While setting off into the backcountry is nice, car camping provides easy access to everything you need and allows for a far more comfortable trip. The right equipment can be the difference between a good night’s sleep and a “let’s never do this again” kind of experience. There are the obvious essentials, and then there are the often-overlooked, but freakishly awesome, items that can take any camping experience a step further. Whether you’re parking it in front of your favorite surf spot or hanging with the family in the woods, here are ten items that are sure to enhance your car camping experience.
For whatever reason, camping always seems to mean lots and lots of stuff. Although you could toss it all into the trunk of your car, it’s nice to have it all organized in one place. Available in four different size options, Patagonia’s Black Hole Duffel is made with 100 percent recycled body fabric, lining, and webbing and is durable enough to withstand anything you may throw its way. Other features that make it a winner are removable, ergonomic shoulder straps, burly daisy chains, a padded base, a full-access main compartment, and a zippered side pocket for essentials.
As a side note that has nothing to do with car camping, both the 40 liter and 55 liter versions (there are also 70-liter and 100-liter options) fit in the overhead compartment on airplanes.
Regardless of what time of year you’re camping, a warm blanket is essential for chilling in the car or hanging by the fire. The NanoLoft fill mimics the feel of down while still trapping heat even when wet, offering that comfy cozy feel. Additionally, the blanket includes a water-resistant stuff sack and a cape clip that allows you to fasten it around your neck when you need your hands free.
Two-hundred and twenty bucks is a little steep for a camping chair, but Nemo’s Stargaze Luxury Recliner comes with all the bells and whistles to make it the ultimate in comfortable experiences. Not only does the chair swing, but it also auto-reclines so you can quickly transition it into a reclined position for napping or stargazing. Additionally, the aluminum frames allow the chair to easily fold into the included padded carry case for seamless transport and storage.
There’s nothing worse than waking up in the middle of the night and having to lace up your sneakers when nature’s urgently calling. Sanuk’s Hemp Slipons are the ultimate camp shoes. They’re lightweight, comfortable, and they slip on, making them ideal for midnight bathroom escapades or pairing with socks for hanging around the campfire.
And did I mention that they’re made of hemp?
A good lantern is essential for hanging out, cooking, and playing games post sunset. The AlpenGlow is a rechargeable lantern that doubles as a portable charging port for USB compatible devices. Featuring high-efficiency ChromaReal LED technology, the lantern has multiple settings including cool and warm light, candle flicker, single color, multicolor, and cycling color, so you can easily adjust the ambiance according to your mood.
Check Price on Evo.
Who doesn’t enjoy lounging in a hammock alongside a creek or overlooking the ocean? Klymit’s double hammock includes two eleven-foot daisy chains and two carbineers, so you can easily set it up anywhere. Designed to withstand the elements, the hammock is made with abrasion-resistant fabric and packs down into its own pocket for easy transport.
Check Price on Backcountry.
Calling all side sleepers! If you’re tired of sleeping bags designed for back or stomach sleeping, the Big Agnes Sidewinder is the bag for you. Constructed with the side sleeper in mind, the sleeping bag features body mapped insulation to provide added warmth in all the right places and minimize pressure points. Additionally, the bag features durable nylon ripstop, a mummy shape to lock in heat and cut down on weight, and Big Agnes’ cozy, proprietary DownTek insulation.
Car camping doesn’t always mean sleeping in your car. For those of us that aren’t lucky enough to have a tricked out van, overnighting in a tent is the move. Stoic’s Madrone tent is a two-person, three-season tent that features two doors and two vestibules so there’s ample space for two bodies and gear. Snap-in clips make set up and tear down easy and the duffel style stuff sack makes transport and storage a breeze.
One of the greatest challenges of camping is figuring out how to keep your food, and more importantly, your beer, cold for the duration of your trip. Designed specifically for the road, the Roadie Cooler is tall enough to accommodate bottles of wine and other goodies but slim enough to fit behind the driver’s seat. Featuring Permafrost insulation, the Roadie will keep your ice icy and your cold ones cool, so all you have to worry about is having a good time.
It’s no secret that camping doesn’t always translate to the best night’s sleep, meaning that morning cup of Joe is more essential than ever. MiiR’s Tumbler features Thermo 3D double wall vacuum insulation technology, meaning it will keep hot beverages hot and cold beverages cold for longer than it takes you to drink them. Additionally, the tumbler is cup-holder compatible so you can enjoy coffee on the road or from the comfort of your tent.
You don’t need to be a surfer to get some use out of this one. When you’re camping out of your car, things get… inevitably messy. Dirty and sandy feet, paws, and gear can turn your cozy little den into a neat-freak’s nightmare. A surf brush can keep your car looking spick and span, as well as providing a nice little stress-busting activity when you’re feeling overwhelmed by the fact that you’ve been living out of your car for the past couple days.
Check Price on Amazon.
While a hybrid or Tesla might be able to charge your phone and laptop a 100,000 times without worrying about a dead battery, not everyone drives a battery-powered vehicle (yet). Until then, when I’m car camping and want to watch a movie, or writing from my car while I wait for the waves to improve, theres nothing like a portable battery to keep the lights on. GoalZero’s line of Yeti power stations can do a whole lot more than just charge your phone – the 500X can power almost anything from portable fridges to televisions.
Editor’s Note: For more gear reviews and features on The Inertia, click here.