Let’s face it, car camping is all about getting outdoors without having to sacrifice too many home comforts. Whether you’re just hanging out in nature or using your camp as a base to take epic treks, if you’re driving in, there’s no reason to deny yourself little luxuries like your own pillow, a roomy tent and a good cup of coffee in the morning. Our pick of the best car camping gear helps you plan your next camping trip in style, with tried and tested gear for sleeping and eating in the wild.
You don't need to go wild with an inflatable palace, but f you’re going to drive in on four wheels, there’s no need to squish yourself into a tiny backpacking tent either. For larger tents, we’re big fans of Sierra Designs Nomad 4 tent which is a little too heavy for backpacking, and roomy enough to fit two adults and two children. Two doors and two porches make it easy to pile in with all your gear and it can be erected in a matter of minutes so that you can get to building that campfire. Plus it’s good for three-seasons and holds up against high winds if you’re camping in the shoulder seasons.
Camping mattress: Robens Polarshield 120
For car camping, there’s absolutely no reason to be sleeping on a skinny foam sleeping pad unless you’re a glutton for punishment. The Robens Polarshield 120 is a self-inflating, sumptuous camping mattress that got full marks in our pick of the best camping mattresses. This mattress is thick, warm and easily one of the most comfortable we’ve tested. It is meant for one, so if you’re camping with a partner you’ll need one each, but since air mattresses tend to bounce you around a little whenever your buddy moves, you’ll get a better night’s sleep with two separate mattresses side-by-side.
Camping blanket: Rumpl NanoLoft Puffy Blanket
You can definitely use a traditional sleeping bag for your camping sleep system while car camping, but one of the nice parts of not worrying so much about space is that you can bring a blanket and proper pillows, too. You may not want to get your duvet from home wet and dirty, understandably, so a camping blanket can be a great choice. These blankets are built to insulate, and meant to be used outdoors, after all. Our new favorite is the Rumpl NanoLoft Puffy Blanket which looks great, keeps you extra toasty, and because it’s water resistant it will hold up against spills as well as a little damp. Plus, it’s easy just to chuck in the washing machine when you get home.
Coffee maker: Aeropress GO Travel Coffee Maker
If you’re going to car camping, there’s absolutely no reason at all why you should sacrifice your morning coffee ritual, and the Aeropress GO Travel Coffee Maker is one of our favorite camping coffee makers out there. It’s lightweight and packable, easy to use and makes a fabulous cup of coffee. You can make up to four shots of espresso at a time in just 30 seconds (once your water is boiled) and there’s virtually no cleanup required. This one might even replace your french press at home.
Camping grill/stove: Camp Chef Everest 2X
When it comes to cooking up a storm, you want something reliable, easy to use and quick to clean. The propane-fuelled Camp Chef Everest 2X is one of our favorite double-burner stoves that easily holds two large pots so you can have your rice and stew going at the same time. It has matchless ignition, wind screens for gusty days and operates a lot like your stove at home. Be the champion of the camping trip with this stove.
Camping mug: Yeti Rambler 14oz mug
A camping mug is a surprisingly personal experience. Do you like a streamlined mug that fits in your cupholder, a classic stainless steel mug that you can clip to your big backpack, or a big, meaty beverage carrier that can handle soup as well as tea? If you answered the latter, go for the Yeti Rambler 14oz mug. This beast is indestructible and while it’s too bulky for backpacking, we love lumbering around the campsite holding it in by its giant handle. It keeps drinks hot without burning your hands and cold with no condensation and is large enough to eat out of using a spoon.
Camping cooler: Yeti Tundra 35
When it comes to lugging all your food to camp, you’ll want to get your hands on a good cooler and those disposable polystyrene ones won’t do, for a number of reasons. The Yeti Tundra has long been considered the gold standard in hard-sided camping coolers due to its capacity to keep your food cold and its robust design, perfect for camping in the wild. The 35L capacity is a versatile enough size and this model will keep food and drinks cold for up to six days, so if you’re going for longer than a night, it’s a no-brainer. In fact, you might want two!
Camping table: Decathlon Folding Camping Table
If you’re staying in a developed campground, you’ll almost certainly have access to a picnic table, but if you’re dispersed camping (or wild camping in the UK), you’ll want to bring your own for meal times and honestly, it’s nice to have the extra surface area of a camping table wherever you are. Decathlon’s Folding Camping Table is a bigger table at a bargain price. It seats 4 - 6 campers and folds away with four handy (albeit not the sturdiest) stools inside it, making it great for food prep, meals, playing games and fixing gear.
Camping chair: Outwell Kentucky Lake camping chair
It doesn’t matter how many picnic benches there are at your disposal, you absolutely need your own camping chair. There’s nothing better for kicking back in with a cold brew at the end of the day, and you want something you can relax in late into the night if the campfire is still going. Your classic low-slung chair with cup holder that folds up easily definitely suffice, but if it’s comfort and something a bit different you’re seeking, check out the Outwell Kentucky Lake camping chair. This camping version of a nest egg armchair is so cozy you could hang out in it all day long. Lots of of padding, a tough frame and a removable headrest bring quality comfort, but it still folds up easily and packs away into a carry bag if you want to move spots.
Camping fire pit: BioLite Fire Pit
If you’ve already got your camping stove and a campfire, this will seem like overkill, but more and more these days, fire bans are in effect which means camping without a fire. You can actually kill two birds with one stone and invest in a wood-burning camping stove that you can cook over and gather round. The BioLite Fire Pit is button-operated for ease and takes four logs. It provides a wide, flat cooking surface as well as a source of warmth and light that keeps the bugs away and provides a space to hang out around.
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Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.