One year later – it’s still the best car tent. I tested the Arpenaz Base M tailgate tent during our 11-day camping trip in Croatia with 2 days of rain and I’m very happy with it. If you consider its price ~130GBP / EUR, compared to other car tents (awnings) starting at 250 and going to several hundred, it’s a very good option if you want to test whether this kind of camping is for you. Here’s my experience & review.
- Tent type: CAMPING LIVING AREA – single layer
- Size: Square living room with an area of 6.25 sqm (2.5×2.5m floor) and a maximum height of 2.15 m
- Tailgate opening size: height: 1.4m, width bottom: 1,4m, width top: 0.9m (and it gets wider, 20cm lower it’s about 1,1m) + you can stretch it to some extent to fit the boot nicely – see images below
- Waterproof: Tropical rain laboratory test | Under shower: 200 L of water per hour per sqm
- Packed size & weight: 57 x 18 cm | 18 litres | 8 kg
- Openings: 3 (2 doors, 1 window) + each with a mosquito net + a cover (for privacy). Big opening fits a tailgate (1.7m height from the floor, 1.4m height of the opening)
- Assembly: two poles, best assembled by two people
How does the Arpenaz Base M fit the car for camping?
The Arpenaz Base M big opening measurements are:
- height: 140cm
- width bottom: 140cm
- width top: 90cm (and it gets wider, 20cm lower it’s about 110cm)
But you can stretch the materials a bit, so it’ll fit around the boot opening nicely.
It should fit any car / MPV / SUV with its tailgate (where the tent will “hang”) not taller than 180cm. Anything above that and the tent will hang so that the floor adjacent to the car will not touch the ground completely.
The main/big opening cover sheet also makes it possible to fit onto the side door and taller cars. The tailgate won’t be 100% inside but it will cover the entire roof & tailgate. You just need to make sure it’s protected from the sides. See ways to fit it below.
There are three ways how you can fit the tent over your tailgate or side door:
The tailgate “full fit” where the tailgate is inside the tent (image 1) or tailgate outside the tent (image 2) or side/sliding door fit (image 3). I find the first (full fit) best as there are almost no gaps – keeps the water and mozzies out the best.
I tested it on my VW Sharan 2013 and it fits perfectly. There are some gaps that you might want to cover in heavy rain or rain with a side wind or to block every single hole for mozzies to enter. In normal rain, it holds very well – it rained twice for hours and the water didn’t get in through the tent.
🏆Best cars for camping 🏆
- Fiat Doblò camper XL, High Roof 🇪🇺 4.0/5
- Honda Odyssey 🇺🇸 4.0/5
- Volkswagen Sharan 🇪🇺 3.9/5
- Caddy Maxi Camper (Life) 🇪🇺 3.8/5
Where the water does get it is down the sides of the tailgate and then enters the tent by dripping from the rear bumper. It is designed to do this intentionally as car makers don’t expect you to stick the tailgate inside the tent… I wonder whether this would be a problem with a more expensive car tent too?
How to fix that? Easily – just add some kind of thin sheet to lead the dripping water outside of the tent just below the tailgate. I used a small camping mat to do just that:
Confirmed to fit these cars:
(based on this, it will likely fit any MPV tailgate as they tend to be about the same size)
Fellow campers have tested the Arpenaz Base M tent with their campers and shared their photos & experience in various forums. Therefore you can be sure that it will fit these cars. See the gallery at the bottom to see how it fits various of these cars.
- all estates / combis
- Opel Combo
- most SUVs
- based on above, should fit all MPVs too
If you need something bigger, you could give the Arpenaz Base Fresh (10 people) a try. It’s opening is taller and wider so should fit pretty much anything – but you will have to ensure it’s protected against water and mozzies getting in.
(I’ve collected these across various FB car camping groups)
How does the Arpenaz Base M tent work with barn doors?
If you have a Caddy Maxi, it is going to be a tighter fit, but here’s how one Caddy Maxi user describes it:
Caddy Maxi is taller than a Berlingo, so this shouldn’t be such an issue with a Berlingo. Perhaps, reversing fully inside is doable, but closing the barn doors will probably require lifting the tent sheet hanging over the doors first (the one with the zipper).
But once open, it should be fine. Or you could pull the tarp over the barn doors and leave the car further away from the tent so that the tarp + open barn doors will create a corridor between the car and the tent.
And of course, you can always use the 2nd or 3rd way if you won’t like how it fits the barn doors – see both in my video:
Arpenaz Base M tailgate tent & car camping gallery
Founder of NimbleCamper.com, avid traveler and outdoor enthusiast. Car camping and microcamping allows me to keep traveling and exploring with a much greater level of freedom & privacy – to go anywhere and sleep anywhere. I didn’t have 30K to buy a VW Multivan, so found my way to the world of everyday car camping conversions. Here I share my experiences and what I learn.