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Sleeping high up in a full Zafira

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    Sleeping high up in a full Zafira

    This is my sleeping arrangement which I am experimenting with and gradually refining: I have a ten year old Zafira that's done 175 K miles but still runs well. I travel by myself to gigs around the UK with a bootful of music gear plus a full-size mountain bike that fits into the rear footwell with its front wheel removed. The car is fairly full, and I don't want to empty it to sleep!

    I bought an ex-forces stretcher which has square aluminium side poles that split into third lengths for stowing. Using just two of these sections per side plus the stretcher canvas, I can make up a berth that rests on top of the car seat-backs. The pillow end is over the front seats, and the poles are stretched apart using the car's front seatbelts with some DIY clamps. The gap between the front seats allows my shoulder to sag down, when sleeping on my side, and I can infinitely vary the seatbelt clamps to adjust this sag. There is enough headroom for sleeping, but it is a struggle to slip into the sleeping bag or put trousers on/off. Access to the berth is from the rear seat either side, the stretcher being narrow and central within the car.

    My feet project about half a metre behind the rear seatback, and normally rest on the boot contents. But I am considering a plywood foot support for when the boot is empty, as the boot cover is weak.

    Apart from this (summer) sleeping facility, I have no other camping gear than a 12V kettle, so far, but have enjoyed reading members' ideas on blanking the windows and so on.

    As for stealth camping, no... I am visible to the world. But it seems to me that any vehicle parked overnight in some quiet country spot is going to be recognised as a camping arrangement. If it is thought to be an unoccupied unattended vehicle, maybe it will attract more malign attention?

    ottzaffy

    #2
    This sounds an interesting arrangement. Any piccies?!

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      #3
      Originally posted by karenw View Post
      This sounds an interesting arrangement. Any piccies?!
      I will try to take some, though it's still a developing project. Thank you for your interest.

      ottzaffy

      Comment


        #4
        Sleeping high up in a full Zafira

        The Zafira was famously advertised as having Flexi-Seven seating. Unfortunately, no configuration makes a satisfactory bed. As with so many modern seats, there are lumbar support lumps when you recline the seatback. I cannot lie flat and twist and turn onto my side.

        This bed, for one person only, consists of parts from an ex-army lightweight folding canvas stretcher, lying across the tops of the front and rear seatbacks. The gap between the front seats coincides with where my shoulders are. The piece of white paper in the photo shows where the pillow goes.


        Both front headrests are removed to make way for the bed, and the centre one from the back, but the seats remain exactly as for driving. Thus the rear footwell can store a mountain bike, and the boot and spare seats can be fully packed with baggage.

        Apart from the stretcher, a pillow and sleeping bag, the only other equipment is a pair of home-designed metal clamps to spread the head-end apart, using the front seat belts, and some lashings to spread the foot end apart by tying around the rear seat headrests.

        The clamps are made from 2mm stainless steel plate. They are possibly over-strong, but there are some levering forces trying to pry them apart when in use. I had to get them cut and bent by an engineering firm. They can be slid to grasp the canvas-covered poles at any point, so I have been able to try different fore-and-aft positions of the bed. Currently I set it up so that the head end projects about 480mm forward of the front seatback.

        Headroom. Because of the slight arc of the ceiling liner, there is less headroom near the side poles, around 445mm, and more in the centre. I can adjust the amount of sag in the canvas and get up to 550mm here, but prefer a tighter canvas. The available headroom is fine for sleeping, but I struggle to change my trousers or get into the sleeping bag.

        Design Considerations. There would not be enough headroom to put a ply panel on the seatbacks and then a mattress on top, whereas this tensioned canvas is comfortable and space-saving. But you couldn’t simply use a commercially available canvas camp bed, as they are designed to be supported and spread by their 3 or 4 sets of legs, and don’t have strong enough side poles for this application.

        Future Improvements. The canvas ends at the rear seatback, around the middle of my shins. Next job is to make a board to support my feet, rather than rest them on whatever luggage is in the boot. An idea which is just occurring to me as I write this is to devise some string arrangement so that I can “unspread” one of the poles at the foot end. This could clear some back seat area and make it easier to climb down.

        I’ve camped out about ten nights so far, sleeping like this. People could pry in, but with this high position, I also have a good view all around, and keep a torch handy. I arrive late and leave early. I seek out rural cul-de-sacs or wide verges on quiet lanes. To drive, I only need remove the clamp from my seatbelt, and roll the stretcher to the passenger side, and I’m on my way.
        Attached Files

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          #5
          This looks quite a unique arrangement but one which works well for you and still enables you to carry a full load while camping at virtually no cost.

          Well done - I like imagination!

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