These are just some items that you might need on your trip. For a complete guide on what to pack, take a look at the detailedchecklist of car camping essentialswe’ve prepared.
BEFORE YOU HIT THE ROAD: 7 PRACTICAL PACKING TIPS
Here, we will focus on ensuring that you master the art of “Car Tetris” or, in other words, learn how to use the space wisely when packing, regardless of your vehicle’s size.
You can get ready for your camping trip efficiently by following these simple steps:
LAY OUT THE ITEMS YOU NEED NEXT TO THE CAR
Laying out all the items you intend to bring with you near the car guarantees a smooth packing process.
This way you will be able to visualize and plan the arrangement better. Besides, you are sure to notice if you forgot any camping essentials before you leave home.
BIG ITEMS FIRST
Start loading your car with heavy and bulky items, such as:
Sleeping bags, pads, or mattresses
Remember that it is essential to distribute the weight as evenly as possible when packing.
ENSURE EASY ACCESS TO WET WEATHER GEAR
If it happens to be raining when you set out for your camping trip, the first things you will have to take out from the trunk are rubber boots and raincoats. Make sure that they are at hand!
MAKE SURE SLEEPING BAGS ARE EASY TO REACH
It is highly recommended to pack your sleeping bags or mattresses in a way that they are easy to grab right after you place the tent. This way, you will be able to set the camp easily as soon as you arrive, without having to unload all of the items from the trunk.
FILL THE GAPS WITH CLOTHES
Clothes are typically the easiest to fit in, especially if you are traveling during the warm season.
Depending on the size of your camping car, you can either pack clothing into a bag or backpack or simply fill the gaps with them as soon as other essential items are arranged.
USE FOOTWELL SPACE
If the trunk doesn’t seem to be fitting all the equipment you are willing to bring, you can use rear footwells with little to no effect on your passengers’ comfort.
For instance, cooking appliances, gas stoves, and a coolbox can be easily distributed and placed under the front seats, saving space for bulkier items in the back.
LEAVE UNNECESSARY EXTRAS FOR LAST
You probably have some things in mind that you would love to take but don’t necessarily need to, like camping tables and chairs. Don’t pack them until all the essentials have their spot.
CAR CAMP SET-UP
In this section, you’ll find expert tips on getting settled during your first-time camping experience based on your sleeping place preference.
HOW TO CAMP WITH YOUR CAR
This type of car camping will be a piece of cake for those who have done traditional camping or backpacking.
All you have to do is load your camping equipment into the car and drive to your destination. At the spot, you will have several options of tent placement to choose from:
Car roof.There are plenty of benefits that come with rooftop tents, including comfort, sleeping off ground level, convenience, durability, better insulation, and more. Check out our top-quality selection ofrooftop tents.
Next to the vehicle.Simply pitch your tent anywhere you find convenient, just like you would do during traditional camping.
Back of the car.Rear or tailgate tents are excellent for SUV camping, as they extend floor space and provide extra ventilation, headroom, and storage opportunities. They are also perfect for sun, rain, and mosquito protection.
HOW TO SLEEP IN A CAR WHEN CAMPING
If you decide not to set up tents of any kind, you can opt for sleeping in a car when camping. However, while it may seem like an easier choice at first glance, you will have a lot of preparations to make and are likely to sacrifice the comfort provided by options like rooftop tents.
Here is how to get the vehicle ready for the night:
Free up the space where you will sleep.
Fold the back seats down and spread out your sleeping bag, pad, or mattress.
If you don’t have either of those, you can settle for less comfortable options, such as reclining the passenger’s seat all the way back or simply sleeping on the back row.
Add camping pillows and blankets if available.
Put up window coverings for privacy.
If you own a pickup truck, one great idea is to get a camper shell. This way, you will have a specially dedicated sleeping place always available.
Besides, some travelers use a specialized car hammock to spend the night in their vehicle.
TOP CAR CAMPING DESTINATIONS IN THE US
When it comes to car camping destinations, nothing compares to national parks. Here are five top spots we would recommend visiting:
For vast forest lands:Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee
For incredible night sky views:Big Bend National Park, Texas
For stunning alpine scenery:Glacier National Park, Montana
For the impressive hydrothermal system:Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho
For untouched desert beauty:Joshua Tree National Park, California