Top 7 Car Camping Essentials for Your 2024 Trip

With innovative camping gear and equipment, car camping has never been more comfortable! Ever since car camping became popular, the market has been flooded with unique gear and equipment versions. For this reason, picking the right camping essentials has become a challenge. You’ll feel at home even on the road with the right camping essentials on your next adventure.

We know the regret of spending money on a product that you don’t even need. So, before you go for a backcountry camping trip this weekend, here’s a list of the car camping essentials you must have on your 2024 trip. This list can help you avoid wasting money and time shopping for your next camping adventure.

1. Rooftop tent


What do you imagine your next car camping to be like? Is it you sleeping in a tent or inside your car? If you choose the tent route, a rooftop tent is your best option. It comes in different sizes, so when choosing which one to buy, consider your car and how spacious you want the tent to be.

Many rooftop tents are spacious, ideal for stargazing, and comfortable to sleep in. These tents fit most vehicle rack systems. In addition, they have secure mounting hardware that is easy to install. Rooftop tents also come in either soft or hard shells. Soft-shell tents are the most common type, which folds in half. A telescoping ladder supports one-half of the tent, extending to the ground. The other half is installed on the roof rack of your car.

On the other hand, hard-shell tents are set up by only releasing a few latches. They are easy to keep away, making them an excellent choice for stop-and-go car camping.

2. Sleeping bags and air mattress

If you prefer sleeping in your car when camping, you’ll definitely need an air mattress. There are a lot of air mattresses you can look into, but it’s best to choose one that is easy to pack up at the end of the trip. You can also find ones that fit perfectly in the backseat or trunk of a car, like some of the cars found at Meanwhile, some people don’t like packing up an air mattress after camping. If you’re one of them, a sleeping bag might be your best option. Sleeping bags are simple and compact, and are an excellent option if you don’t have enough space for an air mattress in your car.

3. Lanterns


Another must-have item on your next car camping adventure is lanterns. Having this item around will allow you to enjoy camping outdoors even at night. The best options are rechargeable and solar lanterns for well-lit and cozy campsite lighting. They are also available in different sizes, designs, and brightness levels. Some models work on USB power sources, which means you can light your campsite even with a power bank. You may also need a headlamp, flashlight, and some string lights. Glow sticks come in handy in some situations, too.

When buying lighting devices, consider the light options and whether they use rechargeable or alkaline batteries. Most headlamps utilize alkaline batteries, but many have charging ports, too. If you use a battery-operated device, take out the batteries before storing them away. Batteries tend to rust if we leave them inside devices.

4. Portable cooler

You will need a solid, portable cooler, so your food remains fresh and drinks cool. The minimal requirement is a cooler that stays cold for a long time. Besides, nothing beats a cold drink on a hot day outdoors.

Choose a portable cooler with enough capacity to store the food and drinks you’ll need during your trip. Some portable coolers have features that make them more convenient during a car camping adventure. You may also consider buying a backpack cooler to bring on short excursion trips. Unlike portable coolers, they are easier to carry and are more convenient for hiking.

Some backpack coolers tend to leak, especially the cheap ones. It’s best to invest in a good-quality backpack cooler to avoid inconveniences during your trip.

5. Camping stove


A camping stove is just of the many ways to cook during car camping. Unlike what most people imagine cooking in a camp would be like, camping stoves today bring a whole new meaning to gourmet. You can choose from camp stoves with different fuel options, price ranges, and new features. Some stoves are also larger and intended for front-country car camping, while others are lightweight backcountry stoves.

Since it is overwhelming to decide which one is worthwhile, asking someone you know about the camp stove they used for a previous trip could make your search easier. Foods like eggs, bacon, and meat are among the highlights of camping, so choose a camping stove that is functional, reliable, and convenient to cook with.

6. Kitchenware and dinnerware

You should not forget to bring essential kitchenware and dinnerware on your car camping trip. Having a complete set with you will make your camping even more enjoyable. It’ll also allow you to avoid the stress of not having anything to hold your food.

When choosing camping dinnerware, you may encounter different types, such as metallic ones. These are lightweight and compact. Due to their features, they are ideal for hiking and camping. You may also find camping dinnerware made of plastic, wood, stainless steel, etc.

Mess kits are also popular nowadays. Usually, they are complete with every kitchenware and dinnerware you need. The good news is that mess kits don’t cost much. You can even choose disposables made of paper, plastic, or wood for more convenient meals while car camping.

7. Coffee maker


You don’t need to sacrifice your morning coffee when car camping. Sitting in front of a crackling morning fire with a cup of fragrant coffee is definitely one of the relaxing things about trips. Basically, you would want a durable, portable coffee maker. You can find different coffee makers such as coffee presses, drip, and percolators.


Overall, bringing everything you need is the surefire way to enjoy the rest of the car camping trip. Make sure that everything is portable, and as much as possible, minimize the things you pack. Aside from these essentials, be sure to bring enough food and drinks.

About Nina Smith