Trucks for Camping: How to Pick Your Perfect Truck

Torn between a few different pickup trucks for camping? We can help you determine what features are most important to you in a truck.


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If you're looking at pickup trucks for camping, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by all your options. Prospective buyers can benefit from making a list of the features that are most important to them and their families.

Trucks are very versatile machines that are designed for hard, rugged work, and automakers generally understand that buyers are likely looking for a variety of different features. Many truck makers also provide a host of optional packages and accessories that add roof rails, improved off-road suspension, and a more rugged interior.

Of course, there are more basic concerns to think about, too: budget, interior space for passengers and families, the kind of fuel you want to use, and more.

To help you start your research, we've compiled a list of five great pickup trucks for camping. We analyzed a few specific metrics:

  • Off-Road Capabilities: Each truck we selected needed to have the ability to drive on light rutted dirt or gravel roads while towing a load.
  • Towing and Payload Capacity: Because a large part of camping includes hauling gear, we selected vehicles that can tow at least 2,000 lbs and have a payload capacity of at least 1,500 lbs.
  • Price: All of our trucks will start under $50,000.
  • Reliability: We've checked out reviews from real owners where possible to understand how these trucks have served people in their everyday lives. We've consulted dealer reviews, recalls from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and crash test results from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
  • Diversity: Not every great vehicle will work for everyone. Therefore, each truck highlights a specific element that will set it above the rest for some consumers, including sporty driving dynamics, off-road capability, storage space, budget, fuel type, and trim versatility.


For the Budget Buyer: 2022 Ford Maverick

Ford's new compact truck, the Maverick, is a great option for smaller families or younger couples on a budget. With a starting price just below $20,000, a base towing capacity of 2,000 lbs, and a whole host of other accessories that Ford offers, prospective campers can find much of what they need in a truck without breaking the bank. To make things even better, the Maverick is small enough and has a good enough gas mileage (up to 40 mpg on the hybrid version) that it can double as a commuter vehicle.


For the Off-Road Buff: 2022 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

While the base-model Tacoma can serve as a great truck for camping, the TRD Pro is designed specifically for heavier-duty off-road driving. The Tacoma TRD Pro is the truck you want if you take on difficult trails, steep inclines, or changing conditions. It features rugged bed lining, extra cargo tie-downs, protective paint film, traction-enhancing features like crawl control for steep grades, and panoramic cameras that enable you to have a 360-degree view of the roads around you. Those extra features will bring the truck up to about $50,000, but its ability to take you where other trucks can't go is unmatched.


For the Heavy-Duty Camper: 2021 Ram 2500

If you're hauling a large trailer, look to the Ram 2500. Like the Gladiator, the Ram 2500 starts at around $35,000 and features plenty of options and packages, so you can tailor this truck to your specific camping needs. The main benefit of the Ram 2500, though, is its maximum 20,000-lb towing capacity that gives owners the flexibility to tow everything from a pop-up camper to a large boat. Ram has also equipped the 2500 with easy tow hook-up, trailer monitoring, and a 360-degree camera to ensure your load is always well secured.


For the Versatile Driver: 2022 Honda Ridgeline

Not everyone heads to the campsite every weekend, and buyers looking for a truck that's just as good for camping as it is for the commute should look to the Honda Ridgeline. Starting at just under $40,000, the vehicle compromises on towing capacity (around 5,000 lbs) in exchange for quick acceleration and fuel efficiency. That makes the Ridgeline a great option for anyone looking for a mid-size truck that looks at home both at the campsite and at the office. Its bed is equipped with under-bed storage, a drain plug, power ports, and a speaker system, which can only improve the camping experience.


For the All-Around Adventurer: 2022 Jeep Gladiator

The name 'Jeep' is synonymous with rugged performance, and the Jeep Gladiator is no different. It does feature a smaller bed than some other trucks, but you can trust that it comes with the Jeep off-road pedigree. Starting at around $35,000, the Gladiator is fueled by a diesel engine that provides an impressive 7,650-lb towing capacity—enough to haul a large travel trailer. Add with Jeep's famous customizability—you can remove the doors and roof, choose different types of tops, add your favorite tonneau cover, and more—and the Gladiator can be transformed to meet your needs.

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Elizabeth Blackstock
I’m Elizabeth Blackstock, and after growing up around the Detroit automotive industry, I’ve made it my life’s mission to make information about vehicles accessible for the average consumer. Whether you’re a hardcore auto enthusiast or someone looking for a practical machine for the daily commute, I’m here to help you make your most informed decision.