Best Car Camping Gear
Car camping is a great way to marry the adventure of camping with the comfort of home. With the proper gear, you can turn your car into the nicest and most luxurious tent that you have ever slept in. There are items out there that can help transform your backseat into a bed that rivals your bed from home, and awnings that affix to the back of your SUV to create a covered porch off of your makeshift bedroom. With the clever use of your front seat and power outlets, you can transform the front seat of your car into a kitchen.
This can also free your day for more outdoor adventuring because you aren’t going to be spending as much time setting everything up. Everyone has had a terrible experience trying to remember how to set up a tent as soon as you arrive at your destination. Just imagine a trip where the very first thing you get to do after getting out of the car after a long car ride is to change into your swimsuit and jump into the lake to shake off all that road stress. Not only does utilizing your vehicle means that you won’t have to exert the extra energy in setting up a site, but sleeping in a vehicle means that you will be more protected. If you are in an area where you aren’t sure of the people that are camping around you, or if you are afraid that the bears in that part of the mountain have learned to unzip tent zippers, then you know that you are safe behind the locked doors of your car.
- Rightline SUV
- High-quality materials
- Webetop Inverter
- Additional light
- Cooluli Mini Fridge
- 30 minutes to cool
10 Best Car Camping Gear Products
Rightline Gear SUV Tent
The idea behind this model of tent is that it provides all of the features of a normal tent, but it piggybacks off of your car so that you can still have all of the conveniences of your SUV such as the stereo, temperature control, and access to the cigarette lighter for small electric appliances and lights.
The tent itself is a high-quality tent that can be used alone or in conjunction with your SUV. It sports a bathtub flooring to protect you from water that can collect from dew or a rain shower in the middle of the night. It’s easy to install, and when you are done using it, it packs up and fits simply into an easy to carry duffel bag that comes with purchase.
This is one of the most expensive items to makes this list. If you look at it, however, you are playing the price for a full-fledged camping tent that has the ability to hook on to the back end of your car. With that in mind, this product is offered at an incredible value.
The Rightline SUV tent is only available in one color option: light grey with orange accents. It is big enough to sleep up to 4 adults, and measures 8 feet tall, 8 feet wide, and 7.2 feet tall. The guide to set up this tent is sewn into the product so that there is no risk of ever losing the setup instructions.
If you are looking for a tent that hooks on to the end of your car to create an ultra-tent, then the Rightline Gear SUV Tent will be a big hit with you and your fellow campers, if you are willing to dish out the extra cash.
- Made from quality materials
- Sleeps up to 6 (including car cargo area)
- Water resistant fabric
- Some users report that bugs can still access through the cracks (where tent meets vehicle)
- Time consuming set up
Webetop Portable Generator
What makes this generator great is that it is small enough to fit securely between your front seat or on the dashboard of your vehicle. The front of the unit has convenient USB chargers that can charge anything from cell phones all the way up to car refrigerators. It can supply power to refrigerators and laptops for about 3 to 4 hours.
In addition to providing power to all of the gadgets you want to bring along on your camping trip, the front of this unit also sports an incredibly bright light. It also has a wall unit adaptor, so that you can easily plug in your hair dryer, video game system, or blender to mix up some morning smoothies. For an additional cost (which is very low) you can buy a solar recharger so that while you are out swimming at the lake, your generator can be recharged by the power of the sun.
Generators are typically not cheap, but this unit is offered an affordable price point. It is one of the more expensive items to make this list, but if you are the type of person that is constantly worried about draining all of the life out of your car battery, this is a great item to bring along for peace of mind.
This unit comes in black with bright orange accents. It measures approximately 8 inches long, 6 inches tall, and 3.5 inches wide. It is designed with a handle that makes it easy to tote around from place to place and is able to be packed up into the trunk of your car easily.
There are people out there that will not even consider using their car battery to charge devices because they are afraid of draining it completely and becoming stranded. This generator takes away those worries and is small enough that it won’t take up that much room in your car.
- Additional light
- Ability to be recharged by the sun
- A tad expensive
Cooluli Mini Fridge
This mini fridge is capable of holding six 12 ounce cans by utilizing power provided by the powered provided from the cigarette outlet in your car, or via a USB plug that is plugged into a wall outlet or a generator. The thermoelectric cooling system takes about 30 minutes to cool down to ensure that your beverages stay nice and cold while you are out there on the trails working up a sweat.
Not only is this fridge able to keep beverages cold, but it is able to keep foods warm. It doesn’t necessarily keep foods piping hot, but if you happen to stop at a fast food restaurant on your drive into the campsite, and you pick up a couple of breakfast sandwiches, the warming feature of this unit will be able to keep those sandwiches warm for when you decide to eat them.
The price of this unit is not the most expensive model of mini fridge on the market, but it is not the least expensive, either. It runs about in the middle of the road, and the stylish designs really make it stand out from the other mini fridges on the market.
This fridge is offered in many fun colors such as blue, pink, fuschia, and solid white, and it is also available in fun dalmation spots. It has the design of an old retro fridge from the 1950’s, making this fridge not only function but will also add some style to your campsite.
For campers that need to end the day with an ice-cold soda, this is a great addition to your outdoor adventures. Simply plug it into the cigarette outlet of your car, or a backup generator, and head out for the day knowing that a cold beverage is waiting for you upon your return.
- Keeps sandwiches warm
- Only takes 30 minutes to cool
- Some users find it doesn’t cool very well on warmer days
- No temperature settings
Uniox Electric Kettle
Whether you are looking to boil water for a nice cup of tea at the end of a long day on the trails, or you want to heat up some coffee to give your day a kickstart, this electric kettle is able to provide hot liquids via the cigarette outlet in your car.
What makes this kettle stand out from some of the other electric kettles out there is the ability to adjust the temperature via a digital display. It can boil water if that is what you prefer, but if you don’t like the water for your tea boiling hot, you can adjust the temperature so that it isn’t as hot.
The price of this electric car kettle is just a little but more expensive than some of the other car kettles on the market. Given it’s easy design, it is a great deal for the price point.
This kettle has a tall and narrow design that makes it fit easily into most car cup holders, and the cord is long enough to be able to fit into the backseat of your car. It is available in three bright colors- blue, grey, and red.
For those campers that need a hot cup of coffee to start their day, or if they need a nice cup of chamomile tea to wind down after a long day climbing mountains, this is a great product for you.
- Able to boil water in approx. 16 minutes
- Slender design fits into most cup holders
- Only holds about 16 ounces of water
- Some users have had experiences with error codes
RoadPro Portable Stove
The RoadPro Portable Stove works by plugging it into the cigarette outlet and setting the unit on the dashboard or center console of your car. It has the look of a smaller sewing box- it has a hooked snap to close it. On the inside is a stainless steel pan that is able to reach temperatures of approximately 300 degrees. It’s not made for food that are uncooked like raw meats, but it is great for precooked foods and canned soups.
Not only is does it keep food warm, it also can be used to cook all sorts of different foods. Some past users have even used this unit to cook up a loaf of bread. It is great for chili, soup, stews, beans, hot sandwiches, melting cheese, and cooking up frozen foods.
The price of this item is very reasonably priced given the amount of food that it can prepare. It runs about the same price many of the other items found on this list, giving you the option of cooking many different types of food at an affordable cost.
As state before, this unit looks like a miniature sewing machine case. It comes in solid black, and plugs into the cigarette outlet in your car. The inside is easy to be cleaned and uses disposable aluminum pans.
If you want to spend a weekend out in the woods and don’t want to give up for comforts of a home cooked meal, this portable stove is an excellent way of making all of your favorite dishes from right inside of your vehicle.
- Heats up to approximately 300 degrees
- Easy to clean
- Some have reported the latch has a tendency to fall off
- Some have had trouble keeping lid secured
Roadpro Portable Frying Pan
The cooktop surface of this frying pan is just like the surface of your frying pat at home. Simply add butter or oil to the pan (it is not a nonstick surface) and then add what you would like to fry up. Unlike the portable stove, this unit is able to cook up raw ingredients such as meat and eggs.
If you are worried about getting oil splattered all over the inside of your car (because let’s face it- you were worried), this unit comes with a heavy and secured lid the keeps splatter contained. It was also manufactured with the intention of being used inside of a car, so you can use it with the ease of knowing that it is safe.
The ability to something as wonderful as fry up bacon in your car comes at a cost. The price of this unit is a lot higher than the price of the RoadPro portable stove. However, the design of this unit makes it perfect for cooking in your car and warrants the slightly padded price tag.
This portable frying pan looks just like a pan that you would use at home. It has a thick base that houses the heating unit, and a small steel pan that is used to fry up steak, eggs, or pancakes. It only comes in one color- black- and weighs about a pound.
If bacon and eggs in the morning after a night of sleeping under the stars sounds like heaven, than the RoadPro Portable Frying Pan is well worth the slightly padded price tag.
- Easy to clean
- Cooking surface gets very hot
- Slightly more expensive
- Some find that it doesn’t heat up very fast
FBSport Travel Inflatable Mattress
Simply blow up this thick air mattress and placed it in the backseat of your car. There are thick posts that fit down where your feet go that provide a steady and flat surface to provide more space for you to spread out.
When you are done sleeping on this bed and ready to head home for the week, all you have to do is deflate the mattress and store it in the compact carrying case the comes with the purchase of this product. This model also comes with inflatable pillows, making it an ideal bed if you didn’t know that you were on an overnight trip.
For a comfortable place to sleep, this mattress comes at an incredibly low price point. IN fact, it is one of the least expensive items to make this list. If you are looking for a nice place to sleep and aren’t willing to dish out a lot of money, transforming your car into a bedroom is a surprisingly affordable option.
If you have ever bought an air mattress in the past, this looks just like a tradition air mattress. It is made from a thick and durable material that prevents it from being punctured easily. This particular model is available in blue and grey.
For those that want a comfortable and warm place to sleep in the evening where they know that they will have the exterior protection from bear attacks, and closed glass windows to keep you from swallowing moths in the middle of the night, this is a great choice to make sleeping in the woods a little more secure and comfortable.
- Come with inflatable pillows
- It is a little small for some cars
- Some users find pillows difficult to inflate
Roadie Overnighter Tent
The way that this tent works is that it affixes to one of the side doors to your SUV. The flap hangs over the open window of your car, and can be zipped closed when it is lights out, and zipped opened in the morning to let the fresh morning air inside while you heat up a cup of coffee and listen to the birds.
The window is what makes this tent so unique. It gives you the illusion that you are sleeping in a tent. The door has a screen in it so that when you unzip it you can let in all of the fresh mountain air, without being eaten up by mosquitos or running the risk of letting a gang of spiders set up camp in your car only to reveal themselves while you are driving home.
The price of this tent is a little bit more than one would expect, but it is still one of the more affordable accessories to make this list. It costs about the same price as the electric kettle or the inflatable mattress.
This car tent comes in just one color: black. It is made from a high-quality rip-stop nylon that makes is waterproof. If you wake up in the middle of the night to find that it is raining, there is no need to turn on the car to roll up your window. Simply zip up the door to the tent and the rip-stop nylon with wick away water.
If you want the luxury of sleeping in your car, but miss the feeling of being in a tent, the Roadie Overnighter Car Camping Tent marries both of these ideas together so that you can earn a comfortable and warm night sleep and still have the feeling of sleeping in a tent.
- Waterproof material
- Door can be zippered closed
- Has a retractable canopy
- Doesn’t fit on most cars; only SUVs
- Users find the poles difficult to mount on car
Stalwart Electric Blanket
To keep campers warm when the temperatures being to plunge, this blanket is made from a lightweight and warm material that plugs into the cigarette outlet in your car. The cord is about 96 inches long- meaning you can use it in the back seat without it becoming dislodged from the outlet.
This blanket measures 59 inches long and 43 inches, making it a great blanket to comfortably share with a cold friend, or to just wrap around yourself twice. Plus, with such a long cord it can be used as a blanket for tailgating.
The price is the most handsome feature of this blanket. It is offered at a very reasonable price (about the same price as a regular throw blanket). The low price point gives you no reason not to add this blanket to your next camping trip late in the summer.
The plaid design on this product just screams ‘camping blanket’. It is available in a variety of colors such as black and white, red and black, green and black, or solid navy blue. The fleece that is made from is composed of 100 percent polyester. Unfortunately, because of the heating element in this blanket, it is unable to be thrown into the wash and can only be spot cleaned.
If you are someone that likes to camp even when the temperatures begin to drop, the addition of a heated blanket will ensure that you are always toasty and warm without the need of bringing an excess of blankets from home.
- Plugs into cigarette outlet
- Long cord
- Unable to machine wash
- Somer users find it doesn’t get as warm as they expected
Hasika Trailer Roof
To set up this product, simply affix the adjustable poles to the ground and to the awning itself. The fabric the then hooked via a rope to the back wheel well of your SUV. The shade provides a great space to gather under for a nice afternoon lunch, or to sit under with a glass of lemonade in hand.
The design of this tent makes it so that it is more resistant to becoming wind blown than other tents on the market. There is a gap between the fabric and the poles that allows the wind to pass right through while keeping the tarp in place. It also has a clear skylight so that the shaded area isn’t completely consumed in darkness.
The price of this tent is a little bit more expensive than most of the other items found on this list. However, given the amount of ground that it covers, and its ability to comfortably fit 6 people in the shade, it is well worth the slightly added price point.
The shade of this tent is made out of high-quality ripstop polyester that makes it breathable as well as waterproof. It sits higher up off the of the ground than most models that are similar to this one on the market, and it only comes in one color: black.
If you are looking for a place to sit in the shade that isn’t inside of your car, and you are willing to pay the additional cost, this is an excellent option to keep you cool and dry during the unstable weather in the summer.
- Sits higher off of the ground
- Clear skylight
- It has been reported that is is difficult to assemble
A good camper is able to make the best of the materials that they have on hand- so why not utilize your car? All of the things that you need for a good night sleep just so happens to be the very same vehicle that brought you to the campgrounds. It has an engine that is able to control the temperature to make it warmer or cooler depending on the weather, it can shelter you from the rain, and most likely has a pretty great stereo to listen to music or podcasts at the end of the day while you are roasting marshmallows around the fire. There are many items currently on the market that will help make your next camping trip a success, but not all items are created equal and some are much better than others.
Criteria Used For Evaluation
Function: how is this item going to help you enjoy your trip?
The most important thing to us when conducting our search was looking at how the item will work for your specific needs. Many campers don’t have the necessary equipment to make something like bacon and eggs over a campfire. Plus, that equipment typically takes up a lot of room in the car because it’s composed of heavy metal racks and cast iron pots. Something like an electric pan that plugs into the cigarette lighter of your car is a great product because it doesn’t take up a lot of room, and it’s easy to use and to clean. When you are camping out of your car, you probably don’t want to use a lot of your precious time setting things up- you want to get out there on the lake to fish or go mountain biking.
Features: does it have any other added benefits other than it’s intended use?
It’s always an added bonus when items do more than what they are originally intended for. An electric kettle, for instance, is a perfect tool for heating up water for tear or for coffee. But it also can be used for heating up a can of soup or a can of beans to whip up a fast and easy lunch. The more things you are able to use an item for means the more room that you have in your car. And if you are car camping– the less gear you have to bring the better.
Price: how much money is this product going to set you back?
No one likes to spend more money than they need to, and we took this into consideration when selecting items for this list. While trying to keep prices low, we also kept an eye on the durability of an item. You aren’t saving any money if you have to keep buying the same product over and over whenever it breaks. For instance, the electric frying pan isn’t the least expensive pan on the market, but it does have the best reviews when it comes to extended use. Many of the reviews for that product were from truck drivers that used the product every day. That was an indication that that brand of an electric pan was of better quality than many of the cheaper options.
Design: does this product have a practical design?
Sometimes, like with mini fridges or tents, companies can sometimes sacrifice utility for design. And if you are a seasoned camper, you know that how something looks doesn’t mean a whole lot when you are in the middle of the wilderness. How something preforms is what makes it a superior piece of gear. When we searched for car camping gear, we wanted to make sure that the design was neat and compact, because you aren’t working with a lot of space when it comes to the inside of your car or SUV.
Use: how easy is this item to use or set up?
Camping gear has a troubled past of being notoriously difficult to assemble or use. It was important when compiling this list to select items that are easy to install as well as simple to use. If you are choosing to camp out of your car, you most likely don’t want to be bothered with taking the time to go to the trouble to set up your camp. Less time spend putting together difficult camping gear means more time spent skiing on the lake or exploring all of the interesting trails in the woods. Additionally, tools such as pans and electric kettles need to be simple to use. All of the tech gadgets on this list are incredibly simple to use and often just require to be plugged in and turned on.
Of course, when you are deciding on what items that you want to bring along with you on your next outdoor adventure, keep in mind what things you enjoy doing the most. If you are fine with eating cereal out of the box for breakfast and a couple of campfire s’mores for dinner- although that isn’t the most healthy option- that is your prerogative, and some of the more kitchen-inspired gear may not be for you. Some campers don’t like the idea of shutting out the great outdoors behind a metal door and glass for the evening, so they may benefit from the Rightline Gear SUV Tent. If you find that that tent is a little out of your price range, you can always compromise with the Overnighter Car Camping Tent- offered at a fraction of the cost of a full tent.
Wherever you plan to go camping, a good list of gear will keep you comfortable and happy, and a bed behind the solid doors of a car will keep you safe from random bears and malicious spiders.
Q: If I camp out of my car, do I still need a tent?
It’s all a matter of personal preference and depends on how comfortable your car is. If you have invested in an air mattress that is specifically designed to lay in the back seat of a car, or you have a large SUV with plenty of cargo space, then no, you don’t really need a tent. Camping can be about making the best of the things that you have, and sometimes all you need is the car that brought you to the wilderness.
Q: Can I use my car battery all night?
No. However, if you are trying to test out the limits of how far your AAA membership will travel to charge a battery for you, you could always give it a try. If you need to use your car battery for items that involve using the cigarette light or car stereo, be sure to turn on the engine and let it run a while so that the power from the engine can send power to the battery. The general rule of thumb is that when you feel unsure of how long you have been draining your car battery, then it is usually time to fire up that engine.
Q: What car makes the best camping car?
With the right tools, any car can be transformed into an excellent car to get a good nights sleep. However, SUVs make the best camping cars because they offer the most room and can accommodate more guests than a normal sedan. Plus, some of the tent additions that you can add to your car really only work for SUVs because they have a hatchback trunk and taller build.
Q: Is it safe to cook inside of my car?
It may seem strange to cook up a full meal off the dashboard of your car, but it is completely harmless. One side effect of car cooking is that your car might smell like bacon on the drive home- but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Companies that manufacture these cooking products that plug into the cigarette lighter know what they are being used for, so they are sure to take the extra precautions to ensure that the user is safe.
Q: Do inflatable backseat mattresses fit in all types of cars?
Generally, they can be used in most cars and SUVs. Some previous users have found that they then to run a little bit on the small side for the bigger SUV back seats. If this is ever the case, there are always ways to improvise- the way any good camper can rise to the occasion- to make them work for you. You can push the front seats all the way back and the front seats forward, and fill in gaps with towels and blankets.
Q: What are the benefits of sleeping in your car rather than a tent?
Sometimes sleeping in a tent can limit your camping trip to only the warmer months out of the year. If you set up your car to be the place where you sleep at night- it already comes equipped with a heat and cooling source, and a set of light. Also- setting up a tent is frustrating, and rolling up to the campsite driving your tent can offer more time out of the trails or fishing on the lake. Of course, sleeping in a tent makes one feel closer to nature- so at the end of the day, it is all a matter of personal preference.
Q: If I have a car battery, why should I purchase a backup generator?
A car battery is great and is quite useful when you need to plug in something that needs electricity. You have to be careful, however, because draining your car battery too much can leave you stranded with a car that won’t start. It’s always a good idea to take some pressure off of your car and bring up a backup generator for an extra power source. The Webetop Portable Generator is a great alternative because it’s small enough that it doesn’t take up too much trunk space, and it can be recharged in the sun during the day while you are out exploring.
Q: Just how comfortable is it to sleep in your car?
It may not sound ideal, but there are many ways that you can transform your car into a really comfortable bedroom. Besides, sometimes the alternative option is to sleep in a sleeping bag on the ground. Even if you don’t have an SUV, there are ways to make room in smaller sedans. Often, the backseats of a 4 door sedan fold down to allow access to the trunk. If you were to lay down sheets, pillows, and blankets, you can make a pretty comfortable bed by placing your legs in the trunk area and having your torso lay on the folded down rear seats.
Q: Will using my battery cause me to run out of gas?
The only way that you will ever run out of gas is if you have the engine running. If you are simply charging your phone or running a mini fridge without your engine running, the only thing that may happen is that you will drain your battery and you will need to use a generator to give your car a jump (provided that you have jumper cables). If you leave your engine running while you are charging your electronic devices, you won’t run the risk of draining the battery, but you will run the risk of running out of gas.
When you get down to it, car camping can be an amazing thing. While driving to the mountains for a weekend getaway you are already equipped with many of the things you could need for a comfortable trip: heating, stereo speakers, a radio, cup holders, comfortable chairs, and protection from the elements. The accessories on this list are meant to enhance the features of your car that already exist to make your next camping weekend as comfortable as home with all of the added benefits of being out in nature and away from all of the worries and stress of your everyday life. Your car, when equipped with the proper gear, is able to cook you all three meals, provide a nice play to lay your head after a long day, let you listen to some tunes while huddled around the fire, and can provide power to ensure that you get a hot cup of coffee in the morning.