Car Camping: The Comfort Necessities

There is no denying the fact that the hardcore backpackers get a bit more trail clout than the car campers, but don’t let that deter you away from at least a handful of car camping adventures each year. Why? Because they offer up a lot of comforts you leave behind at the trailhead when backpacking + it’s so much easier to fill a car with gear [not to mention, food!].

If you’re not familiar with the various terms people throw around to define camping, we should point out that car camping is essentially any sort of camping that keeps you near your car. Whether you’re in a campground, at a trailhead or on dispersed camping land…if you take your gear directly from your car to your campsite you are car camping.

We also want to point out that sleeping in your car is not the sort of car camping we’re talking about here. Sure, it’s camping…in a car, but it’s not the traditional version of car camping. Quite frankly, the sort of car camping we’re talking about is usually a bit more luxurious than any night tucked away *inside* your car!

So, now that we have to semantics out of the way, let’s chat about the gear we have deemed necessary for the best bout of car camping you’ll ever have! We should note, you can technically car camp with less than this [ie: all of your backpacking + lightweight gear] but it’s not nearly as plush!


We’ll start with the obvious — something to sleep inside of [since we’ve kicked you out of your car]. Any tent will do, but if you’re going to be setting up camp for the weekend or longer you’ll want to go all out with a tent you can stand in. Our canvas tents are perfect for this. We have two models, so you can pick + choose based upon whatever features are more important to you!

The Sierra tent provides more sleeping room [bring the whole family!] while the Mesa tent offers up a consistently high ceiling. Yes, ceiling. Our canvas tents will feel so much like home you’ll be referencing their bits + pieces as ceilings + walls!


Up next is the cot — crucial to keep your night of sleep comfy. We have a variety of cots available so you’ll be able to pick the one that fits you best. While our cots are designed to make sleep come easy, they have a few other uses at a campsite as well.

They can easily be used as benches either in the tent or around the campfire. Since they are raised off the ground they’re great for older [ahem, more experienced!] campers where the up/down of sleeping on the ground is too much. Not to mention the fact it’s a lot easier to keep the tent looking sharp when you can stash your gear under your bed!

Sleeping Pad

If you’re summer camping with cots + know the nightly temps won’t drop too low you may be able to forego the sleeping pad. Our cots are quite comfy on their own + the sleeping pads are most useful on a cot when providing a barrier against the colder temperatures.

That said, let’s assume your completely committed to the car camping gig + want to get the most comfort possible out of the deal. Pack along one of the ComfortLite XXL camping pads. They’re self inflating with a layer of insulation *inside* the pad. Not to mention the fact they’re designed to fit our cots, so yo won’t need to fret about your bed slipping around in the middle of the night.

Sleeping Bag

Finally, the coziest part of your night…the sleeping bag! We have a *wide* range of sleeping bags to choose from — anything from lightweight down bags to synthetic canvas bags. If you’re camping adventures take you beyond car camping sites you may want to consider getting your hands on a lighter, more pack-able sleeping bag. However, we’re talking about the luxurious side of car camping here, so what you need is one of our rectangular bags. They give you a bit more leg room while offering up the cozy feeling of flannel sheets. You can’t go wrong if you’re seeking out the ultimate comfort!

Camp Stove

We’ve talked about everything you’ll need to sleep through the night, but how will you fill your stomach before bed or after waking with the chirping birds + sunshine? You’ll need the perfect camp stove! Of course, you can always rely on a campfire, but they’re not as available with the recent droughts throughout the country. If you want to be sure to have early morning access to a hot pot of coffee you should invest in a Camp Chef stove.

This stove is glorious + comes with an oven option. A real oven, that makes some delicious cinnaomon rolls. We can say this…because we’ve used it to do this! This Camp Chef stove also offers up two burners set off the ground, so it’s perfect for camp sites without picnic tables [looking at you, BLM campers!].

Of course, you’ll also want to pack along all of your adventure gear + clothing, but it seems as though we hit the basic necessities of the campsite itself. So, pack up that car of yours, drive off into the sunset + prepare for adventure…followed by an excellent night of sleep!

About the Author


Heidi Kumm

Heidi Kumm is a trail runner, world traveler, mountain climber, and all around adventure enthusiast. She is so stoked on adventure that she has made it her career as the owner of Adventure Feet First, a travel company that focuses on getting people outside to explore the world around them. Over the past years Heidi has spent months living abroad, volunteering around the world, living out of a van/car/truck, and finding new ways to explore on foot, by bike, or with a backpack. She has learned the ins and outs of self propelled exploration the hard way, so she's here to help us learn from her mistakes and to help us become more informed on how to make your own mistakes, safely.