Is Honda Element Camping Really Possible?
Honda Element camping is popularly featured on YouTube and Instagram as a fun way to camp. Moreover, the Element is a fantastic, capable camping vehicle.
But can you really go camping in a Honda Element?
Let’s find out!
Honda Element Camping: Why it’s So Popular
The Honda Element has the vibe of adventure and outdoor enthusiasm. The 4-wheel-drive model only enhances that vibe. Indeed, it’s capable of carrying the most adventurous hikers, mountain bikers, kayakers, and campers to deep-woods destinations.
The Element makes a reliable vehicle during the week. The easy removal or movement of rear seats that fold up against the walls reveals a boxy, wide-open conversion opportunity. As a result, it turns into a fantastic camper for the weekend with minimal effort.
Referred to as a “crossover SUV,” the Honda Element was based on the Honda CR-V platform, a top-rated and reportedly reliable SUV in its own right.
Though 70 inches tall on a 101-inch wheelbase, this little cube has a tailgate that makes loading and unloading gear a breeze. In addition, the front and rear side doors form barn doors. Thus giving the element expansive access from three locations and a total of five doors.
With the spaciousness offered by the little box, it’s no wonder the Honda Element has a cult-like following with campers.
Why Go Camping in a Honda Element?
Honda Element camping is an alluring experience, even for new campers. People love it because of the ease with which the interior can be converted to sleeping, eating, or lounging space, plus the amount of gear that can be carried inside and on top. The interior cargo space with rear seats removed offers – get this – 74.6 cubic feet.
Kayaks, surfboards, and bikes hauled in and on the Element make the quirky little “toaster” a perfect camping vehicle for the active camper.
Pros and Cons of Camping in a Honda Element
Like anything else, there are pros and cons to camping in a Honda Element. However, Element enthusiasts might disagree with the cons as they are die-hard fans who loudly sing the vehicle’s praises. Nevertheless, they may be drowned out only by fellow Element cult members who scream at Honda for no longer making the Element after 2011.
The Honda Element is an affordable camping vehicle if ever there was one.
Honda produced the Element from 2002 to 2011. Yet they’re still all over the roads ten years after their final production. As a matter of fact, in the used car market today, they’re commanding between $3500 and $14,000 depending on the year, mileage, condition, and other factors. Parts are also readily available and affordable.
Snatching up an Element in good condition for under $5000 to use as a daily driver and as a camper makes the Element a pretty snazzy deal!
The roominess of this box-shaped camper-vehicle is one of the top “pro” features of the Element. For a single camper, there’s plenty of space for a bed (even for a tall person), plenty of gear, a small 12V refrigerator or cooler, and even a sink if you want.
Some campers exploit the Element’s roominess in other ways. For instance, using one side as a bed and the other as a place for their precious bikes or other recreational gear.
No matter how you use it, the boxy, spacious interior makes for a great space for the creative camper to design with their own plans and passions in mind.
Bi-Parting Side Doors
Another great benefit of the Honda Element is that it has the bi-parting side doors that open to create a large, wide opening for loading cargo or achieving a spacious feeling when inside. Sliding a mattress into the vehicle for weekend use is a breeze. Moving gear in and out, even more so. The bi-parting side doors were certainly a stroke of genius on the part of some Honda designer. (Kudos to you – whoever you are!)
The feature known as all-wheel-drive is a tremendous benefit to campers! Outdoor and boondocking enthusiasts alike love heading off the beaten path. Being able to navigate challenging terrain finds the Element owner dropping a line in rarely-fished streams, snowshoeing in fresh, white woods, and hiking and camping in nature’s inner sanctum.
Honda has a well-earned reputation for reliability, and the Element is no exception. Many used Elements are on the market right now with well over 100,000 miles on the clock, and they’re still going strong.
Maintained faithfully, a Honda Element will likely be among the most reliable vehicles – and campers – on the road and on the trails.
Still a Tiny Space
Space. If you’re a camper whose idea of space does not include the outdoors, then the Honda Element might not be your chosen camper. If you want to get away to spend a weekend inside your camper, then you might start to feel a little claustrophobic after a while. But who goes camping to spend as much time as possible inside the camper?
The other issue with space occurs when you want to camp with a friend. Spending a night with a spouse or a child in the Element is certainly doable. Spending much time, if any, with a pal in there is – well – just too close.
No Bathroom or Kitchen
Well, this one depends on whom you ask. There are YouTube videos of Element camping enthusiasts with little sinks and “kitchen-ish” sorts of things, but indeed the plan to actually cook inside a Honda Element begs the question “why?” Most enthusiasts will surely cook outside, perhaps over a fire or on a little propane stove positioned on the open tailgate with cooking supplies and a handy 12V fridge nearby.
The bathroom? Well, you’ve got us there. No bathroom. No way, no how.
Tips for Camping in a Honda Element
There are numerous camping options in an Element, as a quick review of YouTube and blogsville will show. But, here are a few quick tips in case you just scored an Element and want to head out to the trails this weekend:
Use Clear Totes for Storage
Totes, totes, and more totes. Clear totes make great storage for everything from food and clothing to gear, tools, and first aid. Totes are your friends. And the clearer, the better!
Build a Bed Platform
Again, a quick online search will yield multiple ways of doing so effectively, but building a bed platform in an Element is easy. Not only will it give you a place to rest, but the area under the platform can serve as storage either for your clear totes or for long recreational gear like surfboards, paddleboards, oars, or fishing gear.
Bring an Outdoor Kitchen Setup
As noted above in the “no kitchen” section, there are various small portable propane and butane stoves available, in addition to the campfire pits. Using your clear totes to store kitchen gear and sliding it out onto the Element’s flat open tailgate is a great option!
On the other hand, you can open the biparting “barn” doors, hang a tarp or blanket over the top of the two doors, and set up a little table for cooking and dining. The possibilities are endless!
Bring Along a Camp Toilet for Total Self-Sufficiency
Camping toilets on the market today range from small “porta-potties” that flush to glorified buckets lined with bags holding pine pellet kitty litter. There are also instant pop-up privacy tents to make a little outdoor bathroom.
Need a big RV with a big black holding tank? Naaah. A bucket lined with a bag, pine pellets to absorb liquids, and some toilet paper is all you need. Just remember to carry out whatever you carry in!
Simple Honda Element Camping
The Element has a loyal following for a reason. It’s versatile, reliable, and rugged. It’s customizable as a camper and can take you and your gear away from the more popular, crowded areas. Can you camp in a Honda Element? Of course, you can!
Alternative: Another great option you might want to look into is the Ford Transit Connect.
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