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How-to use camp mode in your Tesla

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When you invested in your Tesla electric vehicle did you ever imagine you’d be sleeping in it? If your idea of glamping involves putting down the seats, adding a mattress and some pillows and putting the vehicle into “camp mode,” then the Tesla is the place to be! We explore how to use camp mode in your Tesla and why you might want to check it out!

Whether you’re going to “off-road” at a campground, camping in your backyard or taking a cross-country road trip in your electric vehicle, Tesla’s Camp Mode makes it infinitely more comfortable.

We have a guide to a camping trip in your Tesla Model 3 or another Tesla model. Because we aren’t certain whether coronavirus will allow for airline travel or if you’re not certain you want to stay in a hotel, we have a guide to camping in your Tesla and using Camp Mode.

SEE ALSO: Recharge Your EV Knowledge

Charge your Tesla up and go

Many RV parks today offer the option to charge most electric vehicles, letting you charge while camping under the stars. Charge overnight then set off on your road trip the following day. There are also many places at which you can charge your electric vehicle for free.

Tesla introduced the new “Camp Mode” feature in December 2019. To camp in your Tesla, fold down the rear seats, add a mattress and camp out! Earlier iterations of the Tesla didn’t provide an option of being able to keep climate control and the lights on for long periods when the vehicle is in park mode; thus Camp Mode was introduced by Tesla.

What exactly is Tesla’s Camp Mode?

The Camp Mode feature lets you to turn your vehicle into a comfortable and breathable car and one in which you can — in theory — comfortably sleep and camp in.

When you put your vehicle into Camp Mode the cabin will maintain its interior lighting, temperature, airflow and play your music.

How do you enable Camp Mode?

On the Tesla’s touch screen, touch the fan icon at the bottom of it, then touch the icon marked, “camp.” Keep in mind that the vehicle has to be in Park mode to use the Camp Mode option.

Are there times Camp Mode cannot be used?

  • It cannot be used unless the vehicle is in Park.
  • You need more than a 15% charge remaining. A thread on Twitter noted, though, that Camp Mode could be used even if the battery charge was as low as 5%. We haven’t tested that yet, though.

Energy consumption

Running the vehicle in Camp Mode will eat up about 10% of the charge in an eight-hour time frame. If it’s extremely cold or otherwise inclement weather, the battery will be drained more quickly, simply because it will have to work harder to maintain the interior temperature you’ve chosen. Even at low temperatures for about eight hours, you’re looking at a consumption of around 15% — not bad. Keep in mind that these are averages and estimates — don’t leave yourself without enough charge to get to a charging station.

Unexpected “camping”

Imagine you’re unexpectedly stuck in a snowstorm or if your vehicle — is for some reason — stationary and you can put it in park and hang out. A Tesla owner in Norway, Bjorn Nyland, wanted to see if he could live in his Tesla so he decided to camp on a road that had closed due to snowfall. He wanted to see how much battery the Tesla would use when in Park and in Camp Mode. This was a test, but imagine if you were stranded on the highway for several hours and had to survive in your vehicle until the road opened or help arrived — this is good-to-know news.

Nyland, an influential Tesla evangelist uses Camp Mode to see how well his vehicle performs in the frigid, snowy temps in Norway. He camped for twenty-four hours in temperatures at (14°F/-10°C) and the charge in his Tesla Model 3 went from a full charge to around 50% charge in those chilling temps.

Performance in a frigid snowstorm drained about 2 kWh per hour. You could conserve energy by turning off the touch screen.

Camp Mode: Do you need it?

As with any technology there seem to be dissenters. Some Tesla owners, on the Tesla Motor Club site, deemed Camp Mode “useless” and offered an alternative:

  1. Turn off the vehicle’s lights
  2. Set the desired temperature to Keep Climate On
  3. Turn on the rear vents. They need to be turned on as they won’t turn on automatically
  4. Disable/turn off the Walkaway Door Locks option
  5. Turn off the vehicle’s dome lights and Sentry
  6. Finally, turn off the Alarm (it’s under the Safety and Security option)

If you open the driver’s door you will need to go through all the steps again in manual, not Camp Mode. Use the app on your phone to lock the doors and the screen will turn off.

One of the main benefits of using Camp Mode is that you won’t need to go through all the steps above to get the screen to turn off. Some users in the forms opted to cover the screen with a cloth to make it dark enough to comfortably sleep.

Is Camp Mode right for you? It is a personal choice, of course, but it may help you make the decision of, “Should I hit the open road this summer, avoid crowds and camp in my Tesla?”

Recommended products: making your camping experience better

How can you make your Camp Mode experience better? There are several ways!

tescamp camping mattresses

If you have a Tesla Model Y, you can get the TESCAMP Camping Mattress that features CertiPUR memory foam. It’s cut and designed to fit in your Model Y with the rear seats folded down, meaning you don’t have to sleep on the hard surface of the floor of the car.

You can read our full list of the best car mattresses here.

stalwart electric car blanket

What good is a mattress without a blanket? Electric car blankets are getting popular, and we recommend this one from Stalwart. It’s available in a variety of colors to match your car and it does what you expect it to do: plugs into your car’s 12-volt outlet to keep your warm. The attached cord is 96-inches long, which should be plenty for your Tesla, while the blanket itself measures 59″ long by 43″ wide.

You can see our recommendations for the best heated car blankets here.

temai model y side window sunshades

Now that you have a mattress in your Model Y, you still have the problem of light getting into your car. That’s why you can pick up the TEMAI Tesla Model Y side window sun shades for less than $100 that will block out all outside light and keep nosey people from snooping on you while you sleep.

You can get more car sun shades recommendations here.

jackery portable power station

You’re going camping with an electric vehicle, so it only makes sense that you bring an electric portable generator with you. Our recommendation for one comes from Jackery, giving you plenty of outlets to use or charge your devices. The portable power station is also compatible with the company’s solar panel.

See our list of the best portable power stations here.

Recent Updates

Updated (12:37 p.m. EDT, 11/01/2022): Added links to our full list of recommendations for great camping products.

Updated (1:20 p.m. EDT, 06/28/2022): Added an electric car blanket recommendation.

Updated (5:02 p.m. EDT, 06/20/2022): Added a portable power station recommendation.

Updated (4:11 p.m. EST, 01/14/2022): Added some Tesla Model Y accessories to improve the Tesla Camp Mode experience.

Updated (12:11 pm EST, 12/06/2021): Added official video from Tesla regarding Camp Mode.

Written by Robbi Hess, Chad Kirchner
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