20 Items That Will Improve Your Car Camping Trip 1

“To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug.”

– Helen Keller

Although carpets of pine needles can be enjoyable, bringing along your “Persian rug” might not be such a bad idea either.  Although certainly not necessary, little luxuries can make your camping trip much more pleasant and relaxing.

You probably will not want to bring all twenty of these items on one trip, but picking your favorite few is a good idea.


This list is divided into six categories:

  • Shelter
  • Heating/Cooking
  • Food
  • Personal Items
  • Other Useful Items


Tent Repair Kit

If you tent gets a tear or a broken zipper, a tent repair kit can be crucial. Although you may never need it, this kit could potentially save your trip from an untimely end.

Air/Foam Mattress

These mattresses will make it possible to get a good night’s sleep providing a comfortable spot to rest.  It is hard to sleep well with a rock digging into your back.

Air Pump

If you bring an air mattress, you will certainly want to bring a pump.

Although you probably can, in a pinch, blow your mattress up with lung power only, a pump will save your time and energy for more important things – like taking a hike.



A good saw can be useful when building your campfire. If your firewood is too long for the fire pit, a saw will shorten it much faster than a hatchet (which is included on the essentials list).


If you are planning to have a barbeque, charcoal will obviously be important.

Lighting Fluid

Don’t forget the lighting fluid to start your charcoal fire!

Citronella Candle

These candles do an amazing job of removing mosquitoes.

Even if you have only a few mosquitoes, a citronella candle is very useful, but, if you have lots of mosquitoes, it becomes almost necessary.


Can Opener

If you bring any canned food, remember to bring a can opener. Nothing is more frustrating driving all the way to a store just for a can opener.

Thermal Jug

If you like hot drinks, a thermos will help prolong the heat.  On the other hand, you might not need a thermos if you drink quickly enough.

Personal Items


I personally am not a big photographer, but some people love snapping pictures of everything. If you are one of those people, you will certainly want to remember your camera.

Alarm Clock

Depending on your sleep habits, you might want to bring an alarm clock with you. On the other hand, you could just sleep in longer.

Picnic Blanket

If the area you are camping in is wet, a picnic blanket can provide a clean, dry place to sit. Just remember to put it under cover when it rains!

Folding Chairs

If you dislike the idea of sitting on the ground (even with a blanket), you should bring a folding chair. If they are left in the rain, however, folding chairs can quickly become soggy messes, so be careful.


If you keep a journal, you will not want to leave it behind. In fact, you may even what to start a journal just for this trip.

Pen & Paper

From drawing maps to writing to-do lists to playing games (such as tic-tac-toe), pens and paper are almost sure to come in handy sometime on your trip.


If you are like me, you will not want to spend a day – much less an entire trip – without a couple of books for company.

Even if you are not much of a book worm, bring one or two along –  just in case you decide to read.


When you are out camping and hiking, you should take the opportunity to stop occasionally and simply look around.

Other Useful Items

Small Broom

This will be effective in sweeping out your tent at the end of your trip. You will not want to leave your tent dirty for your next trip.


Bring plenty of sports equipment along. Balls and Frisbees take up little space and provide hours of useful fun.


Board games should also be considered. Although you will probably want to be outside most of the time, indoor games become important if it rains.

This is the second post in my two part series on the “ultimate” car camping list. Be sure to also bring the forty-four essential items explained in part one!

Discussion Question

Although I have tried to make this list as complete as possible, I am sure that I missed at least a few useful items.

What extra item(s) do you include on your camping list?

One comment on “20 Items That Will Improve Your Car Camping Trip

  1. Reply Jason V Jun 7,2010 12:43 PM

    Espresso maker, stove top / fire version. :)

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