Saturday, September 1, 2018

Camping In A LEAF

The current topic has been camping in the LEAF and since this is something that I have done, I thought I would share my experience.  This was a bit thrown together so don't have the picture coverage I normally have for these types of things so if there is a specific item or question you have after reading this, comment!

Well, calling it camping is stretching the term a bit but recently I had a chance to test the theory of whether sleeping in the LEAF is a doable thing. I mean real sleep. I have dozed at charging stations several times in the front seat and it was almost always VERY refreshing but what about those times when a good 3-4 hours is what you are looking for and you want to wake up without a sore neck or back?

 IOW, the challenge of getting a mattress in the back was the first thing to deal with.  Now as we know, the 2018 LEAF back seats do not fold flat or even anything close actually.  The well created by folding the back seats forward was 30" x 36" by 12". So first order of business is making this area the same level as the the back seats when folded.

I have a bunch of metal boxes that were used to store magnetic data tape from the 80's and 90's.  I used two of them which was handy as I used both to store stuff.  But the real discovery came when I realized the height needed was a near perfect match to my laptop stand I had. Now the stand worked great on the coach but when I got my chair years ago, the stand was too cumbersome so it has literally sat in the corner of my living room the past 5 years doing nothing.

So I folded the seats down and found the length was a bit too short so had to remove the head rests and fold the front seats back. It was a perfect matchup. 

This also required sliding the front seats as far forward as they would go. The picture does not show it but its actually quite flat and more importantly, sturdy.   Notice the cubby holes created between the seats on the floor. I found that they were the perfect storage places for things that we might need in the middle of the night that would have been stored in the well "under" the mattress...

Now my mattress comes with a 12 volt air pump which I don't use. The first time putting a double mattress measuring 54" by 75" in thru a "single mattress" hatch opening makes the issue of partial inflation quite intuitive. 

So I inflated the mattress to about 50% or so or just enough to take shape using the manual pump that came with my canoe which I prefer anyway.  Its also much faster.

After I got the mattress in the back, I finished the inflation only going to around 80-90%. This allowed the mattress to settle into the space which in reality is not nearly as big as the mattress so I inflated it until it was a snug fit in the car and there was no possibility of "bottoming out" by any one person.

For one person, it would be a dream but even with the 2 of us, (My Son is only 11 so maybe  1½?) we were still very comfortable.

Before completing final inflation

All in all, it was a very comfortable setup. There is minimal headroom so no option to sit up but a few extra pillows allowed me to prop myself up enough that I could have watched a video or something.  Now that Summer is nearly over, I am guessing the super smoky days are mostly behind us.  It was this reason why I decided to head out to the sound to find a place to sleep that I was hoping had slightly better air to breathe. 

After a night parked near the  boat launch at Arcadia Point, the realization that shades to cover the windows would be a great idea as the Sun is still a VERY early riser!


I actually went and re did all this at home to time how long it would take from parking to bed and was able to replicate the setup in under 10 minutes quite easily.  Key points are determining ahead of time anything you might need in the middle of the night. There is ample room in the front seats to put something that will be accessible without opening the doors.  

I also packed what I would normally take for a 3 day trip with my Son and for this, you want to balance small with convenience. I used 2 backpacks and 2 gym bags along with 2 coolers, a small 6 pack cooler and a 24 Qt Coleman cooler.   What wasn't packed was the 2 blankets (My Son is not a good sharer...) 3 pillows.   The metal cases held basics like TP, extra towels, utensils, most of the food, etc. 

I will say although a 10 minute setup time isn't bad, its definitely not what I would use for the frequent cat naps I like to take especially on the longer road trips. But the position was near perfect. It was a slight incline so the head is higher than the feet but only by a little. It was VERY comfortable. 


Because of the length of the bed, folding the front seats "back" was required to make it fit. I tried folding them forward but that only made the bed to uneven at the top and sleeping comfortably like that just wasn't going to happen.  So driving in this setup is out of the question. Granted it would be illegal to move without everyone being belted but sometimes, repositioning is needed. 

**Make sure you know where the Sun will rise.  I would have been ok had I parked in a different spot where the trees would have blocked the Sun. 

The other thing was storage. Next time I will be prepared with one of those collapsible bins that will hold everything I might need in the middle of the night. This will be easier than reaching blindly to grab a bag to open only to find out its the wrong one "or" I could try using different color bags...

The large Coleman Cooler was also a bit too much. Its great for keeping things cold but due to the fact it has 3" thick walls.  But the cooler would only fit on the front passenger seat. I will look at ones that will fit in the cubby hole between the seats as a better solution.  There is actually a decently large space there.  Below I put the 6 pack cooler there as a reference. When camping I was easily able to put both backpacks on one side. 

Another thing that I hesitate to label as a "con" is that all the headrests have to be removed. Now, the backseat headrests are off nearly all the time since my Son is generally the only backseat passenger I have at least until he gains a "few" more lbs and can legally ride in front.  But they do only take a second to remove.

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