7 Ideas to Upgrade Your Car Camping Gear

New-camping-gear-gridCar camping can be a nightmare junk show of cold feet, bad food and a sore back, or it can be a comfy efficient, experience. The difference is in the gear you pack along with you. These four essentials and three  extra items should improve your time in camp.

See our ten favorite camping spots in the national parks >>

Three Essentials

Photo courtesy
Photo courtesy

Big Agnes Yellow Jacket 4 MtnGLO
Meet the perfect family tent. With 60 square feet of space and 68 inches tall inside, it’s roomy enough to sleep in without kicking each other yet compact enough that it does not overwhelm your campsite. But that’s not all. The MtnGLO system is a string of LED lights strung inside the tent itself that give off enough light so that you can change and play games without messing with headlamps or lanterns.

$400; bigagnes.com

Photo courtesy Mountain Hardwear
Photo courtesy Mountain Hardwear

Mountain Hardwear Lamina Z 22
When it’s time to cocoon into your bag, you don’t want to mess around. The Lamina construction here welds synthetic insulation into place, removing the stiching that creates cold spots in the middle of the night. That makes for a sleeping bag that’s quite light, but stays warm down to 22 degrees and packs away easily like a down bag.

$179; mountainhardwear.com

Photo courtesy Klymit
Photo courtesy Klymit

Klymit Insulated Static V
Nothing makes or breaks your sleeping comfort like your pad. This insulated, multi-chamber cushion imparts both warmth and padding thanks to a system that keeps air in place when it is inflated but still gives in to the curves of your body on top of it. Plus, it inflates easier since air does not escape as you blow into it.

$90; klymit.com

Four Extras

Photo courtesy Pendleton
Photo courtesy Pendleton

Pendleton National Park Blanket
You don’t need to carry a wool blanket along with you, but as long as you are car camping there’s really no reason not to bring a little extra warmth along for relaxing in the tent or in a camp chair reading a book. Best of all, this series celebrates the NPS with unique patterns for national parks ranging from Glacier to Acadia. The company has honored the parks for the past 100 years and it still makes these 100-percent-wool beauties in the U.S.A.

Starting at $149; pendleton-usa.com

Photo courtesy ENO
Photo courtesy ENO

ENO DoubleNest plus Insect Shield
No, you don’t need a hammock for car camping. Yes, if you bring one it will be the most popular item in camp. You may all argue about who gets to spend the most time chilling out (or even sleeping) in it. This easy-to-set-up, light, reliable hammock is built to fit two and it’s treated with a Permethrin repellent to keep the bugs off (or at least help).

$90; eaglesnestoutfitters.com

Photo courtesy Brunton
Photo courtesy Brunton

Brunton Resynch 6000
Whether or not to bring electronics into the wild is a tough call, but it’s often necessary if you want to document your experience, stay in touch with family, or follow GPS coordinates. This simple, dual-port solar charger will make sure your electronics stay juiced. And it’s weatherproof so don’t worry if it gets left out on the picnic table in the rain.

$80; brunton.com

Photo courtesy Alite
Photo courtesy Alite

Alite Bison Chair
Do not underestimate how happy you will be in camp if you pack along a comfy portable chair (or how sad you will be if you are the only one who does not). But you don’t want overkill when it comes to your backwoods perch. Alite’s Bison chair packs down small and weighs in at just 4.6 pounds but assembles quickly into a solid little seat.

$200; alitedesigns.com