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Sunday, April 21, 2024

The Ultimate Guide to Car Camping: Tips, Tricks, and Gear Essentials

Image by Vera_Petrunina via iStock

Car camping merges the escape of the wilderness with the practicality of having your vehicle nearby, creating an accessible outdoor experience that doesn’t skimp on comfort. Imagine waking up to the sound of birds chirping outside your tent, with all the amenities of your car just a few steps away. 

The art of car camping lies in perfecting your setup: selecting the right spot, packing smart, and optimizing your space for comfort and convenience. Whether you’re navigating forested trails or parking by a serene lake, your car becomes a trusty base camp. With the right approach, every car camping trip can be a seamless blend of adventure and relaxation.

This week, we wanted to give you the lowdown on making your car camping journey as fun and seamless as possible. So, buckle up and get ready to transform your car into the ultimate camping buddy. 

Table of Contents

Campsite Selection and Setup for Car Camping

Couple packing a car

Photo by hobo_018 via iStock

Choosing the right campsite is crucial for a great car camping experience. It’s not just about the view (although that’s important too), it’s about understanding the rules of the road and the lay of the land. You’ll want a site that’s both beautiful and practical.

Before you set out, check the camping regulations and permits required for your destination. Restrictions on campfires, off-road driving, and overnight parking can vary widely, so it’s best to know what’s allowed before you go.

When picking your spot, think about the terrain and its proximity to water sources. Look for level ground to set up camp; a flat area will make your stay more comfortable and safe. Also, clear any debris, rocks, or potential hazards to avoid any unwelcome surprises.

Privacy is another key factor. While it’s nice to have neighbors in the great outdoors sometimes, a little space can enhance your connection with nature. Try to find a good balance between being part of the camping community and having a peaceful retreat. 

Choosing the Right Vehicle for Car Camping

Cute little retro car goes by countryside road at sunset

Image by Vadmary via iStock

The ideal vehicle for car camping should provide comfort, capability, and convenience. First, consider the size and space of the vehicle. You need enough room to stow all your essentials and sleep comfortably, but too large a car might restrict your access to cozier, more secluded campsites.

Next, think about where you plan to go. If your adventures take you off the beaten path, a vehicle with off-road capabilities like 4×4 is essential. On the other hand, if you stick to established campgrounds, a standard vehicle with good ground clearance might suffice.

Finally, don’t overlook fuel efficiency. A car that goes easy on the gas not only keeps your travel costs down but also supports eco-friendly camping. The perfect vehicle for car camping melds these elements, ensuring you have the freedom to explore with the comforts of home on the go.

Essential Gear for Car Camping

Ultimate Chef and Sleep package from Goose Gear

Image Credit: BTR Outfitters

When car camping, two fundamental needs are where you’ll sleep and how you’ll prepare food. A comfortable sleeping setup turns your vehicle into a snug bedroom on wheels, while the right cooking gear means you can enjoy delicious meals under the stars. 

But it’s not just about sleeping and cooking; you also need the right accessories to round out your camping experience. This includes lighting to illuminate your site after dark, portable furniture for comfort and convenience, and smart storage solutions to keep everything organized and easily accessible.

Ultimate Chef and Sleep package from Goose Gear 2

Image Credit: BTR Outfitters

There are several great solutions on the market that cater to these needs, ensuring car campers have the best of both worlds. One standout option is the Ultimate Chef and Sleep package from Goose Gear, designed specifically for vehicles like the  Subaru Outback and the Toyota Landcruiser. Available through BTR Outfitters, this package is a comprehensive solution for car camping enthusiasts.

Ultimate Chef and Sleep package from Goose Gear 3

The Ultimate Chef and Sleep package includes everything you need to transform your vehicle into a comfortable living space. With a sleep platform for restful nights and the CampKitchen 2.2 for efficient meal preparation, it addresses the core requirements of car camping. 

The package also features smart storage options, like the Single Drawer Module and Utility Storage Module, maximizing space and ensuring you can keep your camping essentials organized and within reach..

Tips for Cooking While Car Camping

Family bonfire in mountain. Frying sausages.

Image by ASphotowed via iStock

Planning is key when it comes to cooking on your car camping trip. Before you leave, plan your meals and pack accordingly. Non-perishable items, snacks, and easy-to-prepare foods should top your list, ensuring you have nourishment that’s both convenient and tasty. One-pot meals also offer simplicity in both cooking and cleanup. Think hearty stews, pasta, or stir-fries that require minimal utensils and fuss.

Preparing ingredients beforehand can also cut down on campsite cooking time. Pre-chop veggies, marinate meats, and mix spices at home to make meal prep quick and easy. Choose recipes that are straightforward and quick to cook, maximizing your time to enjoy the camping experience. 

Tips for Packing When Car Camping

car overpacked with camping gear

Image by tigerstrawberry via iStock

Effective packing can make or break your car camping experience. Use clear storage bins to quickly see your items, saving you from rummaging through bags. Keep essentials like snacks, water, and first aid kits within arm’s reach, while tucking away less-used items like extra clothes and equipment in the back or under seats. This organization method keeps your living space clutter-free and functional.

Maximize your vehicle’s storage by adding a roof rack or cargo carrier for bulky gear. Embrace multipurpose tools and gear that serve various functions, reducing the amount of stuff you need to bring. Prioritize essentials to prevent overpacking and maintain a spacious, orderly camping environment. 


Spontaneous and beautiful photo of a cute family enjoying their adventure, camping and hiking outdoors. They’ve stopped on a beautiful landscape where a beautiful brunette, a mother, is sitting with their sun on the top of the truck, and smiling for the camera, while a father is taking a selfie of all of them. Everyone smiling, stylishly, dressed in colors

Photo by Studio4 via iStock

Is car camping legal in the USA?

Yes, car camping is legal in the USA, but the rules can vary depending on the location. National parks, state parks, and private campgrounds often have designated areas for car camping. It’s important to research and follow the specific regulations and obtain any necessary permits for the area where you plan to camp.

What is the point of car camping?

The point of car camping is to enjoy the outdoors with the added convenience and comfort of your vehicle. It allows you to bring more supplies and gear than backpacking, providing a secure and comfortable base right at your campsite.

How do I organize my car for camping?

Organizing your car for camping is all about maximizing space and keeping essentials at hand. With the right setup like Goose Gear’s modules to neatly arrange your gear, you can transform your car into a well-organized mobile camp that feels both spacious and cozy. 


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