Quick Guide to Trails in the Falls Creek Area in Durango, Colorado

We’ve outlined some of our favorite hiking trails in the Falls Creek area to make it easier for you to pick a trail that’s right for you!

Hiking In Sedona: What You Should Know

To get you prepped for your hike in Sedona, we’ve compiled advice into a detailed guide on what to expect when going for a hike in Sedona.

Snowshoeing in Durango: Our 7 Favorite Trails

Snowshoeing in Durango, Colorado this season? Here’s a few of our favorite snowshoeing trails for your next Microadventure in Durango!

Our 10 Favorite Places to Hike in Tucson, AZ

As you’re planning you Tucson, Arizona trip, here are our 10 favorite places to hike with trails around Tucson.

Snowshoeing in Boulder: Our 7 Favorite Trails

Snowshoeing in Boulder, CO this Winter? We’ve compiled a list of our favorite snowshoeing trails to explore in and around the Boulder area.

5 Best Portable Induction Cookers For RVs and Vans

To aid you in your next Microdventure, we have compiled a list of the 5 best portable Induction Cookers for your RV or van.

Our 10 Favorite Family-Friendly Hikes in the Grand Canyon

If you’re considering hiking with your family in the Grand Canyon, here are our 10 favorite family-friendly hiking trails.

What is Car Camping?

Trying to figure out what car camping is and why so many people are doing it? Here we define car camping for you in a simple way.

Payson, AZ Free Dispersed Camping Areas

In order to help you narrow down where to camp, here’s a list of our favorite free, dispersed camping spots and areas around Payson, Arizona.

Flagstaff Free Dispersed Camping Map

To help make a decision on where to camp around Flagstaff, AZ, here’s a map of our favorite free, dispersed camping areas and spots.

Our 10 Favorite Hiking Trails in Flagstaff

Looking to go hiking in Flagstaff? Here’s a brief list of our favorite hikes and hiking trails in Flagstaff, Arizona.

A Guide to Camping in Sedona

The famous Red Rock Country city that is Sedona, Arizona. For those who haven’t visited, Sedona is a mecca for Microadventures. With miles of hiking and biking trails, climbing, and towering red sandstone views, you could spend a lifetime exploring Sedona and not see...

Sedona Free Dispersed Camping and Campgrounds Map

Trying to figure out where to camp around Sedona, AZ? We built a map of our favorite established campgrounds and dispersed camping areas.

Our 10 Favorite Hiking Trails in Sedona

With over 200 miles of trails, there’s a lot to choose from in Sedona, Arizona! Here’s a brief list of our favorite hikes in Sedona.

FAQS for Grand Canyon Rim to Rim

We’ve compiled a blog answering some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding the Rim to Rim hike in the Grand Canyon.

Car Camping Packing List for Your Microadventure

If you’re looking for a low-risk, low-stress weekend of camping, there’s no better option than camping in or near your car.

When we mean car camping, we mean either:

  1. Physically camping and sleeping in your car
  2. Camping next to or close to your car but keeping most of your camping supplies in your car

Car camping, when done correctly, is an absolute blast. You don’t have to worry about weight, trying to pack everything in a tight backpack, and you can bring more luxury items to your campsite. All of these factors make car camping a much more relaxing experience than backpacking.

Don’t get me wrong, backpacking is amazing on principle alone.

But ask yourself this, can you bring camping chairs, a two-burner stove, a six-pack of beer, and games in your pack?

If you can, please drop us an email explaining how!

To aid in getting you set for your next car camping trip, here’s a list of essential and luxury things to pack:

Packing list for car camping

When considering what to pack for your car camping trip, there are a few questions you should ask yourself that will determine what you’ll actually pack:

  1. How many days am I going car camping?
  2. How cold is it going to get during the night?
  3. What am I planning on doing during the day?
  4. Am I sleeping in my car or pitching a tent outside of it?
  5. Am I camping near water?

For the purposes of this blog and our list of recommended things to bring, we’re assuming that:

  • You’re camping for two nights
  • You’re camping during Spring or Summer with nights in the 60s
  • You’re planning on taking short hikes in the mornings and relaxing at camp the rest of the day
  • You’re sleeping in a tent pitched outside of your car
  • You’re not camping near water and are bringing your water in

We made these assumptions to help narrow some of the recommendations of what to bring car camping.

Obviously, if you’re planning on camping longer, in colder weather, doing more during the day, and camping near water, your list will change.

Here’s our detailed list of car camping things to pack (based on our assumptions above):

Tent and sleeping things to pack

Again, we assume in this case that you’re sleeping outside of your car. This will require a little more gear than if you were camping in your car. That being said, here’s your list of essentials:

  • Three-season tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Mattress pad
  • Pillow
  • Extra blanket as needed

Depending on your comfort level, you can get away with getting cheaper gear than you would during a backpacking trip.

Because your car is carrying all of your camping gear (such a luxury), you don’t have to follow the “every-ounce-counts” rule.

When I personally car camp, I use my warmest, largest, and most comfortable gear which is also the cheapest and heaviest gear I own.

Food and cooking equipment to pack

Car camping allows you to really ramp up your outside-the-kitchen cooking game. You can bring most of your kitchen out with you to cook (maybe not the kitchen sink though).

For me personally, it’s not uncommon for me to make gourmet and extravagant meals when I car camp.

Here’s a list of your essential cooking supplies to pack:

  • Two-burner stove
  • Plates, bowls, silverware, cups, and/or mugs
  • Spices related to your menu
  • Salt and pepper
  • Stove fuel or gas
  • Lighter
  • A small cooler, 7-20 quarts
  • Wooden spoon or stirring equipment
  • Biodegradable dishwashing soap
  • Sponge
  • Serving container
  • Coffee and/or tea
  • At least two gallons of water, per person, per day

For car camping meal ideas, here’s a list of my favorite dinner recipes to cook (vegetarian meals):

Keep in mind that if you don’t have a cooler, you’ll have to plan your meals around using up your dairy, cheese, eggs, and meat first.

Clothing to pack

Based on the assumptions we made above, you’re car camping during Spring or Summer with nights in the 60s. With this in mind, you’ll bring the normal clothing set-up that you would normally bring during a camping trip.

The only difference is that you don’t have to worry about weight or space so you can bring a larger variety of clothes.

Here’s a list of your essential clothing to pack for sleeping and lounging at camp:

  • T-shirt or lightweight top for lounging at camp
  • Lightweight pants or shorts for lounging at camp
  • Ankle-high, cotton or lightweight wool socks
  • Moccasins, sandals, or hard-sole slippers (I’m a big fan of “camp moccs”
  • Lightweight, wind-proof jacket, overcoat, or hoodie
  • Lightweight puffy/down jacket: less than 600 fill power if it gets cold
  • PJ bottoms like light fleece or polyester
  • Light t-shirt for sleeping
  • Beanie and glove liners if it gets cold

Here’s a list of your essential clothing to pack for the daytime:

  • Hiking pants or shorts
  • Hiking t-shirt or top
  • Lightweight, thin, breathable socks
  • Hat

Things to pack for your day-time activities

Assuming you’ve got all of your clothing figured out, here’s a list of things we recommend packing for anything you decide to do during the day:

  • Day pack: less than 20L
  • Bladder for water while hiking: 1.5-2L
  • Hiking shoes or boots- depending on where you are camping and where you might be hiking
  • Hiking poles
  • Lunch items: Clif Bars, trail mix, premade sandwiches, fruit, etc.
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses

Obviously, the things you pack for the day will depend on what you’re doing while car camping. If you’re going mountain biking during the day, you’ll bring your mountain bike. Climbing; your climbing gear.

You get the idea. 

Luxury items to pack

When returning back to camp after a day of hiking, biking, Microadventuring, etc., it’s nice to have some treats to look forward to. By “treats,” I mean both consumables and non.

Here is a list of luxury items to pack to make your car camping trip even better:

  • Beer, wine, or liquor
  • Ice or frozen ice packs (packed in your cooler)
  • Hammock
  • Hammock straps
  • Book
  • Headphones
  • Playing cards
  • Board games
  • Tablet for movies, drawing, or reading
  • Solar charger
  • Solar shower
  • Biodegradable shampoo and soap
  • Dishwashing bucket or container
  • Water filter
  • Camping chair
  • Firewood (if campfires are allowed where you are camping)
  • Hacket for splitting wood

The list of luxury items to pack could go on and on!

In general, these items will turn any camping trip from good to great!


Car camping has its perks! The biggest of all being that you don’t have to worry about weight or space (assuming everything fits in your car). For me personally, car camping is my favorite way to unwind in the outdoors without the stress of a backpacking trip. The list provided above was put together based on my own personal car camping set-up. Hopefully, it will serve as a pseudo “checklist” to get you organized and excited for your next Microadventure via car camping!

Did we miss anything?

Leave a comment below of what you bring on your car camping trips!

Nick The Rambling Man
Nick The Rambling Man

Nick is the owner and regular content writer for Southwest Microadventures. When he’s not writing, you can find him rock climbing, peak bagging, mountain biking, backpacking, or drinking strong coffee.




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