Nothing says fall like loading up the car or truck with your favorite camping gear and heading to the nearest forest road or family campsite. Whether you’re heading out for a weekend of hiking, mountain biking, fly fishing, or whatever kind of outdoor activitiy you can find within the short drive of a well-established base camp, dust off the old checklist and make sure a handful of these car camping essentials find their way into your inventory of essential gear items.
1. Big Agnes Tensleep Station 6
I’m all for lightweight gear and minimalism when backpacking, but when I’m car camping I like a little extra space in my tent. The Big Agnes Tensleep Station 6 is the ideal car camping tent because it provides more than adequate space and comfort, wether its being used by a couple with a dog or a family of six. And, because its a Big Agnes product, it pops up with ease and provides maximum protection from the elements.
2. Everest Camp Chef
You’ll be hard pressed to find a better car camping cook stove than the Everest from Camp Chef. The two 20,000 BTU burners allow it to boil water quickly and cook food almost as evenly as your home stove. Throw in the protective windscreen, which makes for easy cooking in less than ideal conditions, and its extreme portability, and you’ve got the only car camping cook stove you’ll ever need.
3. Thermacell Scout Mosquito Repeller Camp Lantern
If you’re anything like me you get tired of slathering on oily, chemical-laden topical mosquito repellent. While DEET usually keeps the bugs off, who knows what it’s actually doing to you once absorbed through the skin. Enter the Thermacell Scout Mosquito Repeller Camp Lantern. Like other Thermacell products, this thing imposes a 15 X 15 foot no fly zone on mosquitos, biting flies and other types of winged insect that can turn your pleasant evening around the camp fire into an itchy nightmare. It does so by vaporizing a natural occurring, insect-repelling chemical found in common Chrysanthemums. Oh, and there’s also that added benefit of providing 220 lumens of bright light for hours on end. This thing is a win-win.
4. Goal Zero Yeti 150 Solar Generator
When you’re posted up at a primitive site, a little back up power can become a real luxury. No company is better at providing that luxury than Goal Zero with their award winning solar panels and chargeable, eco-firendly generators. If you’re looking to break into the world of fume free generators, the Yeti 150 is the perfect place to start. It has the battery capacity to re-charge a typical smart phone over 15 times or a laptop twice. The interface includes an LCD display that shows remaining battery life as well as a USB port, an AC outlet and a 9V port.
5. Wacaco Minipresso
Who says you can’t have gourmet coffee at the campite? Wacaco has shattered that myth with the brilliantly engineered and super affordable Minipresso. This hand pump espresso maker produces a velvety and flavorful shot of espresso with ease and simplicity every time.
6. Maven B.3 Binoculars
If you’re camping in an area where wildlife sightings are common, bring along a pair quality binos for some added entertainment. The B.3 binoculars from Maven are some of the best 6X magnification binoculars on the market right now. Throw in the unconditional lifetime warranty, and you’ve got some top notch glass that will last you a lifetime. Not only do they work exceedingly well in low light conditions, but they offer a level of clarity and focus that is hard to find at similar price points. Wether you’re scoping out a herd of elk in the Cataloochee Valley or watching a bald eagle soar high above the Tuckaseegee River, the Maven B.3’s will magnify the experience tenfold.
7. Gerber Freescape Camp Kitchen Kit
A good knife set at the campsite is an absolute must, and they don’t get much better than the Freescape Camp Kitchen Kit from Gerber. The handy thing about this setup, aside from the high quality knives that the Gerber name is known for, is the way they managed to incorporate a cutting board and a sharpener into a compact design that has room for additional utensils. This will become an indispensable tool in your car camping inventory.
8. Exped Mega Mat10 or SIM Comfort Duo 7.5
Nothing contributes to the overall enjoyment of a car camping adventure like a good night’s sleep. You may get away with skimping in other departments, but if you don’t pack appropriate bedding you could be in for a long, uncomfortable trip. Avoid that scenario with the Mega Mat10 or the SIM Comfort Duo 7.5 from Exped. This Swiss company has broken the camping mat game down to a science, and as a result, they are the proud makers of the best car camping mats available today. If you’re sleeping solo go for the Mega Mat10—its more comfortable than most people’s home beds—but if you’re shacking up with a significant other , he Sim Comfort Duo 7.5 is impossible to beat.
9. Fiskars X11 Splitting Axe
When you’re setting up in remote areas for days on end and fire is your primary source of heat, a good splitting ax becomes an absolute must, and no brand engineers axes better than Fiskars. That’s probably because this Finnish company has been creating useful yard and outdoor products for over 360 years. That’s right, they started forging axes some 120 years before the United States became a formally recognized nation. In fact, legend has it that George Washington chopped down his first cherry with an early model Fiskars splitting ax. Did I just make that story up? Absolutely, but that shouldn’t deter you purchasing one of these extremely handy tools before embarking on your next multi-day, car camping adventure.
10. Orion 45 Cooler
Car Camping doesn’t really work with a good cooler. Luckily, we live the golden age of ice chests, and there’s even a locally made option for those living in and around the southern Appalachians. Features of the Orion 45 include six tie-down points, four bottle openers, low profile camping latches, a variety of different color options, and a highly functional tray system. Not to mention, it holds ice for days on end.