June 12, 2024 5 min read

Introducing HEST Quest! This year, we want to take a deeper dive into what is the ideal set up for sleeping outdoors. Is it a van? A rooftop tent? The back of your truck? A truckbed camper? A tow behind trailer camper? A ground tent?

With so many options out there, HEST has set out to answer the big question: What is the BEST car camping set up? 

Whether you are new to camping or a veteran overlander; everyone wants to know what is the BEST setup. What’s the most efficient, cost effective, easy, comfortable set up for sleeping outdoors?  HEST Quest will explore all the different setups; sharing the benefits and setbacks of each, plus “how to” tips when it comes to building or shopping for your next mobile basecamp.

HESTQUEST: Toyota sienna

What Type of Setup is do you have?

2013 Toyota Sienna mini-van

How Many Does it Comfortably Sleep?

Two with a HEST Dually.

Is it Family Friendly?

Yes for driving, but not totally for camping unless you like to snuggle.

Tell me more about the 4wd/ Off Road Capability of your set up?

It is pretty capable, has a 3-inch lift and able to get up and down most dirt roads, but no 4WD. 

What’s the kitchen/cooking set up like? Is it inside or outside?

We've got an outside set up. We use a drybox which is our kitchen box, table, stove, fire pan, trash bin, chairs, cooler, groover, etc.

How easy is it to set up, move around, leave the vehicle/go to town?

It's a very easy set up. HEST is the mattress that fills 80% of the back of the van and then we can fit a cooler and other gear inside when sleeping. We leave camp chairs if we move around or go to town.

Benefits/Pros: What you LOVE about this set up?

COMFORT. The minivan is cozy and warmer than a tent—it’s a dark spacious cave of luxury.  We are budget people and this is what we can afford. It is also incognito, so if we had to camp somewhere stealth we 100% can.  All we have to do is throw in the mattress and GO!

Challenges/Cons: What has been a hurdle/setback of the set up? 

Welp, it sure would be nice to cook inside for colder days, but that requires a totally different rig which is expensive and may be in the future. For now, this fits our needs.


What are the budget considerations for investing in your set up?

The rig itself is the biggest budget hurdle, and a Sienna is a great, sneaky way to cut on the huge cost of a camper van or slide-in, pop-up truck camper.   We do camp a lot, but when budgeting we are not high rollers by any means—it is camping, not a house.  I’m sure our rig will change as we age and want more amenities, so then we will have to fork over the funds. 

What’s the swag level of your set up? While function is definitely the most important consideration when looking for a rig, we can’t deny that some set ups just LOOK GOOD! How does this set up rank in terms of coolness?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder; I think our rig is SICK, while others may disagree, as minivans have a soccer mom stigma.  I personally do not care what it looks like, it’s a lot more fun to laugh at the ridiculous overlander rigs (that are spotless like they have never left pavement and parked at a hotel) while we USE ours and love it! 


Which HEST mattress works best in this setup?

The HEST Dually Wide.

What are some tips or hacks that your experience using the set up has taught you?

Keep it simple.  The van is super easy to just throw in whatever we need and go. It is bigger than the back of our truck which is a 6-foot bed, the Sienna offers 4 more feet of space to move around in COMFORTABLY and pack even more junk that we sometimes don’t even need. 

What are some upgrades you’ve made or want to make? Are there some key upgrades that you recommend to make your setup even better?

I plan to install a floor eventually to level out the back and create easy access storage where the back row seats indent into the floor.  Also, I'm planning to purchase an awning for shade. Perhaps I'll get a small solar panel and portable power station for longer trips too. 

If you had a chance to do it over again would you choose the same set up exactly? 

Yes and no. If we had more money of course we would get a real camper van for winter camping and indoor cooking.  I LOVE the Sienna, it is a way better option for regular town and long road trip driving.  It is so comfy. It is super private as well, you cannot see inside at night.  It is extremely versatile (ie: I refinish/recycle furniture as a side hustle and it is large enough to haul and load big pieces of furniture too—not something you can do that with a camper van or slide-in unit).  

Would you recommend your setup to a friend?

Duh, yes.

What were your main considerations in choosing your set up/why did you choose it?

Affordability, versatility, comfort.

How’s the sleep quality you get in your set up? Do you wake up rested? Are there any pain points in the sleep situation in your adventure set up (e.g. pesky light, temperature issues, etc.)?

Zero sleep issues. There are two skylights and vents in the back windows for air circulation, all black out shades and it is a private, perfect sleeping experience every time.  The HEST Dually is a gamechanger (we were paco pad users before HEST).  Where we removed the mid-row seats inside the van there are long, jagged metal sliders that hold them in place. They can be removed, but this would reduce the re-sell value of the van and you could not ever put the seats back in.  With HEST this hurdle is eliminated. The mattress is so perfectly thick that you can not feel the jagged rails through the padding when you sleep. It’s amazing!  

Side note: My 70-year-old dad recently had a knee replacement and when he visits our house he can not get up from the floor with a blow-up mattress.  Like in the van—which is extremely multipurpose—we use the HEST for our guest and convert our gear room into a guest room. Check it out! 

Follow along @hestoutdoors as we meet the people behind these different setups and build outs.