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Sunday, June 16, 2024

How to Make Car Camping More Comfortable

Photo by epicurean via iStock

Whether you’re out for a weekend adventure in your car, SUV, or truck, or you’re on the road for a lengthy overlanding adventure, there are plenty of things you can do to make your car a more hospitable environment.

Now, there are some vehicles that just aren’t going to hack it for car camping…I mean, a Yugo is probably not the best choice.

But if you have a vehicle with some room in the back, you can quickly and easily make it a functional space for cooking, eating, lounging, and sleeping.

Here’s a few tips on how to make car camping more comfortable.

Maximize Storage

Inside a camper van

Photo by FatCamera via iStock

If you’re an organizational freak (and even if you aren’t…) having a place to put things will help you stay sane while out on the road.

Not only that, maximizing storage space will help you keep your car neat and tidy, allow you to find stuff when you need it, and if you do it right, you can outfit your vehicle in a way that gives you much more storage than you’d think.

One of the best things you can do is to build a simple platform for your sleeping area, that way you have space underneath it to store your gear. A platform with a removable top is a great idea, that way you can access all the storage underneath by simply lifting the top off the platform. You can get really fancy if you want and add struts to lift the top rather than having to manually remove it.

How to Make Car Camping More Comfortable: Heat It Up

Diesel Heater next to an SUV in the snow

We got our first snow of the season yesterday and it’s currently 22 degrees, which has me thinking about cold weather camping.

But just because many of us are in the depths of fall with winter just around the corner doesn’t mean that we have to be cold and uncomfortable when we go car camping in the fall and winter.

Since it can get really cold in these parts, a diesel heater is the way to go to make car camping more comfortable.

Think about it – with a rig like the 2kw portable diesel heater from Planar Heaters shown below, you can keep the temperature in your vehicle toasty warm. And it’s not just heat that you get from this heater – it’s dry heat, so you don’t have to worry about your vehicle becoming a sauna.

planar heaters 2kw portable heater

This heater is self-contained and runs on diesel or kerosene and 12v DC. It can run for eight hours on about half a tank of fuel so you don’t have to worry about having to get up on a cold night and refilling the tank.

Speaking of which, you also don’t have to get up to turn the heater on and off – it comes with a wired remote.

Other features include an air intake filter, a silencer for quiet operation, and the ability to operate at altitudes of up to 8,200 feet above sea level.

planar heater

Perhaps best of all is that this heater is easily portable. It comes in a crush-proof and rain-resistant case and has a carrying handle for easy transport. Take it car camping this weekend, on the boat next weekend, and in your tent the weekend after that!

Check it out for yourself and see why efficient, dry, instant heat is such an advantage for car camping!

Bring Some Curtains

Car Camping

Photo by KonArt via iStock

When you camp in a travel trailer, RV, or even a tent, there is some measure of privacy. But in your car, your living space is right there for everyone to see.

If you’re out in the wilderness camping in your car, you might not worry about who can see you while you’re sleeping. But if you’re in an established campground, a rest stop, or a parking lot somewhere, you will probably want to have something to give you some privacy.

This can go any number of ways. Some people cut cardboard boxes to fit inside each window opening. Others simply hang dark sheets up when they go to bed. If you’re a frequent car camper, you might even think about installing a permanent setup with curtains and curtain rods like you find in a camper or RV.

Whatever the case, having some privacy is a welcome feature to make car camping more comfortable.

How to Make Car Camping More Comfortable: Have a Dedicated Place for Cooking

people having breakfast while car camping

Photo by visualspace via iStock

Ideally, you’ll be able to cook outside of your car while you’re camping (like shown above). This might be something as simple as having a small propane grill that you can use to whip up your dinner.

However, if you’re like me, you enjoy cooking over an open flame. Personally, nothing beats the smell of a campfire, nor does anything beat the taste of food cooked on an open flame.

I personally like to cook using my Schenk

fall cooking with the schenk

For the uninitiated, the Schenk is an ingenious cooking device that affords you the flexibility of grilling, frying, or even boiling water to make coffee, hot chocolate, or tea.

As shown above, there’s an adjustable stainless steel rod on which you can attach a stainless steel cooking ring. Add a grill to make burgers or steaks, set your cast-iron skillet or pot on the cooking ring to make bacon, eggs, or stew, or use a hook to hang your kettle to get your favorite hot drink going. It’s all about flexibility and functionality with the Schenk!

the schenk with fire pit bracket

This guy comes with a stainless steel foot stabilizer so you can set up the Schenk quickly and get to cooking. You can also get an optional fire ring attachment to attach the Schenk directly to the fire ring in camp as shown above.

Either way, you get a quick, easy-to-use, and fun way to cook some great food while camping with the Schenk!

But…sometimes it will be too cold, the bugs will be too bad, or some other situation will prevent you from cooking outside.

Now, you aren’t going to be able to have a full-on kitchen in the back of your SUV, but at least carve out a spot where you can have a hot plate or small propane camp stove to cook up some food.

If you have a fridge in your vehicle, you can use its top as counter space for preparing and cooking your food. If you have a cooler, you can use it for the same purpose.

Just ensure that if you’re cooking with a stove inside your car that you crack a few windows to let some fresh air in.

This is Just the Start!

van camping with sleeping bags

Photo by mikexavier via iStock

Between better storage, heat, some privacy, and a dedicated cooking space, you’ll be well on your way to learning how to make car camping more comfortable. This is just the start, though.

There are a myriad of other things you can do to make your camping experience one that you look forward to. Part of figuring out what those things are is simple experience in camping and learning what works and what doesn’t work for your setup. So, with that in mind, get your gear together, get out there this weekend, and do some camping. It’s the only way you’ll be able to dial in the most comfortable car camping setup.

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