Car camping isn’t defined by sleeping in your car, rather just loading things in your vehicle and driving to your site. It takes strategy and Tetris-like skills to get as much packed in your trunk as possible.
Things need to be compact and absolutely essential or else they’re not worth bringing. To help you get the most out of your next trip, we found 15 of the best car camping accessories worth taking on the road.
1. A folding table with cup holders
Unless your campsite’s furnished with a picnic table, you won’t have much space to set things down. These portable tables only take 30 seconds to fold out and give you a sturdy extra surface for dining or cooking. You can find them on Amazon here.
2. A comfy portable pillow
Pillows are needed for a good night’s sleep but they can be big and bulky. To save space, pack a portable pillow instead – like these soft ones from Teton Sports. They measure 18 x 12 but compactly fold down to about 7 x 4 to fit in their own storage pouch. They’re offered in a variety of patterns.
3. Portable showerhead
With these portable showerheads you can rinse off anywhere. They draw water from any bucket, sink, or water receptacle and turn it into a gentle stream. On the back, an S-style hook allows them to be hung overhead.
The showerheads last for about an hour and can be recharged by plugging them into your car’s 12-volt outlet. If needed you can also use them to clean off dishes or pets. They’re about $40 on Amazon.
4. Truck bed (or SUV) tents
For truck owners who love camping but hate sleeping on the ground, these tents are an ideal solution. They’re made with straps and buckles, which take out the hassle of dealing with tarps and stakes.
5. Rechargeable lantern/flashlights
These portable lights have a sleek, creative design: with built-in lights on two sides and detachable flashlights on the other two sides. To charge them you can either plug the lights into your car’s 12-volt outlet or use three D batteries. Get them online here.
6. Portable 12-volt stove
Instead of roasting hot dogs over the fire (again), pack a portable camping stove for more variety. These RoadPro stoves plug into your car’s 12-volt outlet and warm up everything from beans to sandwiches. They’re about $32 on Amazon.
7. A quality portable cooler
Up to 44 drinks stay chilled in Coleman’s 40-quart PowerChill coolers. They plug into your car’s cigarette lighter and come with a shelf to keep the contents organized. Check them out here.
8. A cloud-like reclining camping chair
You may not be able to bring a recliner camping but these adjustable chairs offer the next best thing. They recline back and have cozy arm rests as well as insulated cup holders. The chairs also come with their own carrying bag for easy transport. Check them out here.
9. A fully stocked First Aid kit
As they say, “Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.” Ideally you will never have to open your First Aid kit. But when anything like a scraped knee or blister comes up you’ll be glad to have it. This First Aid kit is packed with medical grade items you’ll need for basic injuries, including bandages of various sizes, gauze, an instant ice pack, anti-septic wipes, and moleskin. Read more about these emergency kits.
10. Portable coffee brewer
Like a Keurig machine but portable, these Primula Coffee Brewers only make one cup at a time. They’re easy to use: put them on your mug, add one or two scoops of coffee grounds, and pour hot water over. Find them online here.
11. Folding organizer
Trunk organizers hold everything from groceries to pet supplies. These folding ones are designed with two large compartments and three mesh pockets on the side for smaller items. They’re available online here.
12. Inflatable mattress
Inflatable air mattresses will give you more back and neck support than sleeping on the cold hard ground. These air beds fit in most mainstream models of cars and come with two air pillows. More details.
13. A 12-volt heated blanket
Cold night? Pull out one of these warm fleece blankets and plug it into your car’s 12-volt adapter. They’re large enough to share with someone you love and automatically turn off after 30 or 45 minutes. The blankets are offered in red plaid and navy blue.
14. An awning/canopy for shade
Awnings will give you much-needed shade during the summer. These canopies fit most SUVs, trucks, teardrops, hatchbacks, and sedans. You can also set them up with metal poles as their own stand-alone shelter. More details.
15. A multi-purpose folding wash basin
These folding wash basins are super versatile. You can use them to wash dishes or just store ice and drinks. They also come with a small mesh bag to hold things like towels and sponges. Read more about them here.
Could you use any of these? What are some of your must-haves for car camping?