What makes a good camper? Car camping criteria

1. Car boot length – for a comfortable sleep (with your legs stretched out)

Have you ever tried to sleep in a car? It’s not the most comfortable of experiences if you don’t have the right equipment and your car isn’t prepared for it – meaning you sleep in the front or back seat. That’s not what you want to be doing whilst car camping. What we are going to focus on is comfortable sleeping in your car – so that you can travel, explore > rest > continue exploring. And comfortable means the ability to stretch your legs when you lie down in the back, without bumping your head into the front seats. A general rule of thumb – you’ll need about 170cm (5.57ft) boot length with rear seats folded down. I’ll allow some buffer as you can always move the front seats forward and easily gain about 20cm. That should give enough comfortable space for the average man (~175cm / 5.74ft) and woman (~163cm / 5.34ft).

Look, there’s plenty room at the back – and that’s just a tiny sample of all the cars and SUVs available:

Toyota RAV4 image: Reddit

2. Car boot height – the higher, the more headroom you’ll have, the more comfortable it is

No one likes to feel claustrophobic – even if you don’t suffer from claustrophobia, you probably don’t like to have to crawl into your bed or crawl out at night when you need the loo. Bumping your head into the roof (although padded) isn’t your aim in the morning either. The higher the car, the more comfortable your car camping trip will be. Aim for at least 90cm from the boot floor to the roof, the more, the better. You really want to be able to sit inside, on the bed, without having to crouch or bend your head.

This also depends on your camping style of course – if you are into stealth camping, you might want to have a small and inconspicuous car. But if you are after comfort – you want a tall and long car.

3. Good storage options

The more bare the interior of a car, the harder it will be to live inside. If you have plenty of compartments, hooks, holders, lights, 12V sockets – it’s easy to keep your day-to-day things handy. If you only have some small compartments in the front (not in the back, where you’ll spend most of the time car camping), you’ll either have to create your own storage compartments or have to settle with things lying on the bed all the time.

What is car camping all about? What’s a microcamper?

For our purposes, it is literally camping and sleeping in your car. I don’t mean just driving in your car, pulling into a campsite and/or sleeping in a tent. It is taking your car – driving to a nice spot and sleeping in your car on that spot. As simple a definition as it gets :). You might have also heard the phrases “estate car camping”, “suv camping”, “boondocking”, “dry camping” or “wild camping” associated with car camping. They are all a specific version of car camping, each with its own characteristics. A microcamper is either a small car you can camp in or a small trailer, see the difference here. Check out our post about car camping for more details + a database of 30+ cars.

nimblecamper hero 1 1024x576 1 - What makes a good camper? Car camping criteria
Best cars for car camping
Best cars for car camping

Car reviews and other posts looking at which cars are best for car camping / microcamping.

Car camping essentials
Car camping essentials

All the gear to make your trip even more memorable.

DIY Car camping (microcamper) conversions
DIY microcamper conversions

Get inspired by other people’s DIY conversions.

27.5″ E-ST 100 ELECTRIC MOUNTAIN BIKE

4.3/5 stars

ebike £999.99 – BUY NOW
at Decathlon UK
PORTABLE CHEMICAL TOILETS FOR CAMPING – 20L

4.2/5 stars
– Clean water tank up to 50 uses – tank capacity: 16 litres – a seat with antibacterial coating, a lid and a tank that prevents odours and mould

portable toilet £89.99 – BUY NOW
at Decathlon UK
27.5″ MOUNTAIN BIKE ST 540

4.3/5 stars

mountain bike £479.99 – BUY NOW
at Decathlon UK
SUP? Paddle for the entire family (max load 320kg)

Inflatable paddle board for any weight: less than 60 kg: ultra-stable board – 60 to 80 kg : very stable board – over 80 kg: ideal board for easily starting out

stand up paddle sup BUY NOW
at Decathlon UK

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