Car camping might be one of my favorite kinds of trips. It’s an easy and accessible way to get out into nature and to get out of town. Some of my favorite trips have been car camping in Yosemite, Zion, and Sequoia National Parks. But you can car camp in campgrounds all over the US as well as any national forest land.
Car camping can get the (not necessarily) bad wrap of requiring tons of gear. I mean just walk into any REI store, it’s a whole warehouse dedicated to camping gear. In general as long as you have the basics you are going to be fine – tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, lantern/flashlight/headlamp.
Over my many years of camping I have acquired quite a bit more gear beyond the basics. I’m into anything that will make my campsite cute and comfortable. It’s not quite “glamping” but having these things definitely makes a campsite just a little bit more homey. And while some of these things might seem a little extravagant or extraneous for camping, I alway figure if I can fit it in the car why not bring it.
Plan your camping trip to Yosemite!
My Car Camping Essentials
- Hammock: Gotta have some place to chill out and take a little nap
- Cooler: You don’t necessarily need to bring perishable items, but having a cooler to keep the beer and wine cool is always nice.
- Slackline: Just a fun outdoor group activity, challenging your friends to see who can stay on the longest is always fun.
- Camp chairs: Most campsites have picnic benches, but having chairs to sit in around the campfire is always a plus.
- Cards: Something to do in the evenings when you are hanging out.
- Blankets/towels: Stay that much cozier with a blanket around the campfire or in the tent. Also makes for a good picnic blanket.
- Plastic wine glasses: We can pretend to be classy by drinking our wine out of wine glasses, but bringing glass anywhere sucks, so plastic it is!
- Twinkle lights: String them up around your campsite for some cute ambient light, bonus points if they are solar powered so you don’t have to bring batteries.
- Jet Boil: Boils water in a minute, meaning you won’t have to wait long at all for your coffee in the morning.
- Cast iron pan: My favorite cooking tool. You can use it on the camp stove or over the fire. After using ours for several years now it is wonderfully seasoned with many mornings worth of bacon grease.
- Citronella candles: Helps keeps those pesky mosquitoes away, smells nice, and provides a little bit of lighting.
- Lantern: A nice light that you don’t have to hold on to or wear is nice to be able to move around the campsite, cooking area, or tent.
- Meal kit – plate, cup, & spork: If you are making some delicious food you want to be able to eat off of something, plus if you get the metal ones they last forever and can double as cooking utensils.
- Coozies: You gotta keep your drink cool and your hand from freezing right?
- A good book: When I have down time around the campsite I honestly like to just chill and read a book. It’s seriously the most mellow way to spend an afternoon.
Find your favorite outdoor adventure!
Honestly car camping is about having fun in nature with out a ton of effort (i.e. backpacking). So go head and make yourself a comfy cozy campsite, I’m all about it! Do you have any essential items that you always bring camping? What are they? Let me know in the comments!
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