Do Not Start Car Camping Unless You Have These 7 Essential Gears

Dog Backpacks: Camping with your Dog
Dog Backpacks: Camping with your Dog

Today we’re gonna discuss a little bit about car camping.Basically the idea here is we’re gonna walk through some of the essential pieces of gear that I take with me when I go car camping.

And I’m gonna show you my setup and how I keep things organized and ready to go. Now these plastic bins are pretty much the backbone of my whole car camping setup.

I basically keep things organized in three separate groups.

The first is sort of my cookware and cooking bin, and in it I will keep things like a two-burner stove, fuel for said stove. I’ve got pots and pans in here. Pretty much anything I need to cook a meal lives right here in this bin.

And the reason I do that is because I know where it sits in my garage on the shelf. That way I’m aware of everything and I know where it is so that on a moment’s notice I can just go grab the bin, throw it in the back of the car, and I’m ready to go.

Now, next, I’ve got my food bin. So, pretty self-explanatory, but, as you can see, this is all of my camp food.

This has backpacking food in it too. I keep these meals ready to go. But it’s got everything from olive oil and spices to pancake mix, some dried stuff like pasta.

Pretty much whatever I need to go camping or backpacking lives right in here. And that way, if I am going on a backpacking trip, again, I know where it is. I can just grab a couple of meals and go. Or I just grab this whole bin and it’s usually got everything I need for the most part for a weekend of camping.

The third part of my three-bin system is all of my sleeping stuff stays right in here.

When I am car camping I will use a down quilt instead of a sleeping bag. I don’t bother with a a mummy bag because I wanna be comfortable when I’m car camping.

A down quilt or a big rectangular sleeping bag, double sleeping bag, something like that, even a quilt from home, is gonna keep ya a little more comfortable than a restricting mummy bag when you’re car camping.

Now, the other thing I have is a full-on air mattress. This is a smaller one that I’ll use right here in the back of the truck.

If I have the tent set up and I’ve got more than one person, my wife is with me, I will use either a full-size or queen-size air mattress which fits in the tent that I usually bring when I’m car camping.

I do this because it’s more comfortable. That’s what it comes down to. And if I am out for a weekend of fishing or mountain biking, I want to sleep well at night, so that allows me to do it. So I’ve got the down quilt, like I said. I keep other stuff in here.

Lantern, which is really nice in the middle of the night. Obviously, I’m not gonna take something like this backpacking, but lanterns, especially these little Luci lights, which I talk about in the column, but they’re inflatable and they’re solar powered, so you don’t have to worry about batteries for ’em.

You don’t have to charge ’em. And what I will do is just hang a couple from the truck, hang a couple from the tent, or string ’em up in a tree, and it’s just kinda nice. It lights the campground up.

You don’t have to wear a headlamp all the time. You can kinda see where you’re going, and it just adds a little ambiance. It’s kinda nice.

So, that is how my three-bin system works. And, obviously, I’ve got room to bring all this stuff, because I have a truck. But one thing I will do, if I’m going with someone else, or I need to pare things down, I just bring smaller bins.

So I will move some of this stuff into a bin size or whatever size I have laying around.

Might seem overboard, but I truly believe that I have camped more because of this system, because I know where things are.

I know what to pack. It’s all already pretty much packed and all I have to do is throw it in the car and go.

Okay, so you’ve seen my bin system here. Now what I’m gonna do is walk you through some of the stuff I go over which are the essentials.

I’ve talked about some of ’em already, but I will show you what I usually take with me when I’m going out for a weekend of car camping.

This is my car-camping tent. Now, it’s huge. I get that. It’s a six-person tent. It’s a little overkill, obviously, if you’re going solo or just with two people. But here’s what I like about it. I don’t have to worry about space. I don’t have to worry about carrying this thing very far, and it gives me a ton of living space.

This is the REI Kingdom Six and that’s an expensive tent. If you buy it new it’s like 400 bucks, something like that. I found this thing at an REI garage sale for $50.

I’m not telling you to go out and buy this tent, I’m just saying buy a big tent. Buy something spacious that you’re not cramped in, and that’s just gonna make it more comfortable for you.

This thing I can walk inside. I’m six-three and I can stand up in here which is pretty cool. It just makes a lot of difference when you’re spending a lot of time camping out of your car.

Okay, that pretty much does it for my car-camping essentials. Like I said, gotta thick sleeping pad or an air mattress.

You’ve got a big, oversized tent. You got a regular, rectangular sleeping bag, or, even better, a quilt.

We’ve got our cooler here, a big one that you can cook on.

We have a two-burner stove, which is great for cooking in the mornings. You can put two cast-iron skillets on there, pot of water, whatever you need. Make breakfast, make dinner, makes it really simple.

We’ve got our Luci lanterns, or some other sort of light or lantern situation. I like these ones, like I said, because they’re inflatable and they’re solar powered, so you don’t have to worry about swapping out the batteries.

And, finally, my last essential is plastic bins. Those plastic bins are probably the most important piece of this whole thing because they keep things organized, and they let me get out at a moment’s notice, so I’m always ready to go.

If somebody calls me up last minute and said, hey, we’re going on this car camping trip. Do you wanna come? Yeah, I can do it. I know where all my stuff is. I’m ready to go. And it just keeps things really simple and approachable, and helps me get outside more.

Do you have any thoughts and ideas to share ? leave a comment below.




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