Tesla Camping Guide

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If you’re looking for adventure, this Tesla camping guide will help lead the way. We’ll review what makes Teslas great camping cars, how to use their built-in camping functions, and your sleeping options. You’ll also get expert camping tips on how to camp with your Tesla while avoiding problems.

Table of Contents

    Why Choosing a Tesla for Camping Is a Good Idea

    If you’re a Tesla owner, you might be wonder how useful your Tesla is away from town. And the truth is that as long as you understand the limitations, it is an amazing camping vehicle because Teslas have:

    • Ample storage space: Spacious trunk in the back and extra space in the frunk (front trunk), plus you can add on roof racks or hitch-mounted storage.
    • Exceptional capabilities: Any Tesla with all-wheel drive will do exceptionally well on slick surfaces. Model Y and Model X SUVs both have substantial ground clearance as well.
    • Sufficient range: Many Tesla single-charge ranges are longer than the fuel tank of ICE vehicles. And if you need to go longer, swing by a Supercharger on the way or stay at a campground with hookups (make sure they allow EV charging first).

    Tesla cars are equipped with extra amenities that can make your camping trip even more comfortable. You can charge your 3C products, such as your phone, camera, or even laptop. USB light strips and portable speakers can be great for camping too.

    Unlike a combustion engine’s battery, Tesla batteries have plenty of power for any small device. You don’t need a generator or solar power battery bank unless you have other particularly power-intensive needs, like a camping air conditioner.

    Another feature is your touchscreen’s entertainment. If you are camping in an area where the vehicle has a network connection, you can head inside your car after the campfire is out for evening entertainment. Watch Netflix, browse YouTube, and play arcade games.

    Camping Functional Equipment in the Car

    Another incredibly useful Tesla feature available in all recent Tesla models is the Camp Mode. This keeps the USB and low-voltage outlets powered on, while also allowing for climate control usage. It’ll keep you warm or cool while camping in cold or warm weather with your Tesla.

    Here is how to turn on Camp Mode:

    1. Put your Model Y in Park
    2. If you want, turn the climate settings to your desired level
    3. On the climate controls screen, touch Camp

    You can also turn it on from the app or by swiping up from the gray bar on the Climate control screen.

    Camp mode uses the most power to run the air conditioner or heater. Most of the time, you’ll find it will use about 1-2% of the battery per hour, or around 10-20% overnight. If the outdoor temperature is especially cold or hot, the consumption rate can be even higher.

    It also won’t work if your battery level is too low. You must be at a 20% charge to enable Camp Mode. This helps reserve power so you can drive to a charging station.

    You might be tempted to turn on Sentry Mode or your alarm while sleeping in your Tesla for added security. But you don’t want to do that. You’ll likely wake up to Panic Mode with your alarm and stereo blasting as your car thinks there is an intruder. You’ll quickly become the least favorite camper in the area.

    Instead, just manually lock your Tesla while sleeping. This keeps others out while avoiding embarrassing and annoying alarms in the middle of the night.

    How To Sleep With Your Tesla

    A big part of camping is figuring out your place to sleep. You have three options: in the car, on the roof, or with a camper trailer.

    Sleeping in Car

    The easiest and cheapest way to camp with your Tesla Model Y is to sleep inside of it. By folding down the rear seats, you create a nice, flat area that is big enough for one to two people to sleep in.

    It may not be the most spacious, but you can get a comfortable mattress to put down first. This lets you stay inside the vehicle, sleep with Camp Mode’s climate control, and enjoy the touchscreen entertainment.

    To put down your back seats, just pull on the small level by the shoulder on each side of the seats. One folds down two-thirds of the rear seating area and the other button folds down the remaining seat.

    Pros

    • Don’t have to buy a lot of camping equipment
    • Can use Camp Mode climate control
    • Plenty of space to put in a small mattress

    Cons

    • Less room than other camping options
    • Need to store your camping gear elsewhere overnight

    Sleep on the Roof

    Roof-top tents have become widely popular in the camping world. And you can use one with a Tesla Model Y.

    A major advantage of rooftop tents is that they provide a completely flat and spacious tent sleeping area wherever you can park on a level surface. You don’t have to worry about rocks, tree roots, or crawling critters. Just park, lift your tent into place and throw in your sleeping bag and pillows.

    They’re also generally more spacious than the inside of the vehicle, plus they give you a lot of ventilation and better views. But controlling the climate inside of a tent is difficult.

    Pros

    • More Spacious
    • Extra ventilation and better views
    • Can use the inside of the car to store gear

    Cons

    • No climate control or touchscreen entertainment
    • Not great for windy or rainy weather

    Sleep in a Trailer

    If these options sound too small, then a small camper trailer might be the best option for you. While they’re a more sizable investment, you can camp with a lot more amenities and comfort. 

    Depending on the camper you get, you can have a large bed, dining area, kitchen, and even bathroom. 

    They can be a lot of maintenance and towing will deplete your battery much faster. You’ll probably only get around half the range, depending on the weight of your trailer. But they’ll make camping much easier for the whole family.

    You’ll need to have the Tesla Model Y Tow Package, which is capable of towing up to 3,500 pounds. This is enough for many small pop-up or teardrop-style camper trailers, but not for larger campers.

    Pros

    • Packed with amenities
    • Potential for running water and bathroom facilities
    • Can accommodate more people

    Cons

    • Towing will limit the battery range

    Tips for Great Tesla Camping

    Taking your Tesla camping can be an excellent way to create memories and enjoy outdoor adventures. But you need to take some specific precautions to make sure you avoid problems.

    Since many camping areas are in remote locations, you’ll want to consider your battery range and charging situation. It might be possible to plan out a route that brings you to a Supercharger close to your campsite. Or you may stay close enough to your home that charging is not necessary.

    If you plan on using Camp Mode, make sure to plan for 10-20% of your battery charge to be depleted each night.

    Many campgrounds offer electrical outlets at the campsites. But not all of them allow for EV charging since it’s so intensive. Call ahead to find out the campground’s policy. And make sure you bring the appropriate charging adapter. Some campgrounds offer 50 amp outlets that can be great for charging a Tesla. Others have dedicated EV charging stations.

    You can bring a mattress for the rear area along with a couple of pillows and sleeping bags to make things easy. It’s always better to have more blankets than you need instead of not enough.

    You should also figure out what you’re going to do for food and water. Pack a cooler tight and bring plenty of drinking water. You also may need things like a stove, kitchen plates and utensils, and other basics. Many campgrounds have picnic tables, but you may want your own table and chairs too.

    Planning out your bathroom situation is crucial as well. Most campgrounds have facilities, but you can also bring a small toilet if you’d like to go dispersed or wild camping.

    Finally, don’t forget to bring things to have fun. A small bundle of wood for a fire, s’mores supplies, flashlights, and games are all good ideas. You might want to bring hiking or biking gear too.

    If you’re preparing for camping by using Tesla for 1-2 days, check out our list of tesla camping gear checklists:

    • Tesla Camping Equipment
      • Queen-sized pillows
      • Mosquito repellent
      • For plugging in at an RV park
      • Option Camping Equipment
        • Camping tent
        • Side/rear window privacy
        • Roof privacy shade
        • Windshield sun privacy
        • Car Power Inverter for your electronic equipment
        • Headlamps or flashlights
        • Full-size tripod
        • Waterproof Battery Operated String Lights
    • Kitchen
      • Cooler
      • Camp stove
      • Camping table
      • Teala foldable car table
      • Camp chairs
      • Quality plastic bins( store food and cooking & cleaning supplies)
      • Cook pots
      • Frying pan
      • Camp grill
      • Eating utensils
      • Cooking utensils
      • Bottle opener, can opener, corkscrew
      • Sharp knife
      • Plates/bowls
      • Mugs/cups
      • Cutting board
      • Ice substitutes
      • Water bottles
      • Pot scrubber/sponge(s)
      • Trash/recycling bags
      • Dishtowel
      • Option
        • Camp sink or wash bins
        • Large water jugs
        • Portable coffee/tea maker
    • Food
    • Personal Items & Extras
      • Credit card and/or cash
      • ID card
      • Cellphone
      • Campsite reservation confirmation (if required)*
      • Book or Kindle
      • Rainwear
      • Sunglasses
      • Rain boots
      • Option
        • Bikes

    Start enjoying your Tesla Camper now.

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