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Living out of a SUV not a truck
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By mozeman
Feb 20, 2013

Anyone got any links to tips and other advice to living out of a SUV (subaru outback in particular)?

I've heard and seen it all with vans and trucks, but am more interested in blogs or websites about living out of your car!

I like visual so one of my favorites so far, simple and basic: theadventuresofsloth.wordpress.com/dirtbag-tips/the-rig/


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By 20 kN
From Hawaii
Feb 20, 2013

mozeman wrote:
Anyone got any links to tips and other advice to living out of a SUV (subaru outback in particular)? I've heard and seen it all with vans and trucks, but am more interested in blogs or websites about living out of your car! I like visual so one of my favorites so far, simple and basic: theadventuresofsloth.wordpress.com/dirtbag-tips/the-rig/

What do you want to know about it? If you are asking if it is possible, it is. I have spent over a year living out of my VW Jetta sedan, which is far smaller than an Outback. I use a 21 cubic foot storage box on the roof so I can keep the car empty of crap. I will say that it sucks ass, and it really sucks ass if you have two people in there. But considering that I get 40 MPG, the trade-off is that I can afford to go more places than most. Again though, after a few months, it really starts to suck living in there.


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By mozeman
Feb 20, 2013

Just looking for the best advice to make it the most pleasurable it can be, from a living standpoint


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By JCM
From Henderson, NV
Feb 20, 2013

Two important questions here:

Are you talking about living out of the car, wherein you keep all of your stuff in the car and sleep in the tent, or are you talking about living in the car (i.e. sleeping in the back of the subie). The former scenario is simple; the latter scenario takes some more planning to do it well.

Second: how tall are you? Space is tight enough in the Subie that your height is important. I have a great system for sleeping in my Outback, but I am 5'8. If I were any taller, my setup would not be nearly as comfortable for sleeping. If you are 5'4, you can sleep in many cars; if you are 6'4 it will be much harder.

Lastly, please don't call the Outback an SUV; it pains me to hear that.


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By Ryan Hill
From Oakland, CA
Feb 20, 2013

A roof box is great for extended trips and definitely makes it easy to keep the sleeping space free. That being said, a roomy tent and a good air mattress (I worship my Thermarest Dreamtime) give you a lot more space and fresh air. When it is raining or I am too tired to drive it is great to crash in the back seat, but I'd rather live out of a tent than my car any day of the week. Minimize the clothing and gear you bring along, you can't have too many boxes/ammo cans/milk crates/storage bins to organize your stuff, a good way to charge camera/computer/phone in the car is a must (hurrah for the 21st century "dirtbag"!), and a solid kitchen is a must. You'll spend far too much money on takeout and pre-cooked meals if you don't have an efficient and comfortable kitchen. That means a good two-burner stove (cooking on a whisperlite/pocket rocket for weeks at a time sucks), a small table (rig one out of your ammo cans/milk crates), and a comfortable chair (sitting on the ground is a great way to work out your hip flexors, but it also sucks). A decent set of pans and pots will make life easier.

Otherwise, get creative and make it comfortable.


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By Zappatista
Feb 20, 2013
Book me, officer.

It seems like a lot of people who drink the "climber kool-aid" seem to think there is a very narrow range of vehicles that suit the baggin' lifestyle. In reality, you can get by in a lot of different rides, the comfort and cost aren't even necessarily related in many cases.

I used to rock a 90s Dodge Caravan LE, all seats but the front two ripped out. This thing would fit me, another person, bikes, gear, packs, cooler and cooking supplies, and curtained up nicely for low-key parking lot bivies. A ride like that should be well under 2 grand just about anywhere, if you spend another G or so replacing belts, hoses, tires, etc, you have a medium-clearance vehicle with a dependable V6 (mitsubishi made these, apparently it was pretty much their best motor) that requires next to no maintenance and gets good gas mileage compared to 90+% of trucks.

The huge vans that suck gas limit your range and tend to tempt you to bring too much shit. It's a road TRIP, not a Road House (Swayze. Awesome.), so calculate what you really need and what's going to distract you from getting climbing done, I rolled with a pretty girl all over in mine (okay, and occasionally with a couple smelly paddler brothers, but they had good weed and gay jokes, HAAAAAY, y'all) and never felt the need to use the roof rack.

Food for thought.


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By frankstoneline
Feb 21, 2013

Cars dont have as many tricks as things like vans or trucks with campers. A roofbox helps, especially if you have crash pads. Minimize your cooking stuff and keep clothing at a relatively reasonable volume. I found a small crash pad that helps to even the offset when i lay the seats down and keep a closed cell foam pad to sleep on in there. When I'm alone I find that by laying down only one side of the back seat I maximize storage space and just sleep with my legs in the trunk. It doesnt look very big but its plenty comfy.


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By MJMobes
From The land of steady habits
Feb 21, 2013
modern man

JCM wrote:
please don't call the Outback an SUV; it pains me to hear that.


if it looks like one, smells like one and gets the same mileage as one well.......

does "station wagon" sound better?


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By Peter Stokes
From Them Thar Hills
Feb 21, 2013
Wall Street, Moab, UT

Killing In The Name Of wrote:
I used to rock a 90s Dodge Caravan LE, all seats but the front two ripped out.... A ride like that should be well under 2 grand just about anywhere, if you spend another G or so replacing belts, hoses, tires, etc, you have a medium-clearance vehicle with a dependable V6 (mitsubishi made these, apparently it was pretty much their best motor)


I still run a '90 Grand Caravan- front wheel drive, plenty of room for my stuff, 24mpg on the highway, and a way better driving position for long trips than any Subaru. While the Mitsubishi engines are OK, it turns out the Chrysler built 3.3 engines have been lasting longer.


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By randy88fj62
Feb 21, 2013
Thunderbolt Peak in the Palisades

expeditionportal.com has a lot of good designs:
-storage
-showers
-kitchens

Mostly for the offroad community but it would be a good resource for anyone on the move.


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By mozeman
Feb 21, 2013

haha mainly sleep in the back of the subie.



on a side note minivans are seemingly the most ideal vehicles for living out of the car...but unfortunately/fortunately I dont drive one


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By frankstoneline
Feb 21, 2013

Maybe build some sort of shelf if you have crashpads, then you dont have to try and stuff them in the front seat or whatever when you sleep, you can just move them onto the shelf and sleep with your feet under them.


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By wankel7
From Indiana
Feb 21, 2013

mozeman wrote:
Anyone got any links to tips and other advice to living out of a SUV (subaru outback in particular)?



An Outback is a STATION WAGON! I swear wagon is a dirty word.

Just sayn' :p


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By mozeman
Feb 21, 2013

wankel7 wrote:
An Outback is a STATION WAGON! I swear wagon is a dirty word. Just sayn' :p



no matter what ya wanna call it, the living situation between a station wagon, small suv, and minivan (to an extent) are all similiar and organization and other helpful tips are all in also in the same group when compared to vans and trucks like so many people talk about on this forum


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By Tank
Feb 21, 2013

My plan is to build one of these for my subi www.mountainproject.com/v/car-camping-bed-/107430770

I already have a modular rubbermaid-tub system for my gear that will fit in the locking (!) compartment under the bed; climbing gear in one box, sleeping bag/pad and pillow in another, cooking equip/camping stuff in another, and finally the food/beer just goes in a small cooler or two behind the front seats. I've never been on the road for more than 2 weeks, and I was living in a tent - not my car - but let me just say that the novelty of a solar shower wears off after about a week.


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By Happiegrrrl
From Gunks
Feb 21, 2013

This year at the Pit in Joshua Tree, there are two guys in cars, smaller than an Outback, and one has been at it for years.

He has removed all but the driver's seat in a Nissan hatchback or something, and placed plywood layer on floor for level. An L-shaped studio, as it were... He even cooks INSIDE.

The trick is...well, I have no idea how he does it. But he seems content.


The other guy is 21 years old, so that explains how he is able to do it.


Personally, I could never live out of a station wagon because I have a dog and also like some privacy. I have a big van with a hightop.


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By mozeman
Feb 22, 2013

Happiegrrrl wrote:
This year at the Pit in Joshua Tree, there are two guys in cars, smaller than an Outback, and one has been at it for years. He has removed all but the driver's seat in a Nissan hatchback or something, and placed plywood layer on floor for level. An L-shaped studio, as it were... He even cooks INSIDE. The trick is...well, I have no idea how he does it. But he seems content. The other guy is 21 years old, so that explains how he is able to do it. Personally, I could never live out of a station wagon because I have a dog and also like some privacy. I have a big van with a hightop.



My plan is to do this only for extended trips that over multiple months on end


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By Kirk B.
From Boise, ID
Feb 22, 2013
belay slaving on some route I forgot the name of way right of Bloody Fingers.

Get out of the car, man. Life is good in the forest(put your local environment here..well there, really). The rig gets you there. Then you pick where you live.
Easy Peasy.
No offense, but DUH.


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By 20 kN
From Hawaii
Feb 22, 2013

Kirk B. wrote:
Get out of the car, man. Life is good in the forest(put your local environment here..well there, really). The rig gets you there. Then you pick where you live. Easy Peasy. No offense, but DUH.

Camping is not free generally. You can expect $300 a month in camping fees if you don't stay in your car. Even if camping is free, you would use at least half of that value in fuel driving around trying to find free camp sites, driving to McDonald's to use the Internet for research, ect. That is why I stay in my car.


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By Devin Krevetski
From West Woodstock, VT
Feb 22, 2013

If you are anywhere on the East Coast expect condensation to be a huge problem.

I don't know if it is such an issue out west, where it is typically much drier.


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By camhead
From Vandalia, Appalachia
Feb 22, 2013
You stay away from mah pig!

devkrev wrote:
If you are anywhere on the East Coast expect condensation to be a huge problem. I don't know if it is such an issue out west, where it is typically much drier.


Condensation is a huge problem in the east, not so much out west. I have a friend who is a bit of a slob, has roadtripped around the east a lot in sedans and SUVs, and his cars smell of permanent mold and B.O. I actually use a removable sheet of felt cloth that velcros to the roof of my camper shell to catch and remove condensation; you may want to try that in your subie.

Beyond that, if you are wanting to do a long-term road trip, make some sort of sleeper platform/loft, although that coud be a bit cramped in a suburu. Or, a lot of the time you can find just the right combination of rubbermade bins to make a removable platform in the back that you just set boulder pads on top of. We do that in my wife's CRV a lot.

Or, just buy a better vehicle. Once you factor in the pain in the ass of less space, and the lost gas mileage from a rooftop carrier, you may as well just buy a real SUV, pickup truck, or minivan.


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By Kirk B.
From Boise, ID
Feb 23, 2013
belay slaving on some route I forgot the name of way right of Bloody Fingers.

No condensation in the forest. Camping is MOSTLY free. Maybe you're doin' it wrong? I dunno.
The InfernoNets are vastly overrated. I like to unplug for the quiet. I'd rather library than SmackyD. That's just me, though.
Good luck.


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By RadDawg
From NE, GA
Feb 23, 2013
Sunrise over Cashiers valley

A sunroof, especially with the tilt open option, seems to take care of the condensation issue in my lil wagon. Not so good if its pouring rain of course.


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By Jeremy Hand
Feb 23, 2013
slopey

Kirk B. wrote:
No condensation in the forest.



what?


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By JCM
From Henderson, NV
Feb 23, 2013

camhead wrote:
Beyond that, if you are wanting to do a long-term road trip, make some sort of sleeper platform/loft, although that coud be a bit cramped in a suburu. Or, a lot of the time you can find just the right combination of rubbermade bins to make a removable platform in the back that you just set boulder pads on top of. We do that in my wife's CRV a lot.


The big question with Subaru living is whether or not to build a platform, or to keep it basic. I've gone on a number of multi-month road trips, and have tried just about every system and permutation. Here's an overview of your options:

You can keep the stuff in the car and sleep in the tent. This is the old standby. It is great if you are staying in one place for a while, since you only have to set up the tent once. This option is not as good if you'll be moving around a lot, since setting up and taking down the tent is a hassle. Upsides are that this system gives you a fair bit of space to work with, and is organizationally simple. Downsides are that your mobility is limited a bit, you need to find a decent campsite, and you may have to pay for camping.

You can keep the stuff in the tent and sleep in the car. This is a creative inversion of the previous scenario, and it work really well. I prefer sleeping in the car to the tent, since I find the car to be warmer, more weatherproof, and generally more comfortable. the back of the Subie (back seats down, of course) is especially comfortable if you have nothing else in there, and a decent mattress to cover the back with (I have a big sheet of memory foam, folded double that I use as a mattress; this is as least as comfortable as my mattress at home). ANyway, this system is best for somewhere where you'll be staying a while, has free camping, but you want to sleep in the car. Example: a long stay at the creek. Even if you are sleeping in the car, it is nice to have your own campsite to hang out in; the tent serves as a placeholder to keep Front Range jerks (like myself) from stealing your site. Also, if you are on a long road trip, you'll probably have some extra odds and ends taking up space in the car (books, maybe a crash pad, extra shoes etc.). Trying to sleep in a car with all this junk is a hassle, so you keep it in the tent, allowing you a nice open back of the car to sleep in.

You can built a sleeping platform in the back of the car. This is the roadtripper classic. Built a platform, sleep on top, and put stuff underneath. It can be a nice permanent feature made out of wood, or a modular system cobbled together from bins, crash pads, and milk crates. In my experience, this works great in trucks, big vans, and big SUVs, but not so well in the Subie. The interior space of the Subie, while long, is not very tall. Once you built the platform, the amount of living space (i.e. height between the top of the platform and the ceiling) is not very much. I used this system for a summer, and found it to be too cramped; there was nowhere near enough room to sit up in the bed, which I did not like.

Take very little, and sleep in the back. My current favorite system. Maximum simplicity and mobility; you just need to use some discipline when packing. There are lots of little nooks to keep things in in the Subaru, and you can keep the back mostly enpty to give lots of room to sleep in. I am 5'8, and I like to sleep diagonally across the back of the back (back seats are down). My food bin goes in the back corner of the back of the car; this does not get in the way of my diagonal sleeping position. My bed (memory foam mattress, sleeping bag, quilt, pillow) stays in place permanently, diagonally across the back. I have a climbing pack and a medium size duffle of clothes. these are stored atop the bed during the day, and on the drivers seat at night; it only takes a moment to move them, so this is an easy thing to do daily to arrange the car for sleeping. If I have a folding chair in the car, I just stick that under the car at night. Everything else fits into the area that is the footroom for the back seats. Books and laptop go atop the spare tire, in the hidden spare tire compartment in the back. The trick with this system is that you have to pack very lightly, which is tricky on long trips where you plan to do a lot of activities. If you are bringing the mountain bike, the crash pad, the skies, and the portaledge, this system won't work. I prefer this system on a trip where I plan to exclusively sport climb, and as such can minimize the amount of gear I bring. Using a roof box will let you bring more stuff, which might be useful on an extended trip, but I have not yet found this to be necessary; just keep you life simple and bring less.

Note: this advice assumes a few things:
-That you will be traveling solo; two people and all of their gear sleeping in a subie would be difficult
-That your Subaru is a full-size outback, and not some little WRX or sedan.
-That you are not some 6'4 giant.


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By Kirk B.
From Boise, ID
Feb 23, 2013
belay slaving on some route I forgot the name of way right of Bloody Fingers.

Don't play the simpleton, Mr. Hand. We both know I mean that it is a non factor when one is outside.
No harm meant, even though I get your drift.


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