Tips For Camping in a Tesla

How to sleep inside and make it comfortable.

tesla model sits on snow ground in campground near lake

Most people don’t know that Tesla’s Model Y offers a camp mode option in which you can leave the car “on” and regulate the temperature inside until the mode is turned off. This makes a climate controlled sleeping experience, but what does it actually feel like to sleep in a Tesla?

Camping in February

A couple of weekends ago, my partner and I, went camping just outside of the city of Chicago where we live. It was a particularly warm February weekend with highs in the 50s and the night temperature in the 30s. In the Tesla we slept comfortably all through the night in regulated temperature.

We’ve camped before in a rented van in which we placed a memory foam mattress in the back but found that although the extra head room and space were nice the cold mornings and the freezing nose and face were pretty unbearable.

Previously, without an option to keep warm inside made camping regulated only to the warmer months but that meant missing out on some of the best camping and access to nature year round.

Tip #1 Campmode Settings

With the Tesla Model Y’s campmode you can set the temperature to a cozy 70 degrees inside - making it possible to camp pretty much year round.

Through trial and error — we’ve learned that setting the temperature a little lower for sleep tends to provide the right of amount of warmth without overheating the small space.

Setting the internal temperature to 63 degrees verses 68 (when you are camping in the winter) makes the car work a little less hard and your natural body heat does the rest.

Tip #2 The Mattress Matters

The first time we took the car camping we found a blow up mattress made specifically for this model of the Tesla.

The idea was that the blow up mattress would save on space, it’s affordable and with a perfect fit it might actually be comfortable.

The unseen problem with the blow up mattress was that — one, when it’s cold out, it is hard to fumble with the nipples and openings to let air in and out. Two, even with a decent quality air mattress the comfort just wasn’t there. If you slept on your side it made it incredibly uncomfortable. And finally, it was still a pain to set up. Unpacking it and blowing it up with the motor and attachments was fumble-y and took up more time than we wanted during set up and take down of camp.

a vaccum sealed mattress in the back of a tesla model y
Camping in a Tesla with memory foam mattress

The Solution

Several companies make a tri-fold memory foam mattresses for the Tesla Model Y but they tend to run pretty steep on price. We ended up making our own. After purchasing a tri-fold floor foam mattress, making a template of the back of the car with paper, cutting the foam mattress with an electric meat carver and then sewing the covering back over the mattress. Finally, to save space — vacuum sealing the mattress into a bag to flatten it out when not in use.

The foam mattress is incredibly comfortable and opting for regular bedding verses sleeping bags it makes for a perfect nights sleep.

Tip #3 Bring a Fridge

If you’ve got an electric car — why not bring an electric powered fridge?

This idea came up after trying out several premium and affordable coolers. The soggy wet food towards the end of the trip — dealing with draining water and finding ways to make space for ice, frozen water bottles as well as food was a hassle. We never knew if the cooler was cold enough to keep food from spoiling or if it was too cold and would freeze our items.

We started looking into electric fridges for the car. We wanted something that was small in foot print but could hold quite a bit of food as well as a fridge that could be stored in the frunk and the trunk, and one that could be powered solely off of the car if we did some remote camping.

We found one that fit the bill and after using it a few times we know the investment was worth it.

Tip #3 Use The Seat Warmers

If you are camping in the winter — take advantage of the seat warmers before getting into bed. While preparing to get inside for the evening, turn on the seat warmers and place your pajamas on top. When it’s time to get changed it’s absolutely lovely to get into warm pajamas and crawl into the back for bed. Make sure to turn off the warmers before going to sleep in order to preserve battery life.

Tip #4 Bring A USB Powered Sleep Machine

When the car is in campmode it is mostly silent but when the temperatures outside drop low and it is trying to keep the inside warm over night — the car will make various noises that sound like the base you can hear in a neighboring movie theater. It’s deep and a bit grumbling. It’s not really a bother but if you are a sensitive sleeper you may prefer to bring along a portable tiny sound machine to cover the noise. It does the trick and is quite soothing to have on.

Final Thoughts

Sleeping in and camping with a Tesla has been such a joy this last year. It definitely makes camping more enjoyable and opens up other seasons for us to camp in without having to own an RV or trailer.

If you are lucky enough to have access to a Tesla model Y consider taking it out for a camping trip instead of the tent. You might find yourself, like us — preferring it over other traditional sleeping situations.

Filmmaker/Artist Advocate/Blogger at www.emlape.com

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