Sleeping in the Suzuki Jimny

I thought I’d write a separate guide for car camping in the Jimny. It’s something a lot of people are interested in and I can understand why. It’s super convenient and a ton of fun. It’s cheap (if you don’t listen to my mattress selection advice lol), warm, quiet and comfortable when set up correctly. It can be done stealthily too, which is impossible in a roof top tent.

First off, some of the photos used are just for show, they’re staged. However, in practice sleeping in the Jimny for 1 or 2 people is extremely workable. Some on Facebook might disagree but we’ve done it and can vouch for authenticity. Crucially, and I would recommend this for any aspiring Jimny camper, keep equipment minimal, simple and efficient. Don’t necessarily do what I do! Make sure you have some form of waterproof storage boxes for your gear when you hit the hay and this is where a roof basket or rack can be your friend.

So here goes, this is everything I’ve learnt so far.

Car camping in the new Suzuki Jimny

One of the most notable features of the Jimny is the ability to drop the seats flat (well… almost flat) and this is what opens up the opportunity for excellent car camping.

All seats laid flat

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It’s a tiny car, there’s not enough room?

Yes and no.

Yes, it’s a tiny car. No, there’s a surprising amount of room.

When there’s 2 people the taller person will sleep on the passenger side which has a maximum length of around 170-180cm. The shorter person will have to position their feet either side of the steering wheel if they happen to reach that far. No big deal.

For reference I’m 6 foot tall and my wife is 5 foot 5 inches.

Initially during early tests it felt a bit snug on the length for me but this was due to lack of space width wise. Don’t laugh, but on our first attempt at sleeping in the Jimny my wife was cold during the night and shuffled over pressing me up against the side of the Jimny. Silly me, kept waking up thinking there’s hardly any room. It was pitch black I couldn’t see that she was hogging all the space 🤣.

If you’re a strapping specimen of a human standing taller than 6ft you’ll find it a bit lacking in length but sleeping on your own you’ll obviously have more room. It’s doable by sleeping on an angle or tucking your knees up.

Setting up

After you’ve dropped the seats down, open the rear door and blow your mattresses up from that end. Position the mattresses and sleeping bags in place then close the rear door. There’s no easy way to open or close the rear door when inside the vehicle (unless you do this mod). Therefore you will enter the Jimny from either of the main doors.

1 person set up

If you are solo camping then leave the drivers seat upright and get in on that side to shimmy over and lie down. Watch your bum doesn’t sound the horn on the way in 😜.

Solo is a quick set up

Here’s some pictures from my solo trip to the Lake District.

A thick mattress makes a big difference

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Here’s a full woodland camping trip sleeping in the Jimny. I had a fantastic nights sleep. Arguably better than the roof tent so far.

2 person set up

It’s just as simple to set up, however you need to make sure you buy 2 single mattresses rather than a double mattress. The obvious reason for this, which you’ll have figured out already, is the gear stick. It will get in the way of a double mattress meaning it won’t lie flat.

Squish the mattress around the gear stick

Unless you do something like this which is using our old replacement tent mattress that measures 193cm x 120cm x 7cm. It was an improvement on the Front Runner mattress but still not princess and the pea comfortable enough for us softies.

Try folding it under

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There’s also companies making Jimny specific mattresses (thanks Pavel @shad0wrunner for the link). I’m not certain about the comfort of these though and have obviously not tried them personally. Looks awesome though.

Here’s how our Jimny looks with the 2 mattresses in we find work the best for us. What we love about this set up is when either of you move in your sleep you’re not bouncing the other person up and down, waking them up. Each mattress being independent of each other.

Double mattress

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Mattress selection

I’m not affiliated to Exped or any company for that matter. I’ve bought everything with my own money. I simply want to share information to help other Jimny owners.

We’ve tried a number of mattresses and they all have different degrees of comfort and suitability. Naturally the more you pay, the better the mattress and the better nights sleep you get.

If you’re using a thin inflatable or foam cell mattress you can choose to place a heavy duty rubber boot liner or some other sort of underlay to help cover the gaps between the front seats. We found that it wasn’t necessary when using a thicker mattress. Try it out, you’ll not break anything.

You can optionally use the headrests to help fill the sloping gaps of the front seats if you wish, it’s only your feet at that end though and we generally slot the headrest in the footwells.

Optional placement of front headrests

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Mattress size

Aim for a mattress that’s 170cm to a maximum of 183cm in length.

Most inflatable mattresses are longer than the length of the Jimny so you need to make sure it’s not longer than 183cm or things start to get too awkward to fit.

Even with the 183cm mattress you need to tuck one end under the glove box and the other under steering wheel. This will give you a decent fit as shown in the picture below.

183cm length mattress

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Additionally adding a cargo net on the rear of the boot helps keep everything in place when you open the rear door.

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This setup was a MegaMat 10 MW (left) and a Thermarest Xtherm Large mattress (right).

Ideally you need a mattress that is 55-60cm wide.

It’s very comfortable sleeping in the Jimny when you use an inflatable mattress thicker than 7cm. We use a 10cm and 12cm thick mattress and have spent a few quid to get decent quality ones. In our opinion you can’t put a value on a good nights sleep.

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MegaMat 10 MW

I do recommend the MegaMat 10 MW for a single sleeper. It’s a bit too wide but very good when set up as shown above. This set up also allows for access to some storage and leaving one or both seats upright helps keep the mattress from sliding around. Please note that 2 of these mattresses will not work together for a 2 person set up.

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A cheaper KingCamp mattress and the Thermarest Xtherm Large.

The two mattresses shown above were fine to sleep on but as I’m a side sleeper the thicker mattresses offers more comfort.

I’ve researched a lot of candidates for the ultimate Suzuki Jimny mattress set and here’s my current recommendations if you’re up for spending on comfort.

Best 1 person mattress

Best 2 person mattresses

These are ultra comfortable! Extremely well insulated for cold nights and we even use them in our roof tent having removed the mattress that came with the tent. The MegaMat 10 MW is by far the best mattress I’ve ever tried and it’s better than the MegaMat Lite 12 M. Unfortunately due to width requirements you are forced to either buy 2 MegaMat Lite 12 M, giving you a total coverage of 104cm. Or 1 MegaMat 10 MW and 1 MegaMat Lite 12 M for a total (and full) coverage over 117cm.

Mattress pack size comparison

There’s a significant difference in pack size and to some extent the weight between the 2 mattresses we use and recommend. This may help you decide what’s best for you.

In case you’re wondering how the narrower and smaller pack sized Exped MegaMat Lite 12 M fits as a single sleeper, here’s a few pictures. 2 of these would also be a good options if you’d like to have a bit more storage space for other kit.

Exped MegaMat Lite 12 M

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Other contenders that I’ve not personally tried are 2 of the SynMat 9M by Exped. These will fit great and they pack down nicely too for storing in the back. They’re 1 cm thinner but I’m sure that won’t be too noticeable. I’ve not personally tried these.

Thermarest and other manufacturers do awesome mattresses too, so do your own research and comment below if you find other mattresses that fit and are worth a mention.

Ventilation

There is nothing worse than waking up to condensation pouring down the windows. So don’t forget to make sure there is enough airflow when sleeping in the Jimny. Keep both the front windows open an inch or two for ventilation. This does mean in certain climates it may be bloody freezing or even worse letting rain in. The Jimny wind and rain deflectors on the doors are a good idea to have installed if you’re car camping for this very reason. I think they look awesome too.

I saw a cool mod on youtube. If you car camp a lot you might fancy some DIY fun.

Cool ventilation mod

Staying warm

A good quality sleeping bag and an insulated mattress with a decent R rating will make your nights more comfortable. I got a brilliant tip on instagram from @jimny_style to turn on the heated seats for ten minutes before you go to sleep for toasty feet. Can’t believe I didn’t think of that sooner 😂.

Fact is sleeping in the Jimny is warmer than a tent and just as you would in any other outdoor situation, layer your clothing up if it’s below freezing.

Storage

Where do you keep your kit?

Theres lots of choice here from all the well know manufacturers. For the sake of completeness I’ll briefly mention a few bits of kit we’ve tried so far.

The Thule Canyon XT Roof Basket is a lovely piece of kit to add some internal storage space, as will any roof basket of course.

Thule Canyon XT Side View

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We have a front runner 3/4 slimline II rack that would hold plenty of boxes for all your camping essentials. Most Jimny owners go for the full size rack but we felt we didn’t need the extra weight.

Front runner rack

Waterproof storage

There’s waterproof roof storage bags on Amazon that fit into the Thule Canyon XT roof basket and some even have a streamlined profile to match the front of the basket. You can tuck the front under the baskets wind deflector.

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There’s also waterproof storage boxes from the likes of front runner and other companies. They’ll be way more knowledgable people than I on these types of products so give youtube a trawl for some reviews.

What’s it like to sleep in?

The main thing that makes sleeping in the Jimny better than the experience of sleeping in a roof top tent is noise. Wind noise and nocturnal creatures (inc. piss heads stumbling passed) are drowned out well in the Jimny compared to a tent.

If you’re a cold sleeper then you’ll likely prefer the extra warmth of the Jimny too in comparison to a tent.

Additionally when the weather is extremely windy sleeping in the Jimny is a fantastic option. This happened to me on my 1st Lake District overnighter when gale force winds were shaking the Jimny like a sailing boat lost at sea. Popping the roof tent would have been a mistake.

As long as you keep the inside of the vehicle well ventilated and invest in a decent sleep system you’ll be happy sleeping in the Jimny.

This setup is as basic as it gets if you throw in your current camping mattresses and sleeping bags and you can try some budget gear to test out whether it’s worth investing in better kit to improve the experience.

We 100% recommend car camping if you’re lucky enough to own a new Jimny. Even if you’re not the outdoor type it’s good fun. It’s like playing camps when you were a kid. Anyhow, after few whisky’s you’ll be wondering what took you so long to try it.

Jimny Car camping

12 thoughts on “Sleeping in the Suzuki Jimny

  1. Thanks so much for your very useful information. Just heard about the emissions problems, but as I live in Guatemala we can still buy them. Considering a long trip around South America in a new Jimny. Thanks again

  2. Hi, Geordie Jimny,
    Still havent bought my own, but continue to fantasize re travelling in South America (assuming we survive this pandemic). I have a question re sleeping. Was wondering if it were possible to unscrew the gear knob every night, just to give that little more space. I presume its possible, but maybe not a good idea???

    1. Hi Mel, good question. I know you can’t on the auto but assume you can on the manual version. We sleep with our heads at the other end so it doesn’t get in the way! It’s a brilliant option for situations when packing light.

  3. Thank you for sharing with us all these informations (especialy thé youtube link for opening the backdoor from inside ^^I was wondering about doing this for a while)
    For stuff that doesnt weigt too much I attached à bag with à chain on the extrawheel maybe à jerrican would fit too (the base looks sturdy)

  4. G’day mate, fantastic read and very helpful. I just bought. 2020 Jimny and am still smiling. I’m planning on driving Perth to Cairns early next year so will be experimenting with your suggestions, starting today. Happy Zuking 👍

  5. Thanks so much for the article some really great stuff, says the exped megamats are 197cm’s long on there website though not 184cm? Have they gotten longer or are you just not fully inflating them?

    1. You’re welcome Adam, glad it helps.

      Yeah some of the newer models are longer. You need to try find the M instead of MW or LW models. Two of the 12cm light weight ones would fit great too and pack down to the size of 1 of the Megamat M’s. Or the synmat 9 is a good size too I believe 👍

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