Model S Camper

A recent article on Bloomberg, I Went Camping in the Trunk of a $145,000 Tesla, highlights the vehicle’s hidden attribute of serving not only as a sports and luxury car, but also as a camper. Author Tom Randall did a great job of laying out an alternate method of keeping the car’s ventilation system running all night, should you choose to catch your Zs in the vehicle.

During my road trip last summer with Iceman, we found ourselves a couple times in a situation where neither dog-friendly motel nor camping spot was readily available. What to do? Model S camper mode  to the rescue, of course! The true aficionados of sleeping in a Model S will use some cardboard to even out the floor after the back seat is folded down, place an inflatable pad upon the sleeping area, break out pillow and sheets, and snooze away in a surprisingly comfortable sleeping area. My nocturnal slumbers took place in the driver’s seat, folded way back like on one of those ritzy first-class seats for flying across the ocean, but the Tesla bed would no doubt have been more comfortable.


Twice during camping sessions I chose to abandon my tent and sleep in the Tesla: once when a mighty thunderstorm rumbled through, and once at a campground where the other campers just wouldn’t quiet down. Inside the Tesla, neither electricity being thrown down by Zeus nor chatty campers could disturb my tranquility, and I even requested a few favorite songs via Slacker to ease the transition into total relaxation.

The trick with sleeping in a car is ventilation. Leave the windows down a crack and a squadron of mosquitoes will slowly set up a traffic pattern to your exposed skin. Fortunately, Tesla’s air-conditioning system will work for days at a time on that enormous battery, with the only challenge being to find a way to avoid the default shut-off while parked after 30 minutes. In Randall’s article, he details a step-by-step method that worked for him. An easier solution for those of you with iphones is to buy the “Remote S” app and keep the Tesla’s environmental system running all night by selecting “Camper Mode.”

Fifty-state pioneer Michael Fritts has even created a tent that fits perfectly when his Model S’s hatch is open. Check it out.

So, might I abandon the tent in favor of snoozing in the back of the Tesla on my next grand road trip through America? Yeah, I just might. The time spent in setting up camp and breaking camp eats up an hour on each end. Those two hours a day could be better used for so many other things. In bear country, I’d sleep more soundly within my aluminum cocoon than in a nylon tent. Way up north, beyond the superchargers, lies a world of 6 hour charging sessions to bring a battery full again. Previously, I charged overnight and then wasted many hours with a long helper charge mid-day. Instead, I could charge and sleep for 6 hours, hit the road, and repeat in order to substantially up my daily mileage, should I feel inclined.

The lure of adventure is a powerful thing, and I could see this blue Model S making its way back to the mainland some day in the future. After all, there’s a road here and there that my dog and I haven’t seen yet.

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