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Any seasoned outdoor lover knows that having the right car camping essentials is key to having a worthwhile camping experience. However, if you are new to car camping, here is a roundup of everything you need.
RELATED: Planning Your First Car Camping Trip
25 Car Camping Essentials You Need for an Unforgettable Camping Trip
1. First Aid Kit
Nature can be unpredictable – accidents can happen at any time, which is why a first aid kit is an essential survival gear even for car campers. There are numerous brands in the market, most of which have everything you need to patch up an injury from wound-closure trips to needles to scalpels and even aspirin.
2. Sleeping Bag
Of course, even car campers still need to tag along with a sleeping bag to any camping expedition. Luckily, there is a wide variety of sleeping bags in the market, including some specifically designed for “side-sleepers“. Most of these will feature additional space on the knees and elbows for unlimited sleeping.
Note: there are also some commendable temperature ratings to choose from.
3. Cast Iron Set
Unlike regular camping, car camping allows you to bring along some items that you would have otherwise left at home. A cast iron set is one of such items due to its bulkiness. That said, most cast iron sets will feature a wok or pot, a pan, and a grill, all of which can be heated over a direct flames coal.
4. Camping Table
There is no shortage of uses for a camping table, be it meal prep, cooking, performing first aid, dressing, or even assembling a kit. When buying one, pay attention to its size, weight threshold, heat resistance, weight, and quality.
5. Jerry Can
It is better always to be over-prepared than underprepared when heading out to nature. One necessary measure to avoid being stranded is packing a classic jerry can, hence why it is in this car camping essentials list. Luckily, several military-grade ones dispense fuel through bayonets.
6. Camping Chair
What better way to kick back and awe at the majestic nature than with a camping chair? You can get one from your local camping store, but be sure to consider the make of its frame, weight limit, as well as ventilation for adequate airflow, especially on hot days.
7. Water Bottle
Packing enough water to last you the entire trip is vital if you will survive in the outdoors. It is, however, even more critical to ensure that you have a means of carrying water with you everywhere you go to stay adequately hydrated.
Therefore, it will help to have an unbreakable vacuum-insulated bottle with a carrying handle that can easily be attached to your backpack for convenience.
8. Portable Espresso Maker
Being outdoors doesn’t mean that you have to give up your cup of coffee. Thanks to cutting-edge camping gadgets, you don’t. What’s more, most of these gadgets are manually operated, making them an even better fit for the outdoors.
You can never have too much lighting while outdoors, which is why a headlamp is indispensable. Many brands in the market come with various light settings. Moreover, most of the current brands are rechargeable via USB and have commendable run times.
Note: A headlamp will come in handy when you need to focus light in one place while using both your hands for other tasks.
10. Kitchen Set
Gone are the days of ancient camping where foods are cooked in containers and hot dogs on sticks. Today you can easily get gourmet kitchen sets that feature items like cutting boards, collapsible whisks, crappers, scrubbers, as well as salt and pepper shakers.
Note: Others will feature small condiment bottles for you to bring along your favorite spices.
11. Cutlery Set
This is another staple for any camping setting. When buying, go for one that is durable, serves your needs, and packs small. Varieties that come with a pouch are better since you will not need to buy convenient packaging.
12. Flat Tire Repair Kit
The last thing you need as a camper is to get stranded in the wilderness. Therefore, part of playing it safe entails bringing a repair kit to patch up punctured car tires and a way to jump-start a dead battery in addition to the extra fuel that we have already covered.
Most tire sealants come with a tire inflator that helps you re-inflate a tire in time. You will not even need additional tools like a jack to lift the flat tire.
13. Folding Bucket
Many novice campers often overlook this but having the means to transport water around your campsite is imperative. Regardless of what you need the water for, there is a wide variety of collapsible BPA-free buckets that come in many sizes.
Note: The buckets are stable when filled.
14. Rooftop Tents
You can easily find rooftop tents for any budget in your local camping store. However, keep in mind its capacity, insulation, ability to stand harsh weather, as well as the one best suited for your car model.
Keeping your food chilled and fresh is vital in the outdoors to avoid the risk of food poisoning. Coolers are your best chance at achieving this, and luckily, there are more varieties in the market than you can exhaust.
Note: Coolers will keep your food fresh for a short weekend trip. Past that, consider focusing on dried and canned food.
The outdoors can be confusing, mainly because you might not have the luxury of driving up to your campsite even with a car. Therefore, a GPS will come in handy in navigating through all networks of gravel and dirt roads leading to the sites, especially in the dark.
Note: Some GPS monitors will inform and warn you of upcoming storms through weather forecast functionalities.
Car camping allows you to carry heavy survival gear that you would have never brought along. For example, a combar is such a necessary tool as it features an ax, hammer, spade, and knife, all of which are necessary when unwinding in the outdoors.
18. Survival Kit
Whether you’re digging out a stuck vehicle, making a fire pit, or crafting a pit latrine, a shovel will always be a lifesaver. Some of the best brands in the market are made of high-quality aluminum and feature electronic LED power flares should you get stranded.
19. Camping Cooking System
If you are not one for starting fires, you will need a cooking stove system to prepare your meals. These are more convenient, and the best brands in the market will function optimally even in harsh weather. When buying, consider one with at least two burners and is energy saving.
Note: Foldable options are much easier to pack hence convenient.
While camping out in the wilderness, the scorching sun has to be your most significant concern. An awning is, therefore, an effective way to block out all the sun rays. In addition, most are waterproof and feature universal mounting hardware that fits most aftermarket and factory roof racks.
Note: An awning will also come in handy when cooking in the rain or snow.
21. Luggage Bag
If you plan to sleep in your car or have more gear than you can accommodate in your car, luggage bags are a great way to. Unlike roof-mounted cargo boxes, luggage bags are easier to mount even without the standard roof racks.
Note: Though lighter, they are equally durable and easy to store away when not used.
22. Portable Heater
Portable heaters are a great way of extending your stay outdoors, especially during the colder months. They are easy to carry in your car and are versatile in that they can be powered using propane, batteries, or charged through USB ports.
What better way to relax outdoors than with a collapsible cot? Most will come with a padded and quilted top that is water-resistant and quick-drying.
24. Pressure Shower
A pressurized shower is your best bet at maintaining stellar grooming and hygiene routines outdoors. All you have to do is set the shower on the ground and engage a foot pump to expel water through the showerhead.
25. GPS Messenger
While camping means enjoying the peace and tranquility of nature, it may also mean that help is not a call away. Therefore should the worst happen, contacting the outside world for help may make the difference between life and death, making a GPS messenger an essential lifeline.
Watch this video by Be My Travel Muse on 5 car camping hacks:
There you go, preppers. Part of enjoying your car camping trip is being adequately prepared both mentally and physically. Don’t worry, as you do not have to stockpile these car camping essentials at once. Instead, start with the essential gear and move your way down to the rest. Remember, you can never be too prepared.
What other car camping essentials do you bring along? Let us know in the comment section below!
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