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June 01, 2024 3 min read

Taking the fam car camping is almost a guaranteed good time—you can light out to the wilds but bring most of the comforts of home with you. Favorite pillow? Check. Bluetooth speaker? Check. G&T with ice? Check check check.

But let’s not forget the essentials. If you are new to car camping or want to hone your game, here’s a guide to the essential gear for a successful family car camping excursion:

  1. Tent: Choose a spacious tent with enough room to accommodate the whole family comfortably. Look for features like easy setup, durable materials, and sufficient ventilation. Consider a tent with separate rooms or dividers for privacy and organization. Keep in mind that some tents can be massive—and that can make it hard to find a good spot to pitch it.
  1. Sleeping gear: You are going to want sleeping bags rated for the temperatures you expect to encounter, as well as inflatable mattresses. News flash: A high-quality sleeping bag can be expensive! Here is wherebuying used can really set you up in style without breaking the bank.
  1. Camp kitchen supplies: A well-equipped camp kitchen is crucial to preparing delicious meals during your trip. Pack a portable stove or grill, cookware, utensils, plates, and cups. Don't forget essentials like a cooler for storing perishable food items and plenty of water bottles or a water filtration system for clean drinking water.
  1. Lighting: Proper lighting is a must for safety and convenience, especially after dark. Bring along headlamps, lanterns, and flashlights to illuminate and navigate around your campsite during the night. Solar-powered or rechargeable lights are eco-friendly options that can provide ample illumination without the need for batteries.
  1. Camp furniture: Enhance your camping comfort with light-weight folding chairs, tables, and portable campsite furniture. Having a designated outdoor dining area and seating arrangements can make mealtimes and relaxation more enjoyable for the whole family.
  1. Clothing and gear storage: Stay organized by bringing along storage solutions such as duffel bags, plastic bins, or hanging organizers. Separate clean and dirty clothes to maintain cleanliness throughout your trip. Waterproof storage bags or containers are ideal for keeping gear dry and protected from the elements.
  1. Safety and first aid kit: Nothing too elaborate, but make sure you can survive scrapes and cuts without enduring an epic end to your adventure. Think about a small kit that includes bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, insect repellent, and any necessary medications. Familiarize yourself with basic first aid procedures and emergency protocols before embarking on your trip.
  1. Entertainment and recreation: It’s why we’re out there in the first place, right? If you aren’t out there to bike, hike, or kayak, then consider bringing outdoor games like frisbee, soccer, or a portable cornhole set. Don't forget to pack books, puzzles, or art supplies for quiet downtime around the campsite.
  1. Navigation and communication: You need ways to stay in touch and avoid falling off terra firma. Bring a map, compass, or GPS device to navigate trails and unfamiliar terrain. Additionally, ensure you have a charged cell phone or two-way radios for emergency communication.
  1. Miscellaneous essentials: Remember to pack miscellaneous items that can come in handy during your camping trip, such as sunscreen, insect repellent, a multi-tool or knife, lighter, fire starters, and garbage bags for waste disposal.

Sounds like a lot, right? Well, it is. While the cost to get geared up to car camp may be high, the good news is that once you have all this gear, camping itself costs next to nothing. And the even better news is that most of this gear can be had used, saving you MASSIVE amounts of money.


Theused gear store in Durango, Durango Outdoor Exchange, has most of what you need to get packed up and headed out the door:

  • Tents
  • Sleeping bags
  • Sleeping pads
  • Stoves
  • Water containers
  • Camping plates and cutlery
  • Lanterns and headlamps
  • Maps, books, and games
  • Chairs and hammocks
  • And more

Not sure what your particular trip needs? Stop by the used gear store in Durango and let the pros make suggestions for you!

Chase LaCroix
Chase LaCroix



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