Aside from glamping, car camping is about as good as it gets. You get to have a grill or camp stove, you can pack as much good food as you want, and since weight isn’t an issue, you can bring just about as much stuff as your car can hold. As long as you’re prepared, there’s no way to have a bad time car camping, but as always, there are a few luxuries you might not have considered that can make your time outdoors more enjoyable than ever! Here’s 7 hacks to think about before you head out on your next car camping trip:
The bonus of car camping is that you don’t have to pack light. While we’re all about those serious backpacking trips, sometimes there’s nothing better than staying put at one site for a few nights in a row, and for that, we bring our big tents. If this is your first time out, go at least one to two people up from what the tent suggests. Tent sizes are rated just based on average human size, so while you can fit two people in a two man tent, there’s no guarantee that it will be comfortable. Opt for the four man instead, and you’ll have more than enough room to spread out your sleeping bags, clothing, hiking shoes, and even start a game of cards if it gets rainy!
Again, car camping is comfort camping. That’s why we love it! Since weight isn’t an issue, there’s nothing wrong with hauling a nice fluffy air mattress along. Just make sure your tent is big enough to hold it, and you pack enough batteries to keep the pump going for your whole trip. Your back will thank you.
If there’s one camp luxury we can’t live without, besides chocolate of course, it’s a headlamp! It’s a hands-free flashlight! What could be better? You can shine a spotlight on your cooking area while still having both hands for chopping, you can navigate more easily in the dark, and you could even set up your tent in the dark! (Although we really don’t recommend it). A headlamp has all kinds of benefits, plus they’re really cool gadgets. Read our next hack for another reason to bring a headlamp along.
DIY Water Lantern
Whether you forgot your flashlight, or you just need a little bit more light for reading, this is an epic hack that we love. Take any clear water bottle or container, and strap your handy-dandy headlamp right to it, with the headlamp facing in. Voila! You have a cool DIY lantern that won’t burn the camp down! If you use a colored water bottle, you get extra bonus points for effect.
You know those candles that everyone hates? The ones that absolutely never go out? Yeah, those are the ones you should take camping. Believe it or not, they’re equally as difficult for Mother Nature to put out, so they make excellent fire starters. Bring a package along with you. You just need a couple of matches and you’ll be set, even if the weather is less than cooperative.
Whether this is your first time car camping, or you’ve been going for years, you should always plan for rain. Forecast says sunny and 80º all weekend long? Bring a rain jacket. You never know when the weather’s going to turn, especially if you live somewhere like Michigan. Overpacking isn’t an issue with car camping, so pack that minivan to the windows if you have to. Just make sure you’re prepared for the weather to hit, even when it’s not supposed to.
Extra Food and Water
As far as water goes, always bring twice as much as you think you’ll need. Most people usually estimate about how much they’ll need to drink, but forget about washing dishes, brushing teeth, and cooking. The last thing you want to run out of is water, and even though you can always get more when you’re car camping, it’s much more convenient, and cost effective, to just bring more than you think you’ll need in the first place. Same goes for food. There’s nothing worse than a hungry camper, so make sure you’re bringing more than enough of easy to pack camping staples like pasta, eggs, and snackbars. The more food you have, the better, and if you pack non-perishables, you can always save any extras for your next trip!
If you’ve never been car camping before, or are just planning a car camping trip, make sure to check out our Complete Car Camping Guide for Beginners! It’s a comprehensive guide that will take you through everything you could possibly need for your upcoming car camping adventure. Get it here: