Car camping, New Zealand

Ethan Stewart

Car camping, New Zealand

Getting Your Camping Act Dialed

Tips for the Perfect Car Camping or Backpacking Adventure

Like most good things on this planet, proper bliss-inducing camping requires a bit of preparation. However, before you light out for that proverbial territory ahead (or the seaside state park up the coast), it is important to identify just what type of camping you plan to do. That is to say, are you “car camping” (i.e., pitching a tent a short distance from your rig), or are you doing things backpacking-style (i.e., transporting all your supplies and shelter under your own steam to a remote campsite). Once you’ve chosen your approach, these simple tips (which exclude the obvious — a tent, sleeping bag, headlamp, and first-aid kit) will help ensure that your next excursion into the great outdoors is a good one.

Car Camping

• Hit up a thrift store or raid your lesser-used kitchen supplies to put together a tight and transportable outdoor kitchen on the cheap. A small cutting board; a paring knife; two sets of silverware; a small metal pot; salt, pepper, and Old Bay seasoning; and a Tupperware container that holds it all (and also doubles as a dish-washing station) are critical.

• A five-day cooler. The name says it all: These storage lockers keep ice icy (and thus your food and drink fresh) for five days even in the desert.

• A two-burner propane stove. Companies like Coleman and Camp Chef make pretty efficient versions of this car-camping essential. Put one of these in your quiver, and the wonders of bacon, coffee, and stir-fry are available to you anytime, anywhere.


GSI’s Pinnacle Dualist. Weighing just a hair over 21 ounces, this all-inclusive package features a Teflon 1.8-liter pot, strainer top, two bowls, two insulated mugs, a pair of spoons and forks, and enough space to store a fuel canister and a small burner inside. Seriously, this thing is a game changer.

• Big Agnes sleeping pad. Though they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, the premise is always the same — they pack up small, weigh around 22 ounces, and inflate to provide you 2.5 inches of glorious cushioned and durable comfort when sleeping on the ground.

• Box wine. If having a relaxing glass of vino when in the wild is your bag, well, there is no better option from both the weight and waste perspective than box wine. Simply pull the bladder out of the box and throw it in your pack. You can even use it as a pillow.

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