There’s nothing like a weekend adventure. And camping is one of the best ways to get out and experience all the wonders that nature has to offer. If you’re looking for a fun way to experience the outdoors, then you may be considering giving car camping a try.
But before you go car camping, you need to make sure that you have the right gear so that you can truly enjoy the experience. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive list of car camping essentials.
Keep reading to learn everything that you need to bring with you to get the most out of your car camping adventure.
People use the phrase ‘car camping’ to mean two different things. It can mean driving to a camping spot and literally sleeping in your car instead of setting up a tent. But it can also just mean putting all your gear into a car, driving it to a camping spot, and then sleeping outside of it in a tent.
Both types of car camping can be fun experiences. So don’t hesitate to try each version out to see which one you like best.
Today, we’re all so busy and reliant upon electronics to get through the day. This can make it tough to stay grounded and feel connected to both the people you love and yourself.
Car camping is the perfect break from modern society. It gets you out of your routine and into nature. Studies show that spending time in nature can reduce stress, anger, fear. It can also help to reduce your blood pressure, improve your heart rate, and relax the tension in your muscles.
You may put off car camping because you think you need to purchase a ton of new gear to do it. If that sounds like you, don’t let that convince you not to go. The truth is, you can enjoy car camping with fewer items than you think. Check out our camping essentials list to learn more.
Complete car camping checklist
If you really want to get the most out of your camping experience, then there are several types of gear that you’ll need to bring.
The following car camping packing list covers it all:
First up on our car camping gear list is sleeping gear and shelter items. Here’s what’s worth bringing:
- Sleeping bags
- Sleeping pads or air mattresses
- Waterproof tent (unless you plan on sleeping in your car)
You’ll also want to make sure that you’re able to eat well while you enjoy the outdoors. To do that, you should bring the following cooking items with you:
- Camp stove
- Mini cooler
- Plates, utensils, and glasses
- Camping kettle
You’ll also want to be sure that you have enough food on-hand to enjoy your entire stay. Basically, you can bring whatever you want to eat. As long as it’s either non-perishable or you have a means of storing the food safely, such as with a mini cooler.
That said, you may be looking for some suggestions to get you started. If so, here are some ideas of food to bring with you the next time you go car camping:
- Bread and sandwich ingredients
- Lettuce and salad ingredients
- Pancake batter and syrup
- Oil for cooking
- Chicken, beef, and pork
- Snacks like pretzels, chips, and jerky
It’s also important to ensure that you have the right type of clothing to enjoy your camping experience. The last thing that you want is to drive all the way to your location, only to spend the weekend in your car because you don’t have the proper clothing to enjoy the weather.
With that in mind, here are some clothing articles to bring with you:
- Shirts and pants
- Jackets (including a waterproof rain jacket just in case)
- Sleeping wear
- Hiking boots
- Sandals for around camp
Here’s a list of personal hygiene items that you’ll want to have while camping:
- Shampoo, condition, and body wash
- Hand soap
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Sunscreen and bug repellant
- Toilet paper
Camping is typically an enjoyable and safe experience. But that doesn’t mean that anomalies don’t happen. That’s why it’s also essential to make sure that you have the following safety gear with you the next time you go camping.
- First aid kit
- Mini fire extinguisher
- Lanterns and flashlights
- Flare gun and several flares
While many of us go camping to get away from our electronic devices, that doesn’t mean you want to be completely without power for the duration of your trip. That’s why it’s a smart move to also bring a portable power station with you.
You can charge portable power stations from Jackery with either a standard outlet, your car, or with a set of portable solar panels. You can then use the power station to do things like:
- Charge your phones, laptops, and tablets
- Keep a mini cooler running
- Power your electric camping stove
- Make sure your lights continue running
- Charge outdoor gear like drones
- And so much more
Want to learn more about portable power stations and how they enhance your car camping experience? Find out more about Jackery’s power stations here.
Your car camping must-haves
There’s obviously a ton of items on our car camping essentials list. But do you really need all of them? Or are some car camping necessities more important than others to bring with you?
If you want to try to get by with as little gear as possible, here’s what you absolutely must bring and nothing else:
- Enough food and water for your trip
- A stove to cook your food
- Sleeping bags and enough pillows and blankets to be comfortable at night
- A flashlight
- First-aid kit
- Enough clothing and personal hygiene products to get you through your stay
We’ve covered everything that you need to bring with you to have a comfortable and safe car camping experience. But we haven’t touched on what you can do to take your trip to the next level.
Here’s a list of essential car camping gear to bring if you want to make sure you have the best time possible on your trip:
- Games like Jenga, Monopoly, and packs of cards
- Musical instruments like a guitar to play around the campfire at night
- A car tent
- Portable chairs
- Outdoor games like cornhole, lawn darts, and croquet
By now, you should have a pretty good idea of the types of gear that you want to bring with you to get the most out of car camping. But bringing the right gear is just one part of an enjoyable outdoor experience.
It’s also a good idea to keep the following things in mind:
Campsites can be super enjoyable places to spend a few days with your friends and family. But if you’re looking for an adventure, consider going off the beaten path and picking a camping spot that isn’t a tourist destination.
This is much easier to do if you plan to camp inside your car anyway. If you don’t need to set up a tent, you can essentially go camp wherever you want. That opens up a world of possibilities for your trip and could lead to a number of unexpected benefits.
Now before traveling far in your car, check out our complete list of things to do on a road trip to help pass the time.
If you plan on going car camping, then you may end up using your car’s battery quite a bit throughout your trip. This makes it easy to accidentally overuse the battery and it become too low to start your vehicle. Carrying jumper cables gives you a way to fix this problem if it happens to you.
If you don’t store your food properly, then you could end up with a very stinky car or even unwanted wildlife in your campsite. So, make sure that you have a good plan for storing food before you go and stick to it once you get there.
Finally, any discussion of must-haves for car camping should include a good attitude. Camping is all about getting outside your comfort zone and enjoying a part of the world that you don’t see every day.
Things won’t always go according to plan, and that’s okay. Being flexible and open to the unexpected can help you enjoy your camping experience even more.
Jackery keeps your gear charged while you camp
One of the biggest keys to fully enjoying your next car camping experience is ensuring that you have a portable source of power for your most important devices. But traditional generators are noisy, costly, and take expensive fuel to run.
That’s why you should take a look at Jackery’s line of solar generators (a solar solution that combines a portable power station with solar panels.) They’re quiet, safe to use, and clean energy efficient. Bringing one with you could be the key to unlocking the full benefits of your next camping experience.