The Ultimate Car Camping Packing List

The Ultimate Car Camping Packing List
The Ultimate Car Camping Packing List

When you go on a car-camping trip, you don't want to bring too much—but at the same time, you don't want to forget anything important. It's a fine line to walk; after all, if you're going by car, you don't have to worry about carrying everything on your back. Still, getting ready for an outdoor trip can be overwhelming. So let's break down what kinds of things you should bring with you, and why they're necessary:

Comfortable sleeping bags and pads.

Sleeping bags and pads are essential to your sleep. You can't sleep without them. It's as simple as that.

Sleeping bags keep you warm and comfy, so if you don't already have one for car camping, purchase one now! If there are any gaps in the length of your bag (this is called "drafts"), use a pillow or blanket to fill them up with something soft and warm. This will help prevent drafts from creeping into your sleeping space while allowing air flow around your body so you won't wake up sweating too much during the night.

Pads are also necessary because they provide insulation between you and hard ground—and trust me when I say it gets cold outside at night! A lot of people use inflatable mattresses when they camp outdoors but personally I prefer foam pads because they're lighter than an inflated mattress would be; even though they may not be as comfy as some other options out there (inflatable or otherwise), they'll still keep most people cozy enough throughout their trip without causing any serious discomfort later on down the road...

Warm clothes and swimsuits.

Before you start packing, keep in mind that warm clothes are essential. You never know when a cool evening or early morning will be on the horizon. Be prepared to layer your outfit with long-sleeved shirts, sweaters, and jackets—and don't forget socks! If you're planning on going swimming (which is optional), bring along some swimsuits as well.

Bug spray may also be needed depending on your destination; if you plan to camp near water sources where mosquitos thrive like rivers or lakes then it's always a good idea to keep some bug spray handy for any unexpected visitors. First aid kits should also be prepared beforehand with basic supplies like bandages and cotton swabs so that you're ready in case something goes wrong while camping out in nature. For cooking supplies while camping there are many options available but we suggest getting yourself ready with an ample supply of propane cylinders so that when dinner time comes around there's no need for worrying about running out of heat or gas during meal preparation time!

Equally warm sleeping clothes, including headgear.

Sleeping clothes

It's easy to get cold while sleeping in a car, so make sure to pack warm pajamas and socks. In addition to this, bring along some warm headgear (such as a hat or scarf) that you can use throughout the night if necessary. If you live somewhere particularly cold and plan on doing some winter camping, consider bringing an extra layer of clothing for when it gets even colder than expected.

Sturdy walking boots, preferably with ankle supports, and sandals for lounging around the campsite.

Sturdy walking boots, preferably with ankle supports, and sandals for lounging around the campsite.

If you’re planning on doing any hiking while car camping, sturdy boots are essential. Ankle supports will keep you comfortable through long hikes and allow you to take on rough terrain without much risk of injury. For those who don’t want to wear hiking shoes all day long but still want something sturdy enough for trails, there are a wide range of options in between sneakers and hiking boots that can be just as comfortable—and sometimes even lighter than their heavier counterparts!

Sandal-style footwear is also great for campers who plan on spending time around their campsite or nearby rivers/lakes/etc., allowing them to slip into something more suitable when they go for a hike or explore the area around their campsite without having to pack up everything they need just because they might have a change of scenery later (or indeed spend the whole day in one place).

Socks made from natural fibers like wool or cotton; you'll want plenty of pairs.

Socks are important for your feet and for preventing blisters. You'll want a lot of them—enough to change into when you're done with one pair. Wool is great for warmth and comfort, but if you need something drier, cotton is a better option. Avoid synthetic materials like nylon or polyester; they don't breathe very well and don't dry very fast (if at all). Also make sure that the socks are long enough to cover your ankles—there's nothing worse than having wet socks rub against your skin on long hikes in the woods! Finally, don't forget to pack some extra pairs of socks; there's no shame in wearing dirty ones after all!

A camp chair for each camper (and extra for friends).

Camping chairs are often overlooked. They're not as important as the tent, but they do make a difference in how comfortable your camping experience is.

Camping chairs are comfortable and allow you to relax and enjoy yourself throughout the day. They also free up space inside your car or truck so that it's easier to load up on supplies for food and entertainment (and even more gear). Most importantly, having camp chairs means that when friends come over for dinner or drinks at night, there will be enough seating options around the picnic table that no one has to sit on their knees!

A cooler, ice and food; don't forget plates and utensils for everyone.

You can also use a cooler as a seat or table. You can get creative with food! When my sister and I camped in the backyard, we used an old ice chest and put our sleeping bags on top of it with pillows. We then put our plates, cups and utensils inside the chest so everything was out of sight when not in use.

Garbage bags (and recycling bags, if your campsite has recycling).

While camping is an environmentally-conscious activity, it's still a fact that you're going to generate trash. Fortunately, there are several ways to keep your campsite clean and safe:

  • Use garbage bags to collect your campers' waste, and recycle as much as possible (if your campsite has recycling).

  • Bring along a shovel or trowel for cleaning up after your dog(s) if they decide to go off-leash.

  • Be sure not to leave anything behind that could be dangerous or a nuisance for others who use the same area later in the season (e.g., toilet paper).

Bug spray, sunscreen and other toiletries.

When planning for a car camping trip, the first thing to consider is what you need to pack. If it's your first time going solo, our Ultimate Car Camping Packing List will help get you started.

Once you've got that squared away, there are just a few more things to remember before you hit the road: Bug spray, sunscreen and other toiletries are essentials for any camping trip. Since most campgrounds don't offer showers or toilets with running water—and since many people will be sharing limited facilities—it's important to bring enough supplies so everyone can stay clean and fresh while they're out enjoying nature!

Make sure to pack hand sanitizer as well as lots of toilet paper (we also recommend bringing some wet wipes). You'll want plenty on hand in case guests unexpectedly show up at your campsite unannounced—or if someone runs out mid-trip! And don't forget about any friends who may be joining your adventure: Make sure they have extra toiletries too so no one gets left behind feeling grubby! Finally—because accidents do happen sometimes even when we're careful about being prepared—you should always carry a first aid kit with bandages, gauze pads and disinfectant wipes just in case anyone gets hurt during their stay (which means it's good idea not only for yourself but also whoever else might be coming along for adventure!).

A first-aid kit with medicines and bandages.

  • Bandages

  • Antiseptic

  • Antibacterial ointment

  • Pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen (Tylenol)

  • Tweezers and scissors

  • Thermometer

You may also want to pack:

  • First aid manual with instructions on how to treat common injuries and illnesses, such as a list of allergies and medications, or if you have special medical needs. Make sure your first-aid kit is in an easily accessible location so that you can reach it quickly if needed.

Extra water bottles and jugs of drinking water.

  • Water is one of the most important things to pack for any outdoor adventure. You'll need it for drinking, cooking and cleaning. Make sure you bring enough water to last the trip (you can never have too much).

  • If you're camping somewhere with a clean source of drinking water, like a lake or stream, bring some empty plastic bottles or jugs so you can take advantage of it. This way if there's any left over from what you use for washing up or cooking meals then you won't have to worry about running out in an emergency situation like an unexpected downpour while hiking through the woods at night when electricity isn't available yet either because there's still no electricity service provider out here yet but also because this isn't even America anymore so it doesn't matter anyway because now everything is different now even though nothing has changed since yesterday except that now we're all dead inside despite looking okay on paper today so don’t worry about anything else ever again either because everyone else feels exactly how I do right now too; just be happy someone else understands me too instead!

Cooking supplies (if you are cooking on site), including a camp stove and fuel, matches and a fire extinguisher; maybe even a Dutch oven.

  • Cooking supplies (if you are cooking on site), including a camp stove and fuel, matches and a fire extinguisher; maybe even a Dutch oven.

Camping is the perfect time to make some delicious food, so be sure not to forget your camp stove! If you don't have one already, we recommend getting yourself an inexpensive but very reliable Coleman stove that packs up small enough to fit in any car trunk or SUV.

You'll also need to pack all of the propane fuel needed for your stove—that way if something goes wrong with it when camping (like it does sometimes), then at least you'll have enough fuel left over for another trip!

A hatchet or hammer to help set up your tent, as well as any other equipment that requires pounding in stakes; a saw is a good idea if you're planning to cut down branches for firewood.

A hatchet or hammer to help set up your tent, as well as any other equipment that requires pounding in stakes; a saw is a good idea if you're planning to cut down branches for firewood.

As long as you have an ax and/or mallet, you'll be able to find plenty of trees in the woods that will provide all the firewood you need without having to worry about chopping anything down yourself (you know, unless it's just something that makes you feel good).

Flashlights with spare batteries; lanterns are also useful for nighttime excursions to the bathroom or cooking area.

Flashlights are useful for nighttime excursions to the bathroom or cooking area. Lanterns are also useful for nighttime excursions to the bathroom or cooking area, but it's nice to have a back-up flashlight in case your batteries die.

You need to plan ahead when you go car camping

When you're planning a car camping trip, it's important to plan ahead. It will help you avoid last-minute decisions, purchases and stress.

Planning ahead is also important because it can help you avoid last-minute packing. When you're on a tight schedule at home or work, it's easy to forget things when packing up for your trip. And once again: if something's not in the car when you leave on Friday evening, there's no time to go back and get it before hitting the road on Saturday morning. So if there's anything that might be useful during your vacation—whether it be an extra pair of underwear or some snacks for the kids—then put them at the top of your list so they're ready when needed!


With these tips and a good checklist, you’re sure to have a memorable and enjoyable camping trip. Never be afraid to try new things and make plans that are out of the box. The only limit is your imagination!

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