What's the Best Car-Camping Gear for $40 or Less?

How to build out your campsite without breaking the bank

May 26, 2016
Outside Magazine

You can camp in total comfort without breaking the bank.    Photo: Tandem


Car-camping season is here. To help you dial in your kit, we came up with a list of our favorite affordable gear that should always go along for the ride. 

Lodge Logic Camp Dutch Oven 1 Quart ($35)

Click to enlarge.   Photo: Lodge

If you’ve never cooked with a Dutch oven in a campfire, you’re missing out. These thick pots help you whip up oatmeal for breakfast, lasagna for dinner, and, best of all, cake for dessert.

Buy Now

Ozark Trail Folding Chair ($7)

Click to enlarge.   Photo: Ozark Trail

These are heavier than the fancy camp chairs you’ll see at an outdoor store, but who cares when you’re car camping? We always throw a bunch in the back of the truck because they make eating dinner or telling stories around the campfire much more comfortable. They’ll also stand up just fine to camp grime or ember holes.

Buy Now

Coleman Bottle Top Stove ($40)

Click to enlarge.   Photo: Coleman

This is the stove you use to make your coffee while the bacon cooks over the campfire. Same thing at night: you need just one burner to boil noodles while your special spaghetti sauce simmers over open coals.

Buy Now

Coleman 28-Quart Cooler ($25)

Click to enlarge.   Photo: Coleman

This cooler is the perfect size for a weekend’s worth of food but won’t take up too much room in your car. No, it isn’t big enough to also hold all your beer, but that’s fine. Just camp by a lake or river where you can stash your cans to keep them cold.

Buy Now

Char-Broil Firebox Cook Grate ($10)

Click to enlarge.   Photo: Char-Broil

Plop this over coals and you’re ready to grill steaks for dinner. It also makes a solid platform when you’re whipping up pancakes in a pan for breakfast. 

Buy Now

Parachute Chord ($5 for 50 feet)

Click to enlarge.   Photo: Ultimate Survival Technologies

You’ll always be glad to have a bunch of this in your car. It’s stronger that twine and can be used as a tent tie-down or clothesline.

Buy Now

Tarp ($20)

Click to enlarge.   Photo: Harbor Freight Tools

You’ll always be glad to have a tarp. Throw it under your tent as a footprint, use it to cover your picnic table when it starts to rain, or string it from the surrounding trees to create some shade. 

Buy Now

Leatherman Rev ($35)

Click to enlarge.   Photo: Leatherman

If you bring just one multitool, make it this one. With 14 different gadgets, it will do everything from fix your stove to open your beers.

Buy Now

Filed To: Car Camping

More at Outside

Elsewhere on the Web

Not Now

Need a Gear Fix?

Open email. Get latest gear. Repeat.

Thank you!