We want the freedom to go and stay where and when we want, with everything we need, without the hassle of trying to maneuver a van in the city traffic. The Honda CRV and Toyota RAV are a compromise between a subcompact and a van. Both have a 4.5 (out of 5) reliability rating and are large enough to carry everything we need and for sleeping. The RAV has a slightly higher performance rating and the backseat folds flat. But, the CRV has a slightly higher rating for comfort. We chose the CRV.
Having experience driving in tule fog, we also choose the fog light option to give ourselves an added advantage. Having driven stick shift for years, we opted for the luxury of an automatic transmission. The all-weather floor mats are easier under camping conditions than maintaining carpeting. The backup camera and two outlets for power investors are pretty cool.
We also purchased the cargo cover from Amazon. It collapses and sits against the tailgate floor when not in use.
Readying up the CRV
The CRV is the car that most suits our needs. But, it's not perfect.
The CRV has a weight limit of 850 pounds and we don't want to use it for carrying a marine battery or solar panels. However, the CRV comes with two 12-volt outlets and the literature states15 amps are available when the car is running. So, we purchased two power investors and will ration the amps to the various gadgets.
GoPro camera (to make dash videos) 1.00
Koolatron (cooler) 3.00
Kindell (2nd) .85
Camera batteries - unknown
Cell phone. - unknown
Power investors also require amps to run
On the first four-hour practice run , we plugged in both the IPad and the GoPro. The power was sufficient to keep the both charged. On the next run, we also plugged in the Koolatron. There was insufficient power for the IPad, GroPro, and Koolatron. Therefore, it appears that the useable amps with the inventor is between 3.1 and 6.1 amps.
The windows need sun shades, curtains, or tint to maintain the temperature in the CRV, block the light, and provide privacy.
The sun screens are the best option.
We choose the "Heatshield" brand, which has a custom fitting shield for each car window. The shields for the backseat passenger and cargo windows were not listed in the online catalogue; however when I e-mailed the company, they e-mailed the part number to me. The front windshield cover is held in place by the rear view mirror. The other shields are held in place by suction cups. One of our suction cups fell out, so I again e-mailed the company. They offered me free replacement suction cups and asked out many I wanted. It requested and received nine suction cups.
Flattening the Back
The back seat doesn't fold flat, so left like it is, we gradually slip to the rear of the care.
Some people build a sleeping platform. If we did that, there wouldn't be enough height to set up. So, we built up the area with foam, but storing the foam when we wanted the seats up is cumbersome. We substituted folded blankets for the foam, topped them with therm-a-rest sleeping pads.
In some places, the windows can be cracked open for ventilation. However, in most of the parks that we will be staying at, open windows may be an invitation for a bear to yank the door off the hinges. That makes using the rear door as the only ventilation option. The first time we tried it, we woke up in the morning to discover the door not cracked open, but sprung wide open with us exposed to anyone who happened to walk past our campsite.
The "Duc Explorer tent solves the problem. It takes about two minutes to set up or take down. It also allows the therm-a-rests to extend full length. The back tightened shut or left hanging down, which allows us to get dressed standing up. The "Tail Veil" is an alternative to the "Duc Explorer".
Knowing that having too much room is never a problem, we had the roof rails and racks added to support of roof box or bag.
We decide to use a roof top bag, rather than a hard shells, because it is easier to attach, remove, and store. However, we've experienced flooded roof carriers and soaking sleeping bags, etc.. So, we will only use it while in transit and the only things stored in it will be the collapsible camping chairs, tent (including the rain cap, stakes, and poles, two tent footprints (one for inside the tent and one for under the tent). While we are in camp, the bag will be folded up and stored in the tent. Based on the size, water resistance, and customer reviews, we chose the Sherpack Kanga Hurricane 12. It's 47" long, 35.5 inches wide, and 10-19" high (12 cu. feet). The collapsed chairs are 36" long (longer than the tent) and the CRV roof rails are slightly wider than 35.5". The bag costs about $90. Everything else needs to fit in the cargo area.