Last year I finally traded my car for a full-sized GM SUV. I’ve rented plenty of them, but could never convince myself I had a need for three full rows of seating-or the ability to carry a 4×8 sheet of plywood in air conditioned comfort.
But adding a granddaughter to the family dynamic tipped me over the edge. When you have five adults and a kid’s car seat, you need three row seating.
Now, I understandwhy Suburbans, Yukons and their equivalents from other brands are so popular. And when I travel alone, I have no qualms at tossing in an extra gear bag to cover almost any eventuality I might encounter along the road. For an outdoor writer, it’s an option that gives almost immediate benefits
And I thought I had everything I needed. Until I got a note from Napier Outdoors. Napier, if you’ve not heard of them, is the world’s largest manufacturer of vehicle camping tents.
They were inquiring if I would have an interest in “maybe trying out one of their new products?”
Having used a tent to expand the living area of my Little Guy teardrop camper during my “MyTime2Stand” road trip three years ago, I never hesitated.
And for three months the box from Napier sat in my garage, convicting me that I really needed to stop running around the country and do some personal traveling.
Ultimately, I simply made time to try out the Napier Backrodz SUV model. And I’ve found it to be everything I’d hoped it would be and more.
Not only is it a well-made tent, it’s actually completed what I think is the most affordable- road unit I could have for personal travel. Having owned camp trailers, I know that lugging one around behind my SUV is possible, but totally inconvenient. If, for instance, I decided to trailer my Ranger boat or my Slingshot, a camper’s a non-starter.
But adding a tent camping option doesn’t keep me from bringing another vehicle.
And if I find myself someplace where I think “boy, this would be a great place to stop, fish, camp, hike, photograph or whatever,” I now have the flexibility to do just that.
After all, my vehicle has no problem stowing the three medium-sized bags that contain the Napier Backrodz tent, my inflatable mattress and sleeping bag and the most elemental of camping cooking gear and freeze dried camp food.
In fact, with the exception of the Napier Backrodz tent, I was already traveling with nearly everything I needed. Including the tent and the cooking gear took considerably less space than my golf clubs- and everything fits behind the third-row seats.
Now, thanks to Napier, I have something I lacked before: options.
Including the ability to transition between the truck and tent using the vehicle sleeve without inviting uninvited guests (bugs) into either.
If it’s great weather, I have the option to leave keep my other gear in the vehicle and sleep, work and relax in the tent. If the weather’s marginal, I have the option to rshift other into the tent and sleep in the truck- up off the ground.
Either way, with the inflatable mattress -(filled via the Yukon’s power converter) I’m comfortable whatever my surroundings. Should my wife decide to come along, all we need to is swap out the mattress and toss in another sleeping bag.
This isn’t a setup I’d use in cold weather in anything other than an emergency, but I’m, a three-season camper, with a tendency to shy away from temperature extremes and rain whenever possible.
Adding a well-made, easily setup tent camping option for whenever the urge strikes makes it far simpler to enjoy the outdoors-without having to worry about finding accommodations.
For me, the option is worth it.
If you have a small family, suffer occasional bouts of wanderlust, or just want to get outdoors, you should give it a try. You may discover your family prefers the analog world of the outdoors to the digital world of tablets, smart phones and computers.