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I want to do some car camping.

I have a sleeping bag and a 1/2 inch thick foam mat, (just over one cm thick.)

The interior is about 43 inches by 63 inches. (About 1.1 by 1.6 meter.)

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Looking for some ideas to make sleeping more comfortable.


I am 5 feet 6 inches (1.68 m)

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As a tall person, I've thought about this only for really long cars. I currently have a van converted to a camper, but I'm slowly planning its smaller replacement.

Consider the surfaces you've camped on before. Were you comfortable on something with similar lumps and gaps, on the mattress or sleeping mat you intend to use? With that short length you won't get much choice. Foam can be custom cut, but is bulky for much comfort, and the thicker inflatable mats don't usually come in 3/4 length, while you won't fit a full length mat. You may need a thin mat over thin plywood, hinged so it folds to fit.

Raising the bed (e.g. build something from plywood, with a hinged section nearest the seat) and tilting the front seat forwards can give you more length. You can also build storage into the bed base.

You also need to do something about the windows. As well as curtains in my van, I've got silver insulation - like bubble wrap made of foil blanket - attached to the windows with suction cups. A reflective, blackout, windscreen cover is also good.

Other things I've found helpful in my van are wind deflectors over the front windows, which allow me to keep them open a little in the rain, and mosquito nets attached either with suction cups or magnets.

In a car, you won't have room or ventilation to cook inside. I'd cook under the open tailgate, with a sort of kitchen in a crate arrangement. In my climate I'd fasten a tarp awning to keep the wind (and rain) off this area. If you do want to cook inside, apart from being extremely careful regarding the flames, you need ventilation in the roof - a sunroof or caravan roof vent.

Personally I'd fit mine out for electric hookup, for use when on campsites. Here in the UK some campsites get fussy about car camping anyway.

Leveling ramps can be useful if you have to park on a slope; they go under both downhill wheels.

I have assumed I'd want a roof boot of the ski box style, so I could put a bike rack next to it as well - I always have a bike with me when camping. Storage inside will be limited even transferring kit bags onto the front seats.

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  • Alternatively, you can try to sleep in the front seat, friends of mine used to do that for holidays up to two weeks.
    – Willeke
    Dec 6, 2023 at 9:11
  • @Willeke some people can do that. It's harder if you're tall because reclining the seat pushes your hips forwards and there's already not enough room for your legs. It's better around the knees, but worse around the feet than on a plane, even in the passenger seat. Worse still if there are 2 of you and someone is in the driving seat
    – Chris H
    Dec 6, 2023 at 9:16
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    OP has still not mentioned how tall they are, can be short enough to sleep stretched in the available space in the back.
    – Willeke
    Dec 6, 2023 at 9:59
  • @Willeke, yes, that would be useful information.
    – Chris H
    Dec 6, 2023 at 13:44
  • @Chris H I have material that I bought in order to make some sound proofing for an apartment I use to live in. I am thinking of getting someone to make curtains out of that material. I am thinking of using PVC pipe as the curtain holder. I also bought a Coleman propane stove for cooking. You are not bogged down with too many details.
    – fixit7
    Dec 6, 2023 at 23:13

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