Social Distancing and On-Car Camping With Our 2020 Subaru Outback

Overlanding is all the rage right now, and with the pandemic still affecting everyone’s lives, what better way to social distance than to leave the city for some weekend car camping?

We reached out to our friends at Thule to see about testing one of its rooftop tents on our long-term Outback. The company sent us its Thule Tepui Explorer Kukenam 3 ($1,699.95), which after we received it, definitely seemed like an ideal way to do a few Outbacky things.

The Kukenam 3 accommodates up to three people (or 600 pounds, whichever comes first). Its internal frame, made from welded 5/8-inch aluminum tubing, is wrapped to protect it from weather damage. Thule says it’s “built to withstand any environment,” and although we can’t vouch for all potential conditions, it felt sturdy to us. Installing the rooftop tent was a bit frustrating, as I’ve never installed one before and the instructions weren’t always clear. The total time was four (!) hours. Our Outback has an easy-to-use retractable crossbar, but Thule’s installation instructions say not to use those for a rooftop tent. Luckily, Thule offers crossbars and brackets of its own with higher weight ratings that work with factory rails to prevent roof damage. Once everything was installed, we headed up to Bishop, California, for a weekend of camping.

The rooftop tent was barely noticed during our ride to Bishop. It collapses down to just 12 inches tall while stowed, there was little to no additional noise, and at no point did it feel less than secure. Plus, at about 130 pounds, there’s no big weight penalty from the tent—it’s roughly equivalent to adding a small passenger in the back seat. Inside the Outback, our drive up was comfortable with the Onyx-specific StarTex upholstery seats, too.

Inside the tent, I, a short five feet, one inches, and my boyfriend, a tall six-foot-one, fit perfectly with plenty of wiggle room. (When opened, it has eight feet of sleeping length.) Setting up for camp was a breeze. All you had to do was fold out the tent, and everything was all set. The same was true when we packed the tent up; it was easy as 1, 2, 3. The convenient setup and pack-up saves campers a lot of time so you can spend more time exploring—and driving something like this Outback, enjoying its comfortable ride quality and easy, turbocharged power delivery.

More on Our Long-Term 2020 Subaru Outback Onyx XT:

  • Arrival: Specs, Features, and First Impressions
  • Update 1: Quirk Takes Some Getting Used To
  • Update 2: Can the 2020 Outback Compete With SUV Functionality?

The post Social Distancing and On-Car Camping With Our 2020 Subaru Outback appeared first on MotorTrend.

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