Since I first started backpacking late in high school, I’ve spent many (more than I can count) nights sleeping outside the confines of a four-walled permanent structure. I’ve had the pleasure--and pain--of crashing outdoors in all manner of ways: from the sparseness of nothing more than a sleeping bag and plastic rain tarp to the fairly cush (and prolific among climbers) foam-lined truck bed platform. I tend to think I’ve paid my dues, hauling tent+sleeping bag+sleeping pad (which were unpacked, set up, taken down, and repacked daily) on week-long backpacking trips; sleeping for three weeks straight in an increasingly odiferous tent on the Kahiltna Glacier in AK and Applebee Dome in the Bugaboos; and all-too-often cracking my forehead on the truck-cap ceiling that loomed about two feet above our sleeping platform.
Ode to Car Camping in Style - Jess Taverna
And so even if it is “selling out” or “getting soft” or just plain old spoiled, I think I’ve earned our new car-camping setup: the mother of all truck toppers that is the FlipPac. At a quick glance, the FlipPac appears to be a slightly taller than usual truck bed shell. But what lies inside is so much more. When unlatched, the top of the shell hinges forward over the cab of the truck as a large tent (seriously--much larger in person than I realized from any of the dozens of photos I ogled while we waited for ours to be ready for installation) unfolds over the entire length of the vehicle. Once it’s fully opened, you’ve got standing room space in the truck bed (with seven foot ceiling) and sleeping space above the cab, complete with mattress and more than enough height for even my 6’2” husband to sit up in. In a word, it is glorious.
It makes everything about climbing trips--especially the quick, leave right from work weekend ones--easier. From packing up to get on the road after a long work day to collapsing into bed after a long drive to hiding from bugs or wind or rain or cold to cooking meals, it’s fast, organized, and comfortable. The jury is still out, however, on the long-term climbing performance implications of such a setup. Is comfort key or will it make us weaksauce? Will we spend more weekends out of town climbing, since we can be packed and on the road so easily, thus increasing time on the rock and improving our games; or will all those trips make us complacent, taking for granted that we can get out anytime and so giving license to laziness? Will the lure of the ‘Pac be so strong that with each progressive weekend we crash earlier and sleep later, eventually forgetting about climbing altogether and only stumbling out of our cocoon to answer nature’s call? Only one way to find out, I suppose...