It’s that time of year again. The days are getting longer, the nights are warmer, and you’re already dreaming about nights spent in front of a roaring campfire before falling asleep under the stars. As you begin to search the dustier corners of your garage for your tents, sleeping pads, and that perfect marshmallow stick you found last summer, there’s one piece of gear you might have overlooked: your 2021 Chevy Silverado.
We might opt to leave behind many of the comforts of home in favor of roughing it when we go camping, but aside from some longer backcountry adventures, most campers will rarely lose sight of their vehicle during their trip. With the Chevy Silverado, your vehicle is more than just a way to get to your favorite campground or hiking trail: it’s the most valuable tool you could bring on the journey. A dependable truck in its own right, the Silverado includes a number of features that make it the ideal home away from home for the trail mix set.
Far From Roughing It
The Silverado’s camping credentials are on display well before you even leave your driveway. The 2021 model can display 15 separate camera angles on its dashboard screen – a useful feature for any families looking to attach a boat, ATV, or kayak trailer. With best-in-class standard cargo volume and a spacious LED-lit bed on some models, there will be no more endlessly repacking gear until everything fits.
The Silverado’s legendary performance is showcased on the 2021 model, making it an ideal outdoor companion. Whether you’re looking to tackle some bumpier terrain, haul your new boat, or save on gas, there is a powertrain package that will suit every adventure. Engine options range from the efficient 2.7-liter turbo to a powerful 6.2-liter V8 and even include a 3.0-liter turbo diesel that boasts 460 lb-ft of torque. With up to 13,300 pounds of maximum towing capability, you’re never hurting for raw power when you’re behind the wheel of a Silverado.
Those looking for a truck with off-roading in its DNA couldn’t do much better than the Silverado Z71 package, which includes Rancho shocks, Hill Descent Control, an underbody transfer case shield, recovery hooks, and a heavy-duty automatic locking rear differential. With the Z71 package, some drivers might find it easier to simply drive right up the side of the mountain rather than bother with hiking it.
For those who aren’t quite ready to sacrifice their screen time while roughing it, the Silverado’s infotainment system, charging ports, and available built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot offer all the high-tech comforts of home no matter where you are. Other notable tech features include parking assist, lane change, side blind spot, and rear cross traffic alerts, as well as an adaptive cruise control system that will come in handy when your trip is over, and you’re in no rush to get back to civilization.
Getting Off the Ground
Camping means something a little different to everyone. For the Bear Grylls set, it’s not a “real” camping trip unless you’re sleeping under the stars, foraging for your food, and fending off bear attacks with a twig you gnawed into a sharp point. On the other end of the spectrum, “glamping” or glamourous camping has taken hold of late, with cozy, well-stocked accommodations winning over a certain crowd whose previous outdoor survival experience might be limited to binging Survivor.
Most of us fall somewhere in the middle. We’re not trying to make life exponentially more difficult by whittling our own utensils, but we also don’t want to feel as if we never left our backyard. With the right vehicle by your side, it’s easier than ever to strike that balance. The right camping vehicle can serve as everything from a food locker and charging station to a rain shelter and survival tool; it all depends on how you use it and how deeply you choose to integrate it into your camping experience.
If there’s one trend that defines this new era of vehicle-based outdoorsiness, it’s the truck-based tent. Allowing campers to get the full tent camping experience while circumventing some of the more common pitfalls associated with sleeping on the ground, the truck-based tent is now a common sight at campgrounds across the country. These typically come in two distinct forms: the truck bed tent, which simply slots directly into the back of your truck, or the rooftop tent, which is built off a truck’s bed rack, allowing campers to sleep even higher off the ground.
Tents range in price anywhere from a couple hundred for the bed-based model to as much as several thousand dollars for a top-of-the-line bed rack-based setup, giving campers in any price range a chance to get in on the fun. Chevy even makes its own line of tent rigs designed specifically for the Silverado, including both bed and roof-based models. Produced by the outdoor experts at Napier and Freespirit, these are priced similarly to other models on the market and include features like awnings, storage annexes, and ladders.
With truck-based tents, campers will never again need to worry about finding a flat stretch of ground to pitch a tent on or obsessively checking the overnight forecast for rain. This is perfect for the backcountry-inclined, who might eschew typical campgrounds and state parks in favor of the wide-open range where flat, protected ground could be nonexistent. Simply find a spot with a satisfactorily striking vista, make sure there’s a good source of water nearby, and know that you’ll enjoy a consistent quality of sleep regardless of the environs. The elevation also means that those things that go bump in the night won’t be quite so alarming anymore, knowing that anything higher than you on the food chain will likely not bother with the hassle of trying to scale the side of your Silverado.
There are a number of accessories hitting the market that integrate well with truck-based tent setups to help bring a little taste of home into the great outdoors. These include the expected, like air mattresses and coolers, to the innovative, like an attachable shower unit and retractable awning. The Silverado can also be fitted with additional storage options that are perfect for storing camping, cooking, or emergency medical supplies, and you won’t have to worry about anyone scoping out your valuables while you’re on a hike. With a full slate of camping accessories, your truck can offer nearly all the comforts of an RV without the price and unwieldiness.
Three of Our Favorite Kentucky Camping Destinations
Natural Bridge State Resort Park – Slade, KY
The centerpiece of this 2,300-acre park is a massive 30-foot-wide sandstone arch. Visitors are invited to walk the full 76-foot span of this natural bridge or tackle some of the park’s 20-plus miles of hiking trails. The area is home to two campgrounds with a mix of primitive and electric-enabled sites, allowing campers to choose their own level of comfort.
Koomer Ridge Campground – Pine Ridge, KY
Located in the Red River Gorge canyon system, Koomer Ridge campground is the perfect base camp for rock climbers, hikers, and mountain bikers to explore this unique area. The campground’s 54 sites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, so make sure to skip out of work a few minutes early if you are looking for a prime spot.
Cumberland Falls State Park – Corbin, KY
A bucket list item for any Kentuckian worth their derby hat, this 125-foot wide waterfall features a unique “moonbow” effect that is said not to exist anywhere else in the hemisphere. There are plenty of hiking and swimming options throughout the area, as well as an all-new gem mining activity hosted by Kentucky State Parks. Cumberland Falls 50-site campground offers both electric and water hookups, as well as a small grocery store to restock on marshmallows.
A Summer of Exploration
Whether you’re interested in exploring the longest cave system in the world, scaling some of the state’s challenging rock faces, or taking the family to see the “Niagara of the South” at Cumberland Falls, there’s no shortage of places to explore during a Kentucky summer.
Those looking for more of a boutique experience should check out HipCamp. Branded as a sort of Airbnb for camping, HipCamp allows property owners to rent out small plots of lands for the night at prices that put many traditional campgrounds to shame. These run the gamut from sites that approach full-on glamping to more rustic accommodations in interesting locations. Many of these properties allow campers to drive directly to their sites, making HipCamp the perfect fit for those who want to test out their truck camping setup in a new locale.
There are currently nearly 300 HipCamp sites throughout Kentucky, ranging from as little as $20 for a simple plot to as much as $275 for a unique experience like a three-bed treehouse. These sites present an opportunity to explore some lesser-known corners of the state in a relaxed atmosphere that provides a nice private alternative to busy state parks and noisy family campgrounds.
With so many camping-friendly features already integrated into the design, the Silverado makes it easy to pack up and hit the road at a moment’s notice – something you’ll be thankful for when you’re trying to beat that 5 p.m. Friday crowd to snag the best camping spots. So get behind the wheel of your 2021 Silverado, and get ready for a summer of nights around the fire, fishing at dawn, and wondering just how many miles you’ll need to hike to work off that third s’more.