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  1. Default Cargo Racks vs MPG and Easy truck camping

    A couple of questions here. My fiance and I have been road tripping from AK to NY and back every summer in my tiny Forester. We're always looking to make it more enjoyable.

    1. Small trailer, back cargo rack/container, or top cargo container? Which is best for MPG or do any make much difference at all? We typically spend $1600 round trip on gas. Would not like it to go any higher. :) This would go on my Forester.

    2. Next summer we're getting a truck. I'd love to be able to sleep comfortably in the back. I swear someone has to have invented a hard top that can pop up in the middle into a tent. No muss, no fuss. But I can't find anything like that. We don't want a pricey, HEAVY camper topper. Any ideas?

    Thanks a lot.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Car Top Tent

    Is this the type of thing you are looking for? I see lots of those out there..... well, I do Downunder.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    A back cargo rack would have the least effect on gas mileage.

    A standard truck bed cap, perhaps raised a bit, wouldn't be good enough with a truck?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Granted, I've only been up and down the Alaska Highway once, but that was a very rainy summer. I think I'd want the benefit of a hard top to deal with rain and mosquitoes a little better!


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default The Physics of M.P.G.

    There are lots of things that go into determining the gas mileage that you will get with any particular setup, but most of those are out of your control. You have a Subaru Forester of a certain vintage, and it was engineered to meet certain EPA and CAFE requirements and so it is what it is. Your question then is really what's the most fuel efficient way to carry more cargo than will conveniently fit inside. The simple fact is that, once you're rolling, about two-thirds of your gas consumption goes towards overcoming air resistance, and that goes up as the square of velocity. That just means that if you go twice as fast, the air resistance goes up by a factor of four. So putting big Dumbo ears on the side of your car (more air resistance) would make absolutely no sense. And that's essentially what you're doing by adding a rooftop car carrier. Instead what you want to do is to put any additional cargo space into the slip stream - the air that you've already 'paid' to move out of the way. That means either a small trailer or a hitch-based carrier. The downside to a trailer is that most toll roads will charge you extra for the extra axle of the trailer. The downside of the hitch-based carrier is that it can make it difficult or impossible to open the back gate/door of the car. Enclosed hitch-based carriers can be had for $500-600. Small trailers start in the $1,500-$2,000 and go up.


  6. Default

    Awesome info, AZBuck. My fiance thinks we need more space, I just think we need to get more organized. I researched and bought some pretty nice gear yesterday that will help us do just that, so hopefully everything will fit nicely and we won't need to worry about extra fuel consumption/ toll costs/ not getting the hatchback open. We shall see.

    Donna, rain is definitely a good reason to be off the ground. What a pain to fold up a wet and muddy tent.

    For the truck, I was just thinking of something really simple where the hard topper itself pops up to add a little more room to move. A raised hard topper would be nice too, but again that adds drag. Maybe I need to invent one myself :-/

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Some resources for the "pop-up tent"

    Quote Originally Posted by puff5655 View Post
    I swear someone has to have invented a hard top that can pop up in the middle into a tent.
    Sarah, a bunch of companies have such gear. In the past, I've maintained a go-to list of such firms, but I don't remember where I stored the list...

    However, a couple of suggestions:

    1. Equipt Expedition Outfitters -- Roof-top Tents (this is actually the firm I would use -- I've looked at some of their gear in person.)

    2. One of the best sources for technical ideas is the Overland Journal Magazine.

    3. Autohome has the advantage that they have been building vehicle tents on several different truck platforms for a few years.

    4. Columbia Over-land is another company that builds for several different platforms.

    5. Expedition Portal published a buyer's guide which you could use for more research.

    By the way, every year there are conventions where the leading outfitters bring their custom gear for off-highway travel. Most are beyond the dreaming stage of us normal people -- but the shows are very cool. There is one in Flagstaff, in May -- and there is probably one closer to your home town sometime this year.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Music to my ears.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sedenquist View Post
    ... but I don't remember where I stored the list...
    You mean I'm not the only one who stores files..... never to be found again?


  9. Default

    The rooftop tents are cool, but all would create drag if placed on top of the truck, or block access to the truck bed if placed there.

    I was thinking of something more like this model, where the truck bed space is made use of.

    But even that would create drag on the top and sides. You'd think they'd make one that's flush with the design of the truck.

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