What is Camping Mode in a Tesla?

Tesla’s Camping Mode received media attention in 2019 when it was first rolled out. The idea was to provide a more definitive camping experience right out the gate.

Camping Mode made it more socially acceptable and feasible to camp inside a car. Campers have access to amenities like television, climate control, and more.

Tesla Camping Mode aims to streamline the outdoor experience. Let’s take an in-depth look at Tesla’s Camping Mode.

How it All Started

Where there’s a will, there’s a way – so the saying goes. The 2012 launch of the Model S saw a few Tesla owners going camping. Drivers discovered that a small mattress could easily fit if the seats were pushed down. This was an innovative idea, but there were major limitations.

For one, you could not let climate control run for extended periods when parked. Some innovative owners found a few workarounds – but not without minor annoyances. The tradeoff usually meant that the lights would stay on or the car got unlocked.

Tesla was keeping up with the experiences of their user base and had solutions. They released a software update in 2017 that kept Climate Control running while parked.

But that’s not all that Tesla was working on. Reports about Tesla’s massive ‘holiday update’ made headlines around the internet. The main talk of the town was “Camp Mode.”

Camp Mode was marketed as the definitive solution for camping in Michigan with the EV. The update included features such as:

  • Maintaining airflow
  • Interior lighting
  • Temperature regulation
  • Playing music
  • Powering electrical devices

Here’s how Camp Mode could be enabled:

  • Touch the Climate button at the bottom of the touchscreen
  • Tap “Keep Climate On” to “CAMP” while the car is in “PARK”

Camp Mode has been in the works for a long time due to popular demand. Elon Musk’s Twitter account would get flooded with requests for the feature.

It should be noted that Camp Mode disables Sentry Mode to save battery. However, you can override this if you want to record your camping experiences. Camp Mode also keeps the USB ports in the car powered up, so you can power your phone and tablets.

Pro tip: Improve the ambiance by running a string of lights around the car.

So is Tesla Camping mode the pinnacle of camping perfection? Or is there more to the experience than meets the eye? Let’s find out.

Camping Mode in a Tesla
Camping Mode in a Tesla

Read How Much Electricity Does a Tesla Electric Car Use?

You Can’t Enable Camp Mode If…

Camp Mode cannot be activated if the car is moving. You need the car to be in parking mode to activate the feature. For obvious reasons, Camp Mode requires access to onboard power.

This means you cannot use the feature if there isn’t enough battery. To be on the safe side, Tesla requires a minimum of 15% battery.

If your battery is below 15%, you should go to the nearest charging station.

However, Elon has promised that the feature can be used when the battery is 5%.

The Power Requirements of Camp Mode

Camp Mode is a power-hungry feature. It will use a 1% battery per hour of use. It should be noted that extreme cold or hot temperatures will use more power. This means that Camp Mode could charge around 3.14 miles per hour. Or about 25.12 miles for eight hours of usage.

These are only rough estimates, and the exact figures depend on the various factors. These include the type of environment and the condition of the battery.

Models such as the 2021 Model 3 or the Tesla Model Y are more efficient. This is because they use newer hardware and heat pumps for better performance.

Read Electric Car Mechanic Salary

Charging Tips for the Tesla

It is recommended to charge the battery to a maximum of 90% capacity. This comes out at around 314 miles for the Model Y. 90% and under is better for the battery and allows regenerative braking to kick in.

However, charging close to 100% will prevent regenerative braking. That can put more strain on the battery.

Make Your Camping Profile

Car owners can set up their own camping profiles. This will allow them to save their preferences without adjusting them again. Adjustments include temperature settings and seat settings for the best sleeping conditions.

Sleeping in the Tesla in Camping Mode

Clear out all the contents in the trunk and backseat. Now fold the back seats down. This will create a downward slope toward the car’s trunk. The back seats will not be parallel with the floor.

It is recommended to buy a twin size camping pad for the bed. This will provide you with a nice cushion against the floor of the Tesla.

Read How Does a Tesla Electric Car’s Heater Work?

Camping Gear for Tesla Car

It is strongly suggested to buy camping gear to make your experience more comfortable.

Twin Sized Mattress

Buy a mattress that can fit in the back of the Tesla. You can also invest in custom solutions for a more perfect fit. A compact blow-up sleeping pad can also get the job done. But we recommend getting a folding foam mattress for maximum comfort.

You may also bring pillows from home to support the neck area.

Sun Shade for the Windshield

A sunshade for the windshield is necessary to block outdoor radiation. Otherwise, the sun will simply scorch the seats and damage the dashboard.

For the most part, a sunshade is necessary for sleeping in the Tesla. Bonus points if the sunshade also acts as an insulator for improved temperature control.

Privacy Shades for the Windows

Privacy shades are useful for blocking light. Or you could make your own DIY curtains to improve privacy. The most common method is to attach the shades around the top of the windows.

Shades for the Roof

Shades for the roof help make the car’s interior feel more comfortable. It is useful for maintaining a comfortable temperature and also absorbing UV rays. However, finding the right shades for Tesla is easier said than done.

Read Why Do People Hate Tesla Electric Cars?

Table and Chairs

It may be useful to bring a chair and table. This is especially useful if you will be eating out while charging the Tesla. Most RV parks tend to have a picnic table that you may use.

Get Your Charging Kit

Camping Mode is going to drain the battery. This is why you should carry a charging kit with you. Your best option is to use the EVSE. It will plug into an RV 50 amp plug. The plug is also known as the 14-50 Nema plug. It is highly effective at charging your Tesla.

Most Tesla cars come with an adaptor to help with charging. However, if your Tesla doesn’t come with an adaptor, you will need to buy one.

You should buy a mobile adaptor for Level 2 charging. They are available for as low as $200. However, they may only do as little as 16 amps. This is not enough to give you 100 to 120 miles of range. You should pay more for a charging kit that can handle 32 amps.

We recommend buying those 50 amp RV sockets that can deliver 40 amps. This is particularly useful if you plan on using Camping Mode for extended hours. It is also worth noting that not all RV parks provide 40 amps.

With that said, it’s better to use level 1 than not use it at all. This comes down to 15 or 20 amps – it’s better than nothing. It won’t fully charge the battery after using Camping Mode. However, you should get at least 50 extra miles, which is always good.

Read Do Electric Cars Have Transmissions?

Benefits of Using Camping Mode

Using Camp Mode gives you a more comfortable outdoor experience. You also can move anywhere you like. No longer will you have to worry about hotel reservations.

Camping in the Tesla can also save you a lot of money. For instance, you won’t have to pay for a place to sleep. This means you get to save more money in the long run. You can use the savings to buy trinkets along the way.

With that said, we recommend choosing a campsite with a charging station available. This will provide you with more range.

Tesla camping mode
Tesla camping mode

Hint: Book a Space in an RV Park

To be on the safe side, we recommend booking a space in an RV park. You can also find a hotel with charging stations. Make sure to call ahead and reserve the car parking space.

Tesla also sells an adaptor that lets you use the ChAdeMO DC charging stations. These charging stations are slower than Tesla’s superchargers and more expensive. But several locations have CHAdeMO charging stations.

It’s better to have an option to charge your Tesla than to not have one. If your camping route takes you through a CHAdeMO charging station, use it. The adaptor will come in handy.

The bad news is that the adapter is very expensive at nearly $500. It may not be worth the cost for some Tesla owners. Worse still is the fact that CHAdeMO pales in comparison to superchargers.

A better idea is to rent the adaptor. There are a few outlets that let you do this. But they are often out of stock. Another option is to buy an adaptor and sell it after using it.

Read What Color Tesla Electric Car Should I Get?

Pros and Cons of Tesla’s Camp Mode

Camping inside the Tesla is a popular idea. And Tesla’s Camping Mode turns your interiors into a comfortable cabin. Camping Mode gives you access to endless entertainment, including television, games, and others.

It is worth noting that Tesla’s Camp Mode differs from one model to another. And the higher-end your Tesla is, the more comfortable your camping experience will be.

A major drawback of using Camping Mode is that you don’t get much interior room. You will have limited room for setting up gear inside the car. It is possible to find extra room in most Teslas using a hidden storage compartment.

The storage compartment lets you store standard camping gear.

So what are the pros and cons of Tesla’s Camping Mode?

You gain complete protection from the outdoor elements.A huge drain on the battery life.
Control the internal temperature due to Camp Mode.There is limited space to move around.
It is more affordable than buying or renting an RV or camper.You will have to fold the car seats to make room for sleeping.
Tesla’s glass roof allows for gazing at the night sky.You won’t experience what it feels like to camp in the wilderness. This is because Camping Mode dilutes your experiences with luxury.

Read How Much Does It Cost to Charge a Tesla Electric Car?

Is Camp Mode Useful?

Whether camp mode is useful or not is a hotly contested debate. Some people argue that Camp Mode is a useless gimmick that doesn’t serve any purpose.

In its place, they offered the following solution:

  • Deactivate the Tesla’s lights
  • Set your desired temperature to “Keep Climate On”
  • Turn on the Back Air Vents. The feature needs to be turned on by human input.
  • Turn off the Automatic Walk Away Lock feature
  • Disable the Tesla’s Sentry and dome lights
  • Disable the Alarm under Safety and Security

Keep in mind that opening the car’s driver’s door will reset the above settings. Lock the doors using the app on your phone. This will turn the screen off.

The benefit of Camp Mode is that you won’t need to repeat the above steps. Another alternative is simply covering the screen with a cloth to block the light.

Is Camp Mode a better option? This mostly comes down to your preferences.

You may like the following Tesla electric car articles:

Wrapping Up

Camping in a Tesla will always make for a memorable journey. It will not provide you with an authentic camping experience because of all the luxuries. In any case, we recommend investing in camping gear to improve your experiences.

What are your thoughts on using Tesla’s Camping Mode? Share your experiences and feedback and we might update this space with more information!