I have a road trip planned up to Maine, White Mountains, Nova Scotia (or where ever I decided is far enough and decide to come back). I tend to get really obsessive about an idea once I have one and I like doing a lot of research and planning. I have been slowly purchasing a lot of equipment over the last few months that I either didn't have or had at one point in life and lost along the way during my many moves. Last weekend I took all the equipment I have bought over the last month or so up to the Catskill Mountains and camped just to test stuff out and make sure I had everything I needed. I made a list of things I thought would be good to have, one thing that I started thinking of is how nice it would be to have a way to sleep in the car if it was pouring rain and the tent couldn't be set up, or if I got to a campsite too late to set up. I didn't want to have to completely repack my whole car (because it would most likely be raining) so I wanted to only have to move a few things and be all set. So I started researching sleep platforms and found a ton of forums where people had converted almost any car you can think of into a quick and easy sleeping solution. I love my car and its perfect for something like this.
This past sunday I woke up early and I just started sketching some ideas and I got to thinking that this wouldn't be too difficult to do if I had a full day to just do it right. After I got done sketching I got in the car with my sketches and material list and headed to Home Depot and bought everything I thought I would need. The best part of this project is that the whole thing only ended up costing about $80 and it could have been less if I didn't spring for using maple as my main sheet of wood. There are cheaper options out there and you could always get some of that cheap carpeting to go over it.
I thought it would be fun to shoot some pictures afterwards of me just unpacking and setting up. Is it necessary? Not really, but I had a good time with this project so this is what you get a bunch of un necessary shots of my project and some sweet action shots. I will list all the gear at the bottom in case anybody is wondering what is what (I know I hate reading blogs where I see something I want in a picture and nowhere does it say what it is or how I can get it). Also a little bit of description on photo where needed.
So here is a finished shot from the back with all my gear in it. Sleeping bags, chairs, sleep pads, tent, kitchen stuff and folding table all underneath. Its about 42" deep and then there is the side door storage area as well. All the stuff on top is easily moved to the front seats when you need the sleep platform.
This is all 3/4" maple and I cut the center board on an angle because Im fancy.
So first step is moving everything from the back to the front seats and then folding the seats forward, which allows for the flip down part of the playform to rest on.
So I made this flip down section to allow for someone that is taller to be able to completely stretch out. its about 17" of extra room and I cut the corners on angles to allow the board to pass by the seatbelts that are right where my arm is blocking in the picture.
These are just some action shots of me taking down the support bar and stuffing it into the side compartment, because everyone loves action shots.
This is my self inflating sleeping pad I got at REI. I was skeptical at first but then I used it that first night and I went home and threw out my bed and just use this. Not really but its amazing and ANYONE car camping (and maybe even on short backpacking trips) should have one of these. They arent cheap, but I think everyone can agree that sleeping well is one of the most important parts when camping.
Sleeping pad number 2.
Sleeping bag number one, this is a Kelty bag and its amazing. It uses the new drydown technology which addresses one of the biggest bummers about using real down in sleeping bags which is what happens if they get wet or damp. Drydown is treated with some magical stuff that makes it stay dry and if it does get wet it drys very very fast. This also addresses the second biggest problem when camping which is getting up in the night to use the bathroom. Now everyone can wet their bags at will and it will most likely be dry by morning. Thanks Kelty!
So here are some shots of the sleep platform with both bags in there. Also a couple more shots from the front showing how the flipdown part works with the seats folded and how the stuff that was stored in the back easily fits up front.
Side view shot. I intend to get some fabric with velcro corners to put up over the windows just so I dont wake up with a weird guy staring at me first thing in the morning. I didnt get around to that before these shots were taken. Cut me a little slack.
So here it is the whole thing all set up. Fits two bags and pads easily with plenty of headroom. One thing that is nice about the Outback is that the ceiling is raised up in the middle, its hard to see in this picture but it gives you an additional 5 or so inches, you can see it a little bit in the picture below.
So there it is! This last shot is kind of neat because I didnt plan this but the platform sticks out far enough that if the tailgate is all the way open you can easily sit on the platform and your back and head arent hitting the top of the car. Bonus. This is nice because you can roll up the mats and bags and have an area to sit and set up your little snowpeak stove and cook some breakfast and possibly unintentionally set your car on fire. The only improvements I have been thinking of is a way to possibly anchor down the platform even though its super secure and doest move I dont want to get in an accident and have it fly up front. Also I want to order some sort of screens for the windows so I can crack them without worrying about spiders sucking all my blood and insides out while I sleep.
Below is a gear list with some links (and thoughts) for anyone curious or wanting to get something seen here.
Sleeping bag: Kelty
This bag is awesome. I cant say enough good things about it. I did tons of research before picking it up and it ranks VERY high on a lot of gear review websites. Dont skimp on sleeping bags. Its rated at something like 16 degrees. LINK
Sleep pad: REI Camp Bed
So far I love this thing. I am interested to see how it holds up over time. But like I mentioned before this thing made my nights sleep. Couldnt feel anything under it and I was camping with some small rocks and hard surface in the area and under the tent. LINK
Tent: REI Half Dome 2 plus
Went with this one because I dont really plan on doing a lot of backpacking yet. If I do it will be short distance so I dont mind the extra weight. Even saying that the thing only ways like 5 pounds so its not really THAT bad. Also its nice if you have two people and if you are solo camping I think you could still get away with it as far as heating the space while you sleep. I like the plus version because it gives you extra room at the bottom to keep your bags and shoes that way you dont have to leave them outside for the spiders to raise families in while you sleep. Also I got the harder to find green version because I have seen the orange ones set up at campgrounds and I just prefer the green. LINK
Camp Light: Black Diamond
Tis thing is crazy. SO much light very long burn time in between batteries and it hangs nicely from the top of tent but also has feet that fold out for the table. LINK
Why this one? I dont know because you need a cooler and coolers for the most part look pretty dumb (case and point) and this one is classic and simple looking, also legend has it that bears are scared of coleman coolers and will leave your food alone if you use one. LINK
Well I think thats everything. If you are still reading Im impressed. I had a lot of fun making this thing and taking some pictures so thanks for checking them out.