car camping 101

HBH_6627 copyDo you want to drive with no destination and not worry about setting up a tent in the dark? Are you the type of person who enjoys having all their gear with them at all times? Is camping without getting soaked in the middle of the night important to you? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, I suggest you give car camping a try!

_DSC0907-Edit copy.jpgIn May, I traded in my ultra sporty ’14 Jetta GLI in for a ’16 Tiguan Highline R-line. When I initially test drove the Tiguan, I folded the back seats down and proceeded to lie down in the rear cargo area while the salesmen looked on with great confusion. When I explained to them that my intention was to camp in the back and not tote around dead bodies, they seemed to comprehend my actions a little more. I discovered that a person under 5’8″ can fit lying straight in the back area of a Tiguan. Pleased with my findings, I decided I’d go ahead with purchasing it and cancelled my order for a GLI Autobahn. Since May, I’ve slept in the back of my Tiguan countless times and it now has 33,000kms on it. hbh_5802-edit-copyHere are my must haves when it comes to car camping.

  1. A comfy sleeping pad. Unfortunately, the floor of any vehicle is not very forgiving and therefore quite uncomfortable. Grab a sleeping pad that inflates and deflates easily and that stores conveniently. I have tried a few but I find the single inflatable ones tend to work the best! Keep in mind that with sleeping pads; sometimes less is more! The bulky ones can take longer to inflate and take up more room in the long run!
  2. Blankets, pillows & sleeping bags. This goes without saying but if you’re going to be sleeping anywhere, you want to be sure you’re going to be comfortable and warm! I tend to bring a few blankets with me wherever I go. Nova Scotia’s climate changes so frequently that you’ve always got to be prepared!
  3. Mini lights (as seen above) – I managed to score a set of battery powered ones at Superstore over the summer for $12! They run on 3AAA batteries and give off so much light. These ones are on a little wire so they can be strung easily and stay wherever you put them. You can also get a solar powered set!
  4. Warm socks! I can’t stress enough to keep a pair of socks handy when you go to bed. I keep a fuzzy pair in my sleeping bag so when I’m finished up from a big hiking day, I take off my wet, sweaty ones and put on dry, warm ones for the rest of the night. No one likes damp, cold feet when you’re trying to fall asleep!
  5. Water. I always keep water close by. The easiest thing to do is keep all the things you might need in the middle of the night like cell phone, flashlight, water bottle, toilet paper, etc in the door holder in the back so you’re not fighting to find it half way through the night… In the dark…
  6. Garbage bag: this goes without saying but it just makes life a lot easier if you have a designated bag that you can dump at your next spot with facilities!
  7. Build a bug protector. Ventilation is key but bugs are not! If you’ve ever been trapped in an enclosed space with just one mossi, you know it’s bad news. My vehicle is equipped with a “sunshade” that slides across the panoramic roof at the click of a button. This sunshade is made from an airy material that allows a breeze to come through the roof but keeps pesky little critters out at night!

Tip: If it’s not raining, I usually take one or two of my floor mats out and put one under the hatch and another by one of the back doors so I don’t have to keep my muddy shoes in the car. This also means I’m not dragging dirt into my sleeping bag!


I’ve been able to learn a lot over the past few months about how to car camp and each time I go, I learn a few more things that make it easier for me! So far, I’ve only been able to venture out during the warmer months but I’m looking forward to testing out winter camping not only in the car, but also in the hammock (this will come in another post!)

3 thoughts on “car camping 101

  1. Thanks for this post. I’ve been prepping for some car camping in the near future with my pup, so it’s useful to read the tips here – mini-lights (genius), bug sunshade (I’ll have to MacGyver a solution, but didn’t think about it until now).

  2. Fortunately (or not), I’ll be car camping starting in the next few weeks, so there will be less worry about bugs as the nights will be in the 30-50F range depending on where I go. I’ll get a few months to think up a solution. 🙂

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