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Hi! I’m Liv, and my passion for travel was ignited during the time I was enrolled in “Quest”, a one-year adventure program based out of the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. My explorations led me from the peaks of the Canadian Rockies to the Jungles of Costa Rica. As an avid adventurer and notorious cheapskate, I must admit there are times when I prefer to opt for more inexpensive and laid-back accommodations—and the back of my car just so happens to meet both of these expectations!
Despite the calming idea of being surrounded by nature, the notion of camping may seem daunting to budding explorers. Luckily, car camping is becoming more and more popular, and offers adventurers an alternative to traditional tenting by allowing them to ease their way into spending nights in the great outdoors! Personally, I have a penchant for car camping as it’s easy, comfortable, and requires minimal time to set up camp.
So whether it’s your first time going out or if you’re a pro looking to maximize on your experience, keep reading this essentials guide as I’ll be going over all of the essential equipment, along with some fun extras that will make any car camping trip a breeze!
1. Marmot Always Summer Sleeping Bag: 40 Degree Down
I consider this sleeping bag to be my “holy grail” out of all of my camping gear and it has followed me on every overnight camping trip for the last six years! Though this style of sleeping bag is traditionally marketed toward backpacking trips, its ‘mummy’ shape and lightweight material allow it to pack down significantly smaller than a traditional rectangular bag, meaning that it takes up less space in my tiny car! That being said, the most important feature of sleeping bags in relation to car camping is the temperature rating. This refers to the bag’s minimum comfort level and doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be warm and comfortable at that designated temperature. Always be proactive in researching future camping destinations and buy your sleeping bag accordingly!
Read more about this bag here.
2. Klymit Insulated Static V Lightweight Sleeping Pad
A durable sleeping pad is equally important in ensuring a comfortable night’s rest while out car camping. Not only does an air pad separate you from any cold surfaces, but it also provides a more pleasant surface to sleep on—because let’s face it, backseat camping also isn’t exactly a stay at the Ritz.
When choosing a sleeping mat, it is important to examine the length, width, and thickness as well as the ‘R-value.’ The R-value is a rating that depicts the insulation of the mat. The higher the number, the more insulated it will be. Given that car camping doesn’t expose you to drastically cold surfaces, an R-value in the 3-4 range should be a safe choice. Like my sleeping bag, this particular air mat has joined me on most overnight excursions, and I can attest to its ergonomic design. Featuring what Kylmit calls the “V-chamber”, this pad is built to conform to the shape of your body while still being firm and supportive. So whether you’re a side, back, or stomach sleeper, this sleeping pad is for you!
Read more about this Sleeping Pad here.
3. Diono Breeze ‘n Shade Car Window Accessory
When it comes to trying any activity for the first time, one is bound to make a few blunders along the way.
The first time I tried car camping was on a weekend trip to Duluth. Though I focused heavily on having a perfect sleep setup to avoid the pain of a seatbelt in the back, I neglected to account for the glaring lights of the Walmart sign—which did keep me up for the majority of the night. Had I thought ahead, a simple multipurpose window screen could have resulted in a night of much more restful sleep.
The Diono Breeze n’ Shade would work well for future car camping excursions. Designed to fit most car and SUV doors and windows, the Breeze n’ Shade window cover is incredibly easy to install as it’s made up of a super stretchy lightweight mesh. While traditionally used as a sunscreen to deter the sun’s UV rays, glare and heat, these shades are suitable for use with the windows up or down. Given this versatile function, the Breeze n’ Shade allows adventurers to fall asleep to a cool evening breeze without sacrificing any privacy. When not needed, they also fold down into a compact storage bag (included with your order) so your vehicle stays clean and organized in between sleeping stops.
Read more here
4. Drive Auto’s Ultimate Trunk Organizer
Drive Auto’s Ultimate Trunk Organizer is an easy and convenient way to store bulky gear when not in use. This organizer in particular is loved not only for its roomy and adjustable compartments but also for its sleek collapsible design, giving adventurers the choice to use it in its original standard size or in a car-friendly compact arrangement. Featuring a non-slip bottom as well as rubberized steel-tipped hooks, you can rest assured that no matter where your explorations take you, your gear will stay safe and secure in this organizer.
Read more here
5. SLIME 50107 EMERGENCY FLAT TIRE REPAIR KIT
When heading out to embark on a first-time car camping trip, it’s easy to become so preoccupied with gear that keeps you comfortable, that you forget about the gear that keeps your space functional. Your car will be your ‘home away from home’ on this adventure so it’s imperative that you pack the proper essentials—after all, finding yourself stranded in a remote location does tend to put a damper on what should be an exciting trip. One such must-have staple is tire repair tools and the Slime Smart Repair Kit is incredibly easy to use on the go.
The Slime Smart Tire Repair Kit features Slime sealant as well as an inflator that will allow adventurers to inflate a flat tire in just seven minutes. Praised for its user-friendly design, this system can be wielded by even the least of those mechanically inclined—simply deflate your tire, squeeze in the sealant, and inflate it again (no extra tools needed)! When you’re finished simply store the sealant and inflator in the included zippered case, which allows these tools to be stored both safely and compactly. With the accessible price point of this kit, there is really no reason not to add this Slime Repair Kit to your arsenal of car camping equipment.
Read more about this kit here.
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