Five Useful Car Camping Tips For Beginners

By: Abby Fountain

Escaping into the woods is about living simply and enjoying the moment, the people, and the views right before you. However, for people just starting to dip their toes into the outdoor adventure life, car camping offers a safer, more accessible way to learn and grow confidence in the outdoors. These five tips will turn you into an expert car camper in no time. 

Plan Ahead

Colorado, and the West in general, is crowded with people who love car camping. Not only will you make friends, but you’ll need to plan and reserve a spot for your car and tent. Figure out where and when you’d like to camp and scour the internet to snag a reservation. If you’re looking to camp in National Parks during peak summer months, you’ll likely need to plan ahead by an entire season. BLM and Forest Service land offers more freedom regarding camp spots, permitting, and reservations.

If just winging it is more your thing, bookmark and use that as a resource to find a site that suits your fancy. And no, they won’t all be fancy.

Get Your Car Camping Essentials Kit Squared Away

You don’t want to be hungry, ready to whip up a delicious meal, only to discover you’ve forgotten a pot or spatula. Car camping is made that much better by bringing along some items you wouldn’t otherwise pack in your 70-liter backpack and take on a multi-day hike. However, creating an inclusive, organized car-camping kit can take years of trial, error, and eating your spaghetti dinner with a stick. 

Fortunately, JonBox has taken the guesswork out of this endeavor by assembling the best car camping box for outdoor experts, beginners, and everyone in between. JonBox knows that experiences in the wilderness are transformative, but not everyone had the opportunity to learn how to recreate safely in the great outdoors. That’s why JonBox Founder Jon Leeter, took his decades’ worth of experience as a wilderness therapy guide, trail builder, and paramedic and made an all-encompassing wilderness kit. 

The JonBox contains over 50 car camping and wilderness preparedness essentials, including a comprehensive medical kit, axe, shovel, water filter, solar charger, and more. You’ll want for nothing with the JonBox along on your next car camping adventure.

Pack Your Favorite Luxury Items

Backpacking trips don’t often allow for creature comforts like a full-size pillow, speaker, camp chair, or even fun string lights to set a vibe each night (although our lights are 3 oz of extra weight we can make a pretty good case for), but car camping sure does. Don’t scrimp on bringing along items that will help you get a good night’s sleep, cook a tasty meal, or kick back between trees in the afternoon and swing life away. Set up a welcoming living room and have the neighborhood campers over for craft cocktails, or deck out your tent with fluffy blankets, pillows, and fairy lights for a dreamy make-shift bedroom.

Pack It Out

Following this Leave No Trace principle is as essential when camping in designated spots as in the backcountry. Before leaving home, minimize trash and waste by first choosing items that don’t come in single-use containers. For items that do, repack them in reusable containers, eliminating unnecessary packaging and micro trash that could easily get lost in the dirt. Stay aware of your trash while you’re spending time at your campsite. Keep your camp organized and have adequate waste and recycling receptacles. Pack out everything, including organic materials, that will likely attract wildlife after you have gone home.

Respect All Living Things

Car camping is inherently noisier than backpacking. You’ll likely bring fun items like a speaker, lights, and games. This is all good as long as you remember to respect the humans and animals occupying the space around your site. Keep noise to a minimum and turn off bright lights after dark. Don’t let your car run to charge things like your camera batteries or phone; instead, pack a portable solar battery pack or let your phone die and take snapshots with your mind. Remember that people retreat from civilization for many reasons: to connect with a loved one away from routine, to witness completely new sights, and to give the five senses a break.  

A last-minute weekend in the wilderness is made possible with a bit of knowledge under your belt and a JonBox in the trunk. Dip out of real life and breathe in the wild air waiting for you just over the mountain pass.