Napier Outdoors Sportz Truck Tent Gear Review
Camp, Hike The Southeast put the Sportz Series 57 to the test and it passed them all.
I’ve been camping for over 30 years. I am proud to say that I’ve never camped in an RV or motorhome. I like to be in a tent. Not sure why, but that is just my thing. Get to a campground or forest service road, look for a somewhat flat spot, pick out the random sticks, kick the big rocks out of the way and set up the tent so my head isn’t downhill. That’s my routine, but sometimes I arrive late, the spots are limited and I can’t find the ideal spot of ground. That’s where the Sportz Truck Tent by Napier Outdoors will save your day.
Napier Outdoors makes tents for trucks, cars and SUVs. I have the Sportz Tent 57 Series that sets up in the truck bed of a pickup. Over the years I have seen this style of tent several times at campgrounds, but I wasn’t sure if it would be for me. I’m not sure why I was skeptical, but I was, and I was wrong.
On a recent trip, I was lucky enough to snag one of the first-arrive, first-get campsites in the campground. I backed my Silverado into my site, dropped the tailgate, pulled out the tent bag and set it on the tailgate. Then it dawned on me, I won’t be squatting down or crawling on the ground to get my tent ready. My knees were already happy!
Like many conventional tents, the Sportz 57 Series comes in a carry bag that has two straps with a velcro closure allowing for easy packing and carrying. Unzipping the bag I found the setup instructions sewn into the carry bag, which is a plus since you’ll never lose them. The tent and rain fly are tightly bound with two adjustable straps that buckle, wrapped in the core of the bundle is a padded bag for the poles to be used during set up. Also in the carry bag is a small bag with guidelines for the rainfly and awning.
With the bag resting on the tailgate, I unbuckled the straps and unrolled the rain fly and tent before pulling out the bag of tent poles. The first thing to do is locate the side of the tent with the zippered door and make sure that end is at the back of the tailgate before unrolling the tent toward the cab of the truck. At each corner, plus one on the left and right of the tent, there are adjustable straps with U-shaped clips that make it easy to secure the tent to the truck. Take each of those straps and pull them over the top of the truck bed and hook each clip under the base of the truck body. There are also three additional straps beneath the door of the tent which are secured around the tailgate.
Next, I assembled the shock-corded tent, rain fly and awning poles. Like a conventional tent, the poles and tent sleeves are color-coded, making it super easy to understand which pole goes where. I like to have a look at the layout instructions for the poles and then lay them on the ground just like the diagram in the instructions before putting them in place on the tent itself.
With the tent secured to the truck bed, I began threading the poles through the appropriate tent sleeves. Once all the poles were in place I put one end of the two main tent frame poles into the heavy-duty pocket sewn into the strap that works to provide tension for the poles and eliminate the possibility of the end of a pole scratching your vehicle. From there I went to the other side of the truck to the other end of the poles and pushed them so they arched and raised the dome of the tent skyward before securing the second end into the appropriate pole pockets on the second side. Next, I secured the pole for the door along with the window opposite the door before connecting the tent clips to the poles. Time for the rain fly.
The rain fly secures to the tent with buckles just like most conventional tents. Before tightening the fly with the adjustable straps you need to get inside the tent to put the final pole on the interior. This pole connects to the ceiling and runs from the door to the back window giving additional structure to the roof of the tent. After getting this pole in place I went to each of the six adjustable straps on the side of the truck and cinched those down tight. The tent is up and ready.
From this point, you get to choose whether or not you want to use the built-in awning. If you don’t want to use it then you just roll it up and secure it above the door. If you do want to utilize it for shade or protection from the weather you’ll use the remaining four poles. Take the two shock-cord poles and secure those from corner to corner across the awning then take the other two metal poles and secure those in place with one end going through a rivet in the top of the awning and the other end into a riveted pocket at the base of the tent. Use the two adjustable straps to provide tension and keep the awning in place and at the height you prefer.
I was surprised at the number of attributes built-in to this tent. I didn’t expect to find the volume of zippered windows and vents inside. There are three windows, a door and two vents inside, all have storm flaps and polyester mesh screening. The storm flaps on the side windows have an added vertical zipper which allows you to open just one-half of the window if you would like. The back window has a zipper on the mesh portion allowing you to gain outside access to the back window of your truck if that was ever needed.
The tent is surprisingly roomy with a head access over 5 feet. There is a built-in gear pocket for your phone, keys and flashlight, as well as a gear attic and lantern strap. I put my full-size air mattress in for my trip, which touched the wheel wells. While it wasn’t a perfect fit, it worked for me on this trip. Napier does offer air mattresses built specifically for their tents which can be found on their website by visiting this link.
Overall I was impressed with this tent. It took me about 25 minutes to get the Sportz Truck Tent 57 Series up and secure in the bed of my truck. My truck has a lift kit which made it a bit more difficult to get the rain fly in place. The next time I will have my cooler close by and just stand on it to get the rain fly in place. Also, with a second person there to help get the tent set up, I think it could be set up in under 15 minutes.
Having the tent up off of the ground provided a greater sense of safety knowing that I was a bit further from any animals that might be wandering around. The protection from the body of the truck versus only tent fabric was nice as well. Breaking camp was a breeze too. I had the tent down and back in the carry case within 15 minutes. Those exterior straps sure made a difference too. Unlike other tents, this one was easy to get back in the original case with struggling to zip it up. If you are looking for a tent that will increase the places you can set up a tent, then I suggest you take a look at the truck tent options over at Napier Outdoors.
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