Camping Essentials For Car Access Campsites

Looking forward to spending time outdoors? Going camping is one of the best ways I know to do it, and being prepared for a camping trip makes for a great experience. Whether your heading out for the first time or brushing up on what you need to take, here is a list of essentials for you to keep in mind.

If your car is near the campsite these are the right camping essentials to consider.


There are several options to choose from when considering a tent for your campsite. These are some of the choices you’ll have in tent design.

Ridge Tents

These are the classic tent design that have a basic A frame shape. They use a vertical pole at each end and a horizontal cross pole at the center ridge supporting the tent. Ridge tents are are sturdy and easy to set up when done properly. They are best suited for two people. The downside of these is the lack of head room which may not make a difference if your only planning on sleeping in it.

Dome Tents

These have been very popular and practical. They use flexible poles that arch over each other creating a roomy frame to support the tent from the outside. Head room is more plentiful than in ridge tents with the more vertical shape of a dome tent. It has good stability in smaller sizes, but some become less stable at larger sizes.

Pop Up Tents

When you really want go for minimum set up time, pop ups are becoming more prevalent. These have a coiled sprung frame built in the fabric of the tent. They come as a circular package that in some cases can be thrown into the air, and the sprung frame turns the fabric into a suitable shelter. Many of these are intended for short stays but some are more durable now.

Inflatable Tents

The inflatable tube tents can also be quickly set up with ease. Often made with higher quality materials than poled tents, the inflatable tents which have integrated air tubes, sometimes makes them heavier and more costly.

Additional shelter gear

Ground cover tarp – Use one under the tent to protect the tent floor. Overhead tarp – This may not stand out as one of the obvious camping essentials. Consider bringing a small tarp, maybe 9’x12′ or larger to set up if the weather goes bad. Then you won’t have to be confined to your tent or car. A tarp can be put in place by using separate poles and sometimes trees with rope and ground stakes. It would be to your advantage to plan how and where it would be placed at the beginning of your stay. That would avoid scrambling at the last moment if the weather changes.

Stakes – Tents comes with their own stakes, but depending on the ground surface your pitching on they may not be adequate. If they are thin and bend easily it would be a good idea to purchase some thicker more substantial stakes. Both metal and strong plastic ones will work well.

Rope – A utility rope or cord is good to have along to set up a tarp or any number of possibilities where it would be useful. A 50 foot package should be enough for most situations but an extra strand may come in handy. The cords used for setting up tents with hardware for adjusting the length are guy lines.

Tarp Poles – There are adjustable tarp poles of varying sizes that can be used for whatever shelter support needs that come up. It would make sense to bring at least two of them along if a tarp makes sense to you and possibly more.

Hammer – We don’t want to leave out the tool that will get the stakes for both the tent and tarps in the ground especially if it is very firm. A basic home owners hammer will do.

Air Mattresses and Sleeping Pads

Typically air mattresses are the thicker, cushier option. They come in different sizes that can accommodate more than one and can be found in insulated versions also. Air Pads are mostly for one person use and more compact. They come in different thicknesses and also come insulated with self inflating options.

Sleeping Bags

Depending on what conditions are like when and where your camping, you’ll want to have a bag that suits your needs most of the time. There are different shapes to consider as well as temperature ratings. The basic shapes are:

Rectangular – For room to move around in and stretch out these will serve you well. You also have the option of unzipping it entirely and using it as a comforter.

Double bags – These are ideal for couples since they’re made for two. It is also possible to use two identical rectangular bags that can be zipped together to get the same result.

Mummy – When your looking to maximize warmth with less weight this gets the job done. Minimal spare room in these but they serve the purpose they’re designed for well.

Semi-rectangular – If a bag that has some benefits of both a rectangular bag and a mummy bag in combination works for you than there are some modified versions of these available.

Kids sleeping bags – A key element to having a successful camping trip with the family is making sure the kids have a good experience. especially the first time around. Avoid using the playful sleepover bags. You want to focus on an outdoor sleeping bag that is designed for them in size and warmth. This will enhance their comfort and enjoyment so they look forward to future trips. A good reason to include it in camping essentials.

Choose A Warm One

When it comes to temperature ratings, it would be preferable to use a sleeping bag that will keep you warm when the temperature drops at night. It can always be opened up when it is warmer. Selecting a sleeping bag that is rated for temperatures well below what you expect would be wise.

Don’t forget the pillows. Travel pillows are less bulky and can be quite comfortable, but if you have the room a full size pillow might make sense.

Camping Chair

There are a multitude of choices for your folding camping chair needs. Since we are talking about car access campsites you can focus on more comfortable choices since weight and size is less of a factor. Some come with cup holders and even have rocking capabilities. Keep in mind the number of them you need to haul and the size of your vehicle when choosing the camping chairs you’ll be packing.

Camping Table

If the campsite your heading for is not supplied with a picnic table you’ll need your own. At the minimum you’ll want something to prepare food on. There are many lightweight folding table choices available, many with adjustable height legs.


Camping lanterns – These are a must for worry free late camp set up and enjoying the evening at the campsite. Rechargeable LED lanterns of different sizes and brightness come at reasonable prices.

Headlamps – The hands fee answer for when your on the move at night and many of them give off ample light for their size. Some have removable batteries and others are rechargeable. They come in handy for late night strolls to the “restroom” when you want to avoid waking others.

Cooking Equipment

Single and dual burner camping stoves that usually use propane or butane are quite useful. Campfire grills for when you prefer firewood. Outdoor worthy pots, pans, plates, cups (metal if possible) , eating utensils, cooking utensils and coffee pot.

Water Storage Containers

Even if there is a clean water source available where you are camping, it’s a good idea to bring an ample water supply with you. Containers of various sizes, many with spouts, will meet your needs. In case there is not a clean water supply source where your going then bring a water filter and purification tablets as a backup.

Clothing Considerations

The clothes you need as your camping essentials will of course rely on the season and the type of activities you’ll be engaged in. Just keep in mind you’ll need rain gear and extra layers in case the temperature drops unexpectedly. If there are camp showers where your going, bring a pair of sandals.


Even though this speaks for itself, make sure it doesn’t slip through the cracks. When organizing all the other items you need to keep track of before heading out.

Miscellaneous Camping Essentials

  1. First aid kit
  2. Trail maps
  3. Insect repellent
  4. Campfire staring kit
  5. Trash bags
  6. Food storage containers
  7. Potholders/gloves
  8. Paper towels
  9. Can/bottle opener
  10. Cutting board
  11. Multi-tool
  12. Dish cleaning pan/soap/scrubbing pad/towels
  13. Deck of cards
  14. A good book .

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