With these tips, your first car camping experience will be an enjoyable and fun one

Car camping is a great way to get into the outdoors on your terms.

It allows you to pack all the gear you would need and gives you ready access to this gear.

But what are the things you should do and bring if you are going car camping?

This article will be sure to cover all your bases so you can pack up and get out into the woods.

We will look at;

  • 5 Tips that will make your car camping experience go smoothly
  • 9 Must Have Items that are essential to any car camping experience
  • 4 types of vehicles for car camping

5 Tips to Remember While Car Camping

Since car camping is the act of camping next to your car at a campsite, it allows you to be as prepared as you can be for camping. If you are planning to sleep in your car, make sure to plan for the space you will need a bed down. You can pack whatever you need, and the only limitation is the size of your vehicle. That being such, here are some tips that will make sure your first car camping experience is a great one.

Do Your Research

Be sure to research the park that you are planning on camping in. Take note of whether there will be electricity at the site and also what sort of water supply to expect. If you are doing an impromptu park hop, then try to plan out your route and study any parks on the way that you may be thinking about stopping at.

Bring Water

Bring plenty of water. It is always a good idea to bring a means to purify water as well. If you are camping at a campground that doesn’t have its supply of water, make sure to bring water for cooking and washing, as well as drinking.

Pack Food

Plan out your meals to be sure that you will have the supplies you need to stay fed. Most of the time it will be a long drive to get somewhere to purchase more food, and the prices are usually not friendly to unprepared campers.

If you plan out your main meals and bring some snacks, you should be as comfortable as can be. When all else fails, make sure you have packed a sturdy energy bar. Whether you make your own or buy one of the many at the store, these are a great fallback to fight hunger and keep you going strong.

Plan for the Weather

Look ahead at the weather to see what you might be facing. There is nothing worse than an unexpected cold front giving you the chills while camping. Pack cold weather gear if there is a chance that the nights could get cooler. If rain is expected then, pack the appropriate gear to deal with it. Parkas are fast and easy, though there are heavy duty rubber suits for those expecting a lot of water.

Pack Efficiently

Over packing can leave you with an uncomfortable drive if you’re going to embark on a car camping road trip. Streamline your packing to make sure you are leaving behind any unnecessary items. Bring the essentials, leave the rest if you’re taking a long trip.

9 Must Have Items for Car Camping

Everyone knows there are just some things that you shouldn’t leave behind while camping. People will have different opinions on necessary items, but these are the items that I think every car camper must have. Whatever your must-have items are, make sure you compose a list to make sure they get packed.

First Aid Kit

Great for minor scrapes up to serious cuts, get the first aid kit that suites your needs. These are easy to find in any store, but if you’re thinking of putting together your own I would recommend;

  • Multi-size bandages for simple cuts
  • Gauze and pad for larger cuts
  • Antiseptic cream or gel
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Small scissors
  • Headache medicine or some pain reliever
  • Medical Tape
  • Anti-itch/bug bite cream

Flashlight or lantern

Having a good source of light is necessary to find things in the dark nights of the wild. There is a multitude of great LED lights out there that are rechargeable, along with flashlights as well. LED is the way to go for light value but feels free to bring a propane lantern.

If anything, for that old flame flicker and additional warmth it provides. Always remember to be careful with the flame as to not start a fire.

Chairs

Some foldable chair for quick and comfortable seating will work wonders. Being able to relax anywhere, be it at the camp site or on a hike, a foldable canvas chair offers comfort and space efficiency. I especially love the chairs with cup holders, keeping your drinks safe on the uneven ground.

Multi-Tool

The best way to be prepared for anything is to have everything. Or as close as you can get to it. With knives, screwdrivers and saws, a multi-tool gives you all of those great helpers for the small things around a campsite. Just hook it on your belt and go. Some things to consider for your multi-tool;

  • Knife - Make sure to keep it sharp
  • Screwdriver - Philips is key, both are essential, but flat head you can improvise
  • Mini-Saw - Fairly small but can offer some value
  • Magnifying glass - Your last ditch fire starter

Backpack

Having a trusty backpack allows you to pack up and go whenever you please. It can allow you to have the essentials you need while out on the trails and is filled with nifty little pockets that allow you to store all sorts of goodies.

Fire

Bring a source of the fire. Whether it be a fire starter, a lighter or matches, this is one of the key things for any car camping trip. Having a weatherproof lighter is the best bet, but anything will do. Feeling old fashioned? Just be sure to bag up the matches, and you’ll be set up for success.

Music

This one is more for me, but I love to have great music on a camping trip. With modern technology, you can pack tons of music in a small, rechargeable place. With a small batter powered speaker, you can enjoy some tunes while you enjoy the outdoors. Better yet, bring some instruments and make your music.

A Carpet or Rug

Seem like an odd choice? Think again. A good rug or piece of carpet can cover any bumpy spots underneath your tent, be used to wipe feet before getting in the tent or add extra cushion for when it's time to sleep.

Cookware

Depending on your situation this could be a variety of things. Camping on a campground with a fire pit? Then just pots, pans, and utensils will do. If you are camping strictly from your vehicle, you may want to consider investing in a propane camp stove.

4 types of vehicles for car camping

Everyone knows there are just some things that you shouldn’t leave behind while camping. People will have different opinions on necessary items, but these are the items that I think every car camper must have. Whatever your must-have items are, make sure you compose a list to make sure they get packed.

Car

It is called car camping, right? Cars offer superior gas mileage and space in the trunk you need. Good for tent based outings, but might be a little small for true car camping.

SUV

Great for space and versatility, SUV’s offer the room to sleep and can traverse rough terrain. Though you take a hit on your gas mileage, modern SUV’s can be fuel efficient as well. They have the towing power to pull a trailer or camper and with a longer roof; SUV’s also accommodate roof storage.

Truck

With an ability to explore the roughest of terrain, trucks provide space to sleep as well. Just throw on a topper and set up camp on the bed. The worst as far as gas mileage is concerned, trucks are best utilized for their packing space and tow power.

Van

The classic camper van is everything you need to have a mobile campsite. With fold down beds and other amenities, you will never have to pitch a tent. Your gas mileage may suffer, but you won’t, in this home away from home.

Well, there it is. A beginners guide on items to remember for camping along with an overview of those vehicles that would serve you best during a long road trip. Whether you’re setting up camp in a tent or a car, some key things to keep in mind;

Take your time to plan what you need and get it packed. Don’t rush into camping just to regret it later. A missing tool or warm weather clothes can put a damper on the whole trip.

Fire, Water, Food. I will say these three items specifically as they are the basis of any camping trip. You need fire for cooking and light, and food and water are necessary to live. These reasons alone should be enough.

Plastic bags will do you wonders. You can ensure your items don’t get soaked as well as storing any garbage you might make. They are versatile and can be reused.

Plastic bags will do you wonders. You can ensure your items don’t get soaked as well as storing any garbage you might make. They are versatile and can be reused.

I hope this guide made you consider some things you may have forgotten otherwise, making your camping trip a little easier. If you already thought of all the things on the list, then I hope you have a good trip out into the outdoors!

    Alison Lawrence

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