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11 tips for camping with your Tesla

Call the campsite to confirm their power and EV policy

Starting out with the obvious, you want to be sure that you know what to expect when you arrive at a campsite. Usually, when booking you have a choice of a powered or unpowered spot.  Powered typically means you are sharing the great outdoors with RV’s and the like, while nonpowered spots are filled with tents. You in your EV are splitting it down the middle a bit.

Confirm with the campsite that you are able to park your car on the site first and foremost. Once you are sure there are no issues there, confirm the power specs at the site and ask ahead which plug and amperage of the receptacles. This way you can be sure to have the proper cable. Otherwise, well, you will have a lot of range anxiety just sitting still. That brings us to tip number 2

Make sure you have the proper adapters

You want to be sure you have the proper charging cables when you arrive at your campsite.

The most common plug you will find at campsites is the NEMA TT30 which is a 30 amp, 120V socket. If you don’t have an adapter. This one will work great. Adapter Link

Campsites typically come with standard NEM 5-15 receptacles ( just like your house ) so you can also slow charge your car if you don’t have the proper high amp charge cable. These are great for plugging in other camping essentials like fans and radios. 

Use Camp mode

Camp mode was introduced in a recent update which does just what it says. It puts your car into camp mode!

It disables auto lock so you are not constantly having to lock and relock the car as you come and go.

It disables sentry mode, which conserves your battery. Unless of course, you want video evidence of your camping shenanigans.

It also keeps USB ports in your car powered up. you will be able to charge your phone or run a string of fairy lights around the car and have them run all night.

Tesla in Camp Mode

Use your HVAC while you’re sleeping

The best feature of camp mode or EVs, in general, is that you can use your climate control while you are sleeping. Sadly, many people have become extremely ill or even expired while sleeping in a running car. The exhaust fumes enter the vehicle while running and can suffocate the occupants.

In an electric car, there are no fumes. You can have the electric heater or air conditioner keep a comfortable temperature the entire night. If not plugged in this could use anywhere from 20%-40% of your batter capacity depending on the outside temperature.

I can tell you this from personal experience. We always seem to take a camping trip on the hottest week of the summer. Being able to sleep in an air-conditioned space instead of a pool of your own sweat is heaven. I will never go back… never.

Find the right parking spot

You are in nature after all. Finding the flattest spot possible will dramatically increase your comfort. It seems simple, but I did part with my head slightly down one time and didn’t immediately notice it. An hour into my sleep my head started to pound and it hit me. Trying to maneuver my car into a different spot in the middle of the night ensured I would never do that again.

If you can’t find a perfectly flat spot, part in a way where your head will be elevated.

Use your trunk mat as an entry mat

I recommend a trunk mat for daily use, but it also works great as an entry mat. It gives you a clean dry place to kick off your shoes before you hop in the car. It also gives you a clean place to step when you stumble out in the middle of the night in search of a tree.

I use this one with my Model Y and it’s been great. Amazon link here they make a version for the M3 as well. Model 3 Version

Set up a “camping” profile

 You may already know that you can set up different profiles for each driver. You can also set up one called Camp that sets your preference when you’re ready to bunk down for the night. Make your adjustments such as seats fully forward then set your preferred temperature. When you’re ready, turn on the virtual fireplace and relax.

Get a mattress for the back

I didn’t really put these in orders, but honestly, this one belongs right near the top. Get yourself a great mattress. This has made such a difference in the comfort of our camping trips. Instead of waking up stiff and sore I wake up refreshed and ready for the day, be hit hiking, canoeing, or poking at the fire with a stick. I’ve mentioned this in another article, but this is a great mattress and at least for the 4 times we’ve used it shows no wear at all. See the Amazon link here for latest pricing

Mmmm cozy.

Get a privacy screen

When snug in your car winding down for the night, the last thing you want is someone peering into your window. Consider a privacy screen that you can put up to block the windows. It gives you a private space and they wrap up extremely small. I bought a generic one from a local place that works well. If I come across one online that I can stand behind I will update this post with a link.

Get a frunk cooler

That extra space up front is like wearing cargo pants. Pockets everywhere. I also found it the perfect place to store food and drinks. A soft cooler can fit right in there and easily keep 3 or 4 days worth of food and drink ( beer excluded )

Attracting animals is always a concern when camping. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve packed up the cooler and lugged it back to the car before bed each night. With the Tesla, I pop the hood and the cooler is always accessible. At night I close the frunk and I’m done for the night. Super simple. This cooler is the one I went with for My Y and I LOVE it. Amazon link here

Consider a roof rack for extra storage

And lastly, if you’re bringing kids and a dog bikes and toys and.. if you’ve been camping with your kids you know. Consider a roof rack and storage bag.

I remember the last trip we took before the pandemic of 2020. We realized the day before that we had more stuff than space. At the last minute, we decided to grab a cargo carrier for the roof. My wife wanted one of the rigid ones and I wanted the soft case style.

Not normally the case I won that little battle and we got a soft case. The sheer amount of stuff we were able to jam in there was shocking. I put some soft stuff like pillows and bulky sleeping bags up there first. Filled the rest of the space with random beach toys and even had room to stick our pop-up awning. It left a lot more room in the car for the rest of our stuff. This is the one I bought. Amazon Rooftop Carrier, for the money it can’t be beat.

Summary

Depending on where you live camping season is back in again, and for me, camping in a Tesla has been amazing. Not full-size camper amazing, but it’s just so convenient. Being able to plug in on-site, air-conditioned space. I definitely recommend giving Tesla Camping a try!