I love the ease and simplicity of car camping, and the Camp Mode in the Tesla was a big attraction in buying a Tesla Model Y. After spending hot (and extremely cold) nights camping in my Honda Element, the ability to set the temp and stay comfortable while sleeping was very exciting!
I had my first chance to try camping in a Tesla on a trip with GirlCamper.com Minnesota Chapter to Burlington Bay Campground in Two Harbors MN. I have camped there before, and even though the campsites are small and close together, it is a wonderful location right on the shore of Lake Superior. I reserved an electric site so I would have the ability to charge the Tesla overnight.
New Tesla owners usually have Range Anxiety, luckily I had already worked through this before I took this trip. Typically I charge my car to 80% at home each night, this time I charged to 90% just to have a little extra battery power in case there was a reason I couldn’t charge at the site. Two Harbors MN has a Super Charger, so at no time was I worried about running out of battery.
What to know about Camping in a Tesla Model Y
There are a few things that I learned on this trip that may make your experience with camping in a Tesla easier.
Tesla Camp Mode
With Camp Mode, you can set the cabin temperature so that you are comfortable while camping. Unlike a combustion engine car, there is no exhaust in a Tesla so you don’t need to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning. The car stays powered so you can charge your phone, laptop, 12v refrigerator and other small items. Camp Mode automatically shuts off when you reach 20% battery life, so you don’t need to worry about draining the battery.
The Camp Mode graphic on the screen lasts about 15 minutes, however you can watch Youtube, Netflix, Hulu, watch a crackling fire on your screen or listen to music. The interior lights also work.
I purchased the Jowua LED Light Bar to keep inside while camping, because not only is it beautiful and have a soft light, it has a motion detector setting turning on the light when you enter the car.
Set up a Camp Profile for your Tesla
I recommend setting up a “Camp” profile for your Tesla. A couple of settings that I found helpful to keep the peace in the campground are turning off the headlights so they won’t flash when you lock the car, and turning off the horn that honks when you lock or unlock the doors. My understanding is that the doors will not automatically lock in Camp Mode so keep that in mind if you walk away from the car.
Charging the Tesla at the Campground
Please note that I am not an expert at electricity, however this is what worked for me.
If you have a campsite with electric, you will need your Tesla Mobile Charger and an adapter. Typically the power pole at a campground will have a normal 110 household style outlet, and either a 30 amp or 50 amp outlet or both. Ideally you can plug into a 50 amp to charge the Tesla and run Camp Mode.
Either way, you should adjust the charge settings to about 80% of the amps – so if you are using 50 amps, change setting to 38-40 amps, and if you are using a 30 amp, adjust the charging to 24 amps so that you won’t trip the circuit at the power pole.
My mobile charger came with a NEMA 14-50 adapter. I purchased the ONETAK NEMA TT-30P to plug into the 30 amp outlet at the campground. This will charge a little slower than the 50 amp, however I was able to charge to 80% within the first 24 hours of my stay.
NEMA TT-30P to 14-50R 120V 30 Amp 3 Prong Male Plug to 4 Prong Generator Female Outlet Receptacle EV Charger Compatible Tesla Gen 2 Power Cord Adapter NOT RV
Use this along with the 50 Amp Tesla adapter to plug into the 30amp receptacle at the campsite.
** Important note about charging. After your Tesla is charged to your desired percentage (80% in my case) it will continue to use the power from the power pole to run the Camp Mode and Climate, etc when you are plugged in. For example each night I went to sleep with the car at 80%, and when I woke up it was 80%. The last night I unplugged the car from power, went to bed at 80%, ran Camp Mode all night, and woke up at 70% charge.
Sleeping in the Tesla
The Tesla Model Y is very comfortable for sleeping and gives a bit more headroom than the Model 3. The seats do not fold down completely flat and some people adjust for that with boards or adding padding under the mattress. I did not make any adjustments for the slight incline and I was still very comfortable sleeping.
In this setup I used an inflatable mattress designed specifically for the Model Y. You have the ability to inflate either side or both sides if you are camping with two people. I chose to inflate the 70% side of the back and keep the 30% back seat up so i could sit there if I wanted to. I could then store items behind the back seat and next to the mattress. This mattress was made by Evannex and splits the same way that the seats do, vs down the middle.
Window Covers for the Tesla Model Y
Window Covers come in handy when you are in a campground, I have covers for all windows and the sun roof. Because the windows in the doors are “frameless” you will have to work a bit to get the window covers to stay in if you are opening the door. They will stay pretty well when you are installing them from the inside.
Side Window Rear Window Sunshade Model Y UV Blocker Upgraded 4-Layer Material Distinctive Texture Foldable 100% Fit
Storage in the Model Y
Between the Trunk and the Frunk, there is a lot of storage in the Model Y. I used the Frunk for some of my kitchen items and mobile charger, the trunk held my tent, and other supplies.
While I slept in the Model Y, I brought a tent with me for changing, and to store my clothes and other camping items. I found that the tent was not really necessary. I had enough room that I could have kept everything in the car.
In the future I will bring my Clam Screen House and the privacy panels that come with it, so I can get dressed if I need to, but I can also use it to relax away from the bugs.
Cooking while Camping in the Tesla
I brought the bare minimum with me as far as cooking and used the picnic table at the campsite. You can read more about Small Camper Galley Basics here to find out more about my camp kitchen supplies.
I use the Kelty Camp Galley Deluxe for my kitchen items and it’s easily packed and has plenty of room for storage. For this trip I used my Eureka Camp Stove which runs on propane. You could also use an electric burner in the Tesla, however I have too many stoves to justify buying another one. I did bring an electric kettle to heat up water for morning coffee, and just plugged that into the power pole at the campsite.
- Camp Galley Deluxe Featured in Outside Magazine’s Summer Buyer’s Guide as part of the Best Car Camping Kitchen Gear of 2022. “Use attachment straps to hang this zip-up, schoolbag-size kitchen organizer from a tree or cabin post. Mesh compartments and elastic loops hold spices, plates, and utensils. (Bonus: fast air drying!) Hang a paper-towel roll from a cord on the bottom.” – Outside Magazine
I hope this information is helpful to get you started in Camping in your Tesla, all in all it is very comfortable for a short trip, I don’t think I would want to spend a week in it, but for a weekend trip it keeps you very comfortable.