For me, the best thing about car camping, has been when I was finished car camping.
Owning a car and not an SUV, means car camping is often much easier said than done. It has always been my last resort, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures.
The tricky thing about exploring new areas is you never really know what it’s going to be like until you get there. It’s impossible to know how grown in a forest service road will be or how far that road you see on the satellite map actually goes. Or if it even drives. To add to that, my car isn't 4x4, so I'm always rolling the dice on whether my low clearance hatchback will make it.
Last year, a friend and I decided to hedge our bets on a weekend adventure and leave after work on a Friday instead of early Saturday. We drove several hours into an area new to us. The plan was to follow a forest service road we had found on some maps, up to a ridge-line and camp with a view of the valley below. There was some adjacent terrain we were hoping to hike the following day, so this would be a good basecamp. That was the plan at least.
We made it almost all the way, but unfortunately, the road started to really narrow the higher we went. The road was becoming more technical and the lack of a shoulder with the setting sun made the situation all the more tense. We rounded one last corner and what was the two-track road we were driving on, suddenly became barely wide enough for a quad. My car was struggling enough as it was, but to add to the already frustrating situation, the 50% chance of rain forecast turned out to be 50% right, but not in our favour. The first signs of precipitation started to hit the windshield, gradually picking up intensity. It was now too dark to turn around so we opted to park and see how sleeping in the car would go. Maybe not a bad last resort.
We reclined the front seats, but they didn’t recline all that much. We tried to move the gear around in the back and fold down the middle seats, but the trunk was too short to lie down without our heads falling off into the void between the backseats and the front ones. The road was quite inclined where we had stopped, so unfortunately it made it difficult pitch a tent. We tried a whole number of configurations, but ultimately, I ended up sleeping in the front seat and my friend took out his aluminum emergency shovel for ski touring, went out in the rain and levelled a spot for the tent. He pitched the tent in the rain and got soaking wet in the process, but at least he could lie down and fully stretch out.
I slept the rest of the night partially reclined in the front seat, never quite finding a comfortable or able to really fall into a deep sleep. Car camping happened, but ultimately was not something I looked forward to doing again.
That was then and without the Backseat Bivy. Sometimes all it takes is the smallest addition to your set-up to make everything that much more comfortable. My car is small and my feet may be just touching the end, but with the Backseat Bivy I can now fully stretch out and lie down in my car. For me it's a game changer.
Written by David Rose - follow his adventures on Instagram
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