What to Pack for a Car Camping Trip

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Just what is car camping? It’s when you pile all of your gear into a vehicle and rock up to a campground rather than putting it all in a backpack and hiking to a remote location to go wilderness camping. Camping season is a bit of a rite of passage here in Canada and I look forward to it every summer.

The best thing about car camping is that you’re not as limited in your gear. You can indulge in gourmet camp meals, bring extra blankets, or even bring that guitar for campfire entertainment.

Car camping is my preference because as much as I like nature and fresh air I also love creature comforts like indoor plumbing and sleeping on an air mattress rather than the ground.

With countless options for extras to bring, it’s important to have a minimal understanding of what you’ll need so that you can put the fun in functional on your camping trip.

You can also indulge a bit in your camping wardrobe. No need to bring just one extra set of clothes. It’s camping, with fashion, if you want it. With that in mind, here’s my car camping checklist you can go over when planning your next adventure.

Car Camping Packing Essentials

Comfy casual is the key here and thankfully, there are lots of trendy casual pieces right now. The vibe for summer 2022 is very much a mix of “14 year old boy” and “Dad mowing the lawn circa 1996”. Big sneakers, crew socks, denim cutoffs, oversized tees, ball caps…. Perfect for camping.

Since you’ll be spending most of your time outdoors you’ll want to have layering pieces. Leggings or sweatpants can replace bike shorts when the sun goes down. Oversized crewnecks are perfect for sitting around the campfire.

Ball caps and bucket hats do double duty as fashion piece and coverage for 2nd day campground hair.

I love Goodr sunglasses for camping since they come in so many cute designs and are also polarised and non-slip. Sport sunglasses that don’t look like sport sunglasses and don’t break the bank.

Download this packing list as a PDF

Beyond the Clothes


  • Tent / pegs / mallet
  • Hammock
  • Tarp & bungee cords/rope
  • Sleeping pad & pump
  • Sleeping bag
  • Pillow
  • Tent light
  • Lantern
  • Camp chairs


  • Camp stove & fuel
  • Camping pot & pan w/ lid
  • Dishes & utensils
  • Dish soap & cloth/sponge
  • Cooler & ice packs
  • Water jugs
  • Trash bags


  • Toilet paper
  • Dog poop bags (leave no trace)
  • Biodegradable soap
  • Dry shampoo
  • Headband, hat, hair ties
  • Cleansing wipes
  • Headlamp
  • Mosquito coils / Thermacell
  • Travel towel
  • Water filter / Life Straw
  • Deodorant
  • Toothbrush & toothpaste

Health & First Aid

  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • First Aid kit
  • Advil / Tylenol
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Sun hat

Tools & Gear

  • Hatchet & gloves
  • Knife
  • Repair kit (air mattress/tent patch)
  • First aid kit
  • Clothesline
  • 30 amp RV adapter
  • Extension cord (& power bar)
  • Duct tape

Campsite Extras

  • Kindling & firewood
  • BBQ lighter
  • Roasting sticks
  • Portable speaker
  • Battery packs
  • Deck of cards / crib board
  • Book / tablet
  • Journal / pen
  • Marshmallow roasting sticks
  • Binoculars
  • Star chart

Download this packing list as a PDF

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