I'm appreciate that culturally, climbing is a sport that celebrates individuals who live in or sleep in their cars. There does seem to be a certain level of extra appreciation/perceived romanticism for those who give it all up - the job, the mortgage, the three cats and a parakeet- to live in their $50,000 converted Sprinter van. As of today (6/14/2017) the hash tag #vanlife gets 1,543,740 hits on Instagram.
What about the rest of us? We weekend warriors, we fearless many? Those of us who need to commute, transport passengers, get good MPG, have a load of furbabies to transport but want to sleep in the comfort of a cozy car cocoon? Who aren't afraid to travel for a few days without a queen sized bed, full kitchen, and enough space to have a rave with 17.5 other people- but love to be able to crash in a Wal Mart lot when needed?
I give you: THE SLEEPARU. I bought my Subaru Impreza in 2012 for about $23k. I paid it all off this year and decided to go big into figuring out how to make it the perfect combination of an RV and a zippy commuter car. I spent a lot of time planning where everything should live to maximize comfort, space, and efficiency. I've been rocking this a few months now, and I've got my system dialed. Yes my car is dirty, and I decided to take pics with the car mostly unloaded so you can see the goods. I'll add geared up photos later.
Curtains: I tried a lot of different things, with the initial goal to have nothing permanently attached so I could still sell my car at some point. I started with magnets embedded in fabric that would stick to the door frame - that worked until I sneezed and the whole thing would fall off. Velcro would peel off everything but the glass in my rear window. So, I said screw it and screwed in - I own the damn car and a few holes in the carpet won't make or break the sale of a beater Impreza. I ended up with these from Camping World and they're great! I bought clearance blackout curtains from Target, cut to size and installed.
For the rest of the curtains I hung a rod between the oh-shit handles behind the front seats, and the rear window is a Velcro panel. All along I have some Velcro and tie points to really secure the fabric down and in place. The set up might not be Wal Mart parking lot perv proof, but it's totally great for camping at any crag. When not in use, all tie out of the way so you can still drive around with no blocked lines of sight. Finally, I got a front window sun blocker to add another layer of dark. Result? I totally comfy cocoon that I can sleep in, roll windows down for a breeze, and get changed without worrying about giving the world a free show.
Sleeping Platform: With my front seat slid all the way forward, I had plenty of room to stretch out. But, the surface of the flat seats was uneven, and I was forever stuffing packs in the footwell to sleep on, then would inevitably need something out of the bottom pack. So, I wanted a platform, but it also needed to be modular so I could slide the front seat back when not sleeping. I also couldn't have the platform be super tall - no storage underneath- the Impreza does NOT have a lot of headroom to spare!
That said, since it would have to be raised to some degree to accommodate the slope and level, I decided to pop a retractable table underneath. It simply pulls out and has a single fold down leg, and hooks on the inside of the trunk on the other side. With one sheet of 8x4 3/4" birch, I was able to build platform, table, and a windscreen for my stove. I did carpet the top of the platform so my sleeping pad wouldn't slide around.
The platform does attach to a ring in the frame of the car so if I were to get in an accident, I wouldn't have a plywood projectile. I did poly the wood, and I'll probably add a few coats each season just to keep up with scratches. the best part about the platform is I can remove it, by myself, and it stores in the garage very small.
Power & Lights: I'll admit, I'm a Glamper. I like to read my books by a decent light, have my white noise app going all night, and keep my phone charged. I decided to splurge on a system from Goal Zero, combining a Yeti Power Station with a series of chainable and adjustable lanterns. The power station can run the lanterns, charge every phone in the group, and still be going strong after 5 days. No more dead car batteries for me! The station stays fixed, and the lanterns move around as I need them - on the back hatch when cooking or hanging out, and over my pillow for reading and snoozing.
Now, I do need clearance sometimes, or am going on a longer or more gear intensive trip. For that, I have a built out 2009 Tacoma - and I'll do a post on that one in the future!