What to Bring Car Camping

Car Camping

You’ve camped in the backyard. Now it’s time to move the rest of your house outside.


The goal of car camping is to have fun, which includes being comfortable. This is especially true if you’re introducing someone to camping...otherwise they might not want to go again. The good news is that modern camping gear has evolved tremendously in the past 20-years, so it’s possible to recreate nearly every aspect of your home at your car campsite.


The “Bedroom”

Car Camping - Tent

If you’ve camped in the backyard, you’re probably familiar with what your outdoor “bedroom” requires. To ensure optimal comfort we recommend sizing up your tent, i.e. for a 4-person family consider a 6-person tent. Be aware of temperature ratings on sleeping bags and pads. A 35-degree rated bag does not guarantee that everyone will be comfortable down to 35-degrees. The ratings are averages so it’s important to acknowledge the unique attributes of the person who will be using it. So, if someone in your family gets cold easily, consider a sleeping bag with a rating about 20 degrees below the expected night time temperature, and a sleeping pad with a high “R-value” (r-value is a scale that measures insulation). If you’re camping with a child, you can get them a child-size sleeping bag, or just fold an adult-size bag in half. Also, feather pillows tend to get damp in humid climates. Consider an air or synthetic-filled pillow for greatest camping comfort. The most basic car camping bedroom setup includes:

If you want to add a few extra creature comforts, consider adding the following:


The “Kitchen”

Car Camping - Cooking

Food, glorious food! Hot sausage and mustard! Next to sleeping, food is the area people are most concerned about when camping. You want to serve great food. Fortunately, an outdoor version of nearly every kitchen appliance exists for your car camping adventure. You can grill, fry, saute, boil, and bake. You can prepare your coffee freshly ground with a, French Press, aeropress, drip filter, or pour over. New coolers and vacuum-sealed growlers can can keep food and beer cold for days. The most basic car camping kitchen setup includes:

If you want to add a few extra creature comforts, consider adding the following:


The “Bathroom”

Where you’re staying there’s probably a bathroom facility with toilets, sinks, and showers. So, other than a toiletry bag for your toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, and shampoo, what do you really need? The most often overlooked, and important item is a first-aid kit. Since you have the added luxury of space, bring a first-aid kit that includes the basics—ace bandages, gauze, anti-itch cream, tweezers, and tape—as well as extraneous items. These may include specific medicines, splints, aspirin, and a thermometer. Also, get ahead of any health issues by being proactive...regularly apply sunscreen and bug spray.  The most basic car camping bathroom setup includes:

If you want to add a few extra creature comforts, consider adding the following:


The “Living Room” and “Backyard”

Car Camping - Site

Lastly, you’ve got to recreate the rooms where people have the most fun...the living room and backyard. Your home protects you from the sun and bugs, so you might want some shelter for your campsite. You can’t sit around the fire and roast marshmallows without a chair. What about some tunes? Games for the kids? We recommend the following items for your car camping living room and backyard:


Complete Car Camping Gear List with Shopping Links


Living Room & Backyard

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