My 3 Essentials for Car Camping

gear, I went outside

IMG_7733It’s blasted hot in Seattle this week, and when my roommate suggested we get out of town and head to the coast, I was onboard. While putting together a rough packing list, I realized the first three items on the list aren’t actually necessities, but certainly are items that I love to have with me.

Let’s be real: When it comes to car camping, it’s appropriate to take everything, including some kind of kitchen sink. Despite this I try to keep a minimal camp haul, mostly because I don’t like digging around the back of the car for things I know I brought and can’t find. I’m a fan of keeping it simple.

A good camp chair. I’m not fussy when it comes to sitting, but I’d prefer to not have my extremities fall asleep, sit hunched over, or feel like a child because my feet don’t touch the ground. With Ellie in tow, it’s essential to have proper lap space, too. I love my G4Free camp chair I received as a Christmas gift last year. It’s small, light, and simple to assemble once we’re settled at camp. AND, it leaves ample lap space for Ellie.

A long-sleeve shirt. I L-O-V-E my long-sleeved Sombrio MTB shirts.

They’re comfy, have a nice fit, and there’s a perfectly sized, zipper-pocket in the back seam that’s easy to reach with just one hand. Wearing one is reminiscent of stealing your boyfriends plaid, but it’s totally cut for the girls. I had a groovy endo on my mountain bike a few months ago that left me with an incredible sore elbow, a really beautiful bruise for at least two weeks, and a solid contusion that’s still hanging out with me. I was wearing my Sombrio plaid at the time, and there’s not even a scratch in the fabric. Plus, long sleeves keep me cooler in the sunshine and this is the perfect layer to throw on over a swimsuit, sweaty sports bra, or as an extra layer around camp. I’m pretty sure this shirt will fill all three of these roles this weekend, and the only relevant question is whether to bring the blue or the green, because yes, I have both.

A sun hat. For me, this item is less about sun protection and way more about covering up sweaty helmet hair. My favorite hat is a nondescript straw one from Target, so don’t get up in a pinch about which one to grab. Just take one that fits your head, won’t blow away in the breeze, and keeps sun glare off your sunglasses. This brim is wide enough to keep the sun off my neck and ears, but not so wide that it feels like I’m walking around with an umbrella. I love attaching it to my pack on casual, destination bike rides to the brewery, park, or coffee shop to cover my helmet hair. Ellie usually ends up lying on top of it in the car, and it’s held up remarkably well.

I find car camping to be the best place to try out a new piece of gear, new approach, or a new system, since it’s relatively consequence-free. It doesn’t really matter what you do or don’t take, as long as you’re safe, having fun, and taking pictures.

Just kidding. Don’t spend your vacation taking pictures. That’s silly.