Reflectix Window Inserts for Camping in your Vehicle
In a recent blog post, I commented that we slept in our car thoughout an 11 day road trip. It certainly wasn’t a five-star hotel, but we did save a lot of money by doing this. After deciding to camp in our vehicle, the next thing we had to decide was how to cover up the windows. The back windows are tinted, but we were looking for a little more privacy than that. It seemed logical that curtains would be the way to go. We found that Honda makes privacy curtains specifically for the Element, however, the pricetag was over $100. This was much more than we were interested in spending for this particular project. We continued to search online and came across a post about this very topic in the Element Owners Club forum. As it turned out, a cheap alternative to curtains was to make panels out of Reflectix. That became the solution to our problem. We made a set of inserts and they worked great. They were cheap and relatively easy to make.
- measuring tape
- strap or bungee cord
Start by purchasing a roll of Reflectix (which is essentially bubble wrap covered in a sheet of some kind of silver paper). Plan on paying about $20-$30 (although I have seen smaller rolls for cheaper). You should be able to find this at most hardware stores.
Next take measurements of the windows in the vehicle from the inside. Do not worry about slants and curves for now. Measure the longest length and width for each window. Add at least an extra inch to each measurement just to make sure you do not measure short. Another reason for doing this, is that in some cases after continued use, the panels have shrunk a little.
Transfer those measurements onto the roll of Reflectix and cut out the rectangle.
Take the rectangle of Reflectix back to the car and place it over the window you are working on. Push the edges of the Reflectix into ledges of the window. For the corners that have a slant or curve, use the Sharpie to mark where you need to cut. Trim it where you made your marks.
For the side windows take the panel you just made and use it as a stencil to make a duplicate for the window on the other side.
Once all panels are cut and trimmed, it is time to put them all in. Line up the Reflectix insert with the window and then tuck the edges into the ledges that border the window. It should stay nice and firm. If, for some reason it still seems too big, feel free to trim it further until it fits. Just make sure you do not trim it too short otherwise you will need to start over. It is difficult to cut the perfect shape, but don’t worry too much about that because usually you can just tuck in the extra material.
To store your panels while they are not in use, take all the panels and lay them in a pile. Then roll them up like a sleeping bag and secure the roll with a strap or bungee cord.
If done correctly, you should be able to block out just about all light that would come into the vehicle. This makes your vehicle private and cozy. One thing I should add though, if your windows are shut while you are sleeping in the vehicle, don’t be surprised to see an accumulation of water on the windows in the morning. It is just trapped condensation and it will go away after a few minutes of running your defroster.
For our first time camping in a vehicle, the Reflectix inserts worked great. There were a couple of corners that we cut short that let in a slit of light, but it wasn’t enough to bother us. Overall, this was an effective and inexpensive project and we were glad we used the inserts rather than paying the extra for the privacy curtains.