15 Car Camping Essentials

Car Camping Essentials

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.

who says you can't drink wine in the forest?

coffee is always essential

living that hammock life

Car camping essentials

slack lining is fun

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!

Car Camping Essentials

car camping essentials

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.

playing cards in camp

couples that slack line together, stay together?

slack lining is fun

getting cozy by the fire

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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Car Camping Essentials








15 thoughts on “15 Car Camping Essentials

  1. Esther

    LOL! When I saw you on one of the first photos with a wine glass I thought you were gonna say that wine is a camping essential. (It would take a lot of wine to get me in a tent, that’s for sure) 🙂
    Have a great weekend!!

  2. Tiffany

    Oh! We’re just about to go on a big USA road trip so this post was so timely! We love road trips. One of our favorite ways to travel. Just got a new coffee press and feeling ready to go! 🙂 #flyawayfriday

    1. nattiekaf Post author

      Awesome! Road trips are one of my favorite ways to travel, and an awesome way to see the US! Where will you be going?

  3. Liana Moore

    We used to car camp pre-kids. I am thinking next summer we’ll start the process of easing back into it by glamping. Love that you take along a slack line. We’ll definitely have to do that. #FlyAwayFriday

  4. Kana

    I had no idea car-camping was a thing! In my defense I’m not much of a camper, but this actually looks really fun! Your essentials are super helpful for someone like me! Thanks for joining Fly Away Friday, hope to see you again this week! xo

  5. Janine

    Great list! I love camping. I have not been in awhile, but my bucket list is to stay in a yurt within one of the Ontario Parks! I will keep this as a reference! Hope to see you at Fly away Friday tomorrow 🙂

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