2017 Honda Ridgeline: Putting a Tent in the Bed
by Travis Langness, Automotive Editor
When the folks from Honda dropped off our long-term 2017 Honda Ridgeline at the Edmunds office a few months ago, they gave us a walk-around of the vehicle. They pointed us toward cool features like the in-bed storage bin, the stereo drivers that pulse sound through the bedliner, and the side- and bottom-hinged tailgate. Toward the end of the conversation, though, something else interesting came up: camping.
I love camping. I wish I were camping right now. I think I'm going to plan a camping trip as soon as I stop typing. I wonder how hot it is in Joshua Tree this weekend? Maybe something in the mountains will be more livable. I fear I've gotten off topic. ... My interior monologue aside, our Ridgeline tour guides mentioned the available accessories for the Ridgeline, one of which is a tent that fits over the bed of the truck. I was intrigued.
After a few emails and a week of waiting, Honda shipped us the Ridgeline-specific camping gear to give it a try. Retail price for the tent is $350, which seems like a lot for a tent, but this one has a few specific advantages over the standard four-post tent you can get at REI:
1. You aren't sleeping on the ground.
2. It can fit a full-sized inflatable mattress.
3. There's a plug in the bed of the Ridgeline so you can fill up the air mattress quickly and easily.
4. There's a cooler/storage container right beneath you and a handy zipper opening to access it.
5. You aren't sleeping on the ground.
Our recent trip to Death Valley was the perfect place to test the Ridgeline's tent, so I made sure to pack it alongside all the other gear. Dan Edmunds and I did a practice run setting up the tent in the Edmunds garage, and once we had the hang of it, setup only took a few minutes. Crisscross a few tent poles, strap down the sides, and you've got a home for the night.
Dan Edmunds was the first to try it out and he said it was as comfortable as you could expect from an air mattress setup on your floor at home (i.e., not perfect but far better than a thin, rollout sleeping pad).
While I'm fully aware of the irony of touting the virtues of sleeping off the ground and simultaneously expressing my love of camping, I think of this tent as more of a road trip tool than a Pacific Crest Trail shelter. It's great for cross-country journeys full of rest-stop overnighters. It's not an alternative to a 2-pound ultralight backpacking tent; rather it's vastly preferable to sleeping upright in the driver's seat and waking up with a cramp in your neck.
The tent packed up even quicker than it set up, and it stows away nicely under the rear seat in a handy bag. This is an item that I'd absolutely add to my must-have list if I owned a Ridgeline. Chevrolet has a similar tent ($270) available for the Colorado, and there are dozens of aftermarket solutions if you want to go glamping in a Tacoma, so Honda isn't the only one providing a nifty roadside camping solution. That's a bandwagon I'm happy to jump on, and just another excuse in a long line of excuses that will get me out of the city for the weekend.
Travis Langness, automotive editor @ 9,731 miles