Car Camping: Get outside & Enjoy Nature Without Worrying About Heavy Gear

Do you want the convenience of camping near your car, without having to carry all your gear very far? Try car camping! Find out everything you need to know about car camping, from what it is and how to do it, to the pros and cons of this type of camping.

Car camping is a type of camping that involves setting up camp in or near your vehicle. This can be done at a designated campsite, or in a more remote location. Car camping is a great way to enjoy the outdoors without having to lug all of your gear very far. It is also a good option for shorter camping trips.

Car camping is a fantastic way to get out into nature and enjoy all that the great outdoors has to offer—without having to hike for miles carrying all your gear on your back. But is it really camping if you're driving to your campsite? Let's take a closer look at the pros and cons of car camping to help you decide if it's right for you.

The Pros and Cons of Car Camping

Car Camping

You Can Bring More Stuff

When you're car camping, you can bring pretty much anything you want—within reason, of course. This means you can bring chairs, tables, coolers full of food and beverages, tents that are large enough to stand up in, and all the other creature comforts that make camping more enjoyable. After all, why rough it if you don't have to?

You Don't Have to Hike In

Hiking to a remote campsite can be a challenge, especially if you're carrying all your gear on your back. With car camping, however, all you have to do is drive to your campsite. This means no more blisters on your feet or sore muscles from hiking for miles.

You Can Go on Longer Trips

car camping allows you to bring more supplies with you, which means you can stay out in the wilderness for longer periods. So if you're looking for a true adventure where you can explore the great outdoors for days or even weeks at a time, car camping is the way to go.

However, many purists and old-school campers are against car camping. It  may be true to some extent and they have their own valid reason:

You're Not as Connected to Nature

One of the best things about regular camping is that it forces you to scale down and only bring the essentials. This can help you feel more connected to nature and appreciate the simple things in life. When you're car camping, on the other hand, you can bring so much stuff with you that you might not even feel like you're camping at all!

You Might Have More Neighbors

If you're looking for a truly isolated camping experience where you can enjoy peace and quiet in the middle of nowhere, car camping might not be for you. Since you don't have to hike in to reach your campsite, anyone else who owns a car can access it.

This means there's a chance you might have more neighbors than you anticipated. However, if you do your research ahead of time and pick a campground that's off the beaten path, this shouldn't be an issue.

Your Car Might Not Be as Comfortable as You Think

Spending long periods of time cooped up in a car—even if it's your own car—can be pretty uncomfortable. If you're planning on car camping with a group of people, this can quickly become a big issue. There's only so much space in a car, after all, and not everyone can sit in the front seat.

But actually, the cons can be easily handled, and if planned properly, it is hard to beat car camping!

Whether or not car camping is "real" camping is up for debate. But there's no denying that it has its own unique set of pros and cons. So if you're trying to decide whether or not car camping is right for you, consider what's most important to you—and go from there!

How to Set Up Your Campsite

One of the great things about car camping is that you can pretty much camp anywhere your car can take you. However, that doesn't mean there isn't a bit of planning involved. Before you just pull off into the nearest wooded area, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

Is the area safe?

You'll want to make sure that your campsite is located in a safe area, away from any potential dangers like cliffs or rivers.

Is the area legal?

Make sure to research whether or not camping is allowed in the area where you plan to set up shop. Some areas have restrictions on where and when you can camp.

Is the area clean?

When choosing a campsite, try to leave no trace by picking up any trash that might be around and respecting the natural surroundings.

Is the area comfortable?

You'll be spending a lot of time at your campsite, so you'll want to make sure it's comfortable. Look for a flat, level spot to set up your tent, and make sure there's plenty of room for everyone to move around.

By following the tips above, you can make sure your car camping experience is a safe and enjoyable one!

an interesting way to set up hammock while car camping.
An interesting way to set up a hammock while car camping

What Gear to Bring

Some of the most essential items will include :


Of course, one of the most essential items for car camping is a tent—unless, of course, you plan on sleeping in your car (not recommended). When choosing a tent, make sure it's big enough for everyone who will be sleeping in it and for all your gear. You'll also want to consider factors like weight and waterproofing depending on where and when you'll be camping.

If you are alone or have just one partner, you can also bring in a truck bed tent. Also, bring in some tarps irrespective of the season you are camping as it is one of the most versatile items in a camping gear list.

Sleeping Bag

Another essential item for car camping is a sleeping bag and while selecting the bag, be sure of the weather rating of the sleeping bag. This simple item can make your camping experience warm and memorable or completely turn it into a chilly nightmare.

Sleeping Pad or Cot

A sleeping pad or cot will help make sleeping in a tent more comfortable and can help insulate your sleeping bag from the cold ground. You can also bring in air mattresses.

First Aid Kit

No matter where you are camping, it's always a good idea to bring a first aid kit. You never know when you might need it!

Cooking Gear

If you plan on cooking at your campsite, you'll need to bring along some cooking gear. Depending on what you want to cook, this could include a portable stove, pots and pans, utensils, plates, cups, and food.


This might not be the most important thing, but if you are car camping then you should bring one of these. A cooler is essential for keeping food and drinks cold.  Invest in a good one, so your ice lasts longer and your food stays fresh.

Firewood and a Fire Pit

If you want to have a campfire, you'll need to bring some firewood and a fire pit. You can usually buy firewood at the campsite, but it's always good to bring some just in case.


Of course, you'll also need to bring some clothes with you on your camping trip. Be sure to pack for the weather and activities you plan on doing.

Gear Storage

Depending on the size of your car, you might want some extra storage for all your gear. A roof rack or cargo box can come in handy for larger items like tents and kayaks.

Other Essentials

There are a few other things you might want to bring along on your car camping trip, including but not limited to:

a multitool, a flashlight or lantern (or maybe a headlamp), bug spray, camp chairs, sunscreen, binoculars, and a camera. If you have back problems, be sure to bring a proper chair to give comfort and support to your back.

By following these tips, you can be sure you have everything you need for a successful car camping trip. Now that we've gone over what gear to bring, let's talk about one last thing: packing!

Packing Tips

Try using plastic bins instead of traditional luggage so everything stays organized and contained while en route; plus, they double as storage at your campsite. whenever possible.

Pack heavier items closer to the bottom of your bin or bag so they don’t topple over everything else—and so they’re easier to carry. Put soft items like pillows and towels on top so they’re easy to grab when setting up camp Don't forget essentials like toiletries and medications!

Now that we've gone over everything you need for car camping success, all that's left to do is hit the road—and enjoy some time in nature! However, if you want to kick your car camping experience up a notch, you can try out this insane car camping setup:

A crazy car camping setup.

Some Tips  for Camping in Different Environments

One of the best things about car camping is that you can bring all the comforts of home with you – but that doesn’t mean you should. Try to pack light, so you’re not lugging around a bunch of unnecessary stuff.

Necessary Planning

The first step for any successful camping trip is planning. You'll need to decide where you want to go, how long you want to stay, and what kind of activities you'll want to do while you're there. Once you've decided on those basic details, you can start planning what kind of gear you'll need to bring.

Make sure to pack everything you think you might need, as well as any essential but often overlooked items, like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and a first aid kit.

Pack in an organized way

Make sure you have a good system for organizing everything in your vehicle. Nothing is worse than having to dig through a pile of boxes every time you need something.

Choosing a campsite,

Pay attention to the surroundings before settling. If you’re car camping in an area with lots of trees, look for a site that’s open and flat so you don’t have to worry about your tent getting blown over in the wind. And if you’re car camping near water, make sure to choose a spot that’s high and dry so you don’t end up with a wet sleeping bag at the end of the trip.

Different Environments

One of the great things about car camping is that it gives you the opportunity to camp in a variety of different environments. Whether you want to camp in the desert, the mountains, or the woods, there are plenty of options for car camping sites. However, each environment comes with its own set of challenges.

For example, desert camping requires careful consideration of water needs and hot weather safety precautions.

Mountainous areas often have more unpredictable weather, so it's important to pack extra layers and be prepared for cold temperatures even in the summer months.

And camping in the woods means being mindful of wildlife encounters and being aware of your surroundings at all times.

Setting Up Properly.

Even if you are using pop-up tents secure them with guy lines.

Make sure all the guy lines are tight and secure and stake the corners down well. This will help ensure that your tent stays put in case of bad weather or strong winds.

Always be Prepared for the Worst

Check the weather forecast before you leave on your trip, and pack accordingly. Bring extra layers, rain gear, and anything else you might need in case the weather takes a turn for the worse.

Also, check out our article on the best headlamps.

Summarizing a Car Camping Trip

When it comes to car camping, there are three things you need to make sure you have in order to have a successful trip: good food, fun activities, and a comfortable place to sleep.

While you could just bring along some snacks and non-perishable items, where's the fun in that? Instead, find some easy recipes that can be made using a camp stove or even over a fire. If you fancy, you might even pack a dutch oven for a delicious Pot roast for dinner. Breakfast burritos are always a hit, as are smores for dessert.

As for activities, there are endless possibilities. Hiking, fishing, canoeing, and bird watching are just a few of the options available to you. And, of course, don't forget games for those rainy days. Scrabble and cards are always good choices.

Finally, make sure you have a comfortable place to sleep. A tent is obviously essential, but don't forget about things like an air mattress or sleeping bags.

So there you have it—everything you need to know about car camping. With these tips in mind, you're sure to have a trip that's memorable for all the right reasons.

Happy car camping!

Setting out for a car camping trip.

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