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How to Build an F-150 for Camping

There’s always a need to get away from it all, and for many, these means getting closer to nature. But a major problem can exist if you’re not one for heavy-duty off-roading. While your buddies may bust your chops for not exploiting that trucks full potential, we actually stand behind you for not wanting to beat the life right out of your F-150. That doesn’t mean you need to cut all ties with recreational use of your truck. There are plenty of ways you can still enjoy the outdoors with your truck and outfit it to deliver on the spectrum. Setting your F-150 up for weekend camping tricks is one perfect way to do just that.

Table of Contents
  1. Overlanding vs Camping
  2. Drink Coolers/Ice Packs
  3. Onboard Air Systems vs Portable Air Compressors
  4. Truck Bed Tent and Air Mattresses
  5. Bed Hammock/Cargo Net
  6. Underseat Storage Box
  7. Trailer Hitch Basket
  8. And How about Entertainment?

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Overlanding vs Camping

Before we get started we need to establish that we are not talking about overlanding. Instead, we will be looking at camping. Yes, there are some similarities between the two but there is a vast difference between both worlds.

Overlanding is much more hardcore than camping. This sport does involve loading the truck up with supplies to get you through multiple days on your own, but you will not be enjoying luxurious campsites. Overlanding is geared toward adventure. This means going off the grid and heading into uncharted territory for multiple nights, or maybe a week or two. The truck’s suspension and chassis will need to be equipped to handle the rough terrain. A lot of custom work is generally completed to accommodate cargo storage, and often times the vehicle selected will become dedicated to overlanding rather than weekend fun.

Overlanding trips also entail most of the time spent will be actually driving the truck from place to place; this is a massive separation between it and camping. On an overland adventure you will be setting up camp at night but really only to get your rest in before heading back out. With camping, you will simply get to the campground and post up for a weekend of recreational fun. In many ways, a camping truck more closely resembles a truck set up for tailgate parties than it does an overlanding truck, which your only intent is to sleep in the bed when the fun is over.

Camping is much tamer and much more affordable to build a truck for. This makes it perfect for the guys and gals who would like to spend their time and money on stress-free fun while still getting out to enjoy the wilderness.

Drink Coolers/Ice Packs

While there’s no one set list of items everyone is going to absolutely need, there is one item you absolutely must bring along: a cooler.

Even on the most accommodating campgrounds, you’d be caught with your pants down if you didn’t pack food and drinks to keep you going for the weekend. Some may even debate that without the cooler, you’d be better off starving that eating warm, soggy sandwiches and drinking hot soda.

Spend your money here. Coolers have come a long way and their prices have skyrocketed over the past few years. But the increase is for good reason. They’re going to provide better storage for food and drinks while keeping them fresher longer. This doesn’t mean you need to go out and buy the most expensive cooler possible but think of it as an investment. What you buy here is something you will have for a long time and will serve you well on many more camping trips, vacations, and family get-togethers for years to come.

Top F150 Camping Parts | Get Your F150 Camping Ready - The Haul

Onboard Air Systems vs Portable Air Compressors

Unlike a cooler, an air compressor isn’t going to top the list of things you must have, but it’ll make your camping life much more enjoyable. If you use an air mattress, an air compressor will benefit hugely. There is the option of inflating the air mattress prior to leaving, but this can be a problem for storage space. These are great to have for filling up rafts, tubes, and footballs for when you’re ready to have fun. They can also come in handy when someone runs low on tire pressure.

Based on the list of uses for camping one can infer that they don’t need a full onboard air compressor. These units are expensive and will require a good amount of time to mount to the truck. A portable compressor, on the other hand, is something ideal for these uses. They’re compact, easy to use, and much more affordable. No, they won’t work as fast as some heavy-duty onboard air systems, but the simple operation and low cost make them the perfect choice for camping.

Truck Bed Tent and Air Mattresses

Traditionally, many will set up the tent near their parked vehicle. This is how many of us grew up, but the problem is it takes up a ton of space on the campsite. By sleeping in the bed of the truck, much more space can be used for recreational activity.

With a cap or camper on the bed, all you need to worry about is giving yourself a comfortable area to sleep on. This isn’t something for everyone, though, so truck bed tents are the next option. These are pop-up style tents that fit in place over the bed as needed and are collapsed and removed when they aren’t.

As you see in the video, Justin opens while resting on an air mattress fitted to the bed of the truck. This isn’t the run of the mill air mattress though. There are mattresses designed to fit perfectly to the bed of the truck with cutouts in the bottom end for the wheel wells to fit into. This design means that the most area possible will be transformed from a rigid bed floor to a comfortable air mattress.

Bed Hammock/Cargo Net

Another option you may have seen in the video, is a bed hammock as opposed to an air mattress. These are fantastic options as they are much more affordable and easier to install. Cargo nets work in a similar fashion and are something to consider for keeping everything safe in the bed as you travel to the campsite.

Underseat Storage Box

If you intend to sleep in the truck’s bed, you're going to give up loads of storage space - even if only at night. This doesn’t mean you will need to leave your gear unprotected or sprawled across the rear seat of the truck.

An underseat storage box can be a real life saver as it will give you an organized storage space to keep a lot of the cargo you will need for camping. There affordable, easy to install, and there’s a ton of equipment you can keep here. There’s virtually no excuse to not have one.

Items to Keep in Your Underseat Storage Box:

  • Flashlights
  • Emergency Roadside Equipment
  • Fishing Gear
  • Extra Clothing
  • Spare Utensils
  • Power Packs for Jumpstarts and Charging Electronics

Trailer Hitch Basket

An underseat storage box is a wonderful cargo storage solution for smaller equipment but there is still the issue of large cargo. With weekend camping, it’s not likely that you will be hauling along suitcases, but coolers can take up a lot of space - especially if you’re bringing more than one for the event. A trailer hitch basket is perfect for when you need to bring along large cargo like this and are running low on space.

And How about Entertainment?

In the video, Justin closes with playing pong on the custom tailgate cover which is a great way to have fun. During camping trips, you will want to make sure you have plenty of ways to pass the time. These beer pong tailgate covers are a great example of what’s available. Other things to consider are a beefed-up sound system and auxiliary lighting. You don’t have to go “Pimp my Ride” level but enough to keep the party going.