How to Win Car Camping
Thanks to a new wave of purpose-built gear, we’re living in the golden age of drive-up camping
If you’re still making do with your ultralight backpacking kit, you’re overdue for an upgrade. From plush sleep systems to coolers that’ll keep the beer cold all week, here’s everything you need to make this the summer of camping.
A Spacious Tent
Your hand-me-down backpacking tent may be light but it’s definitely not spacious. Stretch out. Stay awhile. The Big Agnes Big House has room for six, a dozen pockets to keep your gear organized, and six feet five inches of headroom so you can change clothes without feeling like you’re trapped in a crawl space.
A Truly Comfy Bed
Leave the thin, three-quarter-length sleeping pads to the ultralight crowd—today’s car-camping sleep systems can be comfier than your bed at home. Pair Kelty’s Tru.Comfort Camp Bed (which at almost five inches thick and 57 inches wide lives up to its B-word classification) with the REI Co-op Siesta sleeping bag, which is more cozy quilt than tight sleeping bag.
A Real Camp Chair
Not all camp chairs are created equal. So choose a proper throne like the Alps Mountaineering King Kong, complete with a highly agreeable padded seat and back, dual cup holders, and side pockets for magazines and snacks.
Some Post-Adventure Entertainment
The only thing more fun than drinking beer around the campsite: drinking beer while watching your buddy try to make it across Gibbon’s Classic Slackline.
For a more social game, campground bocce is fun and beverage-friendly (only takes one hand to throw).
A First-Aid Kit for the Unexpected
Minor slackline accidents, bacon-grease burns, and hiking blisters are all signs of a good camping trip. Be prepared with the Adventure Medical Kits Mountain Explorer and let the good times roll.
A Camp Kitchen Capable of Producing Real Food
If you’re eating pouches of dehydrated backpacking food, you’re doing it wrong. With a powerful two-burner like Camp Chef’s 20,000-BTU Everest Stove, you can whip up everything from chilaquiles to pork tenderloin from scratch. Essential cookware: the Lodge Cast Iron Skillet Combo isn’t fancy, but it’ll handle years of abuse and can double as a Dutch oven for baking everything from lasagna to cakes.
A Cooler to Keep It All Cold
The Rovr RollR has a collapsible carrying tub attached to the lid, which means fewer trips to and from the car, and burly wheels to make those trips easier. The 60-quart model has enough room for several days of food and a few cases of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, the official beer of camping since 1980.
Subtle Lighting for Late-Night Hangouts
We love the Luminoodle, a string of waterproof lights you can hang from your tent, string from a tree, or affix to basically anything at your campsite. Bundle it together, throw it in its stuffsack, and it doubles as a lantern. For extra credit, and extra-awesome campsite vibes, get ENO’s Eclipse Lantern. Thanks to six different multicolored light modes, it’s basically a lava lamp for your site.
June is National Camping Month, and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., wants you to celebrate with car camping, a backcountry overnight, or just by pitching a tent in your backyard. However you decide to enjoy it, make sure you stock up with Sierra Nevada Pale Ale—the Official Beer of Camping— for the adventure.