Car Camping Tacoma Edition

I normally car camp in Addie (my Toyota 4Runner), but for my 2018 solo road-trip I was in Dad’s TRD PRO Tacoma and I learned very quickly what works for one does not work for the other.  The bed of the Tacoma is completely full (when I say completely full I mean the entire bed of the truck is full from cab to tailgate and all the way to the bed cover) of Dad’s off-roading gear, our food storage, and the tent that never saw the light of day on this trip. For his part of the adventure, Dad had flipped the backseats down so that it was a nice flat area he could store some of the things he used more regularly. I did some rearranging so that I could sleep there instead.


I put the sleeping pad and dad’s sleeping bag down for cushion and then put my sleeping bag on top of that to sleep in. Since my last solo road-trip I had learned that those blowup pillows are actually pretty nice. I put some of the clothes I brought along one side for padding, that way if I rolled too far I’d hit something soft instead of hard plastic.

I found that there were two hooks in the ceiling by the back window which made for great drying racks for wet swim suits. The first night I thought that it’d be a good idea to air out my hiking socks, they were quickly relegated to airing out in the bed of the truck. Waking up to the truck smelling like feet is not pleasant.


I put my clothes bag and bathroom things in the driver seat so that I could reach them in the morning, saving me from making more noise than necessary opening and shutting car doors. I also had to keep my coat where I could easily reach it too, as most nights on this trip it dropped below 50 degrees.

The first night of car camping in the Tacoma taught me a couple things.

  1. Stretch before going to bed. The Tacoma is not wide enough for me (5’2″) to lay with my legs out straight, which means waking up shaped like a pretzel. Stretching before bed makes getting out of the truck easier in the morning. Sleeping with a sweatshirt as extra padding under the hips also helps alleviate some of the pain.
  2. It is possible to lose things in such a small space. Everything quickly had an assigned place that it always got put back in so as to avoid the item getting eaten by sleeping bags or falling into crevasses of the car. The backseat cup holder, attached to the back of the console, worked great as a headlamp and charging cellphone holder (anytime I was driving I had my phone plugged in to the car charger, but sometimes it would need some more juice at night so I’d plug it into my Anker charger).

Before this trip, I was toying with the idea of trading Addie in on a Tacoma, but after the first night of car camping – I was profusely apologizing to Addie for even thinking about trading her. Don’t get me wrong I do love the Tacoma. It is just not conducive to my camping / traveling preferences. For one, I am too short for the driver seat and have to sit on a towel (dad said a phone book  would leave a permanent imprint in the seat) in order to be up high enough. And two, I have plenty of room to stretch out in Addie while car camping. It is nice to know tho, that it is possible to sleep semi-reasonably comfortable in the Tacoma when necessary.

waiting for dinner to cook! (see bed of the truck was completely full)