camping gear.
Keep the ideas coming
Also I am most likely going twice - elk early Nov the mulies late sept. = more driving time and $$$$
2000 miles each way x 4 = 8,000 miles x $0.65 (avg total cost per mile) = $5k plus 4-5 days lost hunting.
Why would he be colder on a cot with a pad in a topper than on the ground?
That makes zero sense. I've camped in the back of my 8' Ram bed with topper and it works like a champ.
Michael that's interesting, I've never seen a soft topper.
Get a floorless shelter and stove. Kifaru, seek outside, bear paw designs, luxe ect ect ....way better then being cramped in a truck.
I agree with jjims, I do the same with my Tundra,,,, I have a cot, pad, and a really good bag,,,,, I use my tail gate for my stove, area, use a tarp off the topper door, if needed when cooking for a little rain,,,,, simple fast and quick, no messing around setting up a camp,,,,,,,, works for me
I've never tried a cot in cold weather....but if it works and isn't too cold that would be a good idea. Another idea rather than a cot in the back of the truck would be to build a plywood framed platform above their truck bed. That way you can store things below plus above (better use of space). Your brother could pick up a nice used topper for around $200 to $400 on Craigslist.
No toopers going for anywhere that cheap on the whole east coast.
Get a tent. Be done with it and start planning your hunt versus debate something do one sided it should have took about three seconds to figure out.
Not much room in a Toyota Tacoma bed for all your stuff & sleeping. A tent is the best idea so far! A 2 wheel drive pickup in Nevada is really asking for trouble. I got snowed on in August before back packed into Granite Peak. Also had lots of snow in November around Ely where chains on all 4 wheels was the only way to get around. I'd drive out for the deer hunt with all my gear & then fly back home in between hunts. Nothing like having your own truck & camping gear after drawing a good tag. I guess they are both rifle hunts so that should make things a bit easier but a guy still has to prepare for the Nevada weather that time of year. Don has mentioned a few times that money wasn't a huge concern in his life anymore so now is probably not the time to cut too many corners! Good Luck
Buy one sheet of 1/2” or 5/8” ply, a few 2X4” and some screws. Cut the ply 28” or 30” wide and long as you. Frame just over one wheel well for the bed. Use the remaining ply to put a shelf higher up on the other side for cooking and storage onand under.
The wood is warm and cheap and removable. I’ve camped that way for many nights in northern BC. Reach out of your bag and turn on the stove and by the time coffee is ready the topper is warm.
If you’re real cheap, buy some 1 1/4” pvc pipe long enough to make “Chuck wagon” hoops stuck in the stake pockets and a tarp.
But a cheap, used topper would be better.
I have done a ton of truck camping in the back of my 08, six foot bed Tacoma in warm and cold temps during some deer and some elk seasons with temps in the 20 degree range and above, mostly warmer. I rigged this sleeping buck on one side of the truck bed, then I place a 4 inch thick foam pad and then a Thermarest pad on top (if weather is cold) and then a sleeping bag on top of that. If I need extra warmth, I can put a wool blanket over that and then sleep very well with out any heat.. I use a one burner stove to heat water for food and drink or just to heat up the shell in the am or pm before I hit the sack. I can also use a Heater buddy but not all night.
ONe has to have their equipment organized to store some in the front cab and maybe a cooler and food locker outside. Saved lots of money doing it this way without the extra expense of a hotel. I do own a top up trailer but some times, this works also, when needed.
Buy a sheet or two of 2” blue board at Lowe’s or Home Depot. It’s a 4x8 sheet. Cut around wheel wells and instant insulation from the cold bed of the truck.
$.65 per mile ? What are you figuring into that? Seems high to me.
While freezing my butt off in AZ i found the big hand warmers stuck in sleeping bag work great and they last for 8 hours. Thats the Ghetto version of a Heater Buddy...
Put an ad in the RV section of Craigslist now for the town near where you are hunting. Say you are looking to rent a Camper for the days of November x to y.
I did that a few years ago and it worked out great. Lots of folks would like to make a few extra dollars since their campers sit idle for most of the year. Nice warm bed, heat, kitchen etc. Rent it locally where you will hunt so you don't have to transport it very far. Make sure you get one small enough for the truck to tow it. Should be very affordable.
Final advice: Just say you will be vacationing in the mountains. Don't say you are hunting. Some folks have negative stereotypes of hunters.
I did a truck tent once, never again. A tent, some light blankets, air mattress and buddy heater. Put the light blankets over top of the tent, leave some room for ventilation.
From a safety point of view, I would never use any heater, inside a truck,,,, a tent is okay, but even then be careful.......... I am use to the cold, live in it, but a good bag is going to keep you warm, add inside heaters as stated above, and wear a knit cap on the head, man you should be fine,,,,
Here's what I concluded after 15 years of hunting from the back of my Ford Ranger (with topper) and trying all sorts of things: 1. Call me paranoid about CO, but I never wanted to use a heater in an enclosed space. (Even if you trust the manufacturer's "no CO" claims, you still need to deal with the oxygen the heater consumes.) 2. Decent underlayment (foam pads, etc.,) as others have mentioned. 3. Good sleeping bag. 4. Once I snuggled in for the night with good underlayment and bag, the only time I really needed heat was that short hour when getting dressed (brrr!) and cooking breakfast. For that I just put a good propane heater on the open tailgate, cranked it up full blast, and pointed it back toward me. Worked well enough.
Some very good ideas thanks! I specially like the blue foam idea
Always snuff your heater before you fall asleep. I knew 2 guys who didn't.... key word knew. Storm blew in and iced over their tent, the end.
I use some 2x4's and a sheet of carpeted plywood to make a shelf across the top of my truck box. I have an old vinyl covered pad from some patio furniture that I sleep on. It's a little cramped crawling up onto the shelf but it's comfortable and works really well to sleep in when I'm on the road or when I'm staying mobile and I'm not sure yet where I want to set up camp.
I also totally remove my rear seat in my crew cab to make extra room for gear.
Have any of you all tried the Napier truck campers.Mike I know a couple in Co.that do like you do but they sleep under the shelf it doesn’t come back as far as yours.They have a tarp that fits over the back if needed Lewis
Good ideas guys thanks. $0.65 per mile is what a vehicle costs you now a days (depreciation, insurance, repairs gas etc). I bought my last truck new and drove to 195k tracking all expenses and at the time it was right with what stats said then.
My bigger concern is access with a 2wd taco - but renting anything better is tough. Most times tires are terrible, plus no spares - with my brothers I have 3 spare tires and rims if I want. Figure my best bet is rent and atv or snowmobile.
Lots to think about.
Tire chains can work magic on a 2wd.
I have never owned used or been a vehicle with chains so I have no clue. I also just was shocked to learn the wilderness area I’m going to be hunting is a 12 Hour drive from Vegas! I thought it was around six so now I’m looking at flying into someplace else
I bought an 08 Tundra, put a cap on it, Ive spent over 100 nights in itI have 1 inch foam on the bed then a Cabelas self inflating pad and a nice big roomy Big Johnson sleeping bag, Slept in it last night while bear hunting. Heading up to Yellowstone with my wife for the next few days nice and comfy. A good bag and plenty of blankets can easily keep you warm without extra heat
Ti goat stove, fire proof insert from them too. Go lite-tent 5 person floor less. Their out of business now. You could find a similar one for $300. Any tent you'll need vents that stay open. I can fill up the stove and it'll run for an hour, you can boil water on it too. Stove and tent are at 6#'s. If you have a fire ban we'll no stove.
Get a tent & warm bag.
Mostly camp out of a tent but I've use the blue foam on the bed of my truck for years whenever I'm sleeping in the back of my truck.