Car Camping Must Haves

Car camping – driving to a campsite and unloading all your gear, parking adjacent to your campsite – is the way most of us enjoy overnight stays at our state parks and campgrounds. And car camping certainly has its advantages over backpacking. You can bring a lot more stuff, for example. You can also run to a convenience store if you’ve forgotten something.

And yet, there are many things that can ruin your outing. Here are the “Murphy’s Laws” for car camping:

  1. Although the weather has been perfect for many days, on the days of your vacation at the state park, you will experience torrential downpours.
  2. “Little Suzie” and “Little Johnny” will forget any number of items, which may include but are not limited to their toothbrush, comb, special stuffed animals that sleep with them, and matching pairs of shoes and socks. “Dark” is not a condition they will enjoy.
  3. The area surrounding your campsite will have been picked clean of any means of tinder or kindling to start your campfire.

So, here are a few “must have” items to ensure that your precious vacation time is spent with nothing but fun.

An “easy up” style canopy can save the day in many ways. It can be positioned over a vehicle so that gear can be moved in and out, while staying dry. It can be used over a gas grill, so that the cook and your food stay dry. It can be set up over a tent, so that the campers inside stay dry. Sportsman’s Guide has the Guide Gear 10 x 10-foot model priced at $59.99 – you’d be wise to pick up more than one.

Guide Gear 10' x 10' Instant Pop Up Canopy
Guide Gear 10′ x 10′ Instant Pop Up Canopy

Tarps also come in handy. Here’s the thing about torrential rains – they usually don’t fall straight down. Summer rainstorms will blow sideways. A tarp can be used to block blowing rain. Tarps can also be used as ground cover under a tent, to keep wet ground from soaking up through the tent. These All Purpose Tarps from Sportsman’s Guide are perfect, ranging from 8 x 10 foot to 30 x 50 foot, with prices starting at $5.99.

ThermaCELL Repellent Camp Lantern
ThermaCELL Repellent Camp Lantern

Another great item for a camping trip is the ThermaCELL Repellent Camp Lantern. This lantern lights up the night with a bright 220 lumens, while also keeping you free from mosquitoes, black flies and other annoying bugs. With a price of $39.99, it’s unbeatable – you can take it off a picnic table, where it’s being used as a lantern, and use it as a flashlight to walk to a bathhouse.

Speaking of the bathhouse…….one way to make sure the kids (well, and the adults) don’t forget anything is to pre-pack a “necessities” toiletry bag. The Mil-tec Tropical Flecktarn Toiletry Bag is a great choice at $14.99. When closed, it has a web handle for easy carrying; when open, it has a hook to hang in a shower stall. There are ten pockets for things such as shampoo, soap and conditioner, along with specially-sized slots for items such as toothbrushes and toothpaste, and even medications. If each person in your party has one, you won’t be wasting time with a trip to the convenience store for forgotten items.

Your summer adventure starts here! Shop Sportsman’s Guide for a great selection of camping gear at low prices >

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One Response to “Car Camping Must Haves”

  1. Teresa

    What a great article. Multi-purpose items help to eliminate packing the whole house for a camping trip! Planning and organization make trips more enjoyable.