PHOTO: Tempei Takeuchi/@tempeiphotography
The best part about car camping is that you can do it pretty much anywhere, and you don’t have to worry about traveling light. Whether holed up in a snowy parking lot waiting to get first tracks, or on a surf mission in SoCal, this collection of items elevates the comfort factor when the place you park is the place you sleep.
Big Agnes Sentinel 30 sleeping bag, $370
You do not need to be camping with a partner to appreciate the luxury that is the double-wide sleeping bag. Fold down the backseat, and this fits perfectly in the back of my Subaru Outback. Built for two, the Sentinel 30 is made with 600 fill DownTek water-repellent down and the quilted construction makes it feel like the comforter on your bed at home. Double zippers on this 3-pound, 9-ounce bag make it easy to access from either side while the integrated pad sleeve works with a double-wide pad or two single pads side by side. Buy now.
Big Agnes Insulted Q-Core SLX sleeping pad, $250
For a doublewide sleeping bag, use a doublewide sleeping pad. I’ve been a big fan of Big Agnes pads for years because they are durable, pack down small (even this one), and blow up easily. Most importantly, they stay lofty through the night and are the most comfortable pads I’ve slept on. This one takes 60 breaths to inflate, which feels like a lot when you’re only at breath eight, but by the time you’re done filling it up you’ll be calm, relaxed, and ready to float off to dreamland. Buy now.
The beauty of car camping is that you can do it anywhere—a bluff overlooking the ocean, off an old logging road in the high Sierra, or in the frozen tundra that is a ski area parking lot. The SheWee makes wherever you park your rig to lay your head, not having to duck, squat, and cover possible. A gamechanger for convenience, time, and avoiding frostbite on the tukus, it is lightweight, resuable, and comes in a discrete carrying case. Read our complete review here. Buy now.
Luminoodle Light Rope, $30
The Luminoodle is a portable, waterproof LED light rope that can turn a roadside campsite into a dance party or gently add ambiance and visibility to back of your truck. The Luminoodle comes in 5-20 foot lengths, in color and white-light-only. I prefer the color. String it up with the adjustable magnets or hanging loops, or wind it up in the lantern bag to light your way to the outhouse. Safer than candles, more fun than headlamps. Buy now.
DrinkTank Juggernaut growler, $114
Made from stainless steel and with double-wall vacuum insulation, the Juggernaut keeps beer cold for 24 hours and soup hot for up to 12 hours. Add a keg cap accessory kit for $45 and let’s party. At 128 ounces, it claims to hold four bottles of wine, but recent testing by an expert panel determined the DrinkTank to hold upwards of six bottles of Vinho Verde. Leakproof and dishwasher safe, this is a camping must that has a long winter of ski touring ahead of it. Who wants to carry it? Buy now.
Goal Zero Nomad 7 Plus solar panel, $99
You’re obviously car camping because you need some new content for your Instagram feed, so it’s safe to assume you’ll need to charge your phone and your camera. This solar panel will charge most USB and 12V devices using just the power of the sun. When conditions are right, as determined by the solar intensity indicator light, you can plug a phone into the Nomad 7 Plus and charge it directly from the sun. You’ll know the conditions are right by checking out the Solar Intensity Indicator. A full phone charge takes about 2 and half hours. Buy now.
Camping food doesn’t have to be dehydrated or fake. Patagonia Provisions, a new foray into food for the company and a cause championed by Yvon Chouinard, makes it easy to eat a satisfying meal over a camp stove with a ready-to-make menu of grains, chiles, and breakfast cereals that are low in sugar and high in nutrients. All you have to do is add water. The meals definitely need some accessorizing—like some fruit to go in the oats, some veggies and sour cream to lighten up the heavy-on-the-beans chile. But you can rest assured that the ingredients are simple and familiar. For snacks, I also recommend Provisions’ smoked salmon (flavored with black pepper), bison jerky (which is on the dry and crunchy side of the spectrum for jerkies), and the mango fruit bars (made with real fruit). Buy now. —Julie Brown