Get rid of the tent, the air mattress and the sleeping pads. No more camping gear.

How to Sleep in a Wrangler JK JL 2-Door


It’s very possible to sleep comfortably in a small Jeep. I do it all the time. I'm going to explain how.

 

Whether you get stuck overnight, face mechanical issues that will take days to fix, suddenly feel dead-tired in the middle of the day, or feel like going camping because you need several days of driving to reach your next (very remote) destination, you can count on a “ready-to-use” bed in the cargo. What follows is my Wrangler JK 2D camping setup.

Jeep Solo Off-Roading

 

Prepare your first expedition with your Jeep in the extreme remote wilderness. Build your own bed in the small cargo area of your 2-door Wrangler JK, JL, or Rubicon.

 

Why sleeping in your Jeep JK 2-Doors

Wrangler JK JL 2D Sport I Sahara I Rubicon I 2007-2018


 

1. Feel safer and have a better rest : At night, a small 30-pound porcupine makes as much noise as a large black bear. Everything is amplified, eerie, strange—especially if you are new to all this. It’s easier to stop worrying about roaming wildlife if you are sleeping in your zipped and locked Jeep. Some guys are so scared that they prefer to urinate in a bottle instead of going outside. Whatever scares you (bears, cougars, wolves, serial killers, alien abductions, bigfoots, leprechauns, clowns...), no one could argue that it’s safer to sleep in your vehicle.

2. Be ready to leave in a minute : Choosing a campsite in unknown territory might expose you to a scary encounter. I’m thinking of roaming predators, of course, but also bad guys you don’t want to deal with. I must say that weirdos, roving gangs, or obvious criminals are super scarce in the North American wilderness (based on my experience in Alaska, Yukon, the Northwest Territories, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon, and Montana). The reason is certainly because wandering off-road in the remote wilderness requires preparation, costs money, and quickly takes its toll on vehicles.

99% of people I have met over the years were busy workers on duty or adventurers having the time of their life. But stay prepared to eventually face uncomfortable situations. I was once sleeping in my Jeep at the top of some hill when a convoy of pick-ups appeared in the middle of the night. They parked down the slope about 200 feet from me. Then, a bunch of drunks quickly built a fire and started discharging shotguns (for the fun of it) in the dark. They probably never noticed my presence, but I was glad to be able to quietly leave the area in a minute.

3. Don’t waste time (and energy) : Setting up the tent (or the tarp), packing/unpacking, pumping up/deflating the air mattress, cleaning/drying/repairing camping gear... I did that for quite a while until I just got fed up. I was wasting hours of my life. I prefer to spend that valuable time taking care of my Jeep.

4. Better shelter in case of severe weather : Strong winds, showers, puddles of water, heavy snow, ice... You won’t worry anymore. Particularly in case of a lightning storm. Technically speaking, science says that your four big tires are no significant insulators between your Jeep and the ground. And the sports bar, body, and frame of your Jeep won’t work perfectly as a Faraday cage. But you are safer for the following reasons: 1) The sports bars are poor conductors because there is a very small quantity of metal in there. And having a soft-top or a hardtop doesn’t make any difference because the hardtop is just made out of fiberglass anyway. 2) Compared to a hiker on foot, a Jeeper can move quickly to get better cover. You can move away from high peaks, lakes (you need to avoid the cover of tall shoreline trees), or glades in minutes. My advice: find a spot in the middle of a dense and low stand of trees, ideally located down the trail in the lowest area you can safely reach with your Jeep.

Sleep in Cargo Area 2-Door Wrangler JK


Dimensions

Interior Dimensions (when passenger's seat in easy entry position)

Trunk Dimensions 2-Door Jeep JK Wrangler

Available space to sleep diagonally

Sleeping in a 2-Door Jeep JK Wrangler

What you need

- 2x Viscoelastic Ventilated Memory Foam Mattress Toppers (3 inches each, full bed size 54 x 75 inches) : The first goal is to eliminate motion transfer. Because you will sleep in a cramped space, a thick memory foam reduces the number of times you need to toss and turn during the night. In other words, it eliminates motion transfer. The second goal is to take advantage of viscoelastic materials (made of polyurethane foam) because they are antimicrobial and allergen proof and make a good and lasting protection against various insects (including mites and bedbugs). That is the best “bed” you can carry into the remote wilderness.

Foam Topper Mattress

- Where to buy -

Amazon.ca
(Canada)

Walmart
(USA)

Amazon.com
(USA)

Newegg.com
(Worldwide)

 

- 1 Electric Turkey Knife : I used to cut with a sharp utility knife and later a carving knife until I discovered how upholstery experts work: with an electric kitchen knife! It makes super-accurate angle cuts. A cheap Hamilton Beach cordless electric knife that sells for less than $40 is very sharp and effective with foam. Tip: Cut your foam topper (without compressing it) on the edge of a table.

Turkey Knife

- Where to buy -

Amazon.ca
(Canada)

Walmart
(USA)

Amazon.com
(USA)

Newegg.com
(Worldwide)

 

- 1 Jeep JK Cargo Liner (Rugged Ridge) : ): The dimensions of the Jeep JK trunk are tricky. I suggest you use a cargo liner in order to make a perfect fit. Those are expensive items ($80 to $180) but widely used in Jeep clubs. I suggest you carry your two brand-new foam toppers and try to borrow a mat from a Jeep club buddy. It’s going to take you only 10 minutes to draw the shape of the cargo liner over each foam topper (use a cheap felt pen). Don’t forget to keep the two toppers longer than the cargo mat in order to reach the back of the armrest console and fit against the back of the seats.

Cargo Mat Rugged Ridge JK

- Where to buy -

Amazon.ca
(Canada)

JC Whitney
(Wordwide)

Amazon.com
(USA)

Newegg.com
(Worldwide)
What to do

Move the passenger’s seat forward (easy entry seat position)


Incline Passenger's Seat

Approximate dimensions


Cut the two foam toppers to roughly fill the remaining gap behind the driver’s seat, the armrest console, and the passenger’s seat (easy-entry position).

Jeep JK Trunk Bed Dimensions

Don’t worry about the passenger’s seat. Because the toppers can be easily compressed, you will still be able to move the passenger’s seat back to its normal position when you drive (or have a passenger).

 

Mattress toppers deployed


 

Foam Topper Mattress Sleep in a Jeep JK 2 Doors

 

Cut around the armrest console


 

Foam Topper Armrest Console Jeep JK 2Doors

Voilà! You now have a 6-inch mattress (two 3-inch toppers on top of each other).

 

Note: When you sleep, move the passenger’s seat forward but keep the driver’s seat in its normal position (backward). It’s important that you allow for quick access if you need to turn the engine on or leave your spot in a hurry.

Sleep during winter in a Jeep

-10 Celsius/14 Fahrenheit : 3 Ways to Stay Warm while Sleeping in Your Jeep JK 2-DR
How to sleep in the cold

It took me a while to find ways to not freeze to death in the cold. First, my Jeep has a soft-top, and using Styrofoam pads to isolate (like many car dwellers do in the winter) wouldn’t be practical because the soft-top’s frame and the sports bars are in the way. Second, I have always refused to even consider letting my engine idle to warm up the vehicle during the night. Not only is it dangerous (exhaust fumes and various pollutants can lead to headaches, nausea, fatigue, confusion... or even kill you), but it also harms your engine by reducing the lifespan of cylinder liners, piston rings, exhaust system, spark plugs, etc. It wastes a lot of fuel too. In the worst-case scenario, I would still prefer to build a fire and sleep under a tarp than burning gas.

Strategy #1

Generator + 250W Mini Heater


 

Generator Earthquake IG800W

Earthquake
(Manufacturer)

Currently Sold Out

Another option

Powerbuilt 2000W


 

Earthquake IG800W is only 21 lbs (9.5kg) when the 0.6-gallon gas tank is full and delivers 500 watts (up to 800 watts for 5–10 seconds if needed). It is also quite rainproof and produces less than 60 dB of sound. When positioned at least 50 feet from your Jeep, the level of noise is very tolerable at night (especially if you place it behind a tree or in a ditch). The Economy Mode generates enough electricity to power a small 250–300W heater with a runtime of about 8 hours in low temperatures (-10 Celsius/14 Fahrenheit) before you have to refill the small 0.6-gallon tank.

But the main advantage is that you save on gas. The fuel consumption of an idling Jeep Wrangler is at least 2.5 gallons (9.5l) for 8 hours compared to 0.6 gallon (2.2l) for this compact generator. No engine harm, no health risks, and a reduced fuel consumption of at least 72%. You better preserve your precious fuel for mileage than heat.That’s exactly what this small generator helps you to achieve.

 

Honeywell Heat Bud

Amazon.ca
(Canada)

Amazon.com
(USA)

Newegg.com
(Worldwide)


The Honeywell Bud Heater 250W weighs only 1.28 lbs. (581g) and is the perfect buddy to work with your Earthquake IG800W generator. It’s a resistant and quiet ceramic heater sold for less than $30, and it will still heat up your whole cabin correctly (even when it’s down to a temperature of -17 Celsius/0 Fahrenheit outside). However, it’s not made to be used in the wilderness, and my first Bud Heater died after a month. For that reason, I’d recommend you carry a spare one.

 

It’s also a valuable item when you happen to spend time or sleep in a fishing hut, an abandoned hunting cabin, or any other kind of small shelter. Personally, what I enjoy the most is to use the Bud Heater to heat up a storage locker when I’m working on my Jeep in some unheated self-storage facility. It’s not much heat, but it succeeds inheating the locker adequately.

 

Master Electrician Extension Cold 50 Feet Outdoor Red

Amazon.ca
(Canada)

Amazon.com
(USA)

Newegg.com
(Worldwide)


Master Electrician’s 50-foot extension cord is reliable for long-term outdoor use, and it’s one of the best brands on the market. It’s sold for less than $40 and weighs only 5.3 lbs (2.4kg).

 

 

 

Strategy #2
Defroster 12V 150W + Dual Battery Tray

 

12V Defroster 150W for Jeep

Amazon.ca
(Canada)

Amazon.com
(USA)

Newegg.com
(Worldwide)


 

The 12V 150WDefogger Heater for cars weighs less than 1 lb (400g) and is sold for $20. Don’t pay attention to customers who complain about that little 12V defroster because you will use it for a different purpose. The fact is that it’s only 150 watt. For that reason, it remains a poor windshield defroster, and it’s not a car heater alternative either. But for the purpose of sleeping in a Jeep Wrangler JK, it heats the cabin by several degrees and lowers the relative humidity considerably. Personally, I think it produces as much heat as two candles (do not use candles in your Jeep—it’s too dangerous!), and it makes a real difference after 10 minutes. It could also help you to keep driving in the cold if your main Jeep heater ever stops working. Only $20. Think about it.

 

Smittybilt Dual Battery Tray

Amazon.ca
(Canada)

Amazon.com
(USA)

Advance Auto Parts
(USA)

Newegg.com
(Worldwide)


Dual Battery Tray : There are several trays available on the market. The one from Rugged Ridge is my favorite but requires some cuts and takes at least three hours to install (you should ask a mechanic to install it). But it’s light and affordable and tightly fits two Optima batteries. Carrying a second battery is also an extra level of safety in the wilderness (especially if you can’t push-start your Jeep because yours doesn’t have a manual transmission).

 

Optima Dual Purpose Battery for Jeep JK

Amazon.ca
(Canada)

Amazon.com
(USA)

Rakuten
(USA)


Optima D34 Yellow Top AGM Battery (Dual Purpose) : Since Optima batteries are now made in Mexico, their reputation is no longer as good as it used to be. But the price is under $300, and the manufacturer offers a three-year warranty (36-month free replacement). There are also numerous dual battery trays available that specifically fit the Optima batteries (Smittybilt, Nemesis, Rugged Ridge, M.O.R.E., etc.). That’s another reason why Optima batteries remain so popular in the Jeep community.

Of course, you won’t be able to keep the 12V 150W defroster running all night, but it will add a lot of comfort when needed. An AGM battery (Absorbent Glass Mat) is made to take the abuse of off-road driving. This one provides 750 cold-cranking amps at 0 Fahrenheit and has a capacity of 55AH, which means that you can theoretically use 55 amps of energy for an hour (it’s more complicated than that but let’s simplify). However, you can never go below 50% charge because you can damage the battery. You also have to keep in mind that an AGM battery in the cold (for example, -10 Celsius/14 Fahrenheit) will lose up to 10% (5.5 AH) of its charge in 10 hours. Add another 5% loss because of resistance (2.75 AH). It leaves you with 23.375 AH available for use at night. Your 12V 150W defroster consumes 12.5 AH (150W/12V =12.5 AH). In other words, you can run your 12V defroster/heater for about 112 minutes. It’s not a lot, but whenever you wake up in the middle of the night and feel you might freeze to death, you can use that extra heat four times for 28 minutes without having to turn your engine on. You can also use that heat to make yourself more comfortable in your Jeep when you want to relax at the end of the day (like reading or watching a movie).

 

Rear Power Outlet Jeep JK

Power the rear outlet at all times : The best way to power your 12V defroster is using the rear outlet (the one in the cargo). But there is a problem here: that outlet is powered only when you turn the switch to ON/ACC position (with your key in the ignition). Of course, we want the rear outlet to be powered at all times. Click here to read my tutorial:

Tutorial → How to power Rear Outlet 12V without turning the key

* I’ve seen that sometimes there’s no factory power outlet installed at the rear, but you can normally find a ready-to-use wire, which is hidden under the carpet or behind the panel.

Strategy #3
Bivvy

 

Bivy Outdoor Research Helium

Amazon.ca
(Canada)

Amazon.com
(USA)


 

Bivvy Outdoor Research Helium : Weighs only 1.1lbs (510g)! I came upon this by accident, really. In the first place, it was just an expensive but valuable addition to my ultralight bug-outbag. I’m always prepared for a long walk in the wilderness in case my Jeep won’t start or move for good. I rely on my 10-pound bug-out bag when travelling on foot for four days and covering 60 miles (100 km). I was curious to try my bivvy bag but had no sleeping pad. So, I tried it in my Jeep instead (on my foam toppers). I must say I had a surprisingly good night’s sleep. And it’s particularly warm in cold weather. It’s actually a thin breathable jacket for your sleeping bag that shuts down evaporative heat loss. When the temperature drops below zero degrees Celsius, I barely notice it when I’m sheltered in that bivvy.
The hood is hooped with five stake loops, and it allows me to use my tablet comfortably in a relaxed position. There is also a bug screen, which is very useful in the summer.

 

Bivy Sleep in Jeep JK 2 Doors

Benefits of sleeping in a bivvy bag :

- Light : the most efficient way to save on payload.

- Warm as hell.

- Prevents mosquito bites.

- No complicated deployment at the end of the day.

- Offers the option to eventually sleep outside.

- Bug-out-bag : the perfect item to keep you warm at night if you ever have to make your way on foot in the bush. The Hydroseal floor is reputed in the ultralight hiking community.

 

Bivy Sleep in Jeep JK 2Doors 72 Inches

Fits diagonally in the cargo area : It’s 72 inches long.

Of course, I often look like a mentally deranged person in the eyes of people I encounter on the trail. But that eccentricity keeps me warm, and that’s all that matters to me.

 

Approved

 

3 Bedding Essentials

 

Teton -18 Celcius Sleeping Bag

Amazon.ca
(Canada)

Amazon.com
(USA)

Newegg.com
(Worldwide)

 

 

1. TETON -18C/0F Sleeping Bag

- Tough, durable and tear resistant sleeping bag. Keeps you cool in summer and warm in winter. Comes with zippers on both sides.

 

 

Saferest Mattress Protector Twin

Amazon.ca
(Canada)

Amazon.com
(USA)

Newegg.com
(Worldwide)

 

 

 

2. SafeRest Mattress Protector

- With sturdy taffeta shell

It’s waterproof, easy to clean, noiseless and hypoallergenic. It provides another layer of protection against insects, bacteria and fluids. Doesn't contain vinyl, pvcs or phthalates.

 

 

PillowFlex Pillow

Amazon.ca
(Canada)

Amazon.com
(USA)

 

 

3. PillowFlex Pillow (12x16 inches)

- Super cheap and light soft, hypoallergenicic and washable pillows. Those are for inside use only but I use my pillow in combination with a SafeRest waterproof pillow protector (as the mattress protector). It offers full protection against bacteria, insects and is also fluid-repellent.




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