The first time I ever spent a night in the van I had a terrible sleep. Why? Simple rookie errors of a ill-prepared vehicle. I had no curtains installed to block out nearby street lights, only had a inflatable camping mattress on the floor, and, to make matters worse, I was sleeping on a slight decline without realising. Good quality, blockouts curtains are a must-have item for any vehicle than you will be sleeping in; whether it’s a campervan you will be travelling in for many months, or just a wagon that you occasionally use for overnight jaunts when you’ve partied too hard and don’t want to drive home, have driven down to a surf spot the night before, or are at a music festival etc. Curtains help to reduce light and, to a lesser extent, noise from disturbing your sleep – especially if you’re stealth camping in an urban area with bright street lights nearby. Curtains also help provide privacy, avoid attention of residents/authorities when stealth camping, and also help reduce the amount of damaging sunlight and heat that is coming into your vehicle during summer months.
Many campervans, motorhomes and standard passenger vans will come with preinstalled curtain rails along the side passenger windows. These are fine for basic use, however they’re not always made from good quality blockout material and they rarely have pre installed curtains on the rear window or behind the driver and passenger seats. Our Delica did not come with any curtains, so after my first experience we decided to come up with a solution that would block off as much external light as possible, but still be reasonably easy to roll up out of the way so we can see out of the side windows when driving and also so the Delica wouldn’t look too much like a campervan while in town.
After a fair amount of research, design and testing, we decided that installing the curtains using self-tapping snap fasteners (they look like this and are bought from a hardware store), double sided velcro, and adhesive velcro would be the best solution possible. The snap fasteners were used to semi-permanently secure the top of the curtains to the van’s roof for the four side windows and front two curtains, the double sided velcro was used to secure the curtain when rolled up, and the adhesive velcro was used to attach the sides and bottom of the curtain to the plastic interior trim around the window, as well as the rear, quick-remove curtain. We sewed on the adhesive and double-sided velcro sections to the curtain material after measuring and marking where it would be required.
For the Delica in particular, due to various the contours of the interior, each blind was custom designed and measured up to fit each window properly so there weren’t any gaps and it looked neat and professional. This was a somewhat painstaking task of measuring, testing and adjusting as needed. All up it took about 8 hours of work from concept to final product, but most of this time was due to the trial and error nature of our project. If we did it again, and used a better quality sewing machine, it would only take a few hours.
After having the curtains in the Delica for the past 11 months we are definitely happy with the results. The curtains have held up well and the only issues we had was some of the adhesive velcro falling off the rear window plastic trim due to poor surface preparation and heat. This was resolved by properly cleaning the surface and warming up the adhesive backing before applying replacements.
We also used a section of insulated reflective material for the rear passenger side window which is cut to the shape of the window and held in place with suction cups. This helps to protect our surfing equipment stored in this area from heat and sunlight during the hot summer months. It cost $5 and took 3 minutes to measure, cut to size and install.
It’s not perfect, but it was cheap and it’s effective – that’s how we roll!