13 Must-Have Car Essentials for Your Next Car Camping Trip


If this is your first-time car camping, it could be challenging to remember everything you need. To help make things easier, we've compiled a list of all the necessities you could need, along with some helpful extras you might want to bring on your upcoming camping trip.


Essential Car Camping Packing List


The following is a list of car camping necessities that can come in handy during your trip:


1) Tent

woman sitting in tent on car roof

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This is one of the most important items to carry when car camping. When choosing a tent, think about how many people will be using it. Since tent sizes are often labeled "per person," you should get a "2 person" tent if you intend to spend the night inside with a friend. 

Additionally, be sure to have an emergency tent ready in case your primary shelter fails. These tents are intended to keep you warm while also shielding you from the elements.


2) Car Emergency Kit


Another useful item to have when car camping is a car emergency kit. These kits consist of everything you need in case your car breaks down including jumper cables, flashlights, tow rope, a seat belt cutter, a tire pressure gauge, and more. Having a car emergency kit on hand ensures that you're not stuck with a broken-down car in the middle of nowhere. Additionally, these kits come in a variety of sizes, making it simple to select one that will fit in your glove box.


3) First Aid Supplies

first aid kit

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Anything can happen while you're camping. When there is no instant access to medical help, having a first aid kit on standby can save a life. When selecting a first aid kit, make sure that it has the basics such as bandages, gauze, blister patches, disinfecting cream, nitrile gloves, over-the-counter pain relievers, etc.


4) Paper Maps and a Compass


If your phone fails or you are in an area without cell coverage, a paper topography map or road map might be a lifesaver for navigating. It's also a good idea to have a compass, especially if you're traveling alone, so you can find your way back if you get lost.


5) Sleeping Bag

woman lying in sleeping bag in tent

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The next important item to carry when car camping is a comfortable sleeping bag. If the weather is going to be chilly, be sure to also bring an extra blanket or duvet from home.


6) Toiletries


Maintaining your health when camping or traveling requires good hygiene. Basic items to include in your toiletries are a toothbrush, toothpaste, baby wipes, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper.


7) Trash Bags or Grocery Bags

full garbage bag on camp site

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The "pack it in, pack it out" camping motto is universal, though it varies slightly from park to park or campsite to campsite. Before leaving a camping site, it's crucial to pick up your rubbish and leave no trace. To separate your trash, recycling, and compost, keep at least 3 trash bags in your car.


8) Sleeping Pad, Air Bed, or Sleeping Foam


To get a good night's rest, you need a comfortable sleeping surface. If you intend to spend the night in a tent, it is recommended that you use an inflated sleeping pad designed for camping. If you want to sleep in your car, there are some excellent air bed alternatives that will fit well in the backseat. An alternative would be to purchase memory foam and a topper, cut it to fit, then cover it with a sheet.


9) Paracord Bracelet

paracord bracelet

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You never know when a rope can come in handy. Although you most likely won't ever need it, keeping it on hand is a good idea. Additionally, many paracord bracelets, like the one from Emergency USA, come with emergency tools including a compass, a whistle, and a fire starter.


10) Utensils for Cooking


If you plan to cook while on your outdoor adventure, bring tongs, spatulas, and camping utensils so that you can prepare meals while camping on the grill or in a pan. You can also bring paper towels and dish soap to clean your cookware once you finish eating.


11) Shovel and Knife

using a knife to cut wood on camp site

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When camping, having a knife is always helpful for self-defense, chopping wood, meat, and rope, among other things. Additionally, a shovel or trowel is also useful for putting out fires and digging holes.


12) Water Bottle


It's essential to bring a reusable water bottle when camping. Make sure you also have a water filter. If you run out of water, you will need to filter some from a nearby water source, etc. In an emergency, purification tablets could also be useful.


13) Spare Tire

man with hands on spare tire

Credit: Envato Elements/ YuriArcursPeopleimages


Nothing is worse than finding yourself in the middle of nowhere with a flat tire. Although most vehicles have a spare tire in the trunk, it's a smart idea to double-check to make sure you're not left stranded.


Other Essential Items

campsite with bonfire

Credit: Envato Elements/ RossHelen


In addition to the above-mentioned essentials, you might want to consider carrying the following items as well:


  • Duct Tape
  • Trekking Poles
  • Folding Chair
  • Headlamp
  • Hand Warmers
  • Waterproof Bags for Electronics
  • Insect Repellant
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Scissor
  • Bear Spray
  • Warm Jacket
  • Socks
  • Extra Shoes




So there you have it—a list of car essentials you should always remember to bring when vehicle camping. Having these essentials will ensure that you are prepared for the journey. To stock up on emergency essentials for your next camping road trip, check out Emergency USA. We have everything you need, including paracord bracelets, emergency tents, and even car emergency kits.