The Car Camping Checklist: Everything You Need For Your Long Weekend Getaway

A helpful guide of everything you need for a camping trip


Fall is a great season to get outside and go camping. Nature is at its peak of beauty, and camping can be a relaxing oasis for anyone. And car camping is a great activity for the whole family. It does not require a minimalist mentality, like backpacking so often does, because you can haul around all your things in… your car. Labor day weekend was always a big camping weekend for my family and many others. We started car camping, and soon worked our way up to a RV. But there’s nothing quite like ending your summer with a crackling campfire and a gooey S’mores. It was always the perfect way to relax and rejuvenate before school started up again, and spend one solid weekend enjoying each other's company.

Related: 12 Essential Pieces of Camping Gear You Shouldn’t Leave Home Without

Back in our car camping day, my dad would always over pack. The car was overflowing with stuff, that barely was used. So here I’ve compiled a list of essentials, give or take a few things that are just fun to have.

1. Shelter. The great part about car camping, is that you don’t have to worry about lugging around your tent in your backpack. So, finding your ideal tent, should not be a problem. Just make sure you bring all the essentials along:
- Tent
- Poles
- Stakes and Lines
- Ground Tarp
- Rain Fly

2. Sleeping. Determine how comfortable you need to sleep, and what the size of your tent can hold. A full size air mattress can fit in most 2 person tents, so that is always an option if you aren’t exactly ready to ‘rough’ it. Also, since there is extra storage in a car, it’s a good idea to bring extra blankets or sleeping materials that make you more comfortable. But, typically, here’s the basics you need:
- Sleeping Pad
- Sleeping Bag
- Pillow

3. Clothing. Keep in mind the temperature and weather conditions forecasted for your trip. Be prepared for all types of weather. Pack what clothing makes you comfortable, but also, remember to bring these essentials:
- Rain gear
- Waterproof or Hiking Boots
- Warm layers (fleece jacket, vest, coat, etc.)
- Wool Socks
- Sunglasses
- Hat (to protect from sun)
- Swim suit (if applicable)
- Warm Hat and Gloves

4. Furniture/Cooking Supplies. Depending on the space in your trunk and/or the way you like to comfortably camp, bring smart furniture to keep your site more organized and efficient. Also, think about whether you plan on cooking over the campfire, or bring a small grill/ camp stove.
- Camping chair (This is a definite! How else can you sit around the campfire and roast marshmallows?)
- Foldable prep table
- Camp stove and necessary fuel
- Pots, pans, cooking utensils
- Plates, bowls, eating utensils
- Can opener
- Matches or Lighter
- Bucket, soap, sponge (for washing dishes)
- Garbage Bags
- Paper towels or dish towels
- Cooler
- Food (Don’t forget the food!)

5. Safety. These safety essentials should be priority for any camping trip. You never know when you will need a first aid kit. And bug spray. We know how important that bug spray is. Don’t forget these:
- First aid kit
- Insect Repellent
- Sunscreen
- Duct Tape
- Whistle
- Water filter
- Medications
- Flash lights
- Lantern
- Rechargeable Radio
- Swiss Army knife
- Water bottles
- Map
- Compass

6. Toiletries. We all have to go to the bathroom at some point. Unless you're camping at a site that offers bathroom facilities, here are a few items you need to pack:
- Towels
- Biodegradable soap
- Biodegradable Toilet Paper
- Hand Sanitizer

Stay safe while camping, click here for 8 common outdoor threats everyone should be aware of and prepared for


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