What makes the best car camping kit? Wood? Plastic? Or Something in Between?

As will happen, my friends and I participate in a bit of one-ups-man-ship when it comes to camping gear. Of course, this means we touch and poke each other's jackets and sleeping bags, but our main curiosity revolves around our vehicles and their outdoors attributes. 

One friend has a VW Westfalia while another has a Mid-00's 4-Runner that he's transitioned into an overnight road tripping machine. I, as stated in a previous post, have done the same with my own Toyota Prius (throw that baby in "Power" mode and it's practically a 4-Runner;).

The Westfalia owner has modified his rig with a few custom additions made out of wood while the 4-Runner's back half is a spider web of crossing plastic supports that support a bed and offer raised storage space.

So when I started researching what would be best for The Car Camp Company's kits, I was truly torn about what material to use. Obviously, plastic isn't the best thing in the world, but if I could find a source who was supplying recycled plastic maybe it would make sense. Wood is obviously wood and I don't like a felled tree as much as the next concerned human, but at least it's a renewable resource.

It wasn't until I had started walking into fabrication shops with my hack designs that the picture started to become clearer.

"To do this, in plastic, is going to be really expensive."

Words from a smart person who saved me so much time going down a road (plastics) I had no idea about, but thought was going to my best option.

Nope, like the build I made for my own Prius, wood was going to be my medium. Wonderful, easy to cut and change, renewable wood. 

Honestly, it was a bit of relief to have this conclusion delivered to me in a kind of annoyed tone by that shop manager. Through my research, I've been to almost every lumber yard in Seattle and have smelled the sweet aroma of various cedars and maples, and take pride that what we're doing might help them serve their new plight in life as plywood with a certain honor - as a companion to those people who will drive them back out to their past friends and family for a reunion in nature.

Maybe I'm just making up stories about trees having lives and friends and romanticizing how by being bought and turned into a car camping kit would make their "life" better, but I don't care. I feel good about utilizing a renewable resource, and operating a business that hopefully in time will donate profits to foundations that focus on forest preservation. 

2 comments

Don

I’m sure that shop manager wasn’t annoyed with you. Kind of sounds like he’s pulling for you and likes helping you make your product the best ever!

Chris

Trees! Cutting them down is not necessarily bad if they’re replanted. Plus, if you’re making your kits out of them, the carbon is stored in them rather than released into the atmosphere. Just make sure you’re getting your lumber from a sustainable source!

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