Mini hammock turns even the least cooperative SUV into a poor man's RV
The easiest, cheapest way of experiencing van life – or a close relative of van life, at least – is sleeping on the folded seats of an SUV or hatchback. Depending upon the vehicle, though, the sleeping area may be be too short, leaving your head dangling off the top of the folded rear bench or your feet mashed up against the tailgate. Canadian startup Backseat Bivy looks to erase that problem with a quick-secure sleeping platform that offers hammock-like suspended rest.
As much as we love more elaborate motorhomes and camping trailers here at New Atlas, there's something beautifully simple and natural about folding down the rear seats and spending the night in the back of an SUV or crossover – at least if you're rolling solo or with only a significant other. You maintain the original vehicle's footprint for lighter, nimbler road and off-road travel, gain a warmer, stabler night of sleep over a ground tent, and enjoy the experience of a mini-RV without any expense beyond the vehicle you already own and perhaps a sleeping pad or two.
Not every vehicle is blessed with a flat floor long enough to accommodate even an average-sized person's achy bones, however. Backseat Bivy looks to make up some of the difference with a very simple solution that sets up in a minute's time.
More a head hammock than a bivy, the Backseat Bivy secures to the front-seat headrests via buckled straps. A spreader bar up top keeps it stable and taut for better support, and the lower straps clip to the child seat hooks on the folded rear seat. All straps are adjustable in length, and a daisy chain design lets users move the lower straps as needed to better fit the vehicle.
Once set up, the Bivy provides 18 inches (46 cm) of added "bed" length to bridge the footwell gap between the folded rear seats and front seats. It's not sized to support your entire body so the weight capacity of 60 lb (27 kg) will be enough to lay your head down. At 48 in (122 cm) wide, it's fairly narrow, providing a roomy night of sleep for a solo camper or a snugger night of sleep for a couple. You probably don't want to share it with someone with whom you maintain a purely platonic relationship ... especially if that someone played offensive tackle on your college's football team.
The Backseat Bivy weighs a mere 2.2 lb (1 kg) without the carry bag and packs up small thanks to the easily rolled/folded fabric and collapsible aluminum pole. It fits in a glove compartment or seat-back pocket so you can store it in your vehicle and always have a place to sleep, even if you weren't planning an overnight trip. It's also small enough to pack for air travel, offering an in-vehicle sleeping solution for a borrowed or rented vehicle.
The Backseat Bivy isn't the first solution to this particular problem, as we've also seen inflatable mattresses with footwell-filling supports, numerous fold-out in-vehicle camper kits, full-body in-car hammocks and, of course, many DIY solutions. Unlike some of those, the Backseat Bivy is designed to be more universal, compatible with vehicles that have flat-folding rear seats that leave a footwell gap, include child seat hooks or somewhere else to clip the lower straps, and have interiors wider than 48 in. It seems like a simple, affordable solution for a summer in which RV travel has become so hot manufacturers are struggling to build campers fast enough to meet demand.
Backseat Bivy is on Indiegogo now, available at pledge levels as low as US$92. The company has already surpassed its $8,500 goal and hopes to begin shipping in August if all goes to plan, helping road-trippers, car campers and outdoor adventurers make the most of the tail end of summer. Note that the $92 early bird price expires on June 29, roughly two weeks before the campaign's end in mid-July.
A straightforward hunk of fabric and webbing, the Backseat Bivy really doesn't warrant three minutes of introductory video, but the Scottish voice-over makes the one below worth a watch.
Source: Backseat Bivy