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Car Camping Done Right: What You Need, and What You Don’t [PICS]

Car camping allows you bring the comforts of your home with you while camping in a tent.

Car camping is a great way to get the sleeping-in-a-tent experience without having to rough it or do any extensive planning. You can bring all of your favorite comforts and luxuries and still pitch a tent.

The great thing about car camping is you can bring as much stuff as you want! Here are some of the essentials.


You will need a tent to sleep in when car camping. The great thing is, you can bring whatever size tent you want and it doesn’t have to be lightweight because the car is carrying it, not you.

If your tent does not have a rainfly, a tarp can act as one and you can bring an extra tarp to cover your cooking area in case of rain or to set up for a shady spot.


Five pretty kids lay together covered with white blanket sleeping in tent camping

Car camping allows you the sleeping luxuries you would not have if you were backpacking. You can bring any size sleeping bag and not have to worry about the weight. You can also bring any size sleeping pads to make the ground more comfortable.

If a sleeping pad on the ground is too backpackish for you, you can bring an air mattress, pillows, and extra blankets to make your night feel like home.


Traveling in your car to the camp spot instead of walking allows you to bring any type of stove you want. You can bring a full size grill if you have the room in your car for one, although some campgrounds may have grills already there to use.

Don’t forget cookware, utensils, a knife, cutting board, can/bottle opener, trash bags, and even a cooler.

A great way to prepare meals for car camping is to measure and pack the ingredients you need for each meal at home before you leave for camping. Car camping allows you to bring condiments and other extra foods and snacks you would not be able to carry otherwise.


First Aid Kit

No matter how or where you are camping or hiking, you should always have some kind of first aid kit with you. Whether you buy one stocked with first aid items, or make your own, always bring one with you when car camping.

Two-way radios are fun for the kids to play with, but are also a good safety/survival tool, as well as headlamps and flashlights. Since you are car camping, you can buy a package of bottled water and stash it in the car in case of a situation where you need clean water.

Citronella candles are an awesome bonus you can toss in the car and use to keep those pesky mosquitos away.


When backpacking, you have to be aware of the amount of clothes you bring because you are carrying it all. When car camping, pack away!

You can bring clothes for any weather you expect to encounter and more. You can even bring multiple pairs of shoes: a day hike pair, a lounge pair, and even a swim pair.

Miscellaneous Items

Close shoot of a dog and bags and other luggage in the trunk of the car on the back yard ready to go for vacation

When car camping, you can bring recreational books to read, guidebooks to bring on your day hikes, binoculars, a day pack, and games such as board games, Frisbee, and water toys.

Things You Don’t Need

One thing you do not need to worry about when car camping is weight. Backpacking requires lightweight gear such as a light tent, sleeping bag, and clothes. Car camping does not. You can pack almost anything you want that will fit into your car.

Car camping is all about fun and comfort. Pack anything you’d like when it comes to tent options, sleeping options, clothing, food, and fun.

Check out this checklist for a list of car camping essentials.

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Car Camping Done Right: What You Need, and What You Don’t [PICS]