How To Keep A Truck Bed Cool

Do you want to know how to keep your truck bed cool? This would be helpful if you’re traveling with your dog or maybe you like to camp at the back of the truck.

In this DIY article, we’ll be discussing how to keep a truck bed cool when it’s too hot outside. 

Let’s jump right in!

Park Your Truck Under The Shade

Something as simple as parking your truck under a shade can save you a lot of distress during the day when the sun is trying to kill you. We’re not joking; a heat stroke can kill you or your pet especially when the temperatures are high and the truck is immobile.

This is because the truck bed floor and internal materials quickly absorb UV rays to dangerous levels.

In fact, it’s not unusual to get your fingers burned if you park your vehicle outside and touch the truck bed after a few hours; especially if you live in hot areas like Southern California where temperatures can get as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Of course, if you want to park under a shade, the most secure place is an indoor parking lot or a campground with artificial shades. Alternatively, you could carry a portable car shade and set it up above your truck bed if you’re out of options.

Then again, you could also park under a tree shade.

Use A Truck Bed Tent

If you enjoy truck camping trips, a truck bed tent will keep you cool whenever you want to sleep or rest in your cargo space. Apart from protecting you from UV rays, a truck bed tent can also shelter you against rainy, windy, and cold weather.

However, if you’re choosing a truck bed tent to keep you cool, make sure you choose a unit with proper ventilation and a material that doesn’t absorb a lot of heat. Also, a truck bed tent with a built-in floor would be helpful so you don’t sleep directly on your truck bed liner when it’s too hot.

Of course, you would need a tent with cab access so you can grab your things through the cab window; you can also turn on a portable air conditioner through the cab window. What else?

The bigger the truck bed tent, the easier it will be for you to keep cool.

Install A Truck Cap Or A Topper

Not to be confused with a truck bed tent, a truck cap is somewhat different and it looks like an extended body of a truck that covers the cargo space. If you install a truck cap or a camper shell and drive on public roads, you won’t get stopped by the traffic police; we can’t say the same about truck bed tents. 

That means, if you want to drive with a pet in the back of the truck, you can install a truck cap to make sure it doesn’t have any crazy ideas like jumping outside. Needless to say, you can use a truck cap or a topper to protect your truck bed against sun rays when you’re driving.

However, it’s important that you consider buying a truck cap with large side windows that can be conveniently opened when you want to keep the truck bed cooler. If possible, get a truck bed topper that can be accessed from the cab.

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Another thing; truck caps are usually made from aluminum, fiberglass, plastic, or fabric. So which is the best material to keep your truck bed cool? Fiberglass has been proven to perform better compared to other types of material.

Nevertheless, aluminum comes a close second and it will keep your truck bed cooler on hot days, but it needs to be insulated.

Open The Tailgate

If you’re parked and want to improve the airflow on the pickup truck bed to make it cooler, you can open the tailgate. This could be helpful especially when you’ve installed a truck bed camper or a topper.

However, if you’re worried about dust particles getting into the truck bed, you can fit a security wire mesh on the tailgate.

Use Portable Air Conditioners

Nowadays, we have plenty of portable air conditioners that are designed for cars and trucks. For instance, most portable air conditioners can be charged via a USB cable and keep your truck bed cool for up to 8 hours before the battery runs out.

If you have a truck cap and a decent portable air conditioning system, it pretty much solves your truck bed cooling problem; even if you live in Florida. But if you want to go an extra mile, it’s possible to install a portable air conditioner in your truck bed that needs to be plugged into a 120V socket but you will probably need a portable power station or one of those small portable propane inverter generators. 

Then again, since the average size of most truck beds is about 40 square feet or almost the size of a king-size bed, a portable air conditioner that is charged via a USB cable will do just fine. If you think one portable air conditioner is too small, you can always get 2 units and use them simultaneously for an endless breeze.

Mount A Fan On The Cab Rear Window

Here is an idea; purchase one of those dashboard car fans, connect it to the cigarette lighter 12V DC socket and mount it on the rear cab window. If you’ve installed a truck camper shell that can be accessed via the rear cab window or back seat, it’s possible to cool the truck bed using a 12V DC dashboard fan.

But when you’re buying a car dashboard fan unit, consider a unit that comes with a long electrical wire and dual head fans. If the car fan can rotate 360 degrees, that’s even better since you will be able to shift cool air on both the truck cab and cargo space.

Install A Roof Vent

How about you install an air vent on top of your camper shell? An air vent will provide better airflow to your truck bed than the side window, and it almost feels like an air conditioner.

Besides keeping your truck bed cool during the summer, an air vent will blow out stale and stuffy air and bring in fresh air to improve ventilation; this could be helpful if you have a dog in the camper shell. Also, if you like to camp in your truck cap, you don’t need to worry about condensation in the morning.

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However, if you want the best truck vents, we recommend you choose the ones that come with features such as built-in thermostats, wireless remote control, and different fan speeds. Better yet, you can even get a truck vent with sensors that automatically shuts down the lid when it rains.

Tint Your Windows

If you’ve installed a truck cap, tinting the windows can help to keep your truck bed cooler. This is because tinted windows can block up to 80 percent of ultraviolet rays.

In fact, tinted windows don’t just help to reduce the heat, but they could protect your skin from sunburns and premature aging.

Another thing; if you’ve tinted your truck cap windows, you will save energy because you won’t overburden the vents and air conditioner. In other words, you will spend less money on gas and battery replacement.

Since we’re talking about camper shell windows, we recommend 30 percent tint window film; that means, the window film will filter 70 percent of ultraviolet rays. If you want, you can even choose 5 percent tint window films that block up to 95 percent of ultraviolet rays.

However, you need to confirm if the window tint shade you want to add is legal in your state so you won’t get in trouble with the law.

Don’t Cook Near The Truck Bed

Most people don’t know this, but if you cook near to the truck bed, you could make it unbearable due to the heat; yes, even if you’ve parked under the shade. The floor and side panel will gradually absorb the heat from your cooker, and before you know it, your truck bed is filled with hot air.

The remedy is simple; just cook at least 15 feet away from your truck bed if you’re camping.

Use A Sleeping Platform

Here is another idea; you could fix a platform in your truck bed. What does it do?

A truck bed acts as a barrier so you don’t touch the floor when it’s too hot. Keep in mind that most truck bed liners are made out of plastic or aluminum; and if the temperatures are too high, you could be uncomfortable.

On the other hand, most cargo space platforms are made out of wood, and they resemble a bed frame. The platform helps to improve ventilation so you can keep your truck bed cool.

Not to mention, you can add a mattress, pillow, and blanket to your platform and sleep like a baby. It could even be a good option if you’re looking for something to settle your pets.

However, a platform would be convenient if you’ve installed a truck cap or a truck bed tent.

Insulate The Truck Cap

If you have a truck cap made out of aluminum, it will probably feel like an oven on a hot weather day especially if you don’t have an air conditioning at the back. A sustainable solution would be to insulate your truck cap using styrofoam, reflectix, or mineral wool.

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Let’s just put it this way; if you’ve insulated your truck cap, it will be difficult for heat or cold to sneak through the panel from outside and interfere with the internal temperature. In a nutshell, it will be easier to keep your truck bed cooler since the temperature will be consistent.

There are different installation techniques but one of the most effective insulation methods is sticking Styrofoam to your truck cap interior surface; including the roof, floor, and side panels. Besides that, you can cover the camper shell windows from the inside using Reflectix. 

Sure, even if your truck cap is made from fiberglass, you would still need to insulate it if you want to keep it cooler during the summer.

Paint Your Truck White

Believe it or not, colors absorb heat on a different wavelength. For instance, black color absorbs all visible light wavelengths; more than any other color.

But since white is on the opposite side of the spectrum, it reflects all visible light wavelengths.

That means, if you paint your truck white, it won’t absorb a lot of heat compared to a black, purple, blue, green, red, or orange-colored truck.

Use An Ice Chest Or Freezer Gel Packs

A bag or crate filled with ice positioned in front of a 12Vfan would help to blow cold air in your truck bed. If you have freezer gel packs, that’s even better since they last longer.

However, you have to keep an eye on the ice so it doesn’t melt too fast, or else you will have spilled water all over your truck bed.

Monitor Temperature Using A Thermometer

Technically, this will not keep your truck bed cool, but it will help you to know when the truck bed is too hot.

If you have a dog or perishable cargo in the truck cab, it’s very crucial that you install a thermometer in the truck bed to monitor the internal temperature. Thanks to the latest technology, you could find thermometers that send text messages or email alerts whenever the temperature exceeds a certain point.


So what is the best technique to keep your off road truck bed cool? We think you would have better results if you try all methods simultaneously.

For a start, you can install a truck cap, add a vent on the rooftop and insulate the interior with Styrofoam. In addition to that, you need to tint the camper shell windows and cover them with Reflectix.

If that’s not enough, you can utilize portable air conditioners and mount a 12 volt fan on the truck bed. Heck!

You can even open the tailgate, paint the truck white, and use an ice chest if you want to make your truck bed cooler than a sea breeze.