What to Pack for Car Camping

This handy video with checklist will help you make sure you have everything you need for a fun, easy and safe car camping trip.

5 Min. Watch | Camping

Step 1: The Essentials

These are the essentials you’ll need for car camping:

• Tent and footprint

• Sleeping bag & pillow

• Sleeping pad

• Camp chairs

• Camp table if your site doesn’t have a picnic table

• Headlamps, flashlight, camp lantern (with extra batteries)

• Cord for making a clothesline; plus, extra cord for possible repairs

• Tent & sleeping pad repair kit

• Multitool

• Duct tape

• Dry bags & watertight containers

Step 2: Your Camp Kitchen

Cook gourmet meals right at your campsite with this gear:

• 2-burner camp stove with fuel and matches/lighter

• 2 pots and a frying pan or griddle

• Plates, bowls, mugs and camp silverware – these can be from home, or you can buy sets designed for camping if space is a concern

• Tablecloth for covering dirty picnic table

• Water container (& filter if no potable water is available)

• Cooler and ice

• Camp sink/wash bin for washing dishes

• Biodegradable dish soap

• Dish towels

• Trash bags

Step 3: Clothing

Bringing the right clothing and personal gear will help you stay warm and comfortable:

• Synthetic moisture wicking, quick-drying base layers – leave the cotton at home

• Rain jacket and pants

• Warm jacket, hat & gloves

• Warm, dry footwear with a spare pair if one gets wet

• Water bottles

• First aid kit

• Toiletry kit

• Sun block

• Insect repellent

• Sanitizer and wipes

• Books or other reading material

Step 4: Fun

It’s a great idea to bring some fun camp games, music or even a camp hammock:

• Games like cornhole, ring toss, bocce or croquet

• Portable Bluetooth speaker for playing your favorite music

• Hammock for that afternoon nap

• Guitar or other instrument for campfire entertainment




Logo, L L Bean. What to pack for car camping. A complete camping site is set up in the woods, with tent, picnic table, chairs around a campfire, and supplies galore. Mackenzie, Camp Icon, pops out.


Hey, everybody. Mackenzie here to go through the ins and outs of one of my all-time favorite activities in the entire world, car camping. We're going to go through the essentials of everything you need to pack so that you can be as happy in the woods as I am. Let's go.



Text, What to pack: The basics. Mackenzie sits inside the tent, surrounded by bags of camping supplies.


So here are my absolute must-haves for any functioning campsite. You need your sleeping bag, pillows, extra blankets, your sleeping pad to stay extra comfortable. In my pockets here, I've got my stuff sacks. I have my keys, flashlights. Oh, and I have my headlamps.


All stuffed in the pockets of the tent. She shines the headlamp in her face and holds up a mini-flashlight.


Crucial if you need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Books for reading. I have a lantern.


She tugs on the lantern hanging from the ceiling of the tent.


Oh, and my tent, of course. I need a tent. Don't forget your tent.


Mackenzie peeks out from under the tent.


Don't forget your tent footprint. This will keep your tent nice and dry.


Text, Tip: Use a mat to keep dirt out!


Also, it's a good idea to put a Waterhog mat outside of your tent. Keep your shoes out here. Socks inside the tent. That way, there's no dirt or grime that gets messy on the inside.



What to pack: The kitchen.

Mackenzie pours a cup of coffee from a percolator.


All right. I take food really seriously when I'm car camping. There is something about being in the woods that makes you super hungry. And when you're off swimming and hiking, you want to come back to a really delicious, warm meal.

So what I bring with me is my two-burner stove, my percolator, pots and pans in my kit here, spatula tongs. I've got my cutting board. I have plastic bins in here. I have non-refrigerated food, trash bags, aluminum foil, all those kitchen items. I've got my water bin here. I've got my dish buckets. And I have my cooler. So important to your camping.


Text, Tip: Save the pasta for last!


So one tip I have for you, bring a box of pasta for the last night of camping. Use all the food that's going to go bad, anything that needs to stay cool at the beginning of your camping trip. And then for the last night, throw everything that's left over into a delicious pasta feast.

Other things you might want, camp chair, camp table, cord for making a clothesline, tent and sleeping bag repair kit, multi-tool, duct tape for making repairs, and dry bags.



What to pack: Clothing.




Mackenzie sits in the trunk, duffel bag on her lap.


So it might sound obvious, but I have been in the position where I brought the wrong clothes camping, and I really wished that I had a rain jacket. So let me go through everything that I bring when I'm camping just in case the weather turns.

Obviously, you have all of your creature comforts, anything that you're going to want to hang out around camping. I always have my base layers, definitely synthetic over cotton. These are quick-drying, moisture-wicking, always good to have. I have my rain pants here, rain jacket. I always carry a warm jacket as well.


Text, Tip: Bring warmth ... even in summer! Mackenzie displays all the items in the duffel bag's side pocket.


I always have my gloves and hat. Yes, even in summer, I actually will sleep in a hat most of the time. It gets pretty cold at night, depending on where you are. So I'll often spend a lot of time around camp in a winter hat.


And what's in the other side pocket.


All my toiletries, things to keep me beautiful. I've got my sunscreen. My bug spray, important. My camp wash. What else do I have in here? Oh, I've got a first aid kit. I have my wipes, my toiletry kit, rain boots, and a daypack. Always good to have a daypack so you can pack up water, snacks, lunch. Hopefully, you're doing some hiking. Always a good thing to have with you.



What to pack: Fun & Games.

Mackenzie sits in a folding chair, perusing a book.


So that's what a sturgeon looks like. Of course, there are so many fun things to do outside, but sometimes you just want to kick it around the campsite. So don't forget your entertainment like a page-turner, musical instrument, and games like Cribbage and Cornhole.


She tosses a beanbag into the Cornhole box. Made it into the hole!


Yes. Now you're ready to get out there and car camp like a pro. Click on the link below for a helpful checklist that goes over everything we went over today. And I'm going to get back to cooking this more.



Mackenzie roasts two marshmallows over the campfire.

The flames dance and flicker. Toasty!

She rotates the marshmallow skewer around and around to get the right amount of crisp.

Mackenzie in the tent, wrapped in a sleeping bag, raises her head. She tosses a pillow at the camera.

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