A Blog by Valerie Buccio
All you really need is good clearance and knowing how to play Tetris when it comes to loading up the car. I'm over Tetris though and decided to add extra storage to my car to make it much easier to get out in nature for a long weekend (more on this later). My girlfriend, Aly, and I plus our dog Oliver have a Hyundai Santa Fe that has taken us to such amazing heights and views; yes you read that correctly, a Santa Fe. In case you wanted to know, her name is Roxy.
One of the shocking, yet totally doable, roads we took was in Crested Butte heading to Rustler's Gulch for hiking (which you might think isn’t so bad of a drive until you take the long "scenic" route in the dark). And when I say “bad,” I really mean a rough road that would be best with 4x4, but Roxy did more than fine. We found a nice little spot off the road late at night to camp in our car so that we would be close to the trailhead for our hike in the morning. We woke up to flowers and great views that were masked with stars the night prior. And let me tell you, the stars were absolutely stunning. Looking up at the sky made it worth driving up in the dark and moving all of our gear to the front seats.
Camping in your car definitely has its challenges if not set up properly. Typically, we set up our bed as part of our packing routine. This includes a mattress topper, blankets on blankets on blankets and pillows. Also want to add the Santa Fe does not have seats that lay flat...and parking on a slant doesn't help either. And then our gear and luggage goes on top of that, such as cooler, bins, totes, clothes, etc. This means when it comes time to sleep, we have to move everything to the front seats before we can crawl in and get cozy. Especially fun when there is mud and you’re in the dark ;)
So, we got creative for our future trips. We built a platform for the back that we can sleep on and have storage underneath! All it took was $100 at Home Depot and a Sunday afternoon. The only tools necessary are a saw and a drill. We planned how we wanted it to function and look, but along the way we had to make some changes. Live and learn! The final product consisted of two pieces that slide onto each other for easy storage in and out of the car. Easy enough to stack them and fold up the seats while on a trip. On both sides of the platform there is more storage underneath a flap that folds flat when open. We also added cargo nets (attached to the "oh shit" handles) to hold loose items or a hoola hoop (since everyone hoola hoops of course!). The last touch was string lights circling the ceiling that will plug into a solar battery/charger. The storage area has two bins with wheels to conveniently pull in and out for packing and while on a trip. Next enhancement will be roof rails and a top box for even more space. There are so many creative ways to take your current car and turn it into an adventure vehicle that suits you.
Back to our CB trip, that morning we set off for more off-roading as we made our way to the trailhead. This time, we could actually see what we were driving on, and let's just say I was very impressed with how Roxy did. We drove past a beautiful lake (in hindsight, we should have stopped but we were focused on getting a spot at the trailhead). Funny enough this lake happened to be Emerald Lake, which has been on our list, but it wasn’t until we were long past it that we realized just which lake it was. We will definitely be going back and know our car can get us there no problem! And we will have a much easier time prepping the car for camping!