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July 01, 2024 4 min read

Create a cozy camp for quality fall desert adventures

Car camping offers the perfect blend of adventure and comfort, allowing you to immerse yourself in nature without sacrificing the conveniences of modern life. Whether you're a seasoned camper or a newbie, car camping in style can enhance your outdoor experience.

The fall desert season is not far away, and now is the time to start hunting for the right gear to dial in your camp. Here's a guide to help you elevate your car camping game.

1. Choose the right vehicle

Spacious and versatile

Opt for a vehicle with ample space and versatility, such as an SUV, van, or a wagon. These vehicles provide enough room to store gear, sleep comfortably, and move around without feeling cramped.

Comfort upgrades

Consider adding roof racks for extra storage, or a rooftop tent to free up interior space. Investing in a comfortable mattress or sleeping pad designed to fit your vehicle's dimensions can significantly enhance your sleeping experience. When it comes to choosing a tent, keep in mind that the desert floor might be rock-hard come October, meaning pounding those stakes in may require extra effort.

2. Essential gear for stylish comfort

Quality sleeping setup

A good night’s sleep is crucial. Equip your vehicle or your tent with a high-quality, inflatable mattress or a memory foam mattress topper. Add soft, warm bedding such as a down comforter and plush pillows.

Cooking in style

Bring along a portable stove or a compact grill. Upgrade your culinary game with a cooler that can keep perishables fresh for days, and pack ingredients for gourmet meals. Don’t forget the French press for your morning brew.

Lighting ambiance

Invest in LED string lights, lanterns, and headlamps to create a cozy and functional lighting setup. Solar-powered options are great for sustainability and convenience.

3. Organize for efficiency and aesthetics

Smart storage solutions

Use storage bins, organizers, and cargo nets to keep your gear tidy and accessible. Designate specific areas for cooking supplies, clothes, sleeping gear, and recreational items. This organization not only looks good but also saves time and stress.

Compact and multi-purpose fear

Opt for gear that serves multiple purposes, such as a folding table that doubles as a storage unit or chairs that can convert into loungers. This minimizes clutter and maximizes space.

4. Create a cozy outdoor living space

Outdoor furniture

Set up a comfortable outdoor living area with foldable chairs, a portable table, and a pop-up canopy or tarp for shade and rain protection. Rugs and floor mats can add a touch of homey comfort.

Personal touches

Decorate your space with personal touches like throw blankets, cushions, and even a few potted plants. These elements make your campsite feel more inviting and stylish.

But be smart

Keep a few things in mind when setting up your living space:

  • The fall is not normally windy in the desert, but don’t be surprised if a gust or two come along. Be sure everything is well secured.
  • Be bear aware: Yes, there really are bears in Bears Ears—and lots of other animals. Keep your site clean and pack away all food when not in use.
  • Choose your sites carefully: Minimize your impact by camping in a spot that’s obviously been camped in before. Don’t cut down trees, carve into rocks, or leave a mess.

5. Entertainment and leisure

Tech and gadgets

Bring along a portable speaker for music, a tablet or e-reader for movies and books, and a power bank or solar charger to keep your devices powered.


Pack items for outdoor activities: Hiking, mountain biking, Frisbee, Uno, and more. Having a variety of activities planned ensures you can make the most of your time outdoors.

6. Maintain cleanliness and hygiene

Clean and fresh

Keep a portable shower and a privacy tent for personal hygiene. Biodegradable soap and a set of quick-dry towels are must-haves. Use collapsible sinks or buckets for washing dishes, and pack plenty of trash bags to keep your campsite clean. Simplify your water game by investing in a large plastic water container with a built-in spout.

Eco-friendly practices

Practice Leave No Trace principles by minimizing waste and disposing of trash responsibly. Use eco-friendly products to reduce your environmental impact.

7. Plan and prepare

Research and reservations

Research your destination thoroughly and make any necessary reservations in advance. Check the weather forecast and prepare accordingly. Having a detailed plan ensures a smooth and enjoyable camping trip. Heading into the backcountry? Make sure your vehicle is equipped for the drive, and remember to fill up your gas tank (and water bottles) before you leave civilization behind.

Safety first

Bring a well-stocked first aid kit, a reliable navigation system, and inform someone about your travel plans. Being prepared for emergencies ensures peace of mind.


Car camping in style is all about combining comfort, convenience, and a touch of luxury with the freedom of the great outdoors. With the right vehicle, gear, organization, and planning, you can create a memorable and enjoyable camping experience that feels both adventurous and cozy. So pack your bags, hit the road, and embrace the beauty of nature in style!

Durango Outdoor Exchange is your destination for car camping supplies. We’ve got everything you need for a weekend (or longer) of car camping, from bike racks and stoves to tents, books, booties, headlamps, and coffee makers. Stop by, get our expert opinions, and make sure you are ready to car camp in style.

Questions: Call us at 970-259-0171.

Chase LaCroix
Chase LaCroix

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