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Car Camping Trip to the Western National Parks (Camping Gear List)
OK, OK... I know this is a backpacking forum, but I am hoping that you can also help with a car camping gear list. Actually, I am an avid backpacker, and have limited car camping experience. That being said, I am planning to bring my family on a three-week car camping trip through the National Parks of the West (think Yellowstone to Grand Canyon to Rocky Mountain).
So, what I am hoping to hear is the gear I should have on my list that is specific to car camping that I might overlook since I am more familiar with backpacking.
Thanks for the help.
Here's a checklist I recently made for a shorter trip that was going to include day hiking but no fishing or hunting; also some moderate off road and primitive (not campground) camping. Categories are for "how stuff is packed" so might not agree with your logic . YMMV
IN CAR COMPARTMENTS
first aid kit
cell phone & charger
IN COOKWARE BOX
IN HIKING PACK
IN FOOD BOX
IN DUFFEL BAG
cool long-sleeve shirt
warm long-sleeve shirt
Yikes! That's about what I normally pack for car camping too, but doesn't it seem extreme after being bitten by the ultralight bug.
In fact, I've purposely tried to go Ultralight with my car camping too: if it won't fit in my backpack, I leave it at home, almost. I still take a chair, a small table and a larger water container. If I'm going for more than an overnighter, I may also take my Cobb cooker to give some variety.
I guess I've had a bit of a revelation in terms of car camping: all the 4x4 magazines talk about fitting the truck out to the max, and many are now very close to (if not over) maximum weight even before the camping gear is added. I realised I could apply the Ultralight philosophy to car camping and end up with a gear list that adds joy to the trip rather than having to spend hours packing and unpacking, setting up camp or tearing it down. In turn, I'm able to spend more time doing what I enjoy most - being in the outdooors. I believe it's also way better for the car to be carrying less weight: improved fuel economy, less wear and tear, less stress on suspension components and way less impact on the trails I drive. I believe my lightly packed Forester will go almost as far as a heavily laden "real" 4x4, it will do it easier, and it will certainly tear up the track less.
I've also discovered sitting quietly at dusk with no lights / campfires / stoves burning is a really special time. If I avoid the usual car-camping hoo-ha and burst of activity to cook dinner before dark, the experience is very different. As the night descends I can watch the sunset, watch the stars turn, and get to know the critters of the night, which are way less shy when one sits still. Having your toes sniffed by a bandicoot or having a possum sitting on the table next to you, that's magic!
Just my 2 cents...
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Aha! - a chair! I only take a folding stool .
I'm with you all the way. My tent is a 3 person dome for 2 of us; otherwise I sleep in the back of my Element (seats fold up to the side). Two backpacking canister stoves for cooking, nesting cookset, rollup 32" x 32" table, folding stools, backpacking sleeping pad, etc. It all fits behind the back seat, and I can still see out the back window. The shovel is a little thing, and the saw is a folding type, etc.
Taking it to Death Valley for a week up Cottonwood Canyon (day hiking the side canyons) next March or April.
Extra flash cards to dwonload your photos or a laptop. you'll have lots of really great shots, guaranteed!
Binoculars/telescope for night viewing with star chart
large bucket for kitchen sink, also great for quick baths
if the kids are young, a small chemical potty might make things much easier on the road and at the possible primitive camp you might choose to get some quiet after the busy parks.
brochures on scat and tracks of the west and desert southwest
games for in camp and car with few loose pieces
these are some things that really made car camping easier when my kids were little.
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