Never Have I Ever… Camped in My SUV


My husband and I recently bought an SUV. Our love of the outdoors combined with an upcoming camping trip led us to the impulsive decision to test out SUV camping. It wasn’t a hard decision to make since not only is it a far safer choice than sleeping in a thin fabric tent, it also seemed like a more comfortable option. All that to say, I wouldn’t recommend making this decision on a whim, as you’ll need a little bit of preparation for a successful trip. Don’t worry, we made the mistakes so you don’t have to! 

How I prepared

I took to Pinterest when deciding on things like the setup and what supplies we’d bring. All of the SUV camping photos I found had fluffy pillows, comforters, and string lights; they all looked so cozy! Of course, a cozy Pinterest setup isn’t necessary (though it might enhance the experience if you have the supplies) so I used what I had and brought a thin quilt and some mismatched pillows. We took a trip to the store for other supplies, but left with only a battery powered fan. I was concerned about a few things like bugs, temperature and the fact that the back seats of our SUV didn’t fold down flat; they were slanted. My husband was confident this wouldn’t be an issue so I let it be, but I would later regret choosing to ignore my concerns.

What Happened when we got there

As the night went on, we realized we were underprepared for most of the problems we faced. 

The most obvious being our slanted car seats. Our mattress was constantly sliding down the seats uncomfortably, making me wake me up to fix it throughout the night. Not to mention, the heat ended up being a much bigger problem than we anticipated. Our battery powered fan was helpful in cooling down the car, but it was lacking strength to really eliminate the heat. We realized the best solution to the heat problem would have been opening the windows, but we decided against it since we didn’t want bugs getting in. 

Things I would do differently

Even though it was far from a good night’s sleep, I’ll be far more prepared for our future SUV camping trips thanks to that night. If you’ve been considering SUV camping as well, you should be able to avoid all of our problems with these few tips. First, I know we’ll be building a platform for our mattress to lay on the next time we camp. A lot of SUVs have similar seats, so I recommend testing out your setup before getting to the campsite. Invest in anything you need for the most comfortable setup possible. Sleeping in your car in general can be uncomfortable, so you won’t regret putting a little time and effort in to minimize this. 

I also recommend buying mesh window covers to open the windows without bugs getting in, battery string lights to hang for extra light and possibly even some window covers in case you need to change in a busier area. While you’ll still have to sacrifice a few luxuries such as fresh sheets, air conditioning and electricity to spend the night in your SUV, it’s a small price to pay for the chance to sleep almost anywhere you could imagine.