February 22, 2024 3 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.


What Type of Setup is do you have?
I have a white 2021 off-road 6ft Tacoma. I use a FLATED Air-Topper and Air-Deck. A 4 in foam mattress topper. I have a NESO rain / shade tent when I need to set it up.

How Many Does it Comfortably Sleep? 
2 of us lived comfortably in the back of my truck for a few months.

Is it Family Friendly?
Its great for as many people as you can fit in your truck bed!

Tell me more about the 4wd/ Off Road Capability of your Set up?
My truck can take everywhere!. Our first night in Sedona, after arriving after dark and realizing that there wasn’t great accessible places to boondock in the ritzy little town - we pulled up the dyrt and chose the closest campsite. We drove up a 4 mile sketchy Jeep Road (where they take the pink Jeep Tours) in the dark that took us over an hour and parked at the top of the Schnebly hill and had some great views in the morning.

What’s the kitchen/cooking set up like? Is it inside or outside?
On the tailgate! We use a tarp tent connected to my topper if it rains!

How easy is it to set up, move around, leave the vehicle/go to town?
Super easy to set up initially.  The AirTopper and AirDeck are one person installation jobs. I love pulling up to a trailhead late at night and climbing in the back of the truck for an early start the next morning. The best is the flexibility- like I  can deflate and have my truck back for when I need it.

Benefits/Pros: What you LOVE about this set up?
I love how easy it is to use and set up. While I would love to be a full time truck bed camper - I occasionally am forced to work and live in civilization. Its super nice to have the flexibility to store things in my apartment when I dont need them.  

I love boondocking and finding awesome uncrowded places to park. I can get into some cool spots that other vehicles can’t and  its great to wake up and go in the morning.

Challenges/Cons: What has been a hurdle/setback of the set up? 
The AirTopper doesn't lock - so I need to store everything under the AirDeck or in the cab. Anything under the AirDeck isn't reachable if you were to open. I usually park smart and am not visiting major cities - but driving through Tijuana on the way to Baja does make me a little nervous. Nothing has happened yet! 

What are the budget considerations for investing in your set up?
$2000 -and no time to build anything custom. Not that I have any work space in my apartment anyways!

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?

The AirTopper is different. People have a lot of questions and are surprised I can go just as fast in windstorms as them. . I get stopped at gas stations and grocery stores. But nothing excites people more than when I take the topper off, carry it myself to a lake and sunbathe floating around on my truck topper ;)

Which HEST mattress works best in this setup?
The Dullay Wide would be perfect!

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