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16 Things You Are Most Likely to Forget When Car Camping – (and all the reasons you shouldn’t)

Updated: Apr 27

Car camping is one of the most popular ways to spend a little time outdoors. Whether we're catching up with good friends, or spending quality family time, there's always special memories to be made. But, is it true . . . ?

. . . That if women believe an outdoor experience will be uncomfortable, they're 99% more likely to just stay home?  Well, that may be exaggerated . . . but also - probably true!!

We get it - there's so many uncontrollable factors happening out there.

If you are one of those gals that thinks going outside is scary, intimidating, or just yucky, then this is for you!

We've done this a few times, and we put together a few things we've learned. First of all, the biggest thing we've learned is that being prepared helps you feel comfortable, and knowledge helps you feel confident!

Women have an inherent need to be immersed in nature. It's our way to connect with ourselves on a deeper level. We don't even have to try - it's just something that happens naturally. We think that's really cool!! So let's get you more informed and equipped, so you can get all the benefits you're meant to have.


Getting started is as easy as following this list. (Note: This is not a complete car camping packing list) We added helpful tips for most items, so you can feel like a car camping pro, even if you've never been.

First Aid Kit – Should be First on the List! When we think of camping, of course we think of all the fun activities - we don’t want to think of bad things happening. A good first aid kit is rather important and should not be forgotten.  Make sure your kit is stocked properly for the type of environment you will be in.

Tip: You can find more tips on First Aid Kits in our blog.

Hand Sanitizer / Hand Wipes – At home, we are used to washing our hands regularly; however, depending on your campsite, you may not be close to a sink or faucet to wash regularly. It’s a dirty place! You might only have access to really cold water and you may not feel like washing your hands in that. Hand sanitizer to the rescue!

Tip The alcohol in sanitizer helps remove tree sap that often gets on hands, clothes, and gear.

Paper Towels – I know, we don’t like to use more trees, and we are going to have a sleep-over with their friends, so why take paper towels? 'It seems like an excessive and wasteful item', but hear me out! I tried this - one time - just taking kitchen towels camping for a weekend, because "I could just wash them when I got home". Let me tell you, they just got wet, dirty, and very gross rather quickly because they got used for everything!  Whether you spill something, are preparing food, or you want to just dry your clean hands, you will be glad you brought the PT’s.

Tip: If you are trying to save packing space, cut a roll in half with a large, serrated knife, and just take a half roll.

Zipper Locking Bags (good quality) – Aside from the obvious, zipper bags can be used to marinate meat, scramble eggs, or make mess-free pancakes. They can hold your sponge between uses to keep it clean, be a tiny garbage bag for your tent, or save your toothbrush from riding with your dirty socks.

Tip: When it comes to zipper baggies, just get the good ones. You don’t want to regret those bargain brand decisions that far from home.

Aluminum Foil – Picnic tables and campground surfaces are not clean and should not be used directly with food. I like to use foil to create a clean space for food prep that is easy to clean up. But you can also use it to keep things hot and cold, cook food directly in the campfire coals, cover a dirty BBQ, wrap left over food, make a trivet to set hot pans, and make popcorn on the camp stove.

Can Opener/Bottle Opener – Canned food is a popular staple in camping. If you plan on taking food in cans or drinks in bottles, remember that opener.

Tip: It’s best to avoid taking any glass containers, wherever you camp.

Small Garbage Bags - (good quality) – Smaller bags are better here - so you can tie them off and dispose frequently. You don’t want to keep garbage around your site, especially with any food. You may not get bears, but you might attract skunks, racoons, squirrels, rats, bugs and/or pesky birds. If you need a way to hold water, such as a homemade camp sink, you can put a bag inside a box. Also handy for dirty clothes/shoes, if items get wet, or need to stay dry.      

Tip: If you do not have a garbage collection container where you are camping, tie off garbage and attach rope (or cord) to hoist up high into a tree, via branch, and tie off the other end of the rope. This will help keep unwanted wild guests from visiting you, especially at night. This can also be done with food (in a separate bag, of course).

Hand Soap /Dish Soap / Scrubber – To keep from attracting pests to your site, you will undoubtedly want to clean your pots and pans right after using, and it’ll almost certainly be with cold water. Most car camping memories involve me squatting on the ground by a common-use water faucet, washing a stack of dirty dishes in freezing cold water, and then trying to balance my clean dishes on various “clean” surfaces.

Tip: We recommend taking a small plastic bin with a lid containing your supplies. Also a sponge or scrubber, and a clean dish towel devoted to only drying clean dishes. Always use a biodegradable, planet-friendly soap.

Toilet Paper – Most camping involves campgrounds with a restroom option of some type. There are usually flushing plumbed toilets at the nicer grounds, and maybe a vault toilet at the lesser equipped sites. Even if you count on a restroom situation at your campground of choice, that doesn't mean it will be furnished with paper products when you go to use it. You may need it for other things anyway, such as blowing your nose, starting a campfire, or cleaning small messes.

Tip: Some parks and campgrounds don’t schedule workers on the weekends, which is typically the most popular time to go camping. This means restrooms may not get cleaned or restocked, garbage or dumpsters won’t be emptied, and you may be “on your own” if you have a problem.

Feminine Products – Even if you aren’t scheduled to have a cycle, mama nature loves surprises. It seems when women connect with nature, Mother nature tunes in to you, too. Even if you aren’t syncing up with nature at that moment, you might be more prepared than a friend.

Tip: More than one use -Tampons can be used to start a fire or filter water in an emergency, while a pad could bandage a bleeding wound.

Bug Repellant – If you aren’t into hanging out with the bugs in their living room, you might want to bring a good bug repellant.

Tip: A personal bug zapper is a lightweight, chemical-free way to keep bugs off.

Lighter / Matches (waterproof) / Fire Starter – -Unless prohibited, a fire is the centerpiece of every campsite. If you’re not a smoker, or someone who regularly carries a lighter, you might not think about this one until it’s too late. It’s a small, light-weight item that could actually be a lifesaver. A wind-proof, waterproof lighter is one of the best trail items.

Tip: Never bring camp fire wood from home. Always buy wood bundles at your destination or gather wood from around your campsite. You could accidentally be introducing new species into an area.

Working Flashlight or Headlamp - A flashlight is a necessary item for camping, even if you have other lighting, such as a lantern and campfire. As soon as you walk away from the light, it can be awfully dark and your eyes will take a while to adjust. Be sure to have extra batteries or a power bank with charging cord to keep you light and bright the entire trip.

Tip: You should have 1 flashlight / headlamp per person, in addition to camp lighting.

Extra Blanket – The obvious is extra warmth, but it can also be handy for additional padding under your sleeping situation, a pillow, or a cushioned seat. Depending on your campsite, it might just be rocks and the ground to sit on.  If you have a picnic table in your site, sometimes they are not left very clean (either by human or nature), so an extra blanket could be used as a tablecloth cover if needed.

Tip: An extra blanket can cover your gear, cooler or extra food if you leave your campsite unattended. This will keep birds and other pests out and shade from too much sun.

A Roll of Quarters – We are so used to having our cards accepted to pay for everything, but that is not always the case when travelling, especially into remote areas. Even if you have cash on hand, it can sometimes be a challenge to get quarters when you need them. From laundry and vending machines to showers and pay phones, even parking meters, newspaper stands, and car washes still use quarters.

Snap The Map! - Look up the route you're taking and the area you will be staying on a map. Take photos, or screenshots, and keep these in your cell phone. This way, even if you can't get cell service, you can access your map so you won't get lost.

Tip: Stay Safe! Send your location to someone you trust, that isn't going with you. Check in with them when you get back.

We hope our information helps inspire you to get outside, even if it's just in your own backyard!

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