Micro-adventures, i.e. little escapes from everyday life, are all the rage. Pack your rucksack, get in the car and dash off into the countryside after work. Leaving the stresses of everyday life behind, just going somewhere beautiful. Breathe in just a little bit of travelling romance. The distance doesn't matter.

The next adventure could be just 20 miles beyond the unknown hill near the big city, in the neighbouring village or on the nearby meadow that has always been on your bucket list. The point of the micro-adventure is to just get out - out of the familiar surroundings and familiar paths. Just clear your head and come back the next day feeling refreshed.

Gallery: Dacia Duster (2024) with Sleep Pack in the test

We are travelling to the green mountains

At least that's the theory. My last micro-adventure took me from Lyon to the tranquil village of Beaufort, France. Or rather, close to it. That's assuming we don't take a closer look at the previous journey via Frankfurt with a flight to Lyon. You didn't get that from me. So back to the romantic picture:

The only inhabitants sharing the remote spot on the edge of a picturesque reservoir near Beaufort with our camp at night were cows, who lulled me to sleep with the gentle sound of their bells. But more on that later.

Dacia Duster (2024) with Sleep Pack in the test

Dacia Duster (2024) with Sleep Pack in the test

My two-day travelling companion was waiting for me in Lyon. The Dacia Duster, known to be a compact and popular SUV. In my case, the brand new model with the turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine, 130 PS and front-wheel drive. Remember: an adventure doesn't have to be overly luxurious or packed with horsepower, but above all practical.

Is that camping already?

And the Duster is not only practical because of its compact size and increased ground clearance, but above all because of one thing when it comes to micro-adventure: the Sleep Pack from the accessories list. A compact box for the boot, which transforms into a small camp bed in the car when the rear seat bench is folded down.

This turns the Duster into a micro-camper for two people. Although I was glad that I only had to spend the night alone inside. Oops, the camper romanticism is gone again. Where were we?

Dacia Duster (2024) Sleep Pack
Length: 190 mm
Width: 100 mm (130 mm at the rear doors)
Storage space: 220 litres
Weight: 45 kg box, 5 kg mattress
Mattress: 100 % polyester foam with a density of 32 kg/m³
Price: €1,590
Optional (useful): Blackout set €295
Worth knowing: Luggage flap of the box can be folded out to form a table (load capacity 15 kg)

By the way, the Duster has the advantage that it can also be a little off the beaten track. Unpaved to bumpy roads are no problem for the brash Romanian. And so the mobile equipment is actually a good choice for getting somewhere where there are no troublemakers, i.e. people.

And so, after a few wide-lane kilometres on the motorway, the Dacia-Camp tour group finally turned right towards the Alpine pass roads. We climbed higher and higher, following the winding roads, meandering through the narrow streets of the French mountain villages - hairpin bends to the left, hairpin bends to the right. We stopped briefly to enjoy the view of the valley and waved a final farewell to the local grande dame.

Travelling companion Duster at your service

At the top, the real adventure awaited the knobbly Dacia. An unpaved route down to the mountain lake in the mountainous surroundings of the 2,539 metre high Mont Coin, which is only passable between May and October. Slowly over stones and rubble, crossing a shallow mountain stream, always avoiding the deep holes.

Dacia Duster (2024) with Sleep Pack in the test

Dacia Duster (2024) with Sleep Pack in the test

And what can I say? You know the scene at the end of Pixar's film "Cars", in which the khaki Willys Army Jeep Sarge tries to teach SUVs about off-road capability at boot camp and participants desperately shout things like "I've never been off-road before" or "Ugh, I've got dirt on my wheels"? When I heard about this adventure with the Duster, I smiled and thought of exactly this scene.

But I was proved wrong. The Dacia Duster does it well. Not a trace of insecurity, always enough grip under the tyres, both uphill and downhill. Sarge would be proud of the little one.

Good night dear Duster

When we arrived at the lake, we set up camp for the night with a barbecue, campfire and pavilion. So that everyone could get a good night's sleep in unfamiliar surroundings, we went on a hike around the mountain lake. With a full stomach, brushed teeth and a visit to the outhouse, I was ready for the night.

The Dacia Duster is quite cosy when the sleep-pack bed is set up. I squeezed through the gap in the rear door and tried to find a suitable position between the bed and the roof lining.

Dacia Duster (2024) with Sleep Pack in the test

Dacia Duster (2024) with Sleep Pack in the test

190 centimetres in length, 130 centimetres at the rear doors, 100 centimetres in the boot. The Duster's dimensions don't provide much room for the unusual, stretched-out sleeping positions that I need, even if the available space is optimally utilised. It gets cold at night in the Alps so a sleeping bag helps, but not with the problem of stretching out. The cows mentioned above rang all night. I can still hear it. The camper van romance was gone, but I will never forget the morning view of the mountain panorama from the side door. 

The unromantic side of the micro-camper

"Go on a micro-adventure, it'll do you good," they said. It did, even without much sleep. However, the truth about sleeping in the smallest of spaces should of course always be borne in mind, especially in the Dacia Duster. It takes some getting used to, suitable body sizes, possibly very close fellow travellers and certain individual circumstances.

There is also not much room for luggage with the sleeping box in the boot. When folded out, the stuff has to be stowed on the front seats or on the mattress next to you.

Dacia Duster (2024) with Sleep Pack in the test

Dacia Duster (2024) with Sleep Pack in the test

Hundreds of cows with bells around their necks and an unfamiliar sleeping position are bad conditions for a relaxing night. I myself have often slept in various car boots in quiet places on mild nights. It works really well - certainly in the Duster too. However, everything has to be set up to suit yourself.

The basic idea of an affordable micro-camper is great. Small or short trips, sleeping in between during a journey to a distant destination. If you want, you can even take it on a road trip through Scandinavia, but then the roof box should definitely be strapped on. However, the possibilities for using the Duster with its €1,590 Sleep Pack are many and varied.

This brings the price of car-based camping down considerably. The limited off-road capability of the Duster (especially as a 4x4) takes you to destinations that remain inaccessible to larger or lower-lying camping vehicles. And all this from a price of €17,400 plus the Sleep Pack. Small, compact and minimalist are the magic words. "Home is what you make of it" someone once said, I've heard. Sleep can be caught up on, impressions remain forever.