The Best Car Camping Gear of 2022
The best gear for staying put outside
Outside's long reads email newsletter features our strongest writing, most ambitious reporting, and award-winning storytelling about the outdoors. Sign up today.
“Be here now” is a famous bit of New Age advice, but it could just as easily be a slogan for car camping. Settling into a great site is a surefire way to savor the moment—provided you have the equipment to keep yourself comfortable. We spent a season testing this summer’s camp accessories on trips across the Rocky Mountains and canyon country. From the best folding chairs to the coolest portable lighting, these are the pieces that rose to the top. Plus, check out our favorite campers and trailers of the year to really enhance your next luxury adventure trip.
Best Camping Gear of the Year
Tailgater Original Standard Steel Tire Table ($140)
This table attaches to any vehicle via a steel frame that slides over your tire. (An extendable leg supports the opposite side.) It fits an XL pizza box or two-burner stove and packs into a 1.5-inch-thick, 29-by-23-inch rectangle.
Outdoor Research CarryOut 80L Duffel ($199)
Thanks to a 600-denier polyester that’s more supple (read: packable) than most TPU-coated fabrics, this duffel saves closet space between trips. It’s less burly than expedition luggage, yet held up to a season of use, and kept our gear dry on a particularly stormy Utah campout.
Kelty Galactic Down Blanket ($130)
This 550-fill duck-down quilt bested stacks of synthetic-filled blankets when it came to quickly warming testers on 35-degree fall evenings in Colorado’s Never Summer Range—without the price hike typical of down. No cinches or snaps here, just 50-denier polyester fabric that feels like satin pajamas. (It’s still tough enough to survive getting dragged beneath a chair leg.)
Black Diamond Moji R+ Light ($40)
This sleek, puck-size lamp delivers soft, ambient white light, plus green, yellow, and red. We charged the battery in four hours, and it lasted for a long weekend of nightly use. Suspend it from collapsible hooks, or attach it to your car with the built-in magnets.
Dometic CMP-C2 Compact Camp Bench Seat ($100)
Benches aren’t common for car camping, but this one convinced us they should be. Its sturdy aluminum frame and 600-denier nylon seat easily accommodated two adults and doubled as a stand for a cooler filled with 60 pounds of food (the CMP-C2’s limit is 300 pounds). Still, it weighs just 6.5 pounds and rolls up to the size of a fire log for easy packing in a stuffed car.
Chaco Ramble Puff Cinch Slippers ($80)
With their DWR-treated, quilted nylon uppers (no insulation), supportive insoles, and lugged outsoles, the Ramble Puffs tick all our boxes for summer camping footwear. The microfiber lining is luxe on bare feet, and the crushable heel makes nighttime bathroom trips easy.
REI Co-Op Campwell Tablecloth and Bench Covers ($45 and $40)
Upgrade any picnic table with this reversible tablecloth and cushioned bench-cover set. Each piece is made from fully recycled, DWR-coated polyester, with adjustable straps that buckle underneath. A removable pouch at one end of the tablecloth stows utensils, condiments, and napkins.
Ignik FireCan Stove ($200)
This 15-by-7-inch rectangular ammo-can-style fire pit slides easily into packed car trunks, and its side cutouts afford full views of the flames to those seated around it. Plus, it’s propane powered, which means it’s safe to use under most fire restrictions. On a 40-degree night near Moab, Utah, it put out enough heat to delight three campers.