Packing efficiently and strategically is the first step towards a successful and stress-free camping getaway. Fancy gadgets and unnecessary luxuries just get in the way and distract you from why you’re going out into nature in the first place.

To keep things simple, only pack what is absolutely necessary and make sure all items can serve multiple purposes. For example, a single mug can easily serve as a coffee cup, bowl, cocktail tumbler, and more.

Another smart strategy is to store all of your supplies in a series of bins, so they stay packed and ready to go at any time. Here’s a comprehensive car camping checklist to help you get more organized, so you can pull off a car camping adventure with just a moment’s notice.

Our Car Camping Checklist

Cooking Supplies

Store all your kitchen gear in one bin for easy packing and convenience at camp. Use small stuff sacks to organize utensils, plates/bowls, and random kitchen items like cutting boards, matches, and spices. Opt for multi-use items and tableware that nests or stacks into compact containers.

Cooking Stove and Fuel

Unless you plan to do all your cooking over an open-air fire, you’ll need to have a camp stove and plenty of fuel. Minimalists can get away with a small backpacking stove for boiling water or a compact single burner stove for easy meals.

yellow portable gas camping stove, kettle & flask, perfect for car camping

Easy to Prepare Foods

The best car camping foods take minimum preparation and use five ingredients or less. For breakfast, keep it simple with cereal or breakfast burritos and for dinner, Dutch oven pizzas and camping quesadillas are easy and tasty options.

Camping Hammocks

Next to food and water, adequate shelter is probably the most important item on the car camping checklist. To keep things really simple, consider adding a hammock tent to your camping arsenal. Tree tents combine the enjoyment and comfort of a camping hammock with the protection of a tent and are simple to set up since they don’t require a flat ground.

Sleeping Bags and Pads

Don’t forget a sleeping bag and sleeping pad for each person in your party. To save on space go with self-inflating camp pillows or compressible backpacking pillows.


Flite Tree Tent by Tentsile


You’ll undoubtedly need a backpack on any car camping adventure whether it be for a short hike or a day at the beach. Small hydration packs are sufficient for most car-camping adventures.

If you’re driving to explore mountainous terrain, learn how to pick your backpack for an overnight trip away from your car.

Personal Care

Pack all personal care essentials in a toiletry bag for easy grab and go. Choose multipurpose travel soaps that can act as shampoo, soap, and laundry detergent to keep toiletries to a minimum. Don’t forget the sunscreen and insect repellent.

Red hiking backpack and equipment

Folding Chairs or Stools

Some minimalist campers consider camp chairs and stools unnecessary luxuries and others can’t imagine not having a comfortable seat around the campfire. Several minimalist options exist from collapsible micro stools and ultralight folding chairs to inflatable seat pads and Crazy Creek camp chairs. If you have a hammock or tree tent, however, these will double up as a comfortable seat or lounger.


Headlamps are more compact and versatile than flashlights or lanterns. They’re extremely lightweight and allow you to move around handsfree at camp in the dark. They’re also great for reading and easily stash in your backpack or glove compartment.

Wrap up

And that's a wrap! You're now well equipped and ready to embark on your minimalistic car camping adventure. It's worth bearing in mind that if you're off for a long haul journey, this list isn't comprehensive, but this does make it easy for a shorter lightweight journey.

Ryan W