|Last Update: March 13, 2006
|One of the disadvantages of owning a Toyota mini-truck, is its "mini-cargo bed." For most things, the bed is perfectly fine. But if you want to try to
carry a lot of gear AND sleep back there, that's another story. My truck bed is 6 feet long, and a little less than 5 feet wide at the rails. For
someone well under 6 feet tall, like me, this worked fine for a while. But when you add things like wheel wells, storage boxes, gear and a lovely
wife who also needs a place to sleep, things can get impossibly crowded.
Enter the DAC truck tent. The idea is that with any truck with a canopy and a hatch that opens up, and tailgate that folds down, this tent can
effectively increase the bed and usable area. In my case, it lengthened a fully enclosed 6 foot bed into a fully enclosed 8 foot bed and added
about 10 square feet of usable floor space.
I purchased the tent from DAC Inc. Several versions and sizes are made for a variety of trucks with canopies and SUVs with tailgates and/or
hatches that open up. Mine is the mid size model designed for trucks with a tailgate width of less than 58 inches. A full size model is also
The tent wraps under the tailgate and over the rear canopy hatch and bungee cords in place so that it seals against the sides of the truck and
canopy. It’s not perfectly air tight, but I found very few places that any of God’s little creatures could find their way in, even if they really wanted too.
The fact that we’re several 3 feet off the ground, helps as well. The top of the tent covers ¾ of the canopy roof, in an attempt to prevent rain from
seeping in the back.
Set up was easy and only took a few minutes. The sharp edges of the canopy hatch did need to be addressed to keep from ripping the tent, but
otherwise, it went on despite my less than smooth roof line. I did find that my rear canopy hatch struts didn’t have enough gas left to hold up the
tent, so a simple prop up devise was needed to keep the hatch up with the tent in place.
My truck is set up to carry a lot of gear in a relatively compact space, so even with the tent, it’s not an ideal camper, but it is a decent compromise.
Large storage and tool boxes and a refrigerator occupy the spaces on the sides above and behind the wheel wells. However, my refrigerator is
easily removable at camp, which makes for a slightly wider sleeping space. Still, the width is only about 3 feet at the narrowest point and barely 5
feet at the widest. But the added length does make things a little more tolerable for two intimate people. For a single person, this set up is
The inside of the canopy also has several other creature comforts not otherwise available in a ground tent, including power outlets and interior
lights. It’s also slightly warmer in colder weather and tad bit more private. Other advantages include a sleeping surface that is always flat and
free of rocks and being 3 feet off of the ground and slightly safer from 4 legged intruders.
While the tent might not be impervious to the most extreme weather conditions, it does have one weather advantage a regular tent doesn't have.
A back up plan. If the weather were to ever be so extreme as to overwhelm the tent, it could be easily removed and stowed in seconds and the
occupants could retreat further inside the far more secure and impervious 6 foot bed, with the hardshell and very water and wind proof canopy.
When not in use, the tent folds up into a surprisingly small package and only weighs about 4 pounds. Less bulky than a regular tent and taking
up less storage space.
|On the left is generally what the back of the truck looks like with it's permanently mounted compartments and storage boxes. On a long trip, the center section would be
filled with camping gear and supplies. On the right, is what the area looks like when the refrigerator (left rear) is removed from its quick release mount and stored in the
cab or under the truck at camp. The rest of the camping gear, not otherwise needed, would also be stored in the cab to make room for sleeping inside the cargo bed.
|Prior to setting up the tent, we have two pads, and two sleeping bags to be laid out. The little blue bag contains the truck tent. It's pretty small
when it's all packed away.
|Setting up the tent is very easy. It simply drapes over the rear canopy and wraps around under the tailgate.
|Once draped over, the bungee cords attach in 6 places to hold the tent in place and cinch it up against the truck. 1 cord attaches under the tailgate in two places. 2
cords attach to the rear wheel wells and 2 cords attach up front. Set up takes only seconds. Although it's best to be careful so sharp edges don't pierce the tent.
|Once cinched down, the tent is ready to go. A bug screen allows a clear view to the rear, when the rain flap is tied up out of the way.
|While there are multiple ties to get the rain flap out of the way, there really isn't any provision to get the bug screen out of the way. I used these simple small bungee
|The rain flap zips down the middle, and is permanently stitched about half way down on the sides. However, the lower half and bottom edge are left open, although
they can be tied down for those windy days.
|This is what the tent looks like with the rain flap down and tied. The flap that drapes over the canopy is designed to keep the rain out. Normally it would lay flat over a
flat canopy, but in my case, I have a bunch of gear up top. Still, I believe it should be able to do its job.
|The interior with the tent and sleeping bags all set up. It's actually pretty comfortable. More so for one person, but it will work for two who don't mind sleeping close.
The length has now been effectively increased to about 8 feet. Because of my built in storage boxes there is barely 3 feet width at the narrowest point, although it's
closer to 5 feet at the tent end of the truck. Other set ups that didn't require storage boxes would find they had more room and a full size truck, including a Toyota T-100
or Tundra bed, would be cavernous.
|The tent is treated with fire resistence material, which I think is pretty standard. But as the warning tag implies, it's not fire proof. The name tag says made by DAC Inc.
However, I believe this exact same tent is sold through several distributors, including Cabelas.
|Right now, the tent is brand new to me. I'm still in the experimental phase. So far, I've set it up in my garage, but
that's about it. Once I get a chance to actually put it to the test in the great outdoors, I'll report back.