This winter we made a major redesign on our ski van sleeping system which has been working great during Covid. Here are all the details on what we did, also released as an update to our Sienna Ski Van page.
As engineers, we are constantly thinking about how to improve our systems. We also got complaints from our growing children about the lack of space above the cots. So for the 2020/21 ski season we made a major upgrade to our system.
The biggest change is that instead of the home made cot system that sits on the dashboard of the car we bought two aluminum frame military-style cots and set up a system to use them in the van. This makes for a faster set up and gives the kids much more headroom.
To fit the cots into the car, we fully recline the front seats (like in our previous version) and slide the center legs of the cot around the front seats:
The cot legs in the front of the car sit on a wooden board that rests across the two front seats for stability.
In order to make the cot fit, we had to move the front legs backwards a bit, so we just drilled new holes in the cot to move the attachment points:
For the rear of the cots, we support them on a dowel that is hung from the handles:
To keep the cots from sliding around, we loop the webbing through the dowel inside the cot:
To store the cots while we are driving, we build two boxes that are placed behind the front seats and attached to the captain's chair anchors on the floor. The boxes have notches where the cot support dowel and another 2"x2" bar go across them. A bungee is attached to hold down the lid and cross-bars for safety while driving. It is attached to the box in the back and the bungee hooks around a knob on the front of the box.
We take the wooden board that is used in the front seats to support the cots and put it across these boxes to create a bench in the back seat. This bench is incredibly useful for eating meals inside the van or for sitting on while you put your ski boots on. This has been important during Covid for making our van into a basecamp during bad weather.
The boxes are used to store hats/gloves/balaclavas/etc and toiletries. The sleeping pads for the kids and the window covers are stored between the bench and the back of the front seats. We use a bungee cord to keep the wooden board attached to the bench and a mesh bungee when we're driving to put helmets etc on top of the bench.
The parent sleeping system is the same as before - using the folding cushions. These are still stored behind the back seats, with the sleeping bags, pillows, and clothes bags:
With the new system, the kids are a lot happier (at ages 11 and 7) so we can hopefully last for a few more years. And it works great during Covid where your car needs to be your home base.
Two Silicon Valley engineers who have had a love of the outdoors since childhood. Parents of two small kids, spending our free time exploring the outdoors with them.