SHIPS OF THE ARALCUM DESERT
The range of ground tents available is huge! They range from small lightweight one-person hiking tents to multi room family holiday tents and can therefore cater to virtually all scenarios.
One of the obvious drawbacks with swags and RTTs is that they are really only good for two people, whereas a large ground tent can accommodate a family. Indeed Aaron Rich and family, 5GoOverland, opted for a Darche AT6 ground tent when crossing Central Asia last year, large enough for all five of them to sleep comfortably out of the elements. overlanding. As we said in the introduction to this article, equipment can be simple or extravagant and is only a means to an end. If a cheap tent can provide a good night’s sleep and protect you from the elements, why not! Ultimately, as with all your overlanding equipment, your budget should depend on how much you can afford and how much you will use it.
At 4x4Explorer, when we were away together and prior to acquiring the Darche swag we used a relatively cheap (circa
$ 400) two-person tent that we purchased at Decathlon in France a couple of years ago. It’s self-supporting, so doesn’t need pegging out. This is handy if you want to pitch it on a beach or if the ground is too hard to get pegs in.
It’s called a “Fresh and Black” and has a silver reflective flysheet and black insect netting interior. Primarily designed for use in the South of France, where it gets extremely hot, the advantage is that when it’s closed up, the inside is pitch black! Essential for me to get a good night’s sleep!
The tent itself also takes up very little room in the truck, although, because we travel so much, we do have a 200l weatherproof Rhino Rack cargo bag which contains a double self-inflating mattress, a double duvet and four pillows. This is stored on the roof rack out of the way.
Other advantages of a ground tent, such as ours, are that if we needed to abandon the vehicle and walk out, it is small enough and light enough to take with us and if we are in a campsite, we can still use the truck.
Having said that, we mostly use the ground tent, we also have the possibility of sleeping in the truck.
Both our New Zealand and European 4x4Explorer vehicles have been configured so that we can have a double sleeping platform in the back. In New Zealand, we removed the back seats and created a platform, the size of a double bed, beneath which we store all our equipment. In Europe, we retained the back seats and have a system where we can slide a piece of wood forward, which rests on the reclined rear seats.
We have a set of black hessian curtains that we can use for privacy, though I must say at this point, that my partner, Andrea, really dislikes sleeping in the truck and refers to it as the “Coffin,” maybe on account of the curtains.
I’m also not a huge fan. I don’t like the restricted head height and I find it difficult to get in and out of bed. When you reach a certain age and have calls that need to be attended to in the middle of the night, it can be quite an effort, especially if I’m in a sleeping bag.
That said, one of the advantages of sleeping in the truck is that it is very quick. All I need to do is unpack my sleeping bag and it’s ready. I really only sleep in the truck if I arrive somewhere much later than planned or if the ground is just too rocky to erect the tent… which has occurred a few times mainly up High Country Canterbury valleys.
Other advantages are that the truck is totally weatherproof and you benefit from the vehicle’s sound insulation.
Setting your truck up to enable you to sleep in the back is very simple, inexpensive and can be achieved while retaining the rear seats. I have written an article on how the 4x4Explorer truck is fitted out and there are many articles and videos available on the Internet to show you how.
I have many overlanding friends who sleep in their vehicles and are extremely happy with this option.
I also always keep a sleeping bag in the truck in case I end up spending the night in it for any unforeseen reason or have to walk out. An important part of overlanding is being self-sufficient.
So here we have briefly examined the sleeping options available to us as overlanders. Winch option you choose will be based on how you use your vehicle and how important various factors are to you. These could include speed of set up and stowage, budget, number of people in the party, amount of use, space available, terrain, climate/season and comfort level required.
Whichever system you are using at the moment or are considering in the future, it should be based on what suits YOU best, rather than the latest trend or trends.
Choosing which sleeping system to adopt is one of the most important overlanding decisions that you will make. As we all know, a good night’s sleep after a day behind the wheel is priceless!