April 16, 2021 4 min read

Your name: Q

Location:Santa Monica, CA

Rig nickname: Ruby (in the dust)  AKA the Brick

Vehicle Make and Model: Volvo Station Wagon

Year: 1984

HEST Products: Sleep System & Pillow

Bed Platform Dims: Length 74" x 41" between wheel wells

 

Is your station wagon your daily driver or getaway car?

BOTH! The beauty of a station wagon is that it’s low profile enough to use for city driving (& parking), but spacious enough to put the seats down and transform into a cozy sleep zone for my adventures.

What do you like most about camping in your station wagon?

As a solo female traveler, I find I sleep SO MUCH better in a car that locks than in a tent. I used to tent camp alone (when I had a sedan) and found I would wake up regularly throughout the night. Any noises outside the tent have an amazing way of triggering a fearful thought spiral, and lying in a tent protected only by thin nylon & a zipper really makes you feel like a sitting duck for all kinds of predators (animal & human). 

When I decided to get a car again I wanted one I could crash in the back of and sleep the whole night through. It’s been a game changer especially when paired with the  Sleep System

Also I LOVE that my car is really frickin’ old!!!! I am a thrift hound. 98% of everything I own (from cookware, to clothing, to furniture) is second hand and I will always repair, reuse & recycle before I EVER consider replacing with something new. There are a couple exceptions of course… I will buy new if I’ve tried extensively and still can’t find what I need used & I know the product is extremely well made and will last the rest of my lifetime. The Sleep System & Pillow are one of my exceptions. Made with really high quality foam (it’s so comfortable) and durable materials, I know they both will last forever & with the amount of nights per year I spend sleeping in my car, the investment has already proved to be worth it.

On your average weekend adventure, what is the gear set up you bring with you?  How did you navigate camping gear storage in your station wagon?

I have a roof box (which had been a game changer in terms of storage), but still I try to pack as light as possible.

With the Sleep System fully rolled out, there’s still enough room to keep some valuables/items I use regularly in the main cabin with me, but I try to put everything else up in the box! Since the head clearance is limited, I use the foam top only & stash the dropstitch base & pump in the roof box. I like to keep the dropstitch with me since it makes a great table/clean cooking surface/seating (since I don’t currently have a camping chair or table). Also great to have for floating & river swims :)

Here's what I brought with me on a two month road trip down the West Coast:

 

  • Sleep System & HEST Pillow 
  • Summer sleeping bag & fuzzy fleece blanket
  • 1 medium sized plastic bin for dry goods
    • 2 boxes of Annie's Mac & Cheese
    • 2 packets of Top Ramen
    • Rice
    • Crackers
    • Instant Oatmeal
    • Jar of Firefly Kitchen Seasoning Salt
    • Home made almond, craisin, walnut, cinnamon, & brown sugar mix I add into my oatmeal 
  • 1 small plastic bin that fits everything kitchen
    • Small one burner camp stove
    • Fuel canister
    • Small cutting board
    • 2 Plates
    • 1 Pot
    • Cast Iron pan
    • Knife
    • Silverware
    • Napkins
  • 1 small plastic bin for camping supplies
    • First Aid Kit
    • Headlamp
    • Bug Spray
    • Para cord
    • Multi-tool
    • Sunscreen
  • Small cooler
  • 1 laundry basket of clothing
  • Saris Bones EX-D Bike rack 
  • My trusty 80's mixte road bike (can you tell I love old stuff?)
  • Bike pump 
  • U-lock 
  • Firewood!

Any cool custom details of your station wagon camper you're most proud of?

I sewed curtains for the whole back of the car & to hang over the front seats to create a bit of privacy when it’s time for bed. They make such a difference in creating a cozy, safe place to read and sleep. 

Sewing the curtains was pretty easy. I found a big flat sheet at Goodwill that was a cute fabric. Once I washed & ironed it, I just measured each window and cut the fabric to size (dimension + 1.5") & sewed a small channel on top and bottom of each curtain. I rigged them up using para cord and self tapping screws that I drilled directly into the metal. I also have some really strong magnets I use to secure the curtains in place when it's bed time!

I have the whole sleeping situation DIALED. I ditched the messenger bag and mesh harness that comes with the Sleep System at home & opted for a bungie cord to secure the foam roll. When it’s time for bed, I string the bungie between the two handles above the back doors and hang my rechargeable solar light from it. I usually sleep with my head towards the front, so I can prop up the Pillow on the back of the front seats for reading & easy access in case I have to pee in the middle of the night.

Where is the coolest place you've camped in your station wagon?

Gotta go with Death Valley in Cali on this one!  What an insane place.  I cannot recommend more highly.  The stars at night are truly incredible. I went in January and it was the perfect temperature during the day. I've heard it gets intolerably hot during the summer months though.

Any projects in the pipeline to make your station wagon even better for camping?

I just got the wagon last summer (2020) and wanted to get a decent amount of nights in it before I started building/modifying anything BUT now what I know what the space limitation are & the functionality of how it all fits together: I want to build a table/chest type unit that can be easily removed and holds all the small stuff I currently keep in plastics bins. 

Advice for other people interested in sleeping in their station wagon?

Hmm I would say get a roofbox so you can make more room in the back of the car for sprawling out! Also pack light & smart. Other than that it's a perfect place to snooze in, whether for napping or overnight!


join us