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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Car Camping Gear List

    This subject comes up periodically and so here is the newest version of this list:

    Moderator Judy's & Larrison's Car Camping Gear list

    Packing the Trunk (by RoadTrip Advisors: Judy, Larrison, Laura, Brad, Michael, & Mark) Plus, more commentary and suggestions from RoadTripper601, Uclid and many others. A great primer for packing your trunk.

    The "perfect" tent for roadtripping

    Personal Cabana Towel (PCT) An essential tool, if there EVER was one!

    Travel Sized Products -- Is this a good idea? (posted by bluehighways)

    Others to follow...

    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 04-14-2007 at 02:38 PM. Reason: added some navigational links

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default To be fair, that was my short list

    I gave them my short list because it sounded like they wouldn't want to be bogged down with too much to get back home on the airplane with (or to ship).

    To be honest, my camping list varies depending on the trip. A roadtrip where I'm only camping as a place to spend the night requires far different supplies than a regular camping trip. I'd pack a lot more if I was doing several days in a campground. But here's what I usually pack for road trip car camping:

    * tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, pillow, extra blanket (I tend to get cold at night)
    * telescoping camping chair
    * small battery-operated lantern (I rarely take propane ones on roadtrips and this one is always in my car anyway as part of my regular emergency supplies) and extra batteries. I like to read before going to sleep and you shouldn't use propane lanterns in a tent...that's a huge fire hazard
    * If I think I might take the time to cook: small 1-burner propane cookstove, backpacker-style cooking set, a few of those cheap "Gladware" type of plastic containers in various sizes, a scrubber, small bottle of Camp-Suds for cleaning the pots/pans and other cleaning uses, a small backpacker's style salt/paper/other spices container, can opener, rubber scraper, spatula, large cooking spoon, small plastic cutting board, lots of those little individual portion sizes of mayo, ketchup, and mustard like you get at fastfood places so I don't have to worry about refrigeration or spilling, plastic utensils, paper plates and bowls, and a few paper cups (NOT styrofoam, I feel wasteful enough using paper and styrofoam is very unfriendly to the environment, imho). All this fits in a small duffle bag.
    * If I know I won't be bothering to cook but just want to prepare a variety of foods out of my cooler: a couple cheap "Gladware" style containers, knife, a few paper plates/bowls/cups, plastic utensils, the mayo/ketchup/mustard packets, the salt/pepper/spice container, can opener, and a small plastic cutting board
    * cooler (both 12-volt and small, collapsible ice chest)
    * 1st aid kit (always in car)
    * flashlight with extra batteries (always in car)

    Gosh, I think that's it. If I think of something else, I'll come back and edit.

    ETA: I thought of something. I can't stand buying new batteries for everything all the time (camera, pda, flashlights). I bought an inexpensive 12-volt battery charger that can charge up batteries on the road. This has saved me tons of money. I love it. It only does the smaller AA and AAA batteries but that is what I use most of anyway. If you do this, don't forget to turn it off/unplug it when you're stopped for a significant amount of time, especially overnight, as it is a battery drain when the car is turned off.
    Last edited by PNW Judy; 05-07-2008 at 02:09 PM. Reason: Added info

  3. #3
    carel05 Guest


    thanks for that information...

  4. #4

    Default Thanks

    Thanks for the list. I'm off to the 24 Heures Du Mans tomorrow so it's got me thinking about what I need to pack now. Which is good as I usually end up running round the house at 4am grabbing things, only to get there and realise I've forgotten something obvious, like... money!

  5. Default

    Hello everyone,

    My list is more geared toward tent camping as that is what I like. Regardless, the same stuff should apply to both. Hope this helps.

    1. Backpack
    a. Check to make sure the pack is secured snugly to the frame. If there are any broken parts, get them fixed before heading into the field.
    b. Bring a small repair kit into the field for the pack. (This should include twine, duck tape, and some additional clamp pins).

    2. Sleeping gear
    a. Sleeping bag: Check the bag to ensure there are no holes. Ensure it is covered securely by a container and an additional trashbag to keep it protected from water, especially if crossing a stream or river.
    b. Air Mattress or Cot: Make sure these do not have any holes and are in working order. (Always bring some duck tape to help patch any holes).

    3. Tent
    a. Check to ensure you have all the parts to the tent.
    b. Check to make sure no holes are in the tent.
    c. Determine if additional padding needs to be included for weather conditions.

    4. Knife
    a. Make sure the knife has a sharp blade and its locking mechanism works properly.
    b. It also pays to have two knives. One should be a multi-function knife like a swiss army knife and the other should be a strong single blade. Both come in handy in the field.

    5. Hand Axe
    a. Make sure the hand axe is sharp and has an appropriate sheath that is fastened securely. Bring a thick towel in the field. This can be used as a substitute sheath if the other sheath breaks down.
    b. As a matter of practice, a full sized axe is usually unnecessary. However, if you are planning on building lean-tos or other types of large sleeping structures, this will be the better way to go.

    6. Clothes (The actual amount should be adjusted for length of camping trip)
    a. Long sleeve shirt. It should have a durable fabric that can breathe fairly easily.
    b. Long sleeved pants. These should also be of a durable fabric that are designed to go into the brush. These pants should stretch all the way down to your boots.
    c. Additional layering, such as long johns or thermals should be used when appropriate.
    d. Underwear and undershirts.
    e. Sleeping gear: In the summer, some shorts and a t-shirt will be fine; however, in the winter a pair of pajamas will be better.
    f. Socks: Have two kinds one that is a basic insulator and then have wool socks covering them.
    g. Hat: Essentially you want a hat that is unlikely to get caught on brush and will provide some sun protection for your face. A baseball cap will work fine in the summer although a wool cap would work better in the fall and winter.
    h. Poncho or rain jacket: This can also double as extra padding for your sleeping arrangement or used as a tarp for the fire.
    i. Belt: Should be a durable belt that is in good working order.

    7. Shoes:
    a. Hiking boots. Bring a durable pair that are waterproof and have a good rubber sole intact.
    b. Running shoes. Bring a durable pair to that is easy to slip on during the night to use the restroom or to wear around camp.
    c. Extra pair of shoelaces. Bring an extra pair of laces for both shoes.

    8. Canteen:
    a. Should be able to hold at least 2 quarts of water and provide either a strap to sling over your shoulder or a clip to attach to a belt.

    9. Compass, GPS and map:
    a. Make sure both items are in working order.
    b. If GPS, needs additional batteries or will need to be recharged, plan accordingly to take this into account.
    c. Map should be the most recent version you can find and should accurately show changes in topography.
    i. Make sure you understand how to read the map prior to going into the field.
    ii. Know where the nearest hospital is on the map.
    iii. Have pre-established boundaries in your camping area that will let you know if you get lost. A stream or road can work very effectively as a boundary point.

    10. First Aid Kit:
    a. Should include bandages, band aids and some medical tape.

    11. Flashlight and Lantern:
    a. Basically you really only need two sources of light.
    i. A small flashlight to be able to look through your park in the dark.
    ii. A large flashlight that can be used for walking at night.
    b. A Lantern can be used for camp if needed.

    12. Other Items:
    a. Bandanas or Handkerchiefs. These can double as bandages or slings.
    b. Bug repellant and a fly swatter. The fly swatter may come in handy at the campsite as flies are attracted to grease and cooked food.
    c. Sunscreen.
    d. Binoculars.
    e. Strike anywhere matches in a water proof case. It is still a good idea to include a strike box and to divide the matches into two areas so to prevent the likelihood of water damage or losing all your matches.

    13. Cooking Equipment: The amount and supplies will vary depending on your needs. Here, are the essential items:
    a. Frying pan
    b. Large pot
    c. Plate and bowl
    d. Fork and spoon
    e. Small pot to boil water, tea, coffee, etc.
    f. A basic boy scout mess kit will cover all of these items except the large pot.

    14. Food:
    a. Cooler: Will store food and keep ice cold. The type of cooler and amount of ice will vary depending on your cooking needs.
    b. Water. Even if you are getting your water from a water source, it is a good idea to bring some water on hand.
    i. Determine if water purification tablets will be needed.
    c. Water jug. This can be used to house water at campsite. It can be propped on a stump or secured to a tree with rope.
    d. Weight of Food Concerns. When selecting food supplies take into account their weight in choosing supplies. If weight is a concern, try to choose foods that have the water already taken out of it including dried fruit, drink powders, boxed foods.
    e. Garbage bags. These will be used for waste and rain protection.

    15. Repair Kit: This should include twine, duck tape, and a needle and thread.

    16. Toiletries:
    a. Wash cloth
    b. Toilet paper
    c. Baby Wipes: Can be used to clean hands and face.
    17. Cell phone:
    a. Bring one that has a great range for the area that can be used if an emergency phone call is needed.

    Jeff Marshall
    Last edited by RoadTripper Brad; 05-16-2008 at 06:45 PM. Reason: Removed URL, new comers are discouraged from posting links from personal sites until a rapport can be established

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Great list, Jeff!

    Lots of good stuff, especially hints toward safety on the trail. Good even for car campers who take day hikes!

  7. #7

    Default When fast food stops are not an option.

    Hi all,
    I am actually leaving in a few minutes on yet another camping adventure with our kids. I just never gets old. I read some great posts here and some fantastic check lists, and wanted to add something we use while driving to our camping destination with our kids. I found it on a trucker website. It's called the burton stove and it's a 12v lunchbox 'crockpot'. Our situation is a little more complicated as two of our three kids have severe food allergies, so we can't stop off at a restaurant along the way or even let them eat any of the freezedried camping food, else we end up in an ER unit. Yup, I have to prepare it all. I found a few websites that cater to moms like me who enjoy taking on the challenge of camping with little kids too but I look forward to learning more on this site. Thanks for your help!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Welcome.

    Quote Originally Posted by MomNlovNit View Post
    Hi all,
    I am actually leaving in a few minutes on yet another camping adventure with our kids.
    Have a great time !

    Hello and welcome to the R.T.A forums.

    I look forward to learning more on this site.
    It's sure is full of useful info.

    Let us know how your trip went.

  9. Default Road Trip Freedom

    I LOL'ed remembering the numerous road trips I took with my father years ago, comparing our "gear list" to those provided here.

    We took, well, nothing, except perhaps a couple of cans of Hawaiian Punch, a bottle of water (sometimes), maybe a Slim Jim or a package of Twinkies, and cigarettes (for my father, of course). My dad did keep a few basic tools in the car; but otherwise we only had whatever random stuff had ended up in the car for various reasons that hadn't been cleaned out from other activities.

    We spent a lot of time roadtripping the southwestern desert regions, including Baja and Central America (sometimes by private plane, an especially cool way to "road trip"). In those days, these regions had little settlement, and were still wild, isolated, and beautiful. You ate when you came upon a place that sold food (almost always chili beans). If you didn't eat three meals in a day - or even one meal in a day - you didn't panic or get hysterical about it. If you really got hungry, you just cooked up a rattlesnake or ate some cactus fruits. If you couldn't find a motel, you slept in the car, and "showered" in the morning with a water hose at a gas station. You went out there to experience the place, as it was, and in the process you learned just how competent, inventive, strong, and free you were.

    It was not uncommon for our car to break down in the middle of nowhere. In the days before cellphones and settlement, that meant you were really isolated. I remember one breakdown in the basin of Death Valley, due to a radiator leak. We had no additional water, so my father gave me water from the radiator to drink. I lay under the car for shade. It took him quite a while to think up how to fix it, as we were much too far from civilization to walk out safely. Eventually he found a bunch of little packets of pepper in the glove compartment (the kind you get from fast-food restaurants), which he poured into the radiator. Apparently this combined with his other tinkering temporarily sealed the leak sufficiently to enable us to drive out. Another time in the Mohave, my father was able to replace a broken fan belt with a pair of my mother's pantyhose which he found in the car.

    I wanted to bring this up because, while I don't encourage people to put themselves at risk, I think that people sometimes worry far too much about bringing "everything" on a trip. Now, I suppose this depends on the person. If you really aren't good at winging it, you don't want to take a chance. However, a traditional road trip is meant an on-the-fly experience that isn't overly planned. You just go, fly by the seat of your pants, and remind yourself of how competent you are to handle your life. That's a gift that a road trip has to offer you. Overplanning dilutes the concept from a classic road trip to just a "trip". Besides, considering how built-up the country is now, just how much trouble can you get into with a cellphone, an ATM and drugstore likely less than five miles away from anywhere? :)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default true but

    Welcome to the RTA Forum, Goldwave!

    While I think people can certainly over think and over pack what is needed for a roadtrip, I think one of the things you're missing is that the previous posts are talking about gear specifically for camping.

    While were looking back fondly on your own history, Your story does tell an interesting story itself about the dangers of being unprepared, and the very serious situation you found yourself in during a trip to Death Valley. While its easy to say you made it out ok, so everything worked out, the reality is that you are lucky. The situation you described is very much the sort of situation of being cavalier and unprepared where people have been seriously injured and even died. I will also note that if you did in fact drink water from a radiator, then your roadtrip car was not using any coolant and thus its not surprising that you had a break down. If your car had proper coolant and water, then you'd be drinking poison. Its also easy to look back at the "good old days" where cars were basic enough machines that you could make basic repairs, where as today, with the number of computers and the compact areas inside the hood, there are simply many things that can't be fixed without specialized tools and equiptment that are unavailable on the side of the road.

    There certainly is a line between worrying too much and taking unneeded risk. People often are too worried about technology as their safety device that they don't even think about the basics. (the number of people on the road who couldn't change a tire without using a cell phone to call for help is frightening) However, if adding a few putting a few items in the trunk makes a person feel more secure, and thus have a good time, I don't really see how that would ever detract from what a roadtrip is all about.

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