How to Go Car Camping

Car camping is a great way for people to enjoy nature and get more comfortable spending a night outdoors. Here are a few basic tips to help new and beginner car campers.

Do your homework

Always do a bit of research before you head out on a camping trip. This goes for car camping as well as backpacking. Answering a few questions allows you to pack appropriately, and helps ensure that you stay safe and comfortable during your time outdoors.

  • What’s the weather going to be like?
  • Is there a burn ban in effect?
  • Can I bring my own firewood?
  • How long am I allowed to camp at the same campsite?
  • How much does it cost to camp?
  • Can I reserve a campsite?
  • Is there an alternative if the campground is full?
  • Do I need a permit to camp?
  • What type of facilities does the campground have (running water, toilets, electricity, trash collection, etc.)?
  • What type of wildlife is in the area?
  • Do I need a bear bag or bear canister?
  • Where are the nearest emergency services?

Basically, you want to eliminate unpleasant surprises, and at the very least be prepared to handle the unexpected.

Develop a system

Dialing in a packing system that works for you is an easy way to improve your car camping experience. Pack in crates, tubs, bins, backpacks, duffel bags, or stuff sacks, and use labels, color coding, or whatever you fancy. Just have a method that works for you.

Group things together by category and pack like things. For example you can have separate tubs for:

  • kitchen
  • shelter
  • camp furniture
  • sleep
  • food
  • tools
  • clothing
  • hygiene

This makes packing faster, reduces the likelihood that you will forget important camping equipment, and it makes it easy to find everything you need when you’re setting up your campsite.

Get comfortable

You don’t have to worry about how much something weighs, how big it is, or whether or not it’s essential whenever you go car camping. If it fits in your car, you can bring it with you. This, of course, means that you should live it up.

Make it your campsite your home away from home. If you want a cot or an inflatable camping air mattress, go for it. If you want a 6-person tent for your family of four, do your thing.

Big and heavy outdoor gear is perfectly fine for car camping, and these luxurious items are often more comfortable than the lightweight backpacking alternatives.

Excess is OK when it comes to car camping. Unless you just love the thrill of doing without, there’s no reason to skimp when packing for a car camping trip.

Bring the kitchen sink

Every ounce counts when you go backpacking. You have to be thoughtful and deliberate with the gear that you carry with you. This isn’t the case with car camping. If you think you might want something, bring it with you.

You can bring soccer balls, croquet sets, extra tables, water toys, board games, guitars, wash tubs, and whatever else tickles your fancy. Pack extra towels, too much food, and a second lantern.

Basically, if you have the room to bring something, there’s no harm in packing it for a car camping trip.

Be respectful

This one of those things that should go without saying. Of course, many people still need to be reminded of it.

You’re not the only person at the campground. Observe quiet hours and be considerate of those around you.

Being respectful also includes your interactions with nature. Reduce your impact on the environment as much as possible, and help preserve natural areas for future generations.

Looking for camping gear? Stop by Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters in Fayetteville, Arkansas!

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