How to Pack for a Car Camping Trip

Ultralight backpackers can tell you how many ounces their sleeping bag, tent, and spork weigh off the top of their heads. That’s because every ounce counts with backpacking. It’s a different story with car camping, however. Car camping allows you to pack as much as you want regardless of how much it weighs or how much space it takes up. You’re limited only to what you can fit in your car, which means that you can live it up and camp comfortably.

Here’s a car camping packing list to help you get started.


  • Ample firewood
  • Fire starter
  • Matches/lighter

Food storage

  • Cooler and ice
  • Prepare meals or ingredients before hand
  • Storage container to help protect non-perishable foods


  • Camp chairs
  • Camp table


  • Sleeping pad/ air mattress/ cot
  • Wool blanket for a tent floor cover.
  • Blankets/sleeping bags
  • Pillows


  • Lantern
  • Headlamp
  • Batteries


  • Water container
  • Water bottles


  • Camp stove
  • Cookware
  • Dishes
  • Utensils
  • Mug/cup
  • Soap/sponge/scrub brush
  • Small tub for washing dishes


  • Tent/foot print/ fly
  • Hammock
  • Tarp
  • Rope or cord
  • Clips or carabiners
  • Tent stakes
  • Extra stakes for the tarp


  • Rubber mallet
  • Saw
  • Knife
  • Small shovel


  • Extra clothing
  • Insulation – Jacket, pullover, etc.
  • Rain gear
  • Extra socks
  • Swimsuit
  • Camp shoes – booties, sandals, slippers, slip-ons, etc.


  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Bandana
  • Work gloves


  • Wet wipes
  • Paper towels
  • Toilet paper
  • Toiletries


  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Bug spray
  • First aid kit


  • Daypack
  • Games/cards
  • Dog
  • Cast iron cookware
  • Cinder blocks
  • Free weights
  • Anything you want


When in doubt, bring it.

Obviously, you don’t need to bring concrete and barbells to your campsite, but when it comes to car camping, there’s no reason to leave things you might want or need at home. If you think you might want or need something, bring it. The only time you should start debating whether or not you need to bring something is when you start running out of room in your car. Car camping is about enjoying your time outdoors with friends and family.

Stop by and see us at Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters the next time you’re getting ready for camping in Northwest Arkansas! We have everything you need to enjoy your time out in nature!

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