Here’s a $20 Item That Will Make Your Car Camping 20 Times Better

One of the best bits of financial advice I’ve heard is to spend your money paying people to do things you don’t like to do. (In my case, that includes yard work, plumbing, and dealing with drywall.) It’s actually a key to happiness and financial satisfaction, to which I can attest. However, I would also add a corollary: If there things you can make but other people make them better, pull out your wallet. I mean, no diss on DIY, cause I love DIY, but I just went through a ridiculous series of projects to keep bugs out of my vehicle when I’m sleeping at night only to discover a simpler, cheaper, and better solution.

Unless I’m backpacking or bikepacking, a lot of my nights are spent inside my rig with the windows rolled down. It’s easier, faster, and more comfortable, and I’d bet all you Pinterest-saving sleeping platform project junkies know what I’m talking about. But turn on your headlamp or phone or tablet and it’s like bug city in there. Not fun.

My first idea was to get a roll of screening and use strong rare-earth magnets to keep in place. Do you know how much rare earth magnets cost? A lot. Measuring and cutting the screening—oof. I probably spent $40 on a system that took a lot of time and wasn’t very effective.

Then I was at the Outpost trade show and saw a new product from an up and coming brand—a simple mesh sleeve that goes over your window. Duh! The problem—they were asking $50 for about $8 worth of fabric and labor. The Google turned up scores of cheaper alternatives, including the one I eventually purchased, which runs from $17 to $22 depending on size.

They’re marketed as sun shades, not bug screens, but in my testing they work a lot better for the latter than the former. Just for kicks, I drove with the shade over the window and (not surprisingly) it flapped like a mad hen. For keeping out skeeters and moths at night, though—flawless. 20 times better? More like 100. And it’s light and compact—I just keep it in the door storage pocket.

So, there you go. I might be the last to the party, but you can teach an old dog new tricks and mangle multiple metaphors with one stone. Now I just have to figure out what else I’m being dimwitted about.



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