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Car Camping Essentials All The Car Camping Gear You Need For Your Trip

Car Camping Essentials : All The Car Camping Gear You'll Need For Your Trip

If you’re a beginner car camper, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Browsing through basic camping gear can feel very overwhelming, especially with the amount of options available. What should you prioritize? What’s considered essential and compared to what is more optional? We’re here to help you answer these basic car camping equipment questions. Here’s a definitive list of everything you need for car camping. 

Car Camping Essentials

Car camping is an accessible and simple way to enjoy the great outdoors. Backpacking can be an incredible experience, but it requires a lot of preparation and survival skills. It’s sometimes nice to go on a camping trip that doesn’t require a lot of energy or restricted resources. Once you have all the essentials, you’ll only ever need to bring yourself to the campsite. 

If you’re just starting out, car camping can appear to be just as overwhelming as preparing for a backpacking trip. In reality, gathering all the essentials is the hardest and most expensive part. Once you’ve purchased all your gear for car camping, you can organize it however you want and only replace items that break or supplies that need to be restocked. 

Car Camping Gear

Shelter and Sleeping

  • Tent: Your choice of tent is going to greatly depend on preference and how many people come along on your adventures. If you're a backpacker and a car camper, it’s best to select a tent that works for both activities. The average car camper should be fine with a 2-3 person tent. 
  • Sleeping Bag: A sleeping bag is arguably one of the most important camping items, primarily because it keeps you warm. Although they tend to be expensive, it’s much better to invest in a high quality sleeping bag that will keep you warm and last a long time. 
  • Sleeping Pad or Air Mattress: Beginners commonly fail to understand the importance of a good sleeping pad. It increases comfort and can help you stay warm. Sleeping pads are convenient for packing, while air mattresses are more comfortable but take up a lot of space. 
  • Pillow: If you’re a well rounded camper, you can use the same inflatable pillow that you’d use for backpacking trips. Otherwise, you can simply bring one along from home for increased comfort. 

Car Camping Kitchen

  • Cooler: A cooler can be very convenient for perishable items and storing cold drinks. 
  • Stove and Fuel: Most campsites include fire pits, but certain locations occasionally have fire bans. Thus, it’s always a good idea to have a backup stove available. Traditional propane gas should work fine with any camp stove. 
  • Water Storage: In case you’ll be in an area without access to clean drinking water, fill up a 2-gallon water tank before leaving home. 
  • Pots and Pans: For making food. A separate camping set is recommended for those who don’t want to ruin nicer pots and pans from home. 
  • Dishware: Plates, cups, mugs, bowls, and a thermos. Try to find dishware that doubles as a bowl and a plate for added convenience. 
  • Utensils: For cooking and eating (i.e. knives, forks, and spoons).
  • Camp Kitchen Set: These convenient sets provide everything you need for a car camping kitchen: collapsible whisk, spatula, spicer, cutting board, scrubber, scraper, condiment containers, and a towel. 
  • Refillable Water Bottle: To stay hydrated, especially if you’re hiking during the day. 
  • Kitchen Knife

  • Coffee Kit

  • Camp Kitchen Sink: Some campgrounds offer communal sinks, but in case you’re in a more remote location, a portable kitchen sink can come in handy. 

  • Dish Soap and Sponge

  • Trash Bag: To leave no trace and protect yourselves from wild animals.

  • Paper Towels and Rags

  • Tupperware: To store leftovers

  • Egg Holder: A safe place to store eggs and prevent them from getting crushed. 

  • Dog Dish: In case you bring your fur baby. 
  • Miscellaneous Gear

  • Headlamp: Use a headlamp instead of a flashlight for improved campsite efficiency and hands free camping, a useful feature at night. 

  • First Aid Kit: You can never be too prepared, especially when it comes to the safety of yourself and others at your campsite. 

  • Lantern: It can get dark around dinnertime, so having an extra source of light can make eating and navigation around the campsite easier. 

  • Daypacks: In case you’d like to hike while camping. 

  • Bear Spray: An essential self-defense tool for bears, other aggressive wildlife, and other humans. 

  • Trekking Poles

  • Ultralight Fishing Rod: An ultralight fishing rod is a convenient easy option for fishing no matter where you are

  • Navigational System and Whistle: Stock up on maps, a compass, and other safety measures like a whistle in case of emergency. 

  • Knife: A knife can save you in an emergency situation. 

  • Duct Tape: For basic, temporary repairs of camping gear. 

  • Shovel: In case you’re in a remote area and need to use the restroom. 

  • Firewood or Coals

  • Multi-Tool

  • Hand Warmers: To keep your fingers and toes warm on particularly cold nights. 
  • Comfort

  • Folding Chair

  • Hammock

  • Campsite Reservation Confirmation: Remote areas may not allow you to access digital copies of reservations. In case of an emergency, it’s always good to have a paper copy of your reservation. 

  • Portable Potty

  • Solar Kit: If you’d like to keep your phone charged on your camping trip, a solar powered charger can be a convenient item. 
  • Toiletries and Hygiene

  • Toilet Paper

  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste

  • Deodorant

  • Brush/Comb

  • Shampoo

  • Soap

  • Towel

  • Baby Wipes

  • Hand Sanitizer

  • Sunscreen

  • Bug Repellent

  • Sanitary Products

  • Medications

  • Required Medical Equipment
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