I’d been shuffling through plastic bins in the back of the van for 45 minutes when I reluctantly came to the conclusion that I’d forgotten the sporks. Or any utensil, for that matter.
In hindsight, grabbing those plastic spoons at the gas station we passed an hour ago was a good idea.
When you decide to try car camping, no one tells you how much gear you’re going to forget the first few times.
Between the tent, the headlamps, the cooking equipment, the cooler, the hiking gear, the fire starters, the road snacks and the car keys, something inevitably gets left behind — leaving you scrambling to invent something or make it to Walmart before it closes for the night.
Be prepared for every spontaneous tent adventure, beach trip and music festival by building your grab-and-go car camping kit in advance. A little prep work will save you time, money and from having to use your fingers to eat chili.
Just grab a few big plastic bins and fill them with these essentials.
Camping gear• Dry wood (if necessary, you can also pick this up on the way)
• Fire starter like matches or a lighter
• Small axe
• Camp chairs or pads to sit on
• Cash to reserve a camping spot with
• Toilet paper and a micro-fiber towel
• Camp shoes, like flip-flops
• Rain jacket
• Portable lantern
• Basic first-aid kit
Tent and sleeping gear• Tent, poles and stakes
• Tent footprint (this is the layer between you and the ground)
• Spare tarp
• Sleeping pad (store this loosely folded with some air in it)
• Sleeping bag (keep this stored in a loose cotton bag or hanging in a closet so it doesn’t lose its loft.)
• Camp pillow
• Lantern or headlamp
• Lightweight hammock
Cooking equipment• Cooler and plastic bags for storing loose food in
• Oil for cooking
• Set of sporks
• Can opener
• Mugs, cups, bowls and plates (you can buy these in lightweight camping sets)
• Liter bottles for fresh water
• Camp stove and fuel
• Dish soap and trash bags
• Bear canister (you can leave this at home if your campground has bear boxes)
• Dry spices, cereals and instant drink and sauce powder mixes