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#1 Old 07-13-2011, 03:57 AM
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Sleeping in my Sienna

Hi,

I'm planning on purchasing a first generation Sienna for an upcoming 2 month cross country trip. I intend on sleeping in my van for a majority of the nights to avoid high motel costs. I will be traveling solo so space will not be an issue if I can figure out the proper set up. I will not have the option of removing and storing my seats outside the van as I am purchasing in WA and will be eventually finishing the journey in MA.

What I'm hoping to do is set up some type of a mattress system, maybe the size of a single sleeping bag in the back compartment. I have been unable to find anything online with dimensions of the Sienna. I am looking for advice from those who have spend many nights in the back.

Can I remove one of the middle seats (if I have the captain chair option) and store it on the third row and have enough floor room to set up a makeshift bed? Or is it possible to fold all the seats down, put a piece of particle board over all of the seats and have a mattress on top of that?

I have also seen this neat hammock set up that may work, but I can see my back yelling at me after about a week of this arrangement.



Thank you.

Last edited by TrailDust; 08-19-2011 at 10:35 AM. Reason: Spam link removed, but the thread idea is sound. LOL!
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#2 Old 07-13-2011, 10:56 AM
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All of the seats do fold down flat. Each seat also comes out individually. I don't know if the middle seats and rear seats are the same height when folded down. The middle seats are odd because one has different tracks than the other. I don't think this matters to you.

You definitely won't fit in the cargo area unless you can sleep in a very small ball. It's not very deep and you can't fit laying across the van.

The hammock idea is really cool. That's a neat innovation. It's important to note that in the video there were no middle seats.

My idea for you would be to remove two seats from one side and put them on top of their adjacent seats. You may want to turn them over so they are plastic top to plastic top. You might want to set them back on the floor while you drive so that they don't fall back down. I guess you could also tie them together on top of each other. You could also take the two seats out and tie them to the roof.

A good set of tie-downs can be infinitely valuable if you have a van or truck that you ever want to haul stuff in. They aren't very expensive at Wal-mart. I recommend the ratchet kind as opposed to the pull tight kind in the hammock video. You have to learn how to use the ratchet kind but they are much more secure.

Every time I've tried to use the luggage rack to tie something to the roof of my van I've found that it was bigger than the luggage rack. This made hooking the straps to the rack impossible. I loop the straps all the way through the van. I'll open the rear tilt windows and loop one strap through there. Then I'll close the sliding doors almost all of the way and loop the other strap through there. It takes long straps or two straps hooked together. I've carried couches, mattresses, plywood, and even a plastic play house this way.
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#3 Old 07-14-2011, 08:14 AM
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I would just recline the front passenger seat and sleep that way or sleep
across on the 3rd row seats. Sleeping bag wouldn't work because after you remove the seats in the back you have the seat track/latches to deal with unless you stuff something in there to make it level with the carpeted floor.

Black Sunshine: Just wondering if you over inflate your tires when you are
hauling heavy stuff on top, do you always observe the weight capacity of the luggage rack or just take it nice and easy.

I know a mini van is capable of hauling heavy loads from time to time but
I wonder if it can cause damage to the transmission in the long term. To a lesser extent shortening the life of your brakes,suspension system.
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#4 Old 07-14-2011, 09:12 PM
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I've never successfully strapped anything to the actual luggage rack. Like I said I strap it around the entire roof of the van that makes the weight pretty much unlimited. The few large items that I've put up there weren't very heavy. They were just huge.

As far as weight capacity goes our vans are probably rated to carry around a thousand pounds. I haven't looked it up. It's on the inside of the driver's door. If you fill it with seven big people you will probably go over that.

It is what it is. These vans are all old now. The newest vans covered by this board are eight years old. They're going to require maintenance even if you never put a lot of weight in them.
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#5 Old 07-15-2011, 02:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Sunshine View Post
I've never successfully strapped anything to the actual luggage rack. Like I said I strap it around the entire roof of the van that makes the weight pretty much unlimited. The few large items that I've put up there weren't very heavy. They were just huge.

As far as weight capacity goes our vans are probably rated to carry around a thousand pounds. I haven't looked it up. It's on the inside of the driver's door. If you fill it with seven big people you will probably go over that.

It is what it is. These vans are all old now. The newest vans covered by this board are eight years old. They're going to require maintenance even if you never put a lot of weight in them.
Yes, I am aware of the weight capacity, since I have both the 2nd and 3rd row seats removed I can add around 260lbs to the limit. I use tie down bungee cords to secure cargo on the inside and have moving blankets and pads to protect the windows on the sides and in the back.

When I bought my 01 Sienna LE a few months ago I did notice a small vertical scratch on the defroster grid of the back window, not a big deal
but I know how important it is to properly secure a load either inside or outside the van.
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#6 Old 07-18-2011, 06:02 AM
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Brassring - the particle board on top of the folded down seats sounds interesting at first, but because of the gaps between support points I worry that you'll end up with a sagging sleeping surface. A little sag might be OK but it might feel more like a hammock. It's worth investigating, of course. During overnight road trips I've slept on the back row while my wife drove, and that's fine for a nap but not for a good night's sleep. On our most recent road trip I looked over my shoulder from the driver's seat to find my teenage daughter had folded the middle seat forward and was laying on top of it - her head was just behind the front row passenger seat, and her feet were on the back row. Imagine a recliner in the fully reclined position. You might try that, but again, it might be good for a nap but that's all. I think Black Sunshine presents the best option -- try taking out the middle row and back row seats on just one side and see how that works. There's enough room to set the removed seats on top of the adjacent seats.

I just went out to the garage with a tape measure and found the distance from the front seat support rails (where the seat mounts to the floor) to the back hatch is 7' 6". Unless you are hauling a lot of gear, you just may find you have enough room to set up a sleeping area.

Movester makes a good point about the connecting points for the seats that you're going to remove. Fortunately, they aren't real deep so you may find they're not a problem. You'll want to test your set-up before setting out on your trip.

Regarding the gear that you might be hauling, and addressing the questions about the luggage rack, we have used our rack on every summer road trip except one since we got the van in December, 1998, and with good results. The sticker on the rack says you should only put 110 pounds up there, so load accordingly. However, you'll find this is a GREAT way to free up space inside your van. Years ago we bought a canvas / nylon type of carrier that straps to the luggage rack, and we're still using it. It cost about $35 back then. One trip to Florida found us driving through Tropical Storm Arlene and our luggage got a little wet, but not thoroughly soaked, so plan for the worst and expect anything you put up there to get wet, but in our experience stuff stays dry except in the most severe weather conditions. If you spend a little more perhaps you can find a hard shell plastic carrier, but back when we were shopping we couldn't find one to fit our Sienna. That was years ago so you may have better luck.

If you need some more measurements, let me know. Keep us posted!

P.S. The sales brochure for the '98 Sienna says vehicle's empty weight is 3,891 pounds (if equipped with sliding doors on both sides). The sticker on the driver's door says vehicle max gross weight is 5,250 pounds with each axle to carry no more than 2,725 pounds.

Last edited by TierOneSupplier; 07-18-2011 at 06:10 AM. Reason: Weight information
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#7 Old 07-21-2011, 02:57 AM
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Thanks for the responses guys and thanks for going the extra mile and getting those measurements for me!
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#8 Old 07-21-2011, 07:00 AM
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Are you aware how to screen open windows?
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#9 Old 07-21-2011, 07:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Potter View Post
Are you aware how to screen open windows?
I haven't researched that yet. Do you have a suggestion?
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#10 Old 07-21-2011, 07:24 AM
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Google Duck Brand 1301808 and similar. The plastic snap in retainer type storm windows also work with fiberglass screening.
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#11 Old 08-03-2011, 01:58 PM
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Could you take one of the Capt. seats out, then sleep with your head towards the back, and your legs between the two front seats. Get some of that memory foam to sleep on, doesn't take up much space and very comfortable. Good luck on your trip.
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