Monday, January 07, 2013

Car Camping Tips

I love to travel.  And I've got a great station wagon for camping.  Been reading up on some tips for setting the car up as a mini RV.  Particularly helpful on the slog out to the mountains and back; just hit up the back of a truck stop for a parking spot, set up the car and you're in business.  Also great if it just gets too cold out in the tent, especially if you have insulation for the windows.  Or at Bluegrass festivals where you have either room for the car, OR a tent.

Ideally I'd have a VW Vanagon Westfalia, but failing that, lets see how we can set up the Subaru for in-car camping.

The list, in no particular order:

  • Solar tinting for the back half to cut down on heat loss / intake.
  • Blackout curtains or shades.  Harder in a wagon, easier in a conversion van.
  • For ventilation without bugs, use fairly heavy screen spline to hold the top and sides of the fine mesh plastic window screen material in the groove the glass rolls up in and  tape the bottom.
  • LED lighting is power efficient and no risk.
  • For winter, cut foil backed foam to shape to fit in the window openings.  Cover with neutral colored fabric so you don't look like a trash can.
  • Keep everything clean, neat and put away while parked or traveling.  Avoid looking like a ragamuffin.
  • Toilet?  If you're doing dispersed camping (boondocking) a 5 gallon bucket, a toilet seat lid, several odor proof trashbags and some cat litter make a great under $20 portable toilet.  Using the trash bags keeps cleanup easy and you can store other supplies in the bucket while traveling.
  • A couple gallons of gas; if you have to run the engine overnight for heating (or cooling) you may find you're low on fuel.  Can also be used in your Coleman Dual Fuel lantern and stove.
  • Well maintained car.  Ensure exhaust, cooling and lubricants are in good shape.
  • Small portable 12-volt DC powered ATSC (digital over the air) TV for weather and local information
  • Small portable AM / FM radio. No need to power up the whole car to listen to news, weather or music.
  • Solar panel to trickle charge the battery and / or charge gadgets.
  • 500w power inverter to charge AC items.
  • Battery or 12V DC powered fan
Other great ideas that won't work in the Subaru:
  • Long, heavy duty drawer runners from a scrap yard used in hearses or ambulances make great full length drawer slides.  You can install a 6" deep drawer on the floor of a van or Suburban, slide it out 6 or 8 feet and have compartments for everything.  Saw a guy in Montana with this setup; he had over 20 cubic feet of hidden storage in the 'floor' of his Suburban.
Add your ideas for camping in your car in the comments!

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