Gear Review – Slumberjack SJK Roadhouse Tarp

When I mentioned our Toyota Tacoma camping rig and our “perma-camping” kit, I noted the Slumberjack SJK Roadhouse tarp.  

A very good piece of gear that is versatile, quick to set up, and provides sun and rain protection.

On a rainy day in the La Sals. PCO Joan.

Additionally, this tarp is compact and easily fits into a tote at the back of our truck bed with other gear.

There are many tie-out points, reinforced grommets, reflective guylines, and a reinforced patch in the middle to make an almost pyramid-like shelter, too.

With two people, Joan and I have set it up in twenty minutes with no difficulty.

The back of the tarp has reinforced fabric to hold the liftgate in place, and the strap themselves easily setup in the wheel rims and tighten down quickly:

And because it is a tarp, the shelter itself allows many different pitches optimized for sun protection with lots of airflow.

From Slumberjack

Because of the setup, you can attach it to the back of a truck/SUV or even use it as a standalone A-Frame shelter.

We set it up backpacker style with a smaller pole and low to the ground for the rain, sleet, and late-night snow we faced this past weekend:

With the use of another pole, we could raise the tarp a bit to make a more comfortable cooking area:

With the tarp’s simple addition, a cold and rainy day and the evening turned into a pleasant, dry, and welcoming camp.

It’s a very good piece of gear I’ve used for a few months now. But this weather put it to the test.

The photo above illustrates how two additional types of equipment can make this very good shelter an excellent one.

The first item to add?   Add some telescoping poles. The included poles, though sturdy, are fixed length and do not allow much versatility.  Though excellent for a sunshade or a standalone A-frame, the lack of telescoping poles limits the versatility.

UPDATE JAN 2022 – “In action” with the telescoping pole. The A-Frame style setup seems to give the most versatility for our needs in inclement weather.

And the tarp held up despite the wind that brought down these “Widowmakers” near our campsite during the night! :O PCO Joan.

A simple addition of telescoping poles I purchased this weekend allows this very good shelter to become an excellent one.  I went with the slightly more expensive poles with a ball-shaped tip cover to make a pyramid-style shelter more easily to provide more effortless weather protection with adjustable guylines so I can quickly raise or lower the shelter as needed.

If you find yourself in rainy conditions but with less wind or in a protected area, the second pole works especially well with the reinforced middle part of the tarp. You’ll have more space and head room. Helpful if you are not a 5’6″ person. 😉


The second piece of additional gear, one I purchased based on the review, is four suction cups meant for SUPs.  These suction cups hold the top of the tarp to the truck more securely.  The tarp held in rain, sleet, and snow with four points of contact. Even after we readjusted the tarp in the wet snow. Four of these cost $32 total (2 per pack at $16 ea)

UPDATE June 2022 – I also invested in Cyclone-style 10″ stakes with their superior holding power in the ground. About $16 for a set of 10.

Overall?  The Slumberjack SJK Roadhouse tarp makes an excellent addition to the kit for anyone who camps regularly out of their truck or SUV.  Be sure to purchase some telescoping poles for increased versatility and the suction cups to hold the tarp in place on the back of the truck better.  At nearly $200 for the entire kit, it is not as inexpensive as a folding picnic shelter but much lighter, less bulky, more weather-proof, and more versatile. And it costs less than awnings aimed at truck campers too. These awnings have less versatility and weather resistance vs. the Slumberjack tarp.

We find the Slumberjack SJK Roadhouse tarp an excellent piece of equipment. And a piece of gear well suited to anyone who appreciates versatility and willingness to learn to set up effective shelters as dictated by different conditions.

You could rig up something similar for half the money  (or more) with bungee cords, a tarp, and poles as well but the extra touches of this purposefully designed gear and ease of setup make the price a good one for us. Especially since we plan on using this shelter in the same way we do not mind spending money on a well-made tent. Meaning we will use it for many years to come.

Disclosure: We purchased the Slumberjack SJK Roadhouse tarp with our funds.

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[…] And our SJK tarp, as always, provided a dry place out of the rain that evening. PCO Joan. […]