Camping season brings a mixture of excitement and uncertainty for many Canadians. Here on the West Coast, uncertainty is usually associated with the weather … and the apparent paucity of camping reservation spots available each year. Nevertheless, excitement wins out and we prepare by assembling the necessary equipment for the event, including a reliable tent. One option to that end is the Napier Sportz line of truck tent. I was recently sent a sample they said would fit perfectly on my truck (they have a variety of sizes for most trucks). Note that Napier also sent me an air mattress that they said would fit my truck too: read to find out what I think of the tent and whether or not the mattress did actually fit like they promised!
The Napier Sportz tent advantages—beyond not sleeping on the cold ground
I’ll get into my actual experience with this tent, how it was to set up and take down, and more throughout this article. First though, I want to mention some of the questions I was asked after tweeting to my followers that I had been sent this tent and was going to post a review on the Best Buy Blog. I’m sure some of you likely have similar questions in mind after seeing the picture at the top of this article or on the product page at Best Buy.
There were three main questions that I’ll address: is it easy for anyone to set up; will it be big enough for a family of four; did the mattress fit (since I teased that they will have to read the article to learn if it did!). The first two questions I will answer now, and the mattress one I’ll address later in the article.
Setting up the Napier Sportz Tent
One person who asked about ease of set up explained that he was considering getting it for his father. He thought his dad would appreciate not crouching down to climb into a ground level tent, and enjoy the added security of having the truck bed walls on three sides. I prefer that too! It also occurred to me that is the ground is cold, frozen, or covered in snow, a tent on your truck is far superior to a tent on the ground. I took my time unboxing the tent and layout out the coloured poles to make me familiar with the components I would be using. It was my first tent set up in quite a few years and I was cautious to get things right.
Fortunately, Napier did a really good job at making the colours of the poles distinct, making the pockets and insertion points for poles easy to identify, and the overall instructions easy to follow. They even made the instructions pretty much impossible to lose: they come printed on cloth pages that are easily washed if they get dirty, and attached to the inside of the carry case, so when you put away the tent after its use the instructions are automatically put away too.
How long will it take to assemble and put away the Napier tent
Another aspect to consider related to set up is the time it takes you to put it together or take it apart. In a worse case scenario—like arriving at the camp site and it’s raining—any tent would be a challenge to assemble. However, I think the Napier truck tent would be quite a bit better than a ground level tent. The main supports of the tent (long blue poles forming an X across the top) and a single green pole support across the truck width easily slid into their appropriate slots in just a few minutes.
The time it took to unpack the tent, push the poles up into position in the colour coded pockets, then elevate the dome into position was approximately fifteen minutes: that’s including pausing several times to adjust the video camera since I was filming the whole process. Another ten minutes or so and the tent was secured to the frame of the truck using the three adjustable straps on each side and 3 straps that attach to the tailgate.
And if I was doing this in the rain, i would have then quickly thrown the rain shield over top and hopped in the tent to inflate the mattress at that point—and have been happy. Overall, I expect assembly can easily be completed by most people in adverse conditions (from taking it from the bag to entering the tent) in under thirty minutes—much faster in good conditions, of course. One additional accessory that Napier sent was a set of strap protectors: soft cloth tubes that fit over the straps that secure the tent to the bottom of the truck. I found these tubes easy to slide over the nylon straps; I like that they provide extra protection for my truck’s paint.
Disassembly was fast too. In about fifteen minutes the tent was folded and put away neatly in the case it came in. I was motivated to work quickly since I had waited a while for my wife to come from the house to see the tent and try it out (she loves it, by the way!) and by the time we had relaxed with a beverage it was supper time and I wanted to have it put away before I went to the house. I don’t think my motivation was too different from anyone eager to get back on the road after a few days camping though; it is really easy to take apart so the highly motivate may make my pace seem turtle-like.
How big is it … really?
The other question I got that I’d like to address here is about the inner size of the tent. The height is great. I’m tall so I couldn’t stand up, but my wife almost could. It feels quite roomy. Open the window flaps to let in fresh air and light, and you would be very comfortable for long periods. I also was really impressed with the general design: the colours matched my truck (which is a bonus I thought) but more than that the opening near the truck cab was large enough to pass things through to or from someone sitting in the cab. I imagine if a child was sleeping in the backseat of the cab, they could easily ask questions of a parent sleeping in the tent. So, parents have some privacy, without sacrificing accessibility for their child.
The main opening of the tent is spacious with double zippers on the outer opaque door (which, like the window flaps, easily rolls and ties back to keep out of the way when not needed) and double zippers on the inner screen door. The awning portion of the tent was a nice touch, though I might increase it’s reach by adding a tarp so I have room for a BBQ or extra chair. Nevertheless, it gives you room to remove your boots or backpack under cover, before stowing them into the front of the tent and climbing in.
How was the Napier inflatable mattress
As I said, Napier sent me a mattress to fit inside the tent … and yes, it did fit. I inflated it outside the tent using my foot. It has a foot pump built in to the mattress; in about 5 minutes of pushing on the pump the mattress was fully inflated and I threw it into the tent—yes the tent door was wide enough! And the mattress fit snuggly between the two wheels. Lying down was comfortable. I wouldn’t recommend it for a family of four: let the kids have their own tent next to the truck, and mom and dad will love their “master bedroom” in the back of the truck.
As you can see from the picture here, my wife was very happy with the tent and mattress. She said we’ll be taking it to OK Falls the next time we visit her dad’s farm and we’ll sleep outside instead of in the house that never seems to cool down enough at night due to the Okanagan summer heat. Note also there is ample room between the mattress and the door for backpack storage etc. The tent has a couple small storage areas too: a pouch on the side, and a ceiling net to ensure keys or cellphones remain easily accessible.
Is the Napier tent a good buy
I could make a joke, given who my employer is, and say it’s a “Best Buy” but I won’t (haha). I am not a tent expert, so I looked up several reviews of this tent on YouTube to see what others say on this matter and the general consensus is that this is a good buy. My favourite review on YouTube was by Pinetree Line Productions. These two guys took a lot of time using the tent over and over and re-iterated many of the points that I made. I noticed that they have a little step ladder next to the entrance of the tent which I thought was a smart addition, especially for older adults or younger children. They also commented on how it performed when it rained, noting that they would have preferred if the rain fly was a bit longer to increase its effectiveness at keeping water away from the tent. They recommended it … with one caveat: YOU MUST OWN A TRUCK!