Earlier this summer, I published the ultimate car camping checklist. The thing is, I’m not a car owner, so my knowledge of the matter is somewhat limited. Thankfully, I have readers like TS who are kind enough to pick up where I left off. He left this advice in the comments, but I felt that it was worth sharing in general. Thanks for sharing, TS!
You’re car camping, leave the backpacking stuff at home! Get a nice two burner Coleman propane stove for car camping trips. While the pocket rocket is great in the back country, when car camping, might as well splurge a little and get a good meal. You want a nice stove that can cook a large pot of pasta and heat the sauce at the same time. One that can cook four pancakes at once… yeah, leave the titanium pot at home, bring a full size griddle and regular pots and pans.
A full size coffee press. No little bags of instant, go for the real stuff when car camping! We usually have a jetboil with us for heating up water.
I’ve got an ultralight backpack, but that stays at home. For car camping, where I’m probably going to leave the tent up in public for a few days, I go with a 4-man tent from Target. One that fits a queen size air mattress. Spend a little more on the air mattress since the cheap ones are pretty low quality. Really, when you’ve spent a day climbing or mountain biking, you deserve a good nights rest on a comfy bed. Bring pillows!
A lantern that runs on propane is also nice. Don’t forget extra mantles.
Cord. You want some strong cord so you can hang up wet towels, let your bag air out, hang up a tarp to relax under in case it rains. Some cheaper cord for roping off your tent area, some florescent/ reflective tape tied on so it’s easy to see by headlamp.
Books and games; sometimes it rains here on the east coast…
You list a field guide and maps, but no compass! If you’re making excursions away from camp, you definitely need a compass. Even if you’ve got GPS, make sure you still bring a paper map and compass.
First aid kit should already be in the car, right? Along with duct tape, some tools, a good flashlight and some road flares?
Lastly, dessert! If you feel really adventurous, bring a dutch oven and make a pie! Or one of those ice cream making balls. The one thing I really miss when I’m going ultralight is desserts…