Get yourself a truck that can take you anywhere.
By Trent Jonas
Few vehicles are more ideally suited for camping adventures than pickups. They’re rugged, can haul a ton of gear, and get you where you need to go comfortably and capably. When you’re looking for a pickup that can reliably get you to just about any campsite you choose, you’ll want to look at the truck’s off-road and overlanding capabilities, as well as its cargo and passenger capacity. We took a look at a bunch of the latest models, and we came up with a handful of pickup trucks perfect for a camping adventure.
Seeing a Toyota Tacoma TRD on this list is probably a surprise to no one. Long a favorite among overlanders and off-road enthusiasts, alike, the Tacoma is well known for its reliability and surefootedness. This truck is designed to hold up to years of just about any kind of driving abuse you can inflict on it. The 278-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 provides plenty of torque for powering over terrain—which, thanks to TRD-tuned Bilstein shocks, it can handle just fine. The new models feature a Multi-Terrain Monitor camera which shows you what’s happening on the surface you’re driving over and offers a path projection to help you pick out the best routes as you navigate toward your campsite.
Jeep’s first pickup entry in decades, the Gladiator is based on the manufacturer’s classic Wrangler Unlimited line and is available with several of the same options, including the off-road Rubicon package. This pickup offers the same four-door seating configuration as the Wrangler Unlimited but instead of the minimal, enclosed rear cargo area, the Gladiator boasts a five-foot pickup bed to haul just about all the gear you’d want to carry on your camping adventure. With the Rubicon package, you get 33-inch tires on 17-inch alloy wheels for plenty of traction and ground clearance, as well as a wider stance for increased stability on uneven terrain when you’re overlanding and heading off-road to a campsite. Add the optional forward-facing camera and enhanced navigation package to better negotiate the terrain you’re driving across.
The new Ford Ranger—as you may recall, Ford stopped manufacturing and selling their midsized pickup there for a while—is designed to perform, with a near-best-in-class payload capacity, and once you add four wheel drive and the FX-4 off-road package, incredible off-road capabilities. The FX4 package is available across all trim levels and adds three skid plates, a locking rear differential, stiffer shocks, and a Terrain Management system. The engine is based on the one Ford uses in the Mustang Ecoboost and the power train is the same one you’ll find in the Explorer, so even though it’s a recently introduced model, the Ranger has proven reliability and parts will be plentiful for years to come, in the event a repair is needed. Meanwhile, it will get you, your family, and all your gear to the campsite safely and comfortably.
Chevrolet’s full-size pickup entry, the Silverado 1500, has long been one of the best-selling trucks in the country. If you take the Silverado LT and add four-wheel drive, a two-inch suspension lift, and the Z71 off-road package, you’ve got a Trail Boss. And you can trust that the Trail Boss will get you and everything you need to just about any campsite you choose. Dirt is this truck’s natural element, so you can feel confident when you leave the pavement that the Trail Boss’s beefy, factory Goodyear Wrangler Duratec tires and the Rancho shocks that come with the Z71 package, will take care of you on any terrain.
When it comes to off-road packages that permit you to venture farther afield on your camping excursions, the Pro-4x package that Nissan offers for its Frontier pickup is more than capable. The package adds a manually lockable rear differential, a sturdy Dana rear axle, skid plates below the engine and the fuel tank, as well as the transfer case, Bilstein off-road shocks, and 16-inch alloy wheels that come mounted with Hankkok Dynapro AT-M all-terrain tires. What really sets the Frontier Pro-4x apart from the competition, though, are its generous approach, breakover, and departure angles, which will keep your truck off the ground when the terrain gets rugged.