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.
So here goes, this is everything I’ve learnt so far.
- Car camping in the new Suzuki Jimny
- It’s a tiny car, there’s not enough room?
- Setting up
- 1 person set up
- 2 person set up
- Mattress selection
- Staying warm
- What’s it like to sleep in?
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.
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 “Shit, there’s hardly any room in here.”, as 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 much more room. It’s doable by sleeping on an angle or tucking your knees 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 cool 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 😜.
Here’s some pictures from my solo trip to the Lake District.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Additionally adding a cargo net on the rear of the boot helps keep everything in place when you open the rear door.
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.
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.
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
- Exped MegaMat 10 MW – Passenger side (183cm x 65cm x 10cm)
- Exped MegaMat Lite 12 M – Drivers side (183cm x 52cm x 12cm)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.