Tents & SUV's

In the mid-2010's we started thinking about how to make fairly lengthy trips out west for camping and auto-touring. When we bought our home in Florida we had to buy a car as well. We found a 2008 Ford Taurus X SUV with low-mileage and in excellent shape.  It turns out that the Taurus X fits the bill perfectly for this setup.  We had a plan.

We wanted to be able to sleep in the car for comfort reasons as well as added security, (from bears if you must know - I'm paranoid). We removed the 3rd row of seats and Ed designed and built a 20" wide, deployable platform, (which covers over the cargo well space in the back). Once we fold the back seats forward it makes a space upon which we  can set up our 6" deep, full-sized air mattress.  The platform also raises for storage underneath (in the cargo well) and additionally comes out and flips around to be used at a picnic table off the tailgate.  Pretty cool. (I love engineers!)  Add to that the Rhino-Rack carrier up top for the tent, bbq, stove, chairs etc. for storage while we're traveling and we're pretty well set.  I also made magnetic window screens to use on the outside of the Taurus so we could keep the windows rolled down some.

Taurus X with Texsport tent. Forward edge 
is bungeed off to the wheel well.
This is us at Steamboat Springs, Colorado

We have a Texsport tent which is specially made for SUV camping.  It has a fabric tunnel which goes over the tailgate and back half of the car allowing ready access to the sleeping area from within the tent.  This gives us an area where we can stand-up to get dressed, etc. We kept most of our non-food items in the tent to protect them from weather and keep the campsite looking neat.  During the day we would drop the tunnel and bungee it down to the tent stakes at the base of the main tent then drive away for touring, shopping or whatever.  Great setup which worked well for us when we were spending more than one night at a campground.

Yellow piece is the platform in the "picnic table setup" for on the fly food prep.
Zoomed into the pic you'll see the supporting guywires which hold the table up.

The other setup is the Cabana, a small privacy enclosure that goes over the tailgate as well.  We made a stabilizing modification to it by adding a PVC piece at the trailing top edge, and 2 PVC legs for the sides to give it some stiffness and body.  3 pieces of PVC and 2 PVC elbows easily connect together to form a "U"-shaped support for the back of the Cabana. It has loops at the bottom corners for either tent stakes (if the ground is soft) or suitable rocks if set up on pavement. Again the idea is for privacy while getting ready for bed or getting dressed in the mornings or midnight nature calls.  It's a snap to setup - 5 minutes max.

Bungees run from mid-Cabana's leading edge
to the wheel well with rocks on back bottom corners.
This is us making an overnight hit & run in Georgia on our way home.

Here's a shot of us at Lake Tenkiller, Oklahoma with the tent's fly setup over the entrance.  We generally stretch out a tarp underneath the tent to keep the bottom of the tent clean.

Sam Owens campground, Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho

Zion Nat'l Park, Utah. Tent tunnel detatched and ready to drive away.

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