Monday, September 01, 2014

A camping menace

Went down the internet hole the other day. An Outside Magazine link had me looking at rooftop tents for cars. This just another chapter in my never-ending quest to turn the unfortunate HHR into the ultimate outdoor recreation vessel.

I want very badly to make this happen, but from the beginning it's been a fool's errand. Did you know that unless you already have factory roof racks installed that there are no Yakima or Thule racks that will work on the HHR? Roof rack capacity is 150 pounds. Want to go over a mountain pass in the winter? Well, you better not need chains because the owner's manual forbids this. How about a little trailer to pull behind? Cool, as long as it is less than 1000 pounds.

I was suckered into this car by the good gas mileage and that the seats all fold flat for potential car sleeping. Which I did in Montana two weeks ago. If I was a lot shorter, it would have been pretty comfortable. Still, the HHR with all it's gonna-kill-you-when-the-key-falls-out-at-70-mph consumer safety recalls is one of the nicest cars I've ever owned. Comfortable. Quiet. Reliable. Decent stereo. 30 mpg on the freeway.

So down the rabbit hole I went. Should I put a tent camper upon the Yakima racks which sit upon the factory racks I had installed in my quest? No. Every rooftop camper I found weighs more than the roof capacity allows. In fact, I weigh more than the roof capacity allows.

Further down the rabbit hole. Hey, I wonder if they make a cot that has a tent attached to it? Well, sure they do! Even in a size that both Sarah and I could fit in. You just open up the cot and out pops up the tent over your head. That seems really nifty.

Much of my curiosity and research was driven by my desire to stall over other things I should be doing. It's when I do my best work.

I started thinking about all the tents we have had over the years. All those opulent tents. I needed to set the survivors up. I needed to grasp the scope. Here they are:

The orange blob in the foreground is a pup tent from 1983. It has seen a lot of duty, but one of the tent poles is MIA. Also not set up was my half-ass hammock. From left to right:

The Coleman 9 x 9 ft with two 4.5 vestibules. We could fit all five of us in it back in the day when the kids were kids.

The Kelty. Easiest one to set up. 9 x 9 feet. Four persons. Four very close persons.

Sierra Designs. Two Persons. 5x9ish. The coolest looking of the bunch.

By the time all were set up, I was really sweating and in need of a beer. By the time I took them all down, I wanted not for cartop tents nor tents which rest upon cots which fold.

I think there is some consumer aversion therapy in this exercise. I can honestly say each tent has served, and will continue to serve a select purpose. Two people backpacking. Two adults and two small children backpacking. The entire family car camping. Right now, I am sure I could carve out a niche into which I could cram a tentcot or cottent. But, instead I find my self content while still remaining pro-tent.


rory said...

have you considered the 3 person hammock tent from REI?

EvilElf said...

That looks pretty neat, Rory. My only complaint I have had using a hammock is how cold it gets at night when there is airflow beneath you. I really like the idea of hammock camping!