If you like to go camping and have just gotten a new pickup truck, the idea of using the bed of the truck as your sleeping quarters has no doubt crossed your mind. Being off the ground has a lot of advantages -- fewer creepy crawlies ending up in your sleeping bag, for one -- but that means you have to modify your truck bed somehow if you don't want to sleep in the open. You have the options of a camper-type shell or a truck tent; here's a look at how both can help you.

Full Truck Shell

These are the camper shells that you see on a lot of pickups. They make the pickups look like SUVs, and some of the SUVs you see may in fact be pickups with shells instead. These are taller shells that allow for better storage and let you curl up in the bed if needed.

The advantages are that the shell is lockable and difficult to remove -- it would essentially be permanent if you had one installed -- so there is better security and better weatherproofing if you're camping in not so great weather. The disadvantages are that the shells aren't that tall (though you can get some that have more headroom than others), so at most you're going to be able to fit yourself and maybe one other person in there. The tailgate on the truck will have to be up to close off the bed when the shell is on. If you're fine with permanently enclosing the bed and want better security, a hard camper shell is what you want.

Temporary Bed Tent

These are literally tents that connect to your truck bed. They are soft-sided and can be removed easily. They are not items that you can drive around with when they are fully installed.

The advantages are that they are temporary, if you don't want to always have the bed enclosed, and many can be extended so you can leave the truck's tailgate down for extra room. Many are also a lot taller than shells, so sitting up isn't as much of a problem. The disadvantages are, again, you can't drive with the tent on, and the tent isn't lockable -- there's really no security because someone can cut through the tent. Good for camping in the wilderness; not so good if you want to store your belongings in there on a city street. But if you just want a tent that's off the ground when you camp, this type of tent is perfect.

If you want to see more shells, caps, tonneau covers, and tents, talk to truck accessory dealers (such as Rhino Linings &Terry's Top Factory) and see what they have. More and more specialized products are appearing.