Car camping is the most popular form of camping for a reason. It’s especially convenient to be able to drive your vehicle to a campsite, unload your gear, and set up shop. Car camping—as opposed to backpacking, survivalist camping, or canoe camping—affords you the opportunity to cram your vehicle full of gear, including “luxuries” that may not fit in a backpack or canoe.
Since most state parks, national parks, and privately owned campgrounds welcome car campers, we’re featuring a handful of products that are ideal for your next outdoor getaway. And when we say our 8 products are “Outsider Approved,” we mean it.
Every one of our recommendations comes from a member of our Outsider staff. So we’re not blowing smoke up your campfire with our endorsements.
1. Gazelle T4 Hub Tent
Why do we love Gazelle’s T4 Hub Tent? A lot of reasons. This pop-up tent, which sleeps four, sets up in about two minutes. It’s 74 inches tall, so you can stand up in it if you’re under 6’5″. The T4 is waterproof, so you will stay bone-dry during storms. It has two doors and six windows, allowing ample airflow during hot conditions (like the Valley of the Gods in Utah). And the T4 easily re-packs into its oversized storage bag.
2. MoonShade Vehicle Awning
The MoonShade Vehicle Awning is unbelievably easy to setup by yourself. Unlike a lot of canopy/tailgate tents that take two people to erect, the MoonShade can be set up by one person in about five minutes. The MoonShade features a number of attachment options for your car/truck, including suction cups (included), magnets ($45), and semi-permanent adhesive anchors ($25). We actually preferred the ease-of-use magnets, which feature a protective silicone booty to prevent scratching. The MoonShade provides 63-square-feet of shade, which is plenty of room for a couple of camping chairs, cooler, table, and more.
3. Voormi Overlook Blanket
You’ll only “forget” a blanket on a camping trip once. After that, the versatile textile will be one of the first pieces of gear you stow. And we love the surface-hardened, water-repellent wool of the Voormi Overlook Blanket. Spread it out for a picnic in the grass, stargaze on it at dark, or use it as warmth in your tent or hammock throughout the night. It’s hard to get excited about a blanket . . . until you find one worth touting. And the Overlook (5.8 feet by 4.8 feet) meets all of the aforementioned criteria.
4. Lodge Sportsman’s Pro Cast Iron Grill
The recently released Lodge Sportsman’s Pro cooks like a dream. The new sliding draft door makes airflow, temperature control, and cleanup especially easy. The grill is perfect for cooking camping provisions like burgers, hotdogs, steaks, and more. At 33.25 lbs., the Pro’s weight is its only drawback, but if you are car camping (as opposed to remote camping/backpacking), getting it set up at your campsite is a breeze. And with more campsites restricting ground fires, a portable grill is a camping must-have.
5. Gränsfors Bruk Wildlife Hatchet
Gränsfors Bruk has been producing hand-forged axes and hatchets in Sweden since 1902. And their reputation for quality is impeccable. At 1.3 pounds/13.8 inches, the Gränsfors’ Wildlife Hatchet (3.5 inches longer than their Small Hatchet) is a dependable car-camping companion for limbing branches and splitting small logs for the campfire. And, of course, the hatchet poll doubles as a hammer for tent stakes and more.
6. ENO Skyloft Hammock
If you are camping under the stars, you won’t get a better night’s rest than the Skyloft. Simply put, the ENO Skyloft Hammock is the best sleeping hammock we’ve ever used during camping. The hammock’s aluminum spreader bars keep the hammock incredibly taut for enhanced sleeping comfort, meaning you will never end up in a hammock taco again. And the hammock hangs in a matter of minutes with the recommended Atlas Suspension System (sold separately).
7. Leatherman Signal Multi-Tool
The Leatherman Signal Multi-Tool is a must-own piece of equipment for every car camper. Weighing less than 10 ounces, the Signal features 19 compact tools, including pliers, knife, saw, bottle and can openers, ferro rod, emergency whistle, and more. In addition, the multi-tool comes with a pocket clip and carabiner for on-the-go attachment options. And, each tool has a locking feature for added durability and safety.
8. Outsider Coffee
Drinking a cup of cowboy coffee while camping is one of life’s simple pleasures. Part of that experience is being outdoors. The other part, it’s just a damn good cup of coffee. Simply put, cowboy coffee is made over an open flame (on the trail, at a campsite, or on your grill). And fortunately, Outsider just released a brand-new line of coffee, including a Dark Roast (Honduras/Colombia Fine Blend), Light Roast (Papua New Guinea), and Decaf (Colombia). All Outsider Coffee is labeled Fair Trade/Organic and roasted in Tennessee.