Truck Tent Put to the Test | Napier Outdoors Truck Tent Put to the Test | Napier Outdoors

Truck Tent Put to the Test

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OffRoad.com – Written By Stephen Elmer – Photos by Shealey Hannah – August 1 2017

Sleeping out on the trail for a night can be a fulfilling experience in off-roading, knowing you got there on your own four wheels. For the serious overlander, a roof-top or trailer mounted tent can be a great option, but for the part-time enthusiast who doesn’t want to break the bank, something like this Sportz Truck Tent 57 Series from Napier can provide all the shelter you need.

Napier provided a 57 Series tent to off-road.com for us to find out how this in-bed tent really functions, so we threw it in our Ram 1500 and hit a campsite for the weekend.

Specs

The Napier Sportz Truck Tent weighs in at just over 23 pounds and fits easily into the backseat or bed of any pickup truck. Sizing begins at midsize pickups with short 5′ beds stretching up to trucks with full-length 8′ beds. Our tent is in the middle, sitting inside the 6.4′ bed on the Ram.

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In this configuration, Napier calls it a full-size regular tent, which can accommodate two people. And although the length provides plenty of extra space for cargo, it is truly a two-person tent thanks to the width of the bed. Our air mattress was slightly too wide to fit neatly between the wheel wells, though it wasn’t enough to keep us from sleeping comfortably, and if a slightly bent mattress is a deal breaker there are plenty of options designed specifically for truck beds.

When it comes to construction, the walls, roof and rain fly on the Sportz Truck 57 Series are made from polyester taffeta while the floor is made of polyester oxford. The tent itself has a 1200 PU waterproof rating, generally considered good for most weather conditions, though this is a three-season tent that isn’t insulated properly for the cold. The poles are made from fiberglass, which means they are strong when new though fiberglass poles can splinter after extended use.

At its center, the 57 Series offers a total of about 5.8′ feet of clearance, allowing many people to stand straight up while in the tent, or, for those like me who are over six-feet tall, a slight head tilt is enough to stand.

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Setup

Setting up the 57 Series for the first time was simple, thanks to the color-coded poles and clear instructions. With two people, setup time was a total of about 20 minutes, and would get quicker after multiple setups. It’s a near idiot-proof setup involves matching the color of the pole to the color of the pocket each fits in to.

Though we laid out tent into the bed and then proceeded with setup, Napier says you can assemble the tent on flat ground and then lift it into the truck to be secured.

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For securing the tent to the truck, hooks and plastic clips are used around the front of the bed, wheel wells and tailgate. All the hooks and straps are padded to make sure that no damage is done to the paint or body of the truck. And while pinching a finger is a definite hazard when squeezing the hooks through the gap between tailgate and truck, it does make for a solid attachment point.

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Setting up the awning is also easy, and if you don’t want to use it, it can be rolled up and secure with clips.

At this point, I must mention the obvious. Once setup, your truck cannot be driven, so make sure you’re done with your vehicle before you go through the hassle of setting up. This is important to consider when packing as well, as everything in your truck bed has to be removed before setting up.

So how did the tent work? Lucky for you dear off-road.com reader, a serious storm put our Napier truck tent through a night’s worth of wind and rain, and we came out the other side much drier than our friends with tents on the ground.

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In-bed convenience

In fact, we came out the other side entirely dry. Once properly setup, the rain fly directs all of the water out over the bed walls, so there is none of the pooling that can occur at the bottom of the tent like on the ground. Additionally, there is no soft, muddy ground to contend with underneath the tent floor. And throughout the windy night, the tent felt solid, with little pitch or bending to report.

As for accommodations inside the tent, the length is massive thanks to the tailgate being opened, enough so that our bags and gear could fit at the foot of our mattress and not be in the way. A small gear loft that hangs at the top of the tent also worked to hold smaller items like cellphones and a flashlight.

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Even the small awning worked fairly well in the rain, keeping the small area directly behind the tailgate mostly dry. And it held strong in the wind overnight, with no signs that it was ready to come down.

During the day the awning provides reprieve from the sun, and whether you setup two chairs underneath or sit on the tailgate, it makes for a good place to spend time. The poles for the awning are also hefty enough that we used them to hang wet towels to dry.

A tip for ingress and egress: bring a step stool that can sit at the foot of the tailgate to help you climb in and out of the tent. Having just a single step makes climbing into the tent much easier and can help save your knees.

The Verdict

Napier charges $269.99 for the Sportz Truck Tent 57 Series, certainly more than you would pay for a comparable on-ground tent, but the benefits here are large, justifying the price.

You not only get a roomy, spacious tent built with quality materials, the Napier Sportz tent gets campers up off the ground, bringing peace of mind while camping, especially in the wilderness.

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