With the celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday this year and everyone having free access to Canada’s National Parks and National Historic Sites with the free-for-this-year-only Discovery Pass, campsites and hiking trails are sure to be extra busy this summer! If you aren’t up for a long camping trip, car camping can be a great alternative. This type of camping is great for those with larger groups, children or elderly people—as well as for those that are either not physically fit enough or not interested in a grueling week of hiking 10 to 25km per day.
So, what do you need in order to have an enjoyable car-camping trip?
Check out this list of Car Camping Essentials
1) Something to sleep in—a tent, an RV/camper, or similar.
An MSR Three-Person Tent seen with my Sand-Free Multi-Mat, used to sit on while eating/relaxing.
2) Something to eat—you don’t have to have a bbq, stove or campfire, non-heated food works well, too. You can pack sandwiches, chips, etc. or get more creative. I prefer to take a small camping stove and some food that I want to heat up:
A Gigapower Manual Stove by Snow Peak sits on top of a can of fuel and is extremely light (great for backcountry camping) and portable. I also like Snow Peak‘s titanium pots, which are light and durable.
3) Something to sleep on. You don’t necessarily have to buy sleeping bags and pads if you are just car camping. Instead, you can bring along your comforters/duvets, blankets and pillows from home. Camping in the Rocky Mountains, it tends to get very cold at night, so I prefer to have my mummy sleeping bag and a comfy Thermarest blow-up pad to cushion me from the hard ground.
4) Lighting. I like using headlamps (good for heading to the toilet in the dark), but also portable flashlights and lanterns for inside the tent. We’ve had our LED headlamps for 10 years now. There are new, fancier ones out there, but ours get the job done well enough.
5) Entertainment. I usually find myself content just sitting and enjoying my friends’ company while we stare at our natural surroundings, but I also enjoy watching movies (on a laptop, iPad or iPhone), reading or writing whilst on a camping trip. These activities are nice if you plan on staying at the campsite for more than 1 night, especially, or you don’t plan on hiking or walking much during the day.
6) Napkins and Plastic Bags. These are needed for when you’re eating and for your garbage, which should never be left in the tent with you (nor outside. . .and that goes for food of any kind, too).
7) Water, and possibly a filter. There may or may not be running water where you go camping. . .and you may or may not want to boil it. I am currently looking for a water filter that isn’t too clunky to come with me backcountry camping.
8) Appropriate clothing for the season/weather
- Comfy shoes, for hiking/walking—even to the outhouse/port-o-potty.
- Light rain jacket that’s windproof (this is something I like to keep in the trunk of my car for emergencies)
- Lightweight gloves
- Light layers of clothing that can easily be added to or removed as it gets warmer/cooler
- Titanium sporks—we’ve had our Snow Peak ones for 10 years and love them for work lunches and camping trips.
- a Cooler for keeping drinks and snacks cold—great for the drive to the campsite, picnics along the way, etc.
- gloves, booties, warm clothing
What’s on your car camping essentials list?