Ultimate Guide to Car Camping

Does a limitless sky of stars, a gourmet campfire meal, and access to the great outdoors
from the comfort of your vehicle sound like a good time? Car camping is a thrilling, and
approachable, way to experience the beauty of nature. Using your vehicle as home base allows
you to explore, hike, and adventure while enjoying the comforts of your own vehicle when it’s
time to wrap up the day. Join us, and we’ll guide you through the key info you’ll need to start
planning your next outing.

Essential Gear

With hundreds of options, gadgets, and gizmos on the market, gear can be
overwhelming. Here, we’ll outline the major bits of kit that will help you get the most out of
your experience!

Sleep Systems

Whether sleeping in a tent under the stars or stretching out in the security of the back
of your car, the right gear can make all the difference. If choosing to sleep out on the ground, a
car camping tent is designed to optimize comfort and durability. Car camping tents offer plenty
of living space, tons of headroom, and feature durable materials to last you years of pitch n’
play adventure.

Either way you choose, a good sleeping pad will be the foundation of your sleep system.
A good sleeping pad keeps you off the ground and on a warm layer of air between you and the
dirt. We offer pads ranging from ultra-compact inflatable pads to 4” thick self-inflating models
that will rival that air mattress at home.

Top that pad with a good sleeping bag or quilt, and you’ll be cozy all night long. We carry
a selection of bags that can keep you warm in any season, from chilly late fall nights in a
mummy bag to summer nights under a packable puffy blanket, we’ve got you covered.

Finish with a comfy camp pillow and you’ll be putting up Z’s all night long. Get your
sleep system dialed in with your local outfitter and ensure you will never miss your bed at

Cooking Equipment

While some folks prefer the fast and light approach of small backpacking stoves and
dehydrated meals, camping out of your car gives you a lot more options for a home cooked
meal. A dual burner propane or butane stove is a great way to give you home cooking
capabilities out in the field. With adjustable flame control you can easily go from a boil, to
simmering down your favorite sauce with turn of a knob.

Combine this with a lightweight cook-set and utensils and you’ll have a take anywhere
kitchen for the road.

Wash up in a collapsible sink or under the valve on a water jug and you won’t need that
dreaded home clean up. Pair this setup with a good cooler and you’ll have fresh ingredients
your whole trip.


When the sun sets and the stars start to peek over the horizon, good lighting will keep
you from retiring just because the sun does. A headlamp will give you hands free light for
cooking, playing cards, or braving the dark for that pit toilet across camp. Just don’t forget some
extra batteries.

Pair that with a collapsible solar lantern and you’ll have steady, consistent, lighting for
dinner at the table or late-night reading in the tent.
If you’re feeling fancy, get your glamp on by connecting some USB string lights and
giving your site some ambiance.

Camp Chairs and Tables:

Just because you’re in the woods doesn’t mean you have to eat like it! Some collapsible
chairs and a table will provide you a convenient place for cooking, eating, and hanging out
without taking up too much space.

First Aid Kit

No one ever expects to get hurt! Accidents happen, be prepared for minor injuries and
illnesses with some first aid essentials.

Portable Power Sources

Even disconnecting requires a little bit of technology! Keep your cell phone, camera, or
satellite device charged up with a power bank or solar generator. Whether you need power for
a night or for a week, we’ve got options to keep you charged.

Plenty of Water

You can never have too much water, bringing enough can make or break a trip. Grab a
sturdy water container and fill up to make sure you stay hydrated and clean your whole trip
through. Hard sided water containers allow you to carry large quantities of water in a durable
leak proof package.

Complete Camping Checklist Below!

Planning and Preparations

Research Campsites

Here in the U.S. we’re lucky to have a wealth of camping opportunities. From rugged
primitive camping on public land, to amenity rich park campgrounds, there’s a spot for every
comfort level. Be sure to research your options before heading out to find the right area for you
and your vehicle. Consult government websites for local boundaries, rules, and regulations to
make sure we’re all recreating responsibly.


Some popular campgrounds require reservations and fees, especially during peak
seasons. Make reservations in advance to secure your spot and ensure you don’t miss out!
Permits and regulations:

Do your part to familiarize yourself with any permit requirements or specific regulations
for the areas you plan to visit. This includes campfire restrictions, leash laws for pets, and waste
disposal guidelines.

Weather conditions:

Check the weather forecast for your intended camping dates and pack accordingly. Be
prepared for unexpected changes in weather. From rainstorms to forest fires, it’s your job to be
prepared! Click the link for a site showing all the forest fires in the US currently.

Locations for camping:


For those new to camping, or looking for a little more comfort, campgrounds can offer a
structured experience meant to optimize your time outside. Maintained campgrounds are
designated areas specifically designed for camping. They offer amenities such as designated
campsites, fire rings, picnic tables, restrooms, and sometimes showers and laundry facilities.

Campgrounds can range from basic to luxurious, depending on the amenities provided. They
often require reservations and have specific rules and regulations to ensure a pleasant camping
experience for everyone. Click here for an extensive resource for outdoor recreation.

Dispersed Camping:

Dispersed camping, also known as primitive camping, involves camping in undeveloped
areas outside of designated campgrounds. This type of camping allows for a more secluded and
immersive experience in nature. While dispersed camping offers fewer amenities, such as
restrooms and picnic tables, it provides the freedom to choose your own campsite and enjoy a
greater sense of solitude. With that extra privilege, comes extra responsibility. It’s important to
research and follow the specific guidelines and regulations for dispersed camping in the area
you plan to visit as well as practicing best etiquette.

  1. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) areas: BLM land often allows dispersed camping.
    Here is a link to learn more about BLM in Arizona.
  2. National and State Parks: National and state parks often offer car camping opportunities with a range of campgrounds and facilities. These parks showcase breathtaking landscapes and provide a
    variety of recreational activities such as hiking, fishing, and wildlife viewing. National parks like
    Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Grand Canyon offer a wide range of camping opportunities.
    Click the link here for State Parks in AZ.
  3. Click the link here for information on National Parks:
  4. National Forests: National forests, such as the Kaibab National Forest in Northern Arizona, or the Mt. Hood National Forest in Oregon, offer campsites amidst scenic wilderness. Did you know that the Coconino National Forest is part of the largest contiguous Ponderosa pine forest in Northern America? Find a forest in the area you want to visit. Click here.

Camping Etiquette:

Leave No Trace:

Follow the principles of “Leave No Trace” by minimizing your impact on the environment.
Pack out all your trash and dispose of waste properly. Click link below for a full description of the 7

Respect Quiet Hours:

Be considerate of other campers and observe quiet hours to maintain a peaceful

Campfire safety:

If campfires are allowed, follow the designated rules, use existing fire rings when
available, and never leave a fire unattended. Also, be aware of forest fires in the areas you are
planning to camp. Click the link here to check for fires.

Wildlife Interactions:

Keep a safe distance from wildlife, secure your food, and store it properly to avoid
attracting animals to your campsite. Bear canisters or bags, rat sacks and other gear can help
create a barrier between hungry critters and your hard-earned food.

Get Out There:

There’s a great big world out there! So, load up the car, hit the road, and set out on an
adventure! Get your gear together, do your research, be responsible, and at the end of the day, have
a great time.