Truck Camping vs. Van Life

It’s been a while since I’ve had a good rant.

As I’ve progressed in building out the back of my truck, I spent a lot of time on social media, looking at other people’s builds to find ideas. I looked at both #truckcamping and #vanlife posts and found that although similar, van life and truck camping have some fundamental differences:

My imperfect curtains, made on my folding table in the rig with a hand held sewing machine.

1. Far fewer twinkle lights exist in truck camping setups. Maybe truck campers are more utilitarian, or maybe they found that they can camp without the illusion of being surrounded by ferries. I found some great battery led lights with a remote for rig.

2. Truck campers wear more clothes. Truck camping pics feature far fewer bikinis, or pics of campers drinking morning coffee in a long shirt with bare legs, perfectly groomed hair, all while looking pensively at beautiful scenery. Truck campers definitely favor warmer clothes, probably because they seem to favor wilderness.

Bedhead under plaid: I think I’m set.

3. Truck camping is not about aesthetics. You’re more likely to see regularly used equipment stashed in a useful way, than a clean, stylized space, with succulents on a polished natural wood finish. Truck campers use wood for their builds, but at best, it might be sanded.

I’m very proud of this table we built. The wood is unfinished for now.

4. Truck campers take fewer selfies. Most of the truck camping posts I saw were about the rig itself, building the rig, or how the camper uses the rig. Personally I am super stoked about the space I created and can’t wait to make a tour video once everything is done. I’m also super proud of my level of preparedness.

This is my truck camping hygiene kit, made for when I don’t have immediate access to a shower.

I’m not harping on the idea of van life. It’s an adventure, and I’m all about that. But the people I’ve known personally who are van dwellers, generally do it out of necessity, and don’t have a living environment that looks like it came out of Architectural Digest.

Real life is hard, messy, and complicated, especially when you travel a lot. I far prefer images and prose that portray that. Such media is far more useful for both ideas and mental health than those of an idealized existence.

Published by Clarisa

Traveler, Writer, Cook, Mariner, Veteran

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