The Car Camping Kit That Never Was

There have been plenty of humbling experiences during the early beginnings of this project known as The Car Camp Company. Cuts being almost an inch off. Drilling through the sides of the plywood. Heavy wood dropping on my foot. 

With my actual cutting and drilling efficiency ramping up however, I was a little surprised and very frustrated at myself over the latest kit build for a Subaru Crosstrek. 

The owner of the car was kind enough to meet so I could get eyes on the vehicle, and manually measure the height gap between the folded backseats and what would be the bottom edge of the sleeping platform. This measurement would give me the length needed to build a support that would rest on the folded down seats. After obtaining that number, I pulled my head out of the side door and moved back around to the rear of the car to notice something I haven't seen in any other vehicle up to this point: a 3" lip from the bottom of the trunk's floor to the edge of the gate lift.

This is a problem, specifically because we'd agreed on including a drawer. That meant that the whole kit would need to be either shimmed up to that height or at minimum have the top point of the platform be 8" above the back gate edge, really shortening the head / movement space inside the car when trying to change clothes, etc.

Before our first meeting, I'd actually put together what I was hoping would be an ideal kit based off of the dimensions he'd given that matched my Internet research, so wasn't too concerned about having to throw a little lift on the bottom of the build. 

Back at the shop, I threw a couple 2x4s underneath the drawer foundation, and sure enough the kit was lifted to its new height that would allow for the drawer to cleanly slide in and out. For due diligence, I added the same amount of new height to the supports that would rest on the folded backseats. 

A few days later, the Crosstrek swung by the shop for a fitting. Having this be the first time the kit was actually going into the car, we were both a bit frustrated that it didn't actually "fit" until I knicked 4" off the back-of-the-car facing corners. Even then, we could barely navigate the build through the back of the car because of what was now obviously a very narrow trunk entrance (much narrower than the platform that matched the width of the wheel wells at 42"). 

Eventually, we got it into place and properly leveled. I unfurled the passenger side headboard, and the Crosstrek's owner crawled in to see how HE fit. Not well. 

Fully laid on a diagonal, his 5'7"-ish frame had his feet brushing up against the back of the trunk gate and his head resting over the top of the headboard. Simply, in its current state, it wasn't going to work.

I had agreed to build the kit on spec without a financial commitment from him, so we parted on good terms as he was due in San Francisco for the next couple of months. Still, like a scorned lover, I watched the Crosstrek drive away, wondering how it'd gone so wrong? 

I soon realized I'd been lucky in my first batch of builds, dealing with rigs that lacked overt nooks and crannies that required ultra-special attention. But why wouldn't the car's trunk width match the trunk gate's width? And why is the Crosstrek's distance from end of car to front seats so damn short!?

As with each build so far, lessons have been learned. However, who knew I was earning a masters in Frustration when taking on a Crosstrek?  


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