Hooniverse Asks- What's the Best Car to Camp in?

camper car

Bear Grylls may like to quench his thirst with a nice hot cup of his own frothy urine, but for me, roughing it means the hotel doesn’t offer HBO and room service ends at 10:00 pm. I mean really! I’m sure that most of you fall somewhere in between those two extremes, and while camping for you may involve a tent and possibly a spot by a lake, there is much appeal to simply using your car as your home away form home. But what car would be the best at the task?

Camping in your car is great when you’re at the track, awaiting promised space aliens, or simply as a place to get away, say if your undesirable and extremely gassy ne’er do well brother should show up  unannounced. The main functions that a multitasker auto must provide for car camping are a reasonably comfortable place to sleep, room for a few days belongings, and perhaps room enough to change your Underoos in privacy, should you not want to share that level of intimacy with neighboring campers. Oh, and it should be easily convertible to road-going form at a moment’s notice, you know, in case of bear attacks.

Do you car camp, and was that functionality a consideration when purchasing your vehicle? If not, and you were considering a trek in which your ride was also your motel, what would be your first choice?

Image source: Camping Cars

60 Comments

    1. You know your car is a serious land yacht when it comes with it's own life boat.

  1. Boring answe is a late-model Town & Country – fold the seats down, you've got a 4×8 floor to toss a couple air mattresses in, tinted windows for privacy to change in, available DVD players for a night's entertainment, reasonable fuel economy, and if you need to haul people around, collapse the air mattresses, toss them in the centre bins, and go about your business.
    That said, I slept in my old Honda Civic between shifts many times.

    1. I agree; I've used my van for camping before. Usually setup a 5 person tent outside the side door using some tarps and creativity to store all the stuff the mattress takes up in the back. Also have some curtains that suction cup to the windows, and a divider that hangs behind the front seats.
      Can only really fit yourself and one other person, since fitting a mattress means pulling both rear seats.

  2. My FC Econoline. With the storage platform I built in, a queen mattress fit nicely. Brew up your morning espresso on the steel top of the mid engine cover, and enjoy breakfast without leaving your bed.

  3. Lately, I've been thinking something like this. I could leave all my camping and fishing gear inside and not need to pack every single trip. A quick stop at the supermarket for beer and food and I'm rolling.
    <img src="http://goo.gl/dSmi2&quot; width=450>

    1. full size van absolutely gets my vote. I have attempted to camp in a minivan also, it sucks. you have to basically throw everything outside the van or into the front seats if you want room to lay down and sleep. which is probably also the case with all the car-based tents here.

  4. Gotta be my '98 Subaru Outback. Lots of room for a bed, all wheel drive, OK ground clearance, and not terrible gas milage! That, and it was the most comfortable car to drive that I've owned. Long road trip? No problem!

    1. I like the way you think. Honourable points for offering several choices to the insecure public.

  5. K-5 Blazer Chalet.
    <img src="http://bringatrailer.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/1976_Chevy_Blazer_Chalet_Brochure_1.jpg"width=500&gt;
    This was a factory option.
    I did camp many time in my regular K-5 Blazer. Unbolt the rear seat, toss it next to the campfire for a couch. Flip the passenger seat forward and add some foam blocks to level the rear floor, inflate air mattress and cover windows. High, dry, and warm. I usually pitched a tent to store all the crap I would bring along.

    1. I've done the same with mine quite a bit, except I usually sleep in the tent and leave my crap in the Blazer. But it is a good platform for sleeping inside, too.

    2. I have owned and camped.in a K-5 I thought it was exellent and no need for a tent. That is untill I bought my 86 suburban, I built a raised floor over the rear wheelwells and put a double mattress back there and still had both bench seats and under the platform for stuff and a blanket in the front footwell for my dog. I towed my racecar three hours from home for a late season race(beginning of october) with this setup and stayed warm and dry while everyone else in tents (they all laughed at me that night) where damp and cold. Man I wish that thing had'nt been stolen. I miss the utility and the great fuel milage. I dont know where the pics got too or I would try to post them up.

      1. I've never heard the words great fuel mileage and Suburban in the same sentence before.

        1. 6.2 diesel 2wd. My avarage fuel economy was 19 mpg, mostly with a heavy when empty loaded 18' equipment trailer hooked to the thing. In the 28 months I had it before it was stolen I can count on both hands the times it didnt tote that trailer. One vacation (1000 miles) I averaged 22 mpg with a high of 24, I thought it was great for a 5500 lb or so tank with an enimic 6.2 with around 500k miles on it. I miss that thing like I have said before and would love to still have it gutless 6.2 and all.

          1. I didn't know the 6.2 would do that well. That's pretty impressive.

          2. Yep it was surprising. My volvo 850 after only managed 23 mpg and maybe 25 downhill with the breeze.

          3. Yep, the 6.2 was designed to be a fuel miser.
            It's super-gutless, like not even in a lovable low-end diesel kind of way. It makes like 250lb-ft of torque, stock. Basically on par with the current TDI VWs (as in, Jetta).
            That said, your friends at Banks can wake it up a bit.

    1. That was going to be my answer as well. FWIW these are more capable then you think, check out http://dreamtrip.se for the story of an overland trip to Malaysia in a 900 with a Toppola.

  6. I've slept in the back of my '06 Explorer with the back seats down twice. It's actually not too bad. I had my Thermarest, which supplies a surprisingly good sleep. It was a bit tight with my friend beside me, but we survived.
    The prospect of sleeping in your own car is pretty cool, if you ask me. I guess it kind of validates the utility of the car.
    I've also looked at tents that you can get for any SUV that extend out the back, but in the end the cost of them just doesn't make much sense over buying a regular tent.

    1. One should always display excellent post-modern camping design taste by bringing along the specially-lightened Breuer chairs.

    1. It's weird to see one that isn't in that green.
      Oddly, I'm pretty sure that green is making some kind of comeback. I think Hyundai's Misty Green is a relatively classy variation on the theme.

  7. I have slept in an '89 Probe, a '90 Econoline Conversion, a '95 Maxima, and an '06 X3. The Econoline was obviously the most comfortable. I think the X3 was second, aided by the sunroof that could be popped open but still had a screen for bugs. The Probe had a surprisingly large and flat floor with the seats folded. Maxima was pure misery, but it was an emergency situation when our tent was carried away by strong winds.
    Hard to beat a conversion van without going full Winnebago. Privacy curtains and blinds, screen windows for ventilation, lots of lighting, TV, and a rear seat designed to be folded into a perfectly flat bed. Plus, there's still plenty of room for your gear.

  8. Nobody has said 80 Series Land Cruiser, yet? Impressive amount of interior space for a vehicle with such off-road capability, so it can get you, your friends/family and all of your gear out into the middle of nowhere with relative ease. For my camping needs, it is pretty much the perfect vehicle.
    <img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img802/7435/phototg.jpg"&gt;

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