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Camping in the Prius

Discussion in 'Gen II Prius Main Forum' started by jerodallen, Feb 10, 2007.

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  1. jerodallen

    jerodallen New Member

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    Hello,

    I am planning to buy a new Prius in the very near future, and wanted to know about its ability as a camping car.

    Specifically:

    1) How does the Prius do on those gnarly, pothole-filled dirt off-roads?
    2) How many folks, gear, dogs, etc., can be comfortably taken to the campsite/trailhead?

    I am planning to make some fairly long drives and then backwoods trail camping, so I'll be taking a fair amount of gear.

    Thanks everyone! I'm excited to join the Prius family!

    -Jerod
  2. Bill Merchant

    Bill Merchant absit invidia

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    Hi Jerod, welcome to PriusChat!

    The Prius is a great camping car in so many ways except for one thing — GROUND CLEARANCE. It's not good on those "gnarly, pothole-filled dirt off-roads". The Prius is definitely a street car, not an off-roader. You can pack a lot of gear, people, and pets comfortably in a Prius, but plan on driving to the campsite.

    I've taken my car camping, driving over some graded Forest Service gravel roads without problems, but at one point I had to drive very slowly and carefully to get around a minor washout. Once you're at your campsite, it's a great car. You can sleep in the back with the seats down and the hatch open, if there aren't bugs, or close up the car and leave it running with the AC on if it's hot and buggy. The Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) will shut off and only come on every now and then to keep the High Voltage (HV) traction battery charged. A small inverter will let you bring the electrical comforts of home with you without having to constantly run a generator.

    If you're going to park your Prius and hike in with your gear, the car is just about impossible to steal.

    Or just keep your Prius for around town and rent a 4WD Highlander Hybrid when you want to go rugged. :)
  3. Godiva

    Godiva AmeriKan Citizen

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(jaylee @ Feb 10 2007, 03:38 PM) [snapback]388126[/snapback]</div>

    #1. Lousy. The Prius was NOT designed for off-roading. It has a very low clearance underneath and isn't really designed for potholes or backwoods dirt roads.

    #2. More than you'd think. I've got a tailgate tent but I haven't used it yet. Others have set it up. A few have slept in the back but caution you need to crack a window so the interior doesn't fog up.

    [​IMG]

    I think I bought mine through AutoAnything because of the free shipping.

    Napier Dome to Go tent for Prius
    imOCD4a_prius likes this.
  4. allargon

    allargon Member

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    I agree. I have a touring. I've "accidentally" taken mine off road. The suspension and tires held up fine. However, the ground clearance is not great. I just dealt with grass and weeds. I couldn't imagine running over stumps, brush, cacti and the like in that thing. I'm not sure if any special undercoating would help that. :lol:
  5. toad

    toad New Member

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    I was actually thinking about using the Prius for camping. It looks like the folded down seats would be great for sleeping and not need for a tent. But, I didn't even think about the air conditioner. Then again, I tend to be a cold weather camper.
  6. saechaka

    saechaka Member

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    i went camping w/my prius and it was great. we had a small mattress that we placed on top of the seats all folded down. i only wish they had some vinyl piece that would cover the rear end so you can have the hatch open cause it does get a little cramp back there.
  7. jerodallen

    jerodallen New Member

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    Excellent, thanks everyone! I am mostly expecting to drive to trailheads and then hike in for camping, or use my vehicle for car camping... I will let everyone know how it works out.
  8. patsparks

    patsparks An Aussie perspective

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    Roll a swag out in the back of your Prius with a 50mm foam and 50mm self inflating mattress and sweet dreams. This is how I slept on a trip to Townsville from Adelaide and back. I drove my Prius 2700km in 36 hours including a 4.5 hour sleep and a 1 hour nap in the drivers seat, and I stopped for meals. It also included 6 hours night driving at 80 to 90km/h looking for kangaroos jumping out onto the road and I covered 160km of rough dirt road at reduced speed.

    This was a solo trip which was supposed to be on a motorbike but the bike broke down, I used less fuel in the Prius than I would have on the bike by a big margin.

    If you are going solo the back of a Prius is a fine place to sleep, I'd recommend a full set of sun deflectors for all windows to help maintain inside temperatures if it's very cold out. With my swag and sleeping bag it was toasty.

    Another tip, remove all the headrests except the middle rear one, Put them on the rear floor. Move the front seats forward and lay them back till flush with the folded rear seat backs, this is where you put your head, you can stuff the gap between the seats with a bag of clothes and a cushion, now you have the extra length.
  9. MagneticGrayIndy

    MagneticGrayIndy 06Prius;94M Miata;65Rambler770

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    actually... like older Ramblers, the front seats will lay flat enough for two beds if you push them all the way forward, remove the headrests and recline them all the way! Don't let your teenagers use the Prius for a date. sorry.. old Rambler joke

    and you might want to use a couple of cheap swimming pool floats to smooth it all out.. won't even have to unpack the cargo area!
  10. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    Hi Bill,

    (I see that this is an old thread that was resurrected today)

    Although HiHy has plenty of ground clearance, it is not rated for off-road driving. The 4WD system is not like traditional systems. Hence, any such driving is at the owner's risk.
  11. mingoglia

    mingoglia Member

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    I tried sleeping in the Prius once and couldn't get to sleep. Felt a bit small. I am 6'3" though. I had the rear seats folded and a sleeping bag diagonal across the back. It was very uncomfortable. I ended up driving back into town and getting a cheap motel. If I were to do it again I'd get some sort of pad to smooth things out (that was probably part of the problem) or just bring the tent with me.

    Mike
  12. Bob47

    Bob47 New Member

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    Actually, we take the Prius camping all the time. It is hauled on a dolly attached to the back of our 36' Monaco Diplomat! It is as great as a towed as a daily driver.
  13. rfred

    rfred New Member

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    Perhaps we need to define some terms here...
  14. McDonald

    McDonald New Member

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    Copy and pasted from my blog,
    "This weekend we took ourselves and the dog in the Prius to Harold Parker State Forest in Andover, MA for a camping trip. We had reserved a huge campsite for 2 nights, Friday and Saturday. Knowing that Carlo worked till 6 on Friday, and that there was a chance of rain that night, I went out to the campground earlier and set up the tent. The campground is only 30 mins away, so no big deal!

    Packed into the car other than myself driving, Carlo in the passenger seat, and Kid in his Lookout Seat, was all of our stuff. Here's the complete list! 5 person tent and rain fly, ground tarp, air mattress and pump, sheets and duvet, pillows, camp chair, food/drink cooler, dog bed, dog clothes (including life jacket) toys and supplies, bag of clothes and swimsuits, bag of cooking utensils, wood chips and kindling, 2 pool floats, bag of towels, bike pump, etc. And with a Saris Bones bike rack on the trunk!

    We ended up coming into the campsite around 10 o'clock on Friday night, which was around what time "quiet hours" started. What with the Prius being so quiet, we found that sneaking in late disturbed no one. The next day we spotted another black Prius camping, with a canoe on top! "

    Here's the picture.
    [​IMG]
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  15. miscrms

    miscrms Plug Envious Member

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    I had the same problem initially. The key is pulling the front seats all the way forward, taking off the headrests and then they will also fold down flush with the back seat. Then there is plenty of space to sleep two! If you add an air matress I'd think it would be pretty comfy.

    Rob
  16. miscrms

    miscrms Plug Envious Member

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    Same reason my parents never should have let me drive our Toyota Previa minivan as a teenager. Backend converted into a full double bed. Not that I ever did that sort of thing of course :rolleyes:

    Rob
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  17. combsad7

    combsad7 Junior Member

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    I have have put a 3 inch topper of dense foam for a double bed along with blankets and pillows. I did trim the foam. Made sure the car was full of gas, put it in D with emergency brake on, set the AC on 77 and slept just fine.
  18. hobbit

    hobbit Senior Member

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    Why did you leave it in D?? It'll maintain all those systems
    just fine in P, and present much less risk of rolling away
    with you.
    .
    I just came up with another silly camping hack today. Sometimes
    the fan thing just isn't enough circulation with the rest of the
    car closed up, especially when the car is still hot inside from
    the day's trip. A lot of heat comes into the fan air from
    under the hood and that big ol' black dash that likes to heat
    up so much in the sun, and if it's already hot out that just
    makes the inside more sweltering.
    .
    Having failed to find uncut mosquito netting at REI, I stopped by
    the local fabric store and found that they had mosquito netting
    but also other fine nylon mesh for much cheaper. I also realized
    that I had a plentiful source of magnetic strips by cutting up
    one of my old Tour de Sol placards, whose internal glue was
    getting pretty degraded by now anyway.
    .
    [​IMG]
    .
    Once the sign and the netting are appropriately cut, it's easy
    to construct a full-window screen on the car:
    .
    [​IMG]
    .
    One edge can drop under the door level to the B pillar [red arrow]
    to find magnetic material, and the other door simply closes over it.
    Do on two sides, and it gives plenty of ventilation. As long as it's
    not raining, of course, but with this arrangement the windows can
    go up to closed completely inside the screen so if rain comes,
    protection is as easy as enabling the windows and rolling them
    up instead of having to get out and scramble around. The Weathertech
    shields would probably help.
    .
    This'll be great for the big campout at Hybridfest!
    .
    _H*
  19. oly_57mpg

    oly_57mpg New Member

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    I guess unlike everyone else, I say that the Prius does quite well on pot hole rutted backwoods roads. I've taken my Prius on *almost* all of the same roads and trails that my friend in a Jeep has driven.

    I let a lot of air pressure out of the tires to smooth the ride and pick my course accordingly. And I drive real, real, real slow.

    The Prius is much better off road than any Honda I've driven...

    I've taken my Prius up here a few times:
    Google Maps

    Had enough room for two mountain bikes (in the car), camping gear, food for two for four days, and a fully equipped kitchen with room to see over it all!
    The Prius is perfectly acceptable for (car) camping. Then again, I'm biased.
  20. patsparks

    patsparks An Aussie perspective

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    Not everyone, I was fine on a pot holed dirt road. I didn't go over tree stumps or anything but it was fine.
    I figured it was a good time to wake a sleeping thread like this.
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