Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Hit the Road With 10 Car Camping Must-Haves

Adventure
Hit the Road With 10 Car Camping Must-Haves

By Rachel Walker

Ahhhh, car camping—the traveler's embodiment of the "think global, act local" mantra. Unlike journeying to exotic destinations, which tend to require significant expense and loads of greenhouse gases, car camping is simple. Whether you're traveling five or 500 miles, all you need to do is throw your gear in the car, pick a destination on the map, and go.


Further sweeten your summer explorations by streamlining your gear system. Since weight doesn't really matter (this isn't a backpacking trip), car camping practically begs you to bust out the extra-thick camp pad, the cozy bag, and even the cast-iron skillet. While car camping's most luxurious perks are bound to be found in star-studded skies, al fresco dining, and sunsets, the below creature comforts will make your trip downright deluxe.

Coolers have come a long way from the days of the $5 Styrofoam box. Otter Box's Trooper LT 20 Soft Cooler ($250) keeps ice cold for days and doesn't leak. It's big enough to store several days' worth of provisions, yet small enough to fit on even the most jam-packed ride. Thanks to the cooler's wide-opening hinge top, loading it—and reaching in to retrieve deliciousness—is a piece of cake.

The best thing about the Big Agnes Big House 6 Deluxe ($400) is its ease of setup. As in a five- and seven-year-old recently erected one in their (OK, my) living room with minimal supervision. Once assembled, this tent is a spacious, shack-size shelter with room for up to six. Inside there's plenty of ventilation, a star-viewing mesh top (and a rain fly for stormy nights), and ample built-in organizers. With so many mesh pockets and shelves, your contact lens case will never again get lost among the kids' coloring books.

Sweet dreams are made of sleeping pads that do the dual duty of insulating campers from the cold, hard ground and eliminating lumps. The Therm-a-Rest MondoKing 3D ($180 to $210) does all this and more. But what sets this plush pad apart from the competition is how easy it is to inflate. Blow into the nozzle (versus engaging in the full-body workout required by the usual floor pump or pillow pump), and just a short time later, you're sawing logs.

The Homestead Twin sleeping bag ($119) from The North Face is a roomy, rectangular sack that comes in two temperature ratings: 20 degrees and 40 degrees. A modern twist on the classic sleeping bag, the Homestead has plenty of room for extra blankets, stuffed animals, family members, and even the dog. In other words, it's the opposite of restrictive.

One glorious aspect of car camping is tuning in to the day's natural rhythms. But sometimes, you still need artificial light. Whether you're pitching a tent in the dark, heading out on a nocturnal adventure, or cooking, reading, or playing Scrabble long after the sun's gone down, the indestructible Black Diamond Icon headlamp ($100) lights the way. It's water- and dustproof and comes with three different night-vision modes (red, green, and blue). It also has a removable battery pack to help preserve battery light and "brightness memory," which means you can customize its power.

It might be tempting to throw your kitchen cutting board and knife into the car, but don't. This compact combo from Snow Peak ($56) safely holds the knife in place when not in use and folds up for easy storage. Post chopping, cook dinner in the company's featherweight Titanium Mini Solo Cook set ($76).

Go gourmet with Camp Chef's Summit two-burner stove ($132) and cast iron skillet ($23). The powerful stove comes with two high-pressure, 20,000 BTU burners (boiling water has never been quicker), matchless ignition, and a locking lid and handle. It's strong enough to hold all sorts of cookware, including the company's durable, classic skillets, which come in a variety of sizes.

Keeping your car camping gear organized is a fine art. Luckily, the innovative, tough bags from Mystery Ranch Mission Duffel do wonders to sort and protect everything. Use the Mission Duffel 90 ($195) for tent and bedding, the 55 ($165) for cookware, and the 40 ($130) for clothes. These expandable workhorses convert into surprisingly comfortable backpacks, making for easy schlepping from truck to tent.

Naturally, car camping doesn't mean that you never leave the site. You're bound to hike and explore, and the Osprey's Skimmer 30 ($120) hydration pack is big enough to store multiple layers and food. Thanks to its ergonomic design, this pack can be worn all day, up and down mountains (or wherever you go) without complaint. Parents will love its myriad pockets and compartments for toting kids' various sundries; non-parents will appreciate this pack's versatility.

Hang the BioLite Powerlight Mini ($45) in the tent for evening illumination, or prop it on the picnic table if you need an outside light. This solar-powered lantern can also be charged via USB. Once fully charged, it runs for five hours on high or 52 hours on low. It's convenient, compactible and reliable.

Reposted with permission from our media associate SIERRA Magazine.

A Brood X cicada in 2004. Pmjacoby / CC BY-SA 3.0

Fifteen states are in for an unusually noisy spring.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A creative depiction of bigfoot in a forest. Nisian Hughes / Stone / Getty Images

Deep in the woods, a hairy, ape-like man is said to be living a quiet and secluded life. While some deny the creature's existence, others spend their lives trying to prove it.

Read More Show Less

Trending

President of the European Investment Bank Werner Hoyer holds a press conference in Brussels, Belgium on Jan. 30, 2020. Dursun Aydemir / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

By Jon Queally

Noted author and 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben was among the first to celebrate word that the president of the European Investment Bank on Wednesday openly declared, "To put it mildly, gas is over" — an admission that squares with what climate experts and economists have been saying for years if not decades.

Read More Show Less

A dwarf giraffe is seen in Uganda, Africa. Dr. Michael Brown, GCF

Nine feet tall is gigantic by human standards, but when researcher and conservationist Michael Brown spotted a giraffe in Uganda's Murchison Falls National Park that measured nine feet, four inches, he was shocked.

Read More Show Less
Kelsey Mueller, 16, pets Ruby while waiting with her family to be escorted from the evacuation zone at the Shaver Lake Marina parking lot off of CA-168 during the Creek Fire on Sept. 7, 2020 in Shaver Lake, California. Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times / Getty Images

By Daisy Simmons

In a wildfire, hurricane, or other disaster, people with pets should heed the Humane Society's advice: If it isn't safe for you, it isn't safe for your animals either.

Read More Show Less