how you set up your SUV or other car

Van Living Forum

Help Support Van Living Forum:

Morgana

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 18, 2021
Messages
461
Reaction score
387
Question for the SUV-ers and other car-dwellers:
Do you use the front seat for your living room/dining room/office? or do you set up something for that in the back?
So far I'm thinking why not use the front seat, it's already shaped like a comfortable chair ... but I'm curious what other people do.
(And yes to living outside as much as possible, of course, but sometimes it rains or gets dark.)
 

Ripper238

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 23, 2021
Messages
258
Reaction score
174
Location
NE
I have a 4Runner I use for my adventuring, daily driving and everything else. So it needs to be versatile and become just a regular SUV when needed.

My front passenger seat is the one seat that i use for various storage needs for the day/night. Cooler storage at night, day pack for day trips paramedic bag... But it can easily become a work station with ease if needed.

I do all my living out of the back. So i put in 2 slide out tables and have a nice chair. The hatch protects me from rain and whatnot, plus i can use a small tarp to extend coverage. I really want to be outside as much as possible.

n7oUfzJl.jpg


TAbGtkEl.jpg


esn3Jfyl.jpg


I also recently added this gazebo for bad weather where the hatch is not enough coverage when trying to stay out of the rain but want to move around more:

Z6Z22kMl.jpg
 
Last edited:

GypsyJan

Well-known member
Joined
May 26, 2018
Messages
705
Reaction score
39
I use the passenger seat as storage/office and the driver's seat with a steering-wheel tray for dining during inclement weather (with a coil immersion heat coil that plugs into the cigarette lighter for soups, hot beverages,, etc). In good weather, I cook , eat and wash dishes under the opened hatch door in the back.
 

scaredycat72

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 29, 2021
Messages
251
Reaction score
321
I urban camp so I left the back passenger seat up to serve as my lounge area. I did it for the following reasons:

1. My black out curtains are behind my front seats so I can move to the back, close my curtains, and have some privacy without drawing attention to myself by having all my windows covered.

2. I don't like having the steering wheel right in front of my face and my front passenger seat isn't as comfortable as my back passenger seat.

3. I can hang an organizer desk off the back of my front passenger seat and watch TV on my tablet.

4. I can push my front passenger seat up and have a ton of room. I can set up a table in the space to cook on and to do crafts on. I can set up my portable toilet on the floor. I also have plenty of room to take a sink bath or use my baby wipes.

5. I can put the stuff that I buy on my back passenger seat without having to worry about thieves seeing it before I put everything up.

So yeah, having my back passenger seat open works better for me.
 

Calaverasgrande

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 15, 2021
Messages
420
Reaction score
268
7 or 8 years ago when I was still in Cali I was living out of my Subaru Outback for a while.
I basically did all my meals and showering at work. So the car was just for sleeping and stuff.
I got the back glass tinted as dark as possible. I figured out a curtain type of thing with one of those spring loaded curtain rods. Used curtains that are a very close match to the factory tint on the front window. So you can't even tell there is a curtain unless you stand right in the middle, crouch down, and use a flashlight.
I would put a gym duffle in the front seat when I was sleeping basically to cover the part where you might see my feet.
as far as the back. The mid 90's Legacy/Outback was longer and wider in the cargo area than later ones.
I could fit laying down if I did so diagonally.
I put a few backpacking sleeping pads down. One pricey REI one and a couple Big 5 cheapies.
That was fine for 5 or 6 months of California winter. Which never dipped below 45.
I did get a hotel room a few times when I got the heebie jeebies and couldnt chill out enough to park some place else and get to sleep.
Had to be fresh for work the next day no matter what my sleeping situation!
And I learned long ago that if my intuition is telling me something is wrong, better safe than sorry.
Aside from the front seat duffle I was careful not to have anything visible in the car. No bumperstickers etc.
Didn't want to attract attention, but also, leveraging the ubiquity of the Subaru in the Bay Area. If I had bumper stickers or rearview decorations those would be identifiable by some nosy dog walking neighbor. They might make trouble if they notice a car parking at various places around their little middle class enclave. And I was fully exploiting the safety of those middle class enclaves!
 

JDub

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 14, 2021
Messages
994
Reaction score
436
My front P seat turns into a riding and sleeping platform for Sam. The footwell serves as storage for all his food and stuff, his bed blankets ride in there too. He seems content with the setup...

Cheers!
 

Tony's Dream

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 25, 2019
Messages
431
Reaction score
164
Location
Nebraska
I don't like having to shift everything around every day, so everything in my van has a place. Like so many others, my van is my travel van and has to be a regular van upon demand. Everything in my van can be removed within 15 minutes. Since I spend a lot of time behind my steering wheel, the last thing I want to do is to spend any more time there. My passenger seat serves as my extra storage. When I am on the road, it's my pantry where I store all of my nonperishable food stock and my suitcase/tote bag with my clothes. I cook and eat all of my foods outside the van, l love the fresh air. On rainy days, it's restaurant time. When I was researching van life, one of the most imporant lessons I learned is that everything should have a dual purpose. So my bed also serves as my living room. I can lay on the bed and watch TV via my cell phone or I can sit up right and relax.
 

Morgana

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 18, 2021
Messages
461
Reaction score
387
Many thanks, all. This is such a resourceful crowd.

So some follow-up questions for the SUV-ers who set up a just-hanging-out space in the back of the vehicle:

(1) do you just use a back seat instead of a front seat for your "chair"? if not, what do you use?
(2) do you have separate spaces for sleeping and sitting, or do you use the same space for both and just shift things around at night?

I'm mostly interested in variations that work within the space limitations of an average SUV, with or without back seats. (Mine has the back seats removed but otherwise no permanent alterations.) But I enjoy reading about all the creative solutions people have come up with.
 

WanderingRose

Well-known member
Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 17, 2018
Messages
1,864
Reaction score
416
Location
Upper Midwest
I have an alternative to the steering wheel table shown here, and that is a small, laptop “desk”, that takes up very little space and tucks away nicely.

I lay it on my seat cushion as an end table, for a coffee cup or drink glass, and on my lap as a meal tray.

It provides the needed solid surface, and was under $10, as I recall.
 

JeepLiving

Active member
Joined
Dec 22, 2021
Messages
31
Reaction score
67
My Grand Cherokee features the most adjustable and comfortable driver's seat I've ever had. I've spent as much as 23 hours out of 24 in it and for multiple days. It's a cozy sleeping berth and also works well for an office chair. For the past 7 months, I kept the front passenger seat and installed an articulating laptop arm/platform. I also built a desk with storage that occupies the seat. I removed the rear bench seat so I could maximize rear storage including an Alpicool 63-quart fridge/freezer (on the floor behind the passenger seat).

Seven months experience has proven that living in the Jeep for extended periods is extremely comfortable (for me). I'm now in the process of reviewing and reconfiguring everything and am debating whether to remove the front passenger seat. The desk becomes a magnet for clutter and the pivoting laptop stand is a bit awkward to use. I'm going to try to come up with something better, possibly a steering wheel table as discussed by others above.

I carry a Clam pop-up tent (like Ripper238's tent above) where I do my cooking and Navy bathing. I have a set of shelves in the far rear where I store kitchen equipment and ingredients. I mounted a pair of 100-watt solar panels on the roof on top of the (too much) stuff I carry on my home-made roof rack. This is also getting re-worked so that I can access the roof storage without having to take off the panels. I have a large tent for day-time relaxing/camp storage/change of scenery, but lately I haven't bothered to set it up since the Jeep is the most comfortable place to hang out and to sleep.

Having initially (and predictably) ignored the advice to carry as little as possible, I'm now working to rid myself of all the stuff I brought that just isn't justified. Mainly, I want to get rid of the small utility trailer I'm using, reduce the roof load and not have the Jeep interior crammed full. I think this is the key to making any nomad vehicle work. Start out with far less than you think you'll need and add to it if experience dictates. Sometimes it's harder to get rid of stuff than to acquire newly identified stuff. But either way, hit the road and just know that experience will help you fine-tune your system.
 
Top