February 22, 2024 4 min read

Introducing HEST Quest! This year, we want to take a deeper dive into what IS the ultimate BEST set up for sleeping outdoors? Is it a van? A rooftop tent? The back of your truck? A truckbed camper? A tow behind trailer camper? A ground tent? With so many options for a base camp, we're on a mission to find the BEST. 

This year HEST has set out to answer the big question: What is the BEST car camping set up? 

Whether you are new to camping or a veteran overlander; everyone wants to know what is the BEST setup. What’s the most efficient, cost effective, easy, comfortable set up for sleeping outdoors?  HEST Quest will explore all the different setups; sharing the benefits and setbacks of each plus “how to’s” tips when it comes to building or shopping for your next mobile base camp.

HESTQUEST: DIY Build a Simple Platform for your Truck

What Type of Setup is do you have?
2022 Toyota Tacoma TRD with an ARE Classic CX canopy.

How Many Does it Comfortably Sleep? 
Two Adults

Is it Family Friendly?
Nope, but it's perfect for an adventurous bachelorette!

Tell me more about the 4wd/ Off Road Capability of your Set up?
The Tacoma is a classic overland-able small truck. The TRD models are ready to do mild overlanding right off the lot. I’m on a budget for the truck, but I plan to lift it, get some skid plates and add a few other basic upgrades to the camping set up such as curtains, get a HEST comforter, and I’d like to build a small folding table. Now that I have basic woodworking tools, I am inspired to make!

What’s the kitchen/cooking set up like? Is it inside or outside?
I like a quick and simple break down and set up, so I keep it pretty minimal. A classic Coleman stove, cast iron pan and a sharp knife! I am a master of one pan meals. For coffee, I use an aeropress, and bring an MSR Pocket Rocket stove if I don’t want to take the Coleman out for coffee.

How easy is it to set up, move around, leave the vehicle/go to town?
As easy as can be! I travel for work and usually work a lot of hours, so I need my set up to be fast and easy, so I can get the most out of my free time. It’s mostly packed up all the time, I just need to grab food and some clothes and I’m ready to go!

Benefits/Pros: What you LOVE about this set up?
Ease of set up and break down. A great night’s sleep, thanks to my HEST Dually and plenty of room for just me.

Challenges/Cons: What has been a hurdle/setback of the set up? 
Lack of headroom, but I can quickly remove the platform if I get tired of that, or have company :)

What are the budget considerations for investing in your set up?
I’m trying to keep a tight budget on this slow build, it’s a work in progress. I just went through a career change and have student loans, and a few other hobbies, so I’m definitely not trying to dump money into it. I built my platform with plywood that I salvaged from a job site.

What’s the swag level of your set up? While function is definitely the most important consideration when looking for a rig, we can’t deny that some set ups just LOOK GOOD! How does this set up rank in terms of coolness?

It’s the classic set up, so I think it’s really cool! I think that overlanding can overboard with all of the unnecessary gadgets and crap. I’ve done a lot of trips that would be considered overlanding in this basic set up or in an old VW Vanagon. It seems like sometimes people get so concerned with their gear that they forget to have fun.

Which HEST mattress works best in this setup?
HEST Dually Long is plenty roomy and is almost the perfect length for the Tacoma long bed.

What are some tips or hacks that your experience using the set up has taught you?
You really don’t need a lot to get out there! It’s about the sunsets, campfires and time spent with friends and family. 

What are some upgrades you’ve made or want to make?Are there some key upgrades that you recommend to make your setup even better?
I might end up making another drawer for below the platform but TBD. And I need to make some curtains, but I’m waiting to come across the right fabric for them. The windows on the cap are tinted, so it’s no rush. 

If you had a chance to do it over again would you choose the same set up exactly?
Yeah, pretty much! I have a bunch of other hobbies and don’t want to spend a ton on this. It's more a tool to get to far-out places to do those hobbies such as hiking, foraging, backpacking, surfing and skiing. 

Would you recommend your setup to a friend? 
Yes, and I’d let my friends take mine for a spin to test it out.

What were your main considerations in choosing your set up/why did you choose it?
Cost and utility. I move every couple months for work, so I can throw my belongings in the back and move along to the next town.

Follow along @hestoutdoors as we meet the people behind these different setups and build outs.