Car Camping Essentials

Car Camping Essentials

Various situations can arise while car camping or overlanding, that will require certain tools and gear to ensure the safety of yourself and whoever you are with. Check out this list of the best Car Camping Tools:


A good multitool is important to have in your glovebox for when you need it. A multitool provides you with a variety of helpful tools to ensure you have the right tool for the job when a situation occurs.

The Gerber Truss Multitool comes with tools from pliers to wire cutters to knifes and bottle openers. It is high quality and I recommend it.

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Jump Starter

In certain situations, you may end up with a dead battery, and in that case, you will need a way to get your car running again. A jump starter is an easy piece of gear that you can pack that could save you in one of these situations.

For a compact option you should check out the NOCO Boost 1000 Amp 12-Volt UltraSafe Jump Starter.

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For a more heavy-duty option that has even more power and extra capabilities, such as an air compressor and power station, check out the DEWALT Power Station Jump Starter.

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Emergency Food and Water

In the unfortunate event of your car dying and not being able to be jump started, you could end up stuck for an extended period of time. If you are stranded for a while, you will need food and water to keep yourself alive and functioning. Always pack more water than you need in case of emergency. I recommend at least 2-3 days’ worth beyond your planned stay.

Also be sure to pack plenty of dried food in your vehicle. You can pack a couple boxes of granola bars for safe measure.

First Aid Kit

When you are exploring nature and exposed to the elements, you could fall and hurt yourself, get cut on a rock or tree, or get attacked by an animal. Not to mention when cutting firewood or food you could end up cutting yourself and need medical attention. Always bring a good quality first aid kit to ensure that you can tend to yourself in emergency situations.

For a good quality first aid kit, check out the 80 Piece First Aid Kit from the Ready Project.

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80 Piece First Aid kit

If you are looking for a more complete first aid kit, which is recommended in case of extreme situations, I suggest the Professional First Aid Kit from the Ready Project.

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Professional First Aid Kit

Fire Extinguisher

While driving a mechanized vehicle that runs on gas, there is always the possibility that something could combust. Additionally, when you have a campfire there is always the possibility that the fire could get out of control. For these reasons it is extremely important to always bring a fire extinguisher while overlanding.

I recommend the Kidde FA110 Multi Purpose Fire Extinguisher.

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Bear Spray

If you like camping in the mountains, it is possible that you could come across a bear. Bear spray is something every overlander or camper should carry with them as a defense against one of mother nature’s most powerful animals. Additionally, it can defend you against other types of animals.

I recommend the Maximum Strength Bear Spray by Mace Brand.

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Spare Tire and Jack

Always bring a full-sized spare tire when off-roading. This as been discussed in our previous articles, but I always want to reiterate it’s importance. If you end up with a flat tire out in the backcountry, you will need a full-sized spare to ensure that you can get back home safely and without major car damage. A smaller sized donut will cause serious damage to your driveshaft and suspension components and will likely not get you through many off-road obstacles. Make sure to invest in a full-sized spare tire.

Also make sure that you have the right gear to change your tire. Invest in a good jack such as the Pro Lift Bottle Jack.

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Traction Board

Often on my off road adventures I am traveling with only one vehicle. This means it is especially important for me to get myself unstuck without any help. Although I often run into other 4X4 enthusiasts along my travels, I cannot bet that they will cross my path if I get stuck.

Traction boards can be an easy way to get unstuck if your wheels cannot get traction in mud, sand, or snow. On one of my recent trips to the remote desert of eastern Oregon, I ran into many hidden mud and sand pits. If I got stuck and could not get out, who knows how long I could have been stranded.

I recommend the Maxsa Escaper Buddy Traction Board.

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Recovery Strap

Using a recovery strap is a great way to get unstuck, get over a steep climb, or get a car upright after rolling. However, you need another rig to pull yours with the strap.

Even if you are a solo adventurer, you may run into a situation where you need the help of a passerby and a recovery strap would solve your problems. You may also run into someone else in need and want to help them out of a sticky situation.

Throw a strap in your trunk for a rainy day. I recommend the Rhino Recovery Strap.

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Cooking Gear

How do you eat on the trail? Personally, I love cooking gourmet meals on the trail. There is nothing like a tasty dinner with a beautiful view outdoors. I used to cook with a cast iron over the fire but have recently upgraded to a propane stove. You can bring charcoal grills, or cooking grates to grill over a fire. Whatever you bring make sure you have everything you need to stay fed and satisfied.

For more information on overland kitchen setups and cooking gear, check out our article on Camp Kitchen Setups.


Sunrise through camping tent in wide open desert

Overlanding allows many options for your sleeping situation. You can keep it simple and sleep in the trunk of your car or the front seat. You can hammock camp. You can buy a ground tent for shelter, my personal go to. You can even buy a rooftop tent and sleep elevated from the ground, just be ready to drop a couple thousand.

Additionally, a roof rack awning provides extra shelter at camp in addition to your tent, and is quick and easy to set up.

There are many options for shelter, just find what works for your given situation. Check out our article on Shelter Options for Overland Camping for more information.

I personally use the Coleman Steel Creek Fast Pitch Tent.

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