In the time-honored tradition of long-haul truckers and cheapskates road tripping across the United States, the backseat of my car has long served as an ad hoc bed for covert slumber away from home and on an adventure. Pull over, crack the windows, grab a fleece jacket for your pillow, and goodnight.
Employed carefully — and legally — sleeping in a car makes a lot of sense for a quick night’s rest at a mountain trailhead before a climb or in a campground when you pull in too late to erect a tent. Drive a truck or a van and you can unfurl pads and blankets in back to convert your Ford into a makeshift motorhome.
Timco Industries LLC of St. Louis Mo., makes a product to “turn your vehicle into a tent in seconds.” Essentially square sheets of netting with magnets stitched on the edges, the Skeeter Beater window screens attach on a car’s exterior to create instant screened window openings.
Made of polyester no see-um mesh, the Skeeter Beaters can keep out mosquitoes, gnats and other bugs.
In my test, the magnets snapped tight to the car’s metal and held the screen in place with no gaps. Strong wind might move the Skeeter Beaters, though in a windy setting gnats and mosquitoes — not to mention in-car ventilation — won’t be an issue.
In the past, lack of ventilation often hampered my nights sleeping in a car on reclined bucket seats. But with the Skeeter Beaters air flows freely through the mesh-covered open windows, granting easy warm-weather slumber.
Since they attach around the windows on the edge of a door, you can go in and out of a vehicle without removing the screens.
The company (www.theskeeterbeater.com) sells the Skeeter Beater for about $30 a pair. They come in several colors and eight sizes to fit dozens of vehicles, from a Chevy Suburban to a Ford Focus.
(Stephen Regenold writes a daily blog on outdoors gear at www.gearjunkie.com.)