Everything you need for a successful car camping trip Leave a comment


I’m one of those New York cyclists who have kind of forgotten how to drive a car as I rarely find myself behind the wheel of a gas (or electric) operated vehicle. (When did cars start being made without key ignitions?) But, I do have friends (and friends of friends) who drive and sometimes it’s nice to get out of the city, car camp, and ride bikes in a new locale. 

Car camping has two general definitions: (1) driving to a campsite (as opposed to hiking to one) and setting up a tent and (2) literally sleeping in your car. For this article, I’m writing about the latter.

I was resistant to the idea of car camping for a long time, mainly because my father once insisted my three brothers, my mom, and I all sleep in the family van on a road trip from Ohio to Florida at Christmas time which did not result in much sleep at all (and a very cold night somewhere in Georgia). But, gear and car camping have come a long way since then.

You can, as my father did on that ill-fated trip long ago, simply fold down the seats of your automobile and try and sleep, but there’s some amazing car camping gear out there that will make the experience so much better. You don’t necessarily need a lot of stuff. 

And here’s a video by New Yorker and cyclist, Angelo Calilap (a friend of a friend), demonstrating how to properly use a lot of it

Roam Adventure Co. Rooftop Car Awning

ROAM Adventure Co. Rooftop Awnings

ROAM Adventure Co.

amazon.com

$279.00


Available in various sizes including four, five, six-and-a-half, and eight feet, Roam Adventure Co. rooftop awnings provide shelter from rain and sun. All sizes come with a universal mounting kit that allows you to attach it to the roof rack on your vehicle though, the company recommends purchasing awning brackets directly from your specific roof rack manufacturer.

Made from waterproof ripstop material and aluminum poles (and as demonstrated in the youtube video above), these awnings are easy to set up and takedown.

Luno 2.0 Air Mattress

2.0 Air Mattress

backcountry.com

$329.99


Compatible with over 1800 vehicles (according to the manufacturer), this Luno air mattress is designed specifically for sleeping in your car. The mattress is wider at the head portion which fits into the space directly behind the front seats, thus utilizing all the available space efficiently. 

One of the unique features of the Luno is its two-part design which means you can inflate each side separately if desired – using the included electric air pump.

Paired with your favorite sleeping bag or blankets, you’ll definitely get a good night’s sleep.

Cosmic 40 Sleeping Bag

Kelty

rei.com

$104.73


Snow Peak stoves, furniture, and dishware

Snow Peak, a Japan-based company, has been making sustainable outdoor products with a lifetime guarantee since 1958. Established by mountaineer Yukio Yamai, who found the quality of most outdoor gear lacking and endeavored to create his own, more superior versions, the company utilizes specialized equipment based on the skills of the metalwork craftspeople of Yamai’s hometown of Tsubame Sanjo.

While all of their products are well designed and made, here are some of the best for car camping adventures.

Takibi Fire and Grill Set

Snow Peak – Takibi Fire and Grill

Snow Peak

amazon.com

$319.95


Including a fireplace grill, fireplace grill bridge, a pack and carry fire pit, baseplate stand, and carrying bag, this compact fire and grill set has everything you need to cook up a good dinner after a day of adventuring.

According to multiple Amazon reviewers, this product is sturdy and well made, but heavy  – perfect for car camping but not necessarily recommended for backpacking.

Collapsible Coffee Drip for Pour-Over Coffee

Snow Peak – Collapsible Coffee Drip CS-113

Snow Peak

amazon.com

$29.95


Stainless steel and foldable, this coffee maker is ideal for camping and allows you to enjoy your favorite coffee wherever you may be. Simply insert filter and coffee grounds, place it on top of your mug, and pour hot water.

Ti-double 450 Mug

Snow Peak Japanese Titanium 600 Mug, Made in Japan, Ultralight for Camping and Backpacking

Snow Peak

amazon.com

$59.95


The double-wall insulation of Snowpeak’s titanium mug keeps hot beverages hot and cold beverages cold for a long time while not transferring the inside temperature of the mug to the outside (so you don’t burn your fingers). The foldable handles make this mug easily packable.


Now that your sleeping, eating, relaxing, and coffee needs are covered, the only thing left to do is jump on your favorite bicycle and head off for a day of climbing mountains and sweeping views. It also probably doesn’t hurt to grab a portable power station, in case you don’t want to run your car the entire time you’re camping.



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