Camping in style and convenience
By Joel Moranton
Camping and traveling out of the back of your SUV has so many advantages–if you know how to do it right. I have taken many long road and camping trips in SUVs. Having the right gear and knowing how to pack is key to doing it comfortably. I have experimented with many different tents: small, large, lightweight, heavy, and even no tent at all. My girlfriend and I favor the Napier line of SUV tents. In the past I have mainly used these on small pickup trucks with camper shells, but I have recently switched to a Jeep JK. These tents are the perfect combination for base camping and quick overnight stays. Being able to access the gear in your SUV without having to leave the tent is what makes this tent the one we prefer.
ABOUT THE BACKROADZ TENT
We had the Napier Sportz SUV tent before we got our hands on the Backroadz tent (starting street price around $189). Both tents wrap around the back of your SUV allowing you to access the cargo area without leaving the tent. The Backroadz version is the little brother to the Sportz tent. It lacks the awnings and multiple entrance doors the Sportz has, but the Backroadz is truly an awesome tent. I like the Sportz version a bit more, but that is mainly because the Backroadz door is on the wrong side for the Jeep JK. We found the Backroadz version to be better suited for summer, stargazing, and open-air trips, due to its large screen windows. It comes with a large rainfly and is rated a three-season tent. The rainfly also has tie down points on its four corners for those windy nights. We also like the fact that the rainfly has a small pole that will make a little overhang to help keep the rain out of the doorway. When set up, the tent is 9′ x 9′ and stands 6′ 8” tall.
The Backroadz tent uses two very long poles that slip into the top of the tent to form an “X.” It is actually not at all difficult for one person to set up this tent, and I have set it up myself many times (of course it is easier with another person helping). Once you have slid both poles through the sleeve in the top of the tent you can stand up one pole, and then the other. If doing this by yourself, do not try to keep the poles in their final positions, just let them move around. Once both poles are attached at the base of the tent you can move them around to the desired location. At this point you can stake down the tent; make sure the door is zipped up and pull each corner snug. Do not pull too tight or you will have a hard time opening the door.
Now for the fun part, you get to back your vehicle up to the tent. Without fail someone at some point will try to warn you that you are about to run over your tent, or at least give you a funny look. Try to center your vehicle on the sleeve, as you back up and stop when the rear bumper touches the tent. You can have your vehicle in the tent more or less by being closer or farther away depending on your personal preference. Then pull the sleeve around the back of your vehicle; the straps on the top of the sleeve are long and made to go all the way to the front windshield wiper blades. I normally just put these to the door handles or side steps as far forward on the vehicle as possible. I will admit this makes opening the door difficult, but I like it better than going to the wiper blades.
On the side there are flat J-hooks that are made to fit on the inner fender wells of the rear tires. Lastly, on the bottom there is a strap to take up some of the slack in the sleeve. On windy nights I keep an extra-long bungee cord to wrap around the sleeve to cut down the flapping. You can now go inside and open the access to your vehicle and use the straps to hold the tent up to the bottom of the vehicle to cut down on any drafts of air coming in.
TWO WAYS TO USE
One of the greatest things about this tent is that I can set up camp in 15 minutes. I make sure the tent is packed last for quick access, then set it up, grab the sleeping pad, throw the sleeping bag on the floor, and I am done. There is no need to grab your clothes bag out, or anything else besides your bedding. If you need something in the middle of the night or early morning there is no need to leave the tent to grab it. Everything is right there, ready when you need it.
If you are base camping for a while, try putting all of your gear in the tent and sleep in the back of the vehicle. Sleeping in the back of the vehicle has many advantages, such as not having to sleep on the rough, gnarly ground, for starters. It can also be nice if you are in a muddy area, you can come into the tent to take off your boots and not worry about getting your sleeping area dirty.
The Napier line of SUV tents gives you a unique and fun way to camp out of the back of your vehicle. You can get into a Backroadz tent for $189.99 and be able to have a great open-air camping experience or cozy up in the back of your vehicle. Just like all the Napier products, it delivers on its claims and is quality built. Check out us.napieroutdoors.com for more info and to order yours.