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You can go camping without a Subaru.

Contrary to REI parking lots across the country, you are not required to drive a Subaru to go on a camping trip.

By: Aaron Rickel Jones + Save to a List

Contrary to both popular belief and the demographic makeup of REI parking lots, you are not in fact required to drive a Subaru to be eligible to go on a camping trip. They will not turn you around at the campground entrance if you arrive in a quote “normal car,” and all 63 National Parks let you visit with whatever make and model car you please, even if they should perhaps reconsider that legacy. If you feel left out of some all-exclusive Subaru Camping Club or think you can’t go camping because you don’t have the right car or have so much of your identity wrapped up in the hunk of metal you roll around in that you actually believe there is an all-exclusive Subaru Camping Club, here are a few friendly reminders from someone who drives a Subaru himself.

1. Subarus are cars.
Although it may seem like Subaru sells life-changing adventure machines that help you mountain bike more, hike more, camp more, and get outside more, Subaru in fact only sells cars. Their sole product is plain and simply a vehicle. They offer them in various sizes, colors, and prices, yet actually share most features in common with every other car on the market including wheels, tires, engines, seatbelts, rear-view mirrors, and cup holders. Purchasing one mostly guarantees you will spend more time at stoplights, in traffic, and looking for parking than you would if you did not purchase a car.

While their brand messaging makes it seem like you are making an environmentally conscious choice by buying a Subaru, you are actually purchasing a product made exclusively out of metals, plastics, and rare-earth elements ripped from the ground in wildly environmentally unfriendly ways. Subaru makes cars from mined materials in factories that emit unfathomable amounts of waste, just like all the other car companies. No free ride to revolutionary environmentalism here, just an expensive ride to all the places you can already get to by bicycle.

2. Putting a roof rack on your Subaru only lets you carry more stuff.
Although many people seem to believe otherwise, roof racks do not increase the off-roading abilities of your Subaru—or any car for that matter. They simply let you bring more stuff with you to wherever you are going. Putting a roof rack on your car does not mean you no longer have to load up gear to go on a trip. Roof racks are unlikely to increase net-happiness over the course of a human life. Roof racks do not increase your likelihood of seeing wildlife in the woods, discovering a secret hike, or running that 50k you’ve been talking about for years. Nothing screams consumerism quite like slapping a roof rack on top of an already-oversized SUV to carry all your “essential belongings” with you wherever you go. Not to mention the car itself already has more built-in storage space than most humans needed over the course of their whole lives, on average, during the last 50,000 years. Oh yeah, they also waste a shit ton of gas and reduce your car’s gas mileage by up to 25%.

3. Subarus only take you where you drive them.
Until the self-driving revolution makes human-driven cars obsolete (or illegal) you still have to drive your brand new Subaru wherever you want to go. Even if they become fully self-driving, I imagine you will still have to select the destination and sit inside the car until it takes you to that destination at 35 to 70 miles per hour. If they become fully self-driving and you do not have to select the destination, you probably have bigger things to worry about than camping. If you do not have to sit inside the car until it takes you to your destination, it probably is not a car and you also probably have bigger things to worry about than camping.

4. Carrying gear in your Subaru does not count as using that gear.
As cool as you look driving around town in your brand new Outback with your mountain bike strapped to the back, it does not actually count as riding your mountain bike. Storing your rock climbing gear in your back seat and hanging a quick draw from your rear view mirror are not the same as going rock climbing. No matter what marketing may say, storing gear in and on your Subaru does not increase the amount of time you spend using that gear. It only increases the amount of funky smells seeping into the upholstery.

    If you’re anything like me, it’s pretty easy to get caught up in the never ending cycle of “if I only had that one thing I would get outside way more often.” It is untrue. It is a trap. If you go down that path you will forever be in search of the one thing because every one thing just leads to another and another and another.

    Yes, even Subarus. You can go camping in whatever car you have—even if that is no car at all.

    Originally published at www.lafieldguide.com on August 16, 2021.

    We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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