Monday, October 21, 2019

Rootless: A New Vehicular Mate, Part 5: Bed

Prius car camping. October 2019.

After months of youtube watching to see how car-campers did the:
  • Bed
  • Window covering

....  I was ready for and executed my maiden camp voyage.

It was only for one night, and there were a couple of minor glitches (as was to be expected), but overall, it was a successful mission.


I bought a 3-inch foam pad for about $25 at Home Depot. Measurements = 72" x 24." This was a perfect fit both length- and width-wise for my 2012 Prius V. 

I wrapped the pad in a twin-size mattress cover, using three sheet-grippers on the flip side to keep it tidily in place.
Image result for sheet grippers

Atop the  mattress cover, I placed an old sleeping bag, in which I cocooned a twin-size flat sheet, folded lengthwise, meaning that my body lay between the two folded halves of the sheet. I only zipped the foot of the sleeping bag, leaving the rest unzipped. In this way, I could easily fold both top layers off of me to get in and out of bed or to regulate my comfort level if things got too warm or too chilly.

Prius car camping. October 2019.

The head of my bed sat atop a folded blanket + two plastic storage bins, as you can see below:

Prius car camping. October 2019.

You'll notice that the bins and blanket support the head of the 'bed.' To get the bins and the full length of the foam pad into its slot, I had to pull the front passenger seat all the way forward.

The Sterilite bin dimensions are:

Because I'm relatively short, I may be able to fit comfortably below the top of the folded-down back seat. (Note that I removed the head-rests.) I'll check this out in the future.

So how comfortable was the bed on my first night?

I'd give it a 90% thumbs-up. I felt the glimmerings of a dull backache in the early hours of the pre-dawn, but that's not enough to go on yet.

Window covering

I don't plan to stealth camp, so I'm not concerned about making it appear that my car is unoccupied while I'm inside sleeping.

After a lot of over-thinking, a little experimenting, and many hours of watching youtubers share their schemes, I'm pretty happy with using a mix of strategies.

In the photo below, you can see examples of four methods I used:

Prius car camping. October 2019.

  1. I cut out a panel from a roll of Reflectix that I bought at a Lowe's or Home Depot
  2. I bought a pair of window "socks" via Amazon (more on these later in this post)
  3. I bought some magnets - small round disks + some smallish rectangles - and draped a shawl over the front driver side window. The window frame on the inside is metal, and I placed several magnets under the top edge and one or two on the side edges. 
  4. On my car, the passenger side design is such that I could loop one end of a bungee cord to the front windowshade, run it through the front-seat and back-seat ceiling-edge hand grips, and hook the other end to the infant-seat buckle ledge that is along the ceiling edge behind the rear passenger seat. Using clothespins, I hung another shawl so that it ran from the front window to the end of the back window. Or, I should say, I could have done that, but I chose to leave the back passenger window with just the window screen sock so I could have a cross breeze between the two back passenger windows. 

Prius car camping. October 2019.

Above you can see I used the Reflectix for the rear window, as I did the triangular windows in the back bay area of the car.

Prius car camping. October 2019.

And although the photo immediately above is a repeat of the long-view bed shot I posted earlier, now that we're talking window coverings, take note of the bungee cord and clothespin set-up on the right.

Also note that I stretched a bungee cord in the front seat area across the width of the car. It was as good a place as any to experiment with an internal clothesline, and in this case, a towel holder. It had the additional benefit of offering a second line of privacy behind the windshield AND obscuring the blinking security dash light. In the windshield, I had placed my usual sun shade disks.

None of the window coverings required permanent changes to the Prius. Nor did they require any handywoman skills, other than the cutting out of the Reflectix. 

The window screen socks were fine for me camping, however, if I'd had a light on inside the Prius, they would have offered no privacy. Which is why I wanted the second-line option of the shawl clothespinned from the bungee cord on one side of the car.

I liked that I could see out of the car through the window screen socks much better than someone could see in. In fact, without lights on inside, someone would have had to press up hard against the window to see much of anything through the window screen sock.

On the other hand, the screen sock not only keeps out flying little biters and ear buzzers, it stops some of the breeze, too. I didn't have my windows rolled down all the way with the screens on, so I'll try that out next time. Also, I'll likely invest in a small usb fan to push some air flow across my head.


Ceiling lights. The default setting for my ceiling lights is to go on when I open my doors. Not good in a campsite scenario, at least not for me. My fix: Slide the ceiling light buttons over to the "off" position so they don't power on when I open the doors.

Beeping. Because I had my key with me and because I was in a car, I defaulted to locking the car while I was inside and ready to sleep. But the Prius door (at least not the back door) doesn't automatically release when you pull the inside door handle. This means you have to press the unlock button on the keyfob, which means, yes, there's the double beeping sound when you unlock it. Which is not being a good neighbor to folks in nearby campsites.

It's not like I was ever able to lock my tent, so I will just not lock my car when I bed down for the night in the future.

Heating/air conditioning. One of the Prius superpowers is to be able to manage one's little habitat climate so it's cozy inside when outside it is too hot or too cold. Although the car powers on silently when engaging only the battery, it does emit some sound when it periodically switches on the engine to recharge the battery. A number of parks, like Organ Pipe National Monument, where I tried out my camp bed the first time, are very very very quiet parks. And if one is in a generator-ok site, the generator use is restricted to two hours in the late afternoon-early evening and two hours in fairly early morning. So ..... what does that mean for running my Prius when it's too hot or too cold? I don't know yet.

  • It was a wonder to be able to break camp so quickly the next morning!
  • Looking forward to my next outing.

Related posts: 

My New Vehicular Mate, Part 1
My New Vehicular Mate, Part 2
My New Vehicular Mate, Part 3
My New Vehicular Mate, Part 4

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