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chill out and de-stress by car camping comfortably


  • if you are car camping and not hiking then you can create a “glamping” super comfortable experience where you can really feel connected to nature, de-stress, become mindless or mindful depending on your mood, but this does require some gear if the night time air temperature drops below 18-21degC
  • this should be all about you and your mindfulness of being in the present connected with nature, feeling the gentle breeze caress your skin, listening to the birds, smelling the country or coastal sea air and forgetting about the world you normally live without having to worry about other people around you
  • yes you can do this in a swag or a 2P tent but these do not give you the flexibility or amenity that a 4P tent will provide as this is all about versatility and controlling the following 7 important factors to allow you to comfortably chill out in nature:
    • privacy - as a minimum you do need to ensure you are not causing offence to those walking past when the light levels rise at dawn or car headlights shine in!
    • visibility of your surroundings - this is critical for connection with nature but also for security - you ideally need to be aware of what is out there without having to unzip the tent
    • temperature control, in particular, wind chill protection and added warmth as needed - shivering is NOT enjoyable!
    • insect protection
    • rain and storm protection
    • sun and hot day protection - if you like to take midday naps or sleep in
    • sleep comfort - ideally you should sleep as you do at home - wide mattress, quilt (not a sleeping bag which will cause overheating and restrict leg movements), and if naked is your thing then sleep naked

Why consider a 2P tent inside a 4P tent?

  • the 4P tent provides extended amenities
    • more space, ability to stand up to get changed
    • protection from bad weather and the hot sun
  • the 2P tent primarily provides:
    • extended mosquito protection
      • much easier to find and kill a mosquito in the confines of a 2P tent
      • this allows you to keep the doors of the 4P tent open so you are not constantly zipping and unzipping the door
    • extended crawling insect protection
      • you can keep the 2P tent doors closed all day while still having the 4P tent doors open
    • very versatile temperature control options
      • you can't heat up a 4P tent very easily but you CAN heat up a 2P tent very easily if you have a battery and electric heater such as a blanket
      • you can add a clear PVC over the 2P tent to keep warmth in or just add wind chill protection whilst still being able to look out
      • you can add a mozzie net over the 2P tent so you can avoid zipping/unzipping the 2P tent
  • HOWEVER, a freestanding 2P tent without a fly only just fits inside this 4P tent
    • this means to get to the other side of the 4P tent you have to either:
      • crawl through the 2P tent doors, or,
      • walk around outside the 4P tent, or,
      • try to climb over the end of the 2P tent - not so easy.

A great hybrid 4P tent set up to consider for the solo camper

  • this setup will allow reasonable comfort in most weather conditions down to around 5degC while giving options for warm nights
  • 1st the 4P tent
    • my current preference is from the budget end of the range - an Oztrail 4P Fast Frame Blockout tent ( as this provides:
      • in fine weather with only mild winds, the option of just using the tent without a fly which gives:
        • super fast set up and take down of only 2 minutes with only 4 pegs needed
        • tall enough that you can comfortably stand up in and get changed far more comfortably than with a swag or dome tent
        • good view of the night sky through the ceiling meshes
        • 2 large entry doors (most other brands only have one door which severely reduces flexibility) each almost fully meshed for visibility but with option of zipping up the fabric inner to provide maximal privacy and wind protection as needed
        • 2 very large side windows, again with the option of zipping up the fabric inner to provide maximal privacy and wind protection as needed
        • if you are lying on a mattress on the floor in the middle of the tent, someone would need to be within 1-2m to see you inside the tent even with all the inner fabric fully unzipped! and this should not be an issue as long as others obey campground rules of not trespassing onto your site, of course, you can adjust the extent of coverage of the inner fabric so that even if standing within 1m they can't see you sleeping on the floor
          • it does also mean that you do have a restricted ground level view (there is a floor mesh window which can have the fabric cover unzipped which can give you a small ground level portal, and if you unzip the doors you can get much better visibility but you lose insect protection)
        • tip: if rain or dew is likely but only mild-moderate winds, then you can clamp (4 clamps needed) a 2.4x3m or 3x3m tarp to the ceiling which is much faster and easier than attaching the fly
      • when winds are forecast, or you want the extra amenity of an awning, vestibule and sun blockout, you add the fly
        • adding the fly does take a bit of time to do and to remove but it does add some valuable features:
          • rain protection
          • strong wind protection for the tent - however, you should consider buying better guy ropes and stronger pegs especially if pegging into sand, sand pegs would be better
          • sun blockout:
            • you can sleep during the midday sun in relative comfort and darkness
            • you won't get woken up too early by sunrise
            • you won't be woken by car headlights
            • it prevents other campers shining a light on your tent to create light inside your tent as they can do with thin nylon dome tents
          • an awning for some added sun/rain protection at the “rear” door
          • a nice shady, well protected vestibule at the front door - great amenity if you get rained in and need some space for a chair and table - you would need to use a tarp set up if you only had a swag or dome tent
          • an extra layer of side windows:
            • makes vision through the two layers of mesh into the darkish tent quite difficult adding to your privacy while also acting to reduce wind chill
            • these have exterior material flaps which can be zipped up for inclement weather or guyed out for ventilation even in the rain
    • issues with this tent
      • would be nice if the inner fabric of the doors could be zipped all the way to the bottom to give more visibility without having to unzip the door fully
      • the toggles tend to pull out so be gentle with them
      • as with all tent, be gentle with the zips and don't force them
      • the supplied poles for the awning are not adjustable height which results in rain water collecting on the awning instead of being able to run off - if heavy rain is forecast, you can sleep better if you replace one of these with a normal adjustable tent pole and lower it down to allow water run off (be aware the eyelet of the awning is too small so you need to attach to the peg ropes)
      • you will need to dry out the floor when you get home as you can't just flip it upside down as you would a dome tent
    • other 4P or 6P tent options
  • 2nd, optionally add a 2P tent to put inside the 4P tent
    • if temperatures will be above 8-10degC, placing a 2P mozzie tent provides an extra layer of mozzie and insect protection and is important in summer if you want to sleep with the 4P tent doors open
      • tip: my fav 2P mozzie tent is made by Oztrail ( but do yourself a favor and buy aluminium poles 4m x 8.5mm to replace the fibreglass ones which are heavier, break easily if bent too much and don't run through the fabric tunnel as nicely
      • tip: adding a double mozzie net hung from the 4P ceiling can be draped over the mozzie tent if you wish to leave the mozzie tent doors open as well but this may not stop crawling insects.
      • tip: on nights when there is wind chill or temperatures drop below 13degC, and you wish to maintain visibility, drape a clear PVC sheet over the mozzie tent
    • if temperatures will be below 8-10degC, consider using a full fabric freestanding 2P tent with large meshable doors (but without a fly) (see comparison of full fabric 2P and 3P tents for colder nights) instead of the mozzie tent, and again one can use a clear PVC draped over it to reduce wind chill but maintain visibility
  • 3rd if temperatures drop below 18-21degC, either get under a quilt or add an electric blanket and 100Ah 12V LiFePo4 battery!
    • your exposed skin can tolerate air temperatures comfortably at 10-21degC if most of your skin is kept relatively warm under you (at temperatures below 18degC you will need to roll over to ensure one side does not get too cold)
    • if temperatures will drop below 8-10degC, then by using a fabric 2P tent or a PVC covered mesh tent, the combination of the electric blanket and your naked body heat can raise the air temperature inside your 2P tent to around 14-16degC which is comfortable when lying on an electric blanket
    • even a 5V USB blanket which is about 20-36“ long and wide (too large and the 8W heat will not be warm enough as it is too spread out) will work reasonably well and not consume much electricity at only 8W
    • for additional versatility and comfort though, use or add a 12V electric blanket but these can use 20-75W depending on the blanket and power level which may result in you needing around 25-50Ah of 12V electricity per night!
    • tip: if temperatures will be below 8degC when you go to bed, a 12V car demister heater used for 15 minutes will warm up the enclosed 2P tent nicely and fast!
  • you do need the usuals and a few extras
    • comfortable, wide, thermally insulated mattress
    • quilt for when it gets cold - a summer quilt will be fine down to 13degC, an opened out 0degC sleeping bag can be used for temperatures down to zero when used with the electric blanket solutions
    • something to cover your head and perhaps feet (eg. thick woolen socks) if temperatures drop below 13degC
    • eye masks and ear plugs or noise cancelling headphones to help you sleep - even if no people are around, the wind causing tent flapping noise or the birds can be too noisy for sleep
    • optional: dust or N95 mask if it is going to be windy and dusty
    • guy ropes and pegs (plus heavy duty angle iron sand pegs if going to coastal sites with strong winds forecast)
    • take a dozen or so clamps to allow you to clamp back the doors or the fabric inners etc to give visibility and to stop them flapping around
    • add some small carabiners to the guy outs to make it quicker to add your own guy ropes
    • take a spare 2.4x3m or 3x3m tarp and 1-2 tent poles to add extra wind protection options as below
    • optional: clear PVC sheet (queen mattress protector works well) to drape over inner 2P tent for further wind chill protection (may need to use 6 or so clamps to hold it in position for maximum protection)

summary chart

ambient temperature set up
> 22 degC 4P tent +/- 2P mozzie tent inside or a mozzie net (or you can do the 2P mozzie tent by itself)
18-21 degC as above but will need summer quilt
14-18 degC as above but will need summer quilt or electric blanket or perhaps PVC sheet to reduce any wind chill
8-14 deg C need thicker quilt or electric blanket or perhaps PVC sheet to reduce any wind chill
0-8degC need full fabric 2P tent inside the 4P tent with quilt and electric blanket and perhaps PVC sheet to reduce any wind chill

considerations for setting up the above on the site

  • preferably DON'T go if very strong winds are forecast - its not easy to be comfortable and chilling out in these situations!
  • choose a site that is:
    • protected from strong winds
    • unlikely to flood
    • allows you to configure your doors and windows for both privacy, wind chill and visibility
      • this can take some time to consider all the factors!
  • the above 4P tent is not the most aerodynamic tent but if strengthened by using good guy ropes and solid tent pegs that won't fail during strong winds, it can be set up very successfully “side on” to the wind so that the doors are at 90 deg to the wind direction which should reduce but not eliminate wind chill through the doors, note though that most tents survive strong winds best if the fly is fully zipped up and the narrowest end faces the wind and this end in particular is well guyed out.
  • this 4P tent has two RED tags which indicate the REAR door when setting up (also red tags on the fly to match)
  • the vestibule or rear door can be given extra wind protection by setting up a side tarp:
    • a 2.4x3m tarp can be used with one corner attached to the tent guy out point using a carabiner or similar and the other attached to an adjustable tent pole you buy separately, then guy out the tent pole and then peg out the bottom of the tarp.
  • if it is windy and sandy, use a tarp as ground cover at the door entrance or use the square rubber mats you can buy at camping shops to reduce dust production, and you may want to consider an N95 or dust mask as inhaling air filled with dust all night is not pleasant

why open the doors?

  • there are a number of good reasons:
    • to see the beauty of the night sky in all its glory
      • sure, there is a lot of mesh to look through with this 4P tent but the mesh does block out around half the light which severely impacts the ability to see fainter stars
    • to gain better outside visibility when you are lying on the mattress
      • the doors have fixed fabric for the bottom 1-2 feet which really blocks out your ground level views
    • to allow you to rapidly eject a crawling insect from your tent
      • although of course having the door open does let more in
    • to alow rapid egress from the tent in case of disaster such as the electric blanket catching fire or a tree falling on part of it
  • risk mitigation with open door:
    • mozzie net or tent for the flying insects
    • consider a white sheet for your mattress so you can better see and crawling insects before you lie down
    • ground tarp outside door with 8” raised part at door entrance to discourage wombats entering (ensure there is no open food in tent)
    • ensure there is rain protection if it is the rear door
australia/sleeping_naked_carcampsetups.txt · Last modified: 2023/04/29 14:35 by gary1

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