What to bring on a car camping trip? Here’s the car camping must-have gear.

Car camping is a great way to get out of the day-to-day routine without extensive traveling. Not to mention, you can take more gear with you as you’re not limited to what you can carry in a backpack.

But it doesn’t mean you should just throw everything but the kitchen sink into the car! A little planning goes a long way to make sure that you not only get the creature comforts but are also set up to have as much fun as possible.

Here’s our ultimate list of the best car camping gear and best car camping accessories to help you plan your next adventure:


These essentials for car camping are the key to staying warm, dry, and comfortable during your trip:

  • Tent and footprint: A tent is a car camping must-have in any situation to protect you from the elements.
  • Sleeping bag: To stay cozy and comfortable while you sleep, make sure your sleeping bag has the proper temperature rating.
  • Sleeping pad: It gives you a soft surface to sleep on while providing some insulation between your body and the ground. You can also use an air mattress for this purpose.
  • Camping blanket: This car camping essential keeps you warm whether you’re sleeping or hanging out by the campfire. 
  • Pillow: Car camping gives you the luxury to take your favorite pillow with you! 
  • Lanterns or other outdoor lighting solutions: The fun doesn’t have to stop after sunset. Lanterns also help keep you safe as you walk around the campground after dark.

Tool Kit

Having the right tools can make the difference between being able to fix a problem or packing up early to go home: 

  • Duct tape: Repair a tear in your tent or camp chair, make a rope, seal food packages, make a fly trap… duct tape is a car camping must-have! 
  • First aid kit: A basic first aid kit should contain adhesive bandages, butterfly bandages, gauze, antiseptic cream, sterile wipe, pain medication, hydrocortisone cream, etc.
  • Axe and gloves: You’ll need these if you plan on collecting and cutting your own firewood.
  • Lighter: Whether to start a campfire or light a propane stove, this is a much faster option than rubbing two sticks together!
  • Water filter: Even if you bring along drinking water, a water filter gives you peace of mind in case you need to source water at the campground.

Cooking Gear

Gourmet camp meals are definitely within reach when you’re car camping! Here are some kitchen essentials to take on your trip: If you are traveling in an RV or Motorhome take a look at 25 cant miss tips and tricks

  • Camp stove and fuel: A portable propane stove will meet most car camping needs. Remember to check the fuel level before you go.
  • Pots, pans, and cooking utensils: Plan your meals and make sure you have the right gear to cook the food.
  • Mess kit, dish soap, sponge, and a bucket: Pack plastic plates, bowls, sporks, etc., and a bucket for dishwashing.
  • Coffee, tea, and mugs: Start your morning the way you like it or warm up with a hot beverage after a long hike.
  • Trash bags: Leave no trace! Clean out the campsite and take all the trash with you when you go.


As the Norwegian saying goes, “There is no bad weather, only bad clothes!” The right clothing can make your car camping trip much more enjoyable:

  • Shirts and pants: Clothing made of moisture-wicking fabric is recommended. You may also choose fabrics that offer SPF sun protection.
  • Puffer jacket: Even if it’s warm during the day, mornings and evenings can be cold. A packable puffer jacket is a great way to keep out the chill without the bulk.
  • Rain jacket: Weather can be unpredictable so have a packable rain jacket handy, especially when you’re out exploring nature.
  • Hiking shoes and sandals: Explore the trails or creeks with the right footwear to protect your feet while preventing slippage.
  • Wool socks: Wool can absorb a large amount of moisture before it feels soggy. It also keeps its insulating properties when wet so your feet can stay toasty.


The toiletries you pack will depend on the availability of running water. Here’s a car camping essentials list:

  • All-purpose soap: This can be used as hand soap, shower soap, or shampoo to keep your toiletry kit streamlined.
  • Toilet paper and shovel: Plus plastic bags so you can adhere to the “carry in carry out” policy.
  • Baby wipes and hand sanitizer: These are must-haves, especially if you don’t have access to running water.
  • Sunscreen and bug repellent: Don’t let painful sunburn or itchy bug bites stop the fun!
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, towels, etc.: Don’t forget anything else you need to maintain basic hygiene.

Car Camping Extras

After packing up your must-have car camping gear, it’s time to indulge in some fun stuff! Use this list as a starting point for some inspiration:

  • Bike rack and bike: Take your two-wheeler with you to explore new roads and new trails… don’t forget your helmet!
  • Day pack: Holds everything you need for a day hike, such as a water bottle, snack, rain jacket, first aid kit, and more.
  • Portable charger: From GPS navigation to taking photos, a portable charger keeps your smartphone humming.
  • Mobile hotspot: If you want to stay connected during your trip but aren’t sure if your cellular provider covers the area, you can get a hotspot from a different provider as a backup.
  • Journal, books, writing/drawing instruments: Unplug and get inspired by nature. 
  • Dutch oven: From pizza and steamed clams to apple pie and banana bread, you can make pretty much any dish with a dutch oven.


By Jeyree Everly
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