Thoughts on SUV RVing News from Around the Web

There are a few SUV RVing-related news items that I’ve come across recently that I wanted to give my thoughts on:

1. A new hardshell rooftop tent on the market

I’m a big fan of hardshell rooftop tents (RTTs). They seem to be faster and easier to set up than the soft-sided ones, plus they’re more aerodynamic and therefore less likely to negatively impact your gas mileage. As reported over at GearJunkie, South African rooftop tent company Eezi-Awn has come out with its first hard-shell RTT, the Stealth:

Eezi-Awn Stealth roof-top tent [Photo from Equipt]
Eezi-Awn Stealth roof-top tent [Photo from Equipt]
Pretty, isn’t it?

Equipt is the sole US retailer of the tent. Retailing for $3,900, it is definitely extremely pricey, as most hardshell tents are, but it sure looks awesome. One other hardshell RTT that has come across my radar recently is the Roofnest Sparrow, which checks in at a more reasonable (but still spendy) $2,095.

2. New Toyota concept car is the ultimate SUV RVing vehicle

Toyota just released info on its latest concept car. It’s an SUV called the FT-4X, and Outside magazine called it “an REI store on wheels” and went on to explain:

“The door handles? They’re removable water bottles. The radio? It’s removable, too, and includes a battery so it can stream Spotify in camp. The center armrest is a North Face sleeping bag, the rearview-mirror-mounted camera is a removable GoPro Hero Session, and the dome light is a removable LED flashlight and lantern.”

The rear seats fold down perfectly flat, and the vehicle’s boxy interior looks very roomy and reminiscent of a Honda Element.

The SUV has a lot of other interesting little features, and you can read about them all over at Outside. Here’s a picture gallery (all photos from Toyota):

3. The Camperbox car bed

I’m not so sure about this one. It’s a current Kickstarter project and is basically a pre-made bed that you can insert into the back of your SUV, car, van, etc.:

The Camperbox
The Camperbox

First off, it’s relatively expensive at $157. Second, the vehicle in the GIF above shows a rear cargo area that’s already flat. You could just roll out your sleeping pad or mattress on the floor itself. I guess the real benefit of something like this would be that it gives you space for your gear to go underneath, but you could easily make something like this out of plywood and 2×4 lumber for $20. Third, if your vehicle does not have a sleeping surface that is already flat enough for something like this to work, then you’d have to prop it up by sticking pieces of wood or something underneath the ends. I dunno, I suppose this could be useful for some people in some situations, but I don’t think it’s the best solution. You’re better off building something that is customizes for your specific vehicle.


What are your thoughts on these three little news tidbits?

Two-Person Mattresses for SUV Camping

I always travel solo on my SUV RVing adventures, and I use the REI Camp Bed 3.5 Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad as a mattress. Because I only camp alone, the need for a 2-person mattress to fit into the back of my SUV never came up, but I was recently reminded of them when reading an article on Adventure Journal that introduced me to the Klymit Insulated Double V Sleeping Pad, which retails for $160ish:

Klymit Insulated Double V
Klymit Insulated Double V

It’s 47 inches wide. The narrowest portion of the rear area of my SUV (the spot between the two wheel wells) is 44 inches, but I think the mattress would fit just fine with a little bit of bunching on the sides. Because I have what is probably one of the smallest SUVs out there (a RAV4), my guess is that this and other two-person mattresses would fit in most larger SUVs.

I was vaguely aware that 2-person sleeping pads or camp mattresses existed, but I decided to dive deeper into the realm and see what other offerings I could find on the market for those of you who do travel with a significant other. These pads/mattresses are listed from narrowest to widest.

And then there’s the Wolfwill SUV Air Bed, which can adjust to fit a variety of sizes.

Of course the other option here is to simply get two single camping mattresses and put them next to each other.

One other thing to keep in mind when buying any camping mattress or sleeping pad is the amount of insulation it will provide. A mattress that’s full of air and nothing else will not insulate as well as a foam mattress, for example. Some pads are hybrids that inflate but also have layers of closed cell foam in them. How well a pad can insulate is conveyed in its R-value, which is stated on the pages above for many of the mattresses. If you camp a lot in cooler temperatures, the R-value is definitely something to look at.

Note: Some of these links are Amazon affiliate links.

Gas-Powered “Solar Generators,” Battery Banks, and More

I just saw via Gear Junkie that Goal Zero, the company that makes “solar generators” (i.e., portable battery banks) and solar panels is making a gas generator. The thing is, it’s not a traditional gas generator. You don’t plug things into it directly but plug your Goal Zero battery bank into it. The generator then charges the battery bank, and you run all of your electronics from the battery bank. According to the Gear Junkie article (go there for pics and more info), this setup is 20 (!) times more fuel efficient than a traditional generator.

The knock against Goal Zero stuff is always that it’s expensive compared to what you could make yourself, but for those of us who don’t have much interest in cobbling together our own battery banks and charging setups, I think they remain a good solution.

While we’re on the subject, I’ve been eyeing this enormous battery bank by Anker. I’ve used Anker battery pack products in the past and had good experiences with them. This particular battery bank can charge a laptop 15 times, and that’s exactly what I’d use it for. It’s also much smaller and lighter than the Goal Zero equivalents.

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In other news, my trip down to the desert has been delayed by a couple of days because of the weather. It’s snowing outside right now as I type this (we’re getting an uncommonly high amount of snow this year in northern Utah), and I want to wait for the snow to stop and the roads to clear a bit before I make a run for it. And if you’re not already doing so, consider following my new @SUVRVing account in Instagram.

A Video Review of the Lantern I Use in My SUV

This is a basically a video version of this review about the lantern I use in my SUV when I’m sleeping in it. I use it instead of the vehicle’s built-in lights to make sure I never run down the car’s battery. I’ve had the lantern for a year and a half now and think it’s a really great thing to travel with. I never leave home without mine. (Click here if you can’t see the video below.)

This isn’t a sponsored review. No one is paying me to review this, and I bought the lantern with my own money.

Let me know what you think. Thanks!

Using a Laptop vs. Using a Tablet on Trips

In my day-to-day life, I use my laptop pretty much all day, every day for work, entertainment, and communication purposes, but I’ve found that it was less than ideal for using on the road. It’s getting longer in the tooth these days, and its battery isn’t what it used to be. On my extended SUV RVing trips, I had to be very selective about what I chose to do once I powered it on, and I had to start up the SUV whenever I wanted to charge the laptop back up. On top of that, it was too big and bulky to use it to watch a movie before bed. Laptops are machines that excel at being used on a desk or on a comfy couch, not in the confines of an SUV.  Continue reading “Using a Laptop vs. Using a Tablet on Trips”

Seen in the Wild: Spare Tire Bike Rack

I spent a couple of days this week up in the Uinta Mountains of northeastern Utah on a semi-failed SUV RVing adventure (more on that in an upcoming blog post). It’s one of my favorite places in the country, and I had a great time rock climbing and hiking. After pulling into a trailhead parking lot and getting out of my car, I saw that the RAV4 next to mine had a spare tire bike rack on it. Very cool! Continue reading “Seen in the Wild: Spare Tire Bike Rack”

Review: d.light S20 Rechargeable Solar Lantern

For a long time I used a headlamp for nighttime visibility inside my SUV. It worked well enough, and I recommend every SUV RVer or vandweller have one. The problem with headlamps is that they focus an intense amount of light in one just one direction, and I found that when I was inside of my vehicle, I wanted a softer light that brightened up the entire space. I realized that what I really wanted was a lantern. Continue reading “Review: d.light S20 Rechargeable Solar Lantern”