Mobility is the key to success when it comes to staying in the game throughout the season when chasing white-tailed deer. Fail to adapt and you’ll likely find leftover tags in your pocket when the season comes to a close.
Mobility comes in many forms. From ultra-light treestands and saddles for run-n-gun hunting, to bikes and boats for unique access in hard to reach places. But few things allow you the freedom and mobility in your deer hunting pursuit like turning your truck into a mobile hunting camp. Learn to hunt out of your truck, and you’ll find the ability to stay in the game, whether hunting around your home state, or roadtripping across the country.
How do you make it happen?
The key is to have the right gear to keep you in the game. If you’re miserable, you’ll quickly talk yourself into heading back to the house. So whether you’re sleeping in your truck, on the roof, or in a tent next to it, be sure to have the right gear to make your experience one that you’ll want to continue day after day.
Here’s a look at some of my top picks when it comes to the best truck camping gear for deer hunters…
The beauty of truck camping is that you’re essentially using your vehicle as your shelter or base camp. That’s what allows you to stay so mobile. You can pick up and move at a moment’s notice.
Turning your truck or vehicle into your bed for the night makes things quick and easy. I personally prefer camping out of my old suburban. It’s got plenty of room to flip the back seat out of the way and lay out an air mattress for a comfortable night’s sleep, and it keeps me protected from the elements.
When I don’t want to unload all my gear out of my truck for the sake of building my bed, I’ll make a quick shelter with a tent or hammock and canopy option right next to my vehicle. One of my favorite mobile tent setups is a 2-man Outdoor Vitals tent that I can set up about as quick as my hammock, yet it allows me additional space to stash gear.
If mosquitoes aren’t an issue, I like to roll with a hammock with the Sitka Flash Shelter over the top. It’s a nice and lightweight option that goes up quick and easy when you don’t want to pull all your gear out of your truck to sleep.
I also like to use a canopy anchored to my truck for shade or shelter from the rain when I am cooking, hanging out in camp, or getting dressed. The Moon Shade is a slick option that anchors to the top of your vehicle, goes up in minutes and packs light among your other gear.
A canopy like this is one of the most overlooked items for truck camping. Don’t miss this one. It’s worth its weight in gold when it comes to added comfort and shelter for the mobile hunter.
Don’t have a truck or large SUV? No problem. Rooftop tents work well for mobile hunting, allowing you to drive a smaller, more fuel efficient vehicle, with a rooftop tent strapped up top. The Thule Tepui Explorer Kukenam 3 rooftop tent gets you off the ground and out of a crammed vehicle. It has room for 3 and sets up quick and easy.
When I was younger, I could sleep on just about anything. However, the older I got, the more I began to rely on a more comfortable place to lay my head at night while camping.
A couple of my go-to options these days are an inflatable air mat made by Browning and a super compact cot option made by Helinox. The cot weighs in at just a few pounds and folds up smaller than my backpack tent. It’s a game changer for getting a quality night’s rest, whether in the back of a truck, or on the ground in a tent.
My favorite sleeping bag when things get cold is a Big Agnes sleeping bag I picked up years ago at REI. I can sleep out in the coldest of weather with this bag and stay plenty warm and comfortable.
I’ve also grown to appreciate a camp pillow along on these trips. I use to just wad up a bunch of camo or other clothes to rest my head on. Now I carry a compact camp pillow. The Ultralight Stretch Pillow from Outdoor Vitals is a great option that won’t take up much space, yet keeps you comfortable when sleeping in the tight confines of the truck.
Don’t blow it when it comes to being prepared for cooking quality food while truck camping. Sure, you could just run to town and grab fast food meals, but there is a better way – even when basing out of your truck. And depending on how tight I want to travel, I count on one of two options for truck camp cooking.
When traveling super light, and cooking dinner right off the tailgate, I like a compact multi-fuel stove. This style of stove is an all in one pot, stove, and fuel unit that allows me to boil water for food prep or drinks. It’s a quick and simple solution for hot meals and coffee.
However, when I want to go bigger with my meals, I like to carry my Pro 60X Deluxe Stove from Camp Chef. It’s my go-to option when I’m cooking for more people than just myself, or when I want to add a little more to my camp menu options.
I like cooking with cast iron, but when traveling light I typically go with a different option that’ll lighten the load.
One of my favorite skillets for camp is the Radical Pan. It allows me to easily cook over my camp stove, grill or burner, but the best part is how easy the cleanup is after dinner is wrapped up. You can simply wipe it clean with a damp cloth reducing water usage and campsite dishes.
A cooler is a must for any roadtrip, particularly when hunting out of your truck. The cooler serves a number of purposes, from keeping your food and drinks cold, to storing meat after the kill.
I also use my cooler for a bench to sit on, table to cook on, or stool to step in and out of truck or hammock. My favorite cooler for short trips is the Yeti Tundra Haul. It’s not the first cooler I’ve ever had with wheels built in to it, but it’s definitely the first cooler with wheels that was built right.
It’s rugged and dependable and has taken plenty abuse as I’ve rolled it across land, logs, rocks, and countless trips in and out of the truck and boat.
One of my new favorite lights for camping is the GoPro Zeus Mini. As the name implies, it’s a tiny little light, yet it lights things up in a big way in and around your truck while camping.
It’s got a slick design that allows you to clip it, or stick it to just about anything. You can mount it by its clip, or magnetized base. It rotates 360 degrees for the ultimate in versatility. It’s seriously one of the handiest lighting options I’ve ever come across. I love the size and flexibility it provides.
Better yet, it’s waterproof, casts up to 200 lumens, and has a rechargeable battery with up to 6 hours of runtime. It doubles nicely as a camera light when you’re filming your hunts. And it fits to any other GoPro mount you may already have, including head straps, handle bar mounts, etc.
A couple other items that’ll make life in camp all the better include Fixnzips. I discovered these last year, and they can be a lifesaver when it comes to fixing broken zippers on your gear, sleeping bag, tents, bow case, camo clothes, or anything else that needs a quick zipper fix.
A Thermacell is another item I won’t leave home without when hunting and camping in mosquito country. I like to use the Thermacell Scout Camping Lantern. It combines the Thermacell unit with a camp lantern for comfort and convenience.
I’m always on the lookout for compact and collapsible gear when I’m camping light. A couple slick pieces I recently found are collapsible water bottles and jugs from both Nomader and HYDAWAY. These bottles take up very little space when collapsed, yet provide the perfect compact drinkware solution for hunting camp when traveling light.
I also keep the Yeti Roadie 24 in my truck when truck camping throughout hunting season. It’s another great solution for keeping my goods cold, yet it’s a portable option that I can haul to the blind with me or simply use around camp.
Be sure to give the items mentioned above a look this season as you prepare for your next hunting camp adventure.
The gear mentioned above, combined with a reliable vehicle, can make for a deadly combination when going head to head with deer on your mobile mission this fall.
We want to hear from you! Comment below, and let us know what gear you rely on when hunting and camping from your vehicle.