All of the Car Camping Essentials You’ll Need

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There are millions of people out there that love the idea of camping and really “roughing it”, heading out in the woods with as little gear and equipment as humanly possible to soak up everything mother nature has to offer.

At the same time, though, there are millions of other people that love the idea of doing a bit of camping – as long as their base camp revolves around their car!

Car camping has exploded in popularity over the last few years, giving people an opportunity to see more of our natural world without feeling like they are completely cut off from modern conveniences.

If you’ve been looking to do a bit of car camping yourself but want to make sure that you have all the gear necessary to do it right way you’ll want to check out the quick car camping checklist we put together below.

Take advantage of these camping tips and tricks to get your camp gear sorted and you’ll have a much better time than you would have just sort of “winging it”.

Let’s dive right in!


Car Camping Shelter
Source: Flickr @ go-chivas

Priority number one when you are getting ready to do a bit of camping should revolve around your shelter.

You’re going to need something to protect you from rain, wind, and weather while also giving you a bit of security from the wild as well. The beautiful thing about choosing go car camping is that you can use your car as a shelter pinch, but can also use it as a sort of “storage lockup” for all of your car camping essentials while you sleep in a tent or a hammock.

At the end of the day, though, all of your essential car camping gear should be carefully selected around how you are going to shelter yourself when you are camping.


Sleeping gear goes far beyond picking out to a nice sleeping bag and maybe a sleeping pad days, with plenty of extra options today to pick and choose from that simply didn’t exist before – as well as a lot more storage space in your vehicle to keep your sleeping gear without having to carry it all your back.

Car Camping Sleeping Bags
Source: Flickr @ Wes

Inflatable pillows, extra quilts or blankets, and other bits and pieces of sleeping gear (like air mattresses, for example) can be tucked away in your vehicle without taking up a lot of space. You’ll want to be as comfortable as can be when you are sleeping outdoors so make sure that you load up on these essentials.


Your camping kitchen is a huge piece of the puzzle when it comes to how comfortable you are, how happy you are, and how well fed you when you are staying outdoors – and you want to make sure that your camping kitchen is as complete as can be.

We are talking about getting your hands on a high-quality cooler that can keep things nice and cold for days on end, a nice little camping stove (maybe something that runs off of a propane bottle you bring with you), fireproof pots and pans that you can use on top of a camp fire should something happen to that stove, plenty of fuel to keep things rocking and rolling, as well as utensils, pots, pans, plates, cups, and the like.

what is car camping

You don’t necessarily have to bring everything in the kitchen sink when you are camping but you certainly want to make sure that you have a handful of versatile camping mess pieces that you feel comfortable using.

Poorly fed campers turn into very unhappy campers in a hurry. The last thing you want to do is ruin your car camping excursions just because you didn’t pack away enough cooking supplies.


Hygiene is another huge issue you are going to figure out what you are heading out on a car camping trip.

If you’re only going to be a day or two you’ll likely need a box of baby wipes, plenty of toilet paper, and maybe a few other hygiene supplies. But if you’re going to be staying out for a while it’s not a bad idea to look into solar shower equipment so that you can give yourself a good scrub down even though you find yourself far away from indoor plumbing.

Toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, and a first-aid kit should also round out the rest of your cleaning supplies. You’ll want to think about bringing paper towels, hand soap, and hand sanitizer (as well as bug spray and suntan lotion) to kit out this set up, too.


Thanks the fact that you are bringing your vehicle with you it’s possible to pack away more car camping essentials than you would have been able to with just a backpack or a duffel bag – and that means you can bring more clothes with you that you would have otherwise had to leave behind.

It is a good idea to keep a nice, warm (and waterproof) outerlayer in your car – a jacket or a hoodie, something that you can rely on in a pinch if a storm blows in or if the weather turns for the worst in a hurry.

You’ll also want to keep a couple of extra pairs of socks and underwear in your vehicle, a change of pants and maybe even a change of shoes, and a couple of other pieces of versatile clothing that you can rely on no matter what kind of whether you might find yourself in.

Always look for versatile components that you can layer as opposed to “single-purpose” pieces that are only going to take up space that could have been used for other car camping essentials.

At the end of the day, as long as you focus in on the details we highlighted above you shouldn’t ever have to worry about turning a road trip into a full on camping excursions.


The checklist above will help make sure that you have all the basics you need to get started. Don’t be shy about tinkering with these items, though, trying to find a custom loadout that really works best for your specific needs and the kinds of adventures you anticipate having when car camping.

Featured Image Source: Flickr @Weldon Kennedy

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