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Habitents: The Toyota Prius camper

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June 7, 2012

For less than $100, the Habitents turns your Prius into a functional sleeping shelter

For less than $100, the Habitents turns your Prius into a functional sleeping shelter

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We're used to seeing campers and trailers here at Gizmag. Typically, they're made for big, gas-drunk trucks, SUVs and vans - vehicles with the size and hauling capacity to spend the night in. What we're not used to seeing is campers made for small, fuel-frugal hybrids. But the Habitents is just that - a camper extension for the Toyota Prius.

Okay, "camper" might be a bit generous. The Habitents is really just a tent that you attach to the back of your Prius to give you enough room to lie out. But the Habitents isn't necessarily a design for "camping." While the designers do mention using it in state and national parks, the real inspiration is in cutting down the costs of road trips.

The Prius is one of the least expensive cars to travel long distances in thanks to its superior fuel economy. Unfortunately, some of that money saved is lost on overnight accommodations, since the compact hatchback isn't exactly an inviting place to spend the night. Big vehicles like RVs, campers, and even vans and SUVs can save you money on overnight accommodations, but they eat that saved money at the pump. It's a road-tripping dilemma.

The Habitents gives you the best of both worlds (or as close to it as you can expect to get in 2012). The tent wraps around the hatchback of the Prius, giving two people enough room to comfortably stretch out and catch a night of sleep. The company website claims the rig gives you 80 x 40 inches (203 x 102 cm) of slumber space. With Habitents, the Prius isn't only a cheap road wagon, it's a potentially free hotel room. Cheap gas, free accommodations - you can travel as far as your heart and mind want to go.

The Habitents adds some ventilation

Now there's an angry, grunting elephant in the room that it's time to address: why not just camp in a regular tent? Well, that would seem to be a very good question ... if we're talking about camping at a campground. However, if the subject is a cross-country trip, the Habitents gives you the ability to pull over at a rest stop, set up quickly and get some shut-eye before continuing on your way in the morning. You couldn't really do that all too comfortably in a regular tent. Also, lying flat in the back of the Prius up off the ground is certainly more comfortable than either sleeping in the driver's seat or sleeping in a tent on hard ground.

Habitents doesn't use any poles and is able to roll up small enough to store in your glove compartment - also something you don't get with a regular tent. It basically hangs off your hatchback with a couple of simple tie-downs, so it sets up easily.

The Habitents looks like an innovative solution that could definitely appeal to some Prius drivers, though we're guessing that crowd is a small one. At US$90, it's cheap enough to justify even if you don't plan to use it often - keep it in your glove compartment and pull it out if you ever need a cheap night of sleep. Habitents also mentions that it has a patent pending that extends to all hatchbacks. It might expand its offerings to other cars in the future, and encourages interested parties to contact it with suggestions for other car models.

The video below is a bit slow, but it shows how the Habitents sets up.

Source: Habitents

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work.   All articles by C.C. Weiss
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11 Comments

Awe, it's a Prius diaper. ;)

Mindbreaker
7th June, 2012 @ 09:08 pm PDT

Right when I thought the prius couldn't get any uglier.. wow.

Markay
7th June, 2012 @ 10:55 pm PDT

Takes me back to childhood.

Am I the only one to remember ?

Same thing, called the "Hatch Hutch" for the Holden Torana hatchback. Now that was a car.

Bill Mulger
7th June, 2012 @ 11:39 pm PDT

But how fast can you go with it up?

Simon Gray
8th June, 2012 @ 12:48 am PDT

the way the woman on the picture is lying, it seems she might as well just close the hatch, since her feet don't really need the height.

also where do you put the stuff you had in the trunk while sleeping? and the tent may fit in the glove compartment, but i doubt that goes for the comfy mattress she's lying on?

jaqen
8th June, 2012 @ 04:00 am PDT

I agree with Jaqen, if sleeping in the car then where does all your stuff go? If you need to empty the car to sleep in it then just use a tent!

Do the people who come up with these new camping designs actually spend any time outdoors?

First there was the coat that doubled as a tent, then the inflatable coat that doubled as a sleeping bag. Last week there was a sleeping bag with vents in to prevent overheating - mine already regulates heat through the use of a full length zip down the side.

A few yeas ago there were jackets that turned into rucksacks and rucksacks that turned into camp beds.

I wonder if any of these designs ever go into production?

pt88
8th June, 2012 @ 07:49 am PDT

One can't but help wonder how they got a patent on that. Remember the Pontiac Aztec and it's rear tent? I am sure there are others. Both the tent and the ugly have been done before.

Bruce H. Anderson
8th June, 2012 @ 10:06 am PDT

Huh - looks fugly, but that's actually not a bad idea. I also love this suggestion under the "Installation" link:

"Push the front seats and seat backs all the way forward. Place Sterlite storage boxes (available at Target) totaling 18” in height behind the front seats. Remove the rear headrests and tip the rear seat backs forward. When combined with the storage boxes, this extends the sleeping surface of the trunk area to a length of 80”. "

@jaqen and pt88: *that* is where you put the stuff you had in the trunk. I guess you could stuff some more on the front seats as well. Heck, I think they should sell a kit that includes all the matching storage boxes as well.

This clearly looks like something an enterprising seamstress cooked up for her own car camping, and found to work well enough to be worth trying to sell as a product.

Obviously, something like this is only going to work if you have little enough luggage that you and it actually *fit* in the car. If you like to pack your car to the roof, this product is clearly not designed for you. Duh.

PatrikD
8th June, 2012 @ 12:54 pm PDT

I think you guys take way too much with you when you go camping for the weekend. I think you forget why you went there.

The Hoff
10th June, 2012 @ 01:13 pm PDT

Where's the safety? You want to pull into a rest area with

your hatchback completely open and only a thin strip of

cheap canvas separating you from the world while you sleep?

One of the great features of the Prius is that it DOES serve

as a "hard sided" tent. Set up your sleeping area in the back,

keep the hatchback closed. Leave the car on. Lock the car

from the inside with the alarm system on, you have air/heat

(the gas engine acts as a built-in generator).

The Habitents is not safe. It's nothing more than a waste of $90.

David Chancellor
9th September, 2012 @ 03:59 pm PDT

There are all kinds of people now using a Prius to campout. Read many blogs about it. It's got amazing temp control system that runs only when needed to, it has great power for electrical devices, and you can stretch out up to 6.1 ft or even taller if you have a gen 2 model prius and adjust the front seat all the way back below the folding back seats.

The real elephant in the room is not why not use a tent. It is rather, why use the Habitent? It doesn't provide any more leg room. But I suppose the one thing it is good for, and it really is a great design. It's good for leaving your hatch open to ventilate the area if you want the fresh air without the bugs. Camping in a Prius is great, and I do it all the time going to big music festivals. Great sound system too!

Joel PuppetHead Cawthon
13th October, 2013 @ 12:34 pm PDT
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