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WHAT IS CAR CAMPING
We mention “car camping” quite a bit on this site, and some readers interpret this phrase quite literally, as “pulling into a campsite and sleeping in your car”. Makes sense, but doesn’t sound like much fun. But no, you do sleep in a tent or in a camper, not your car. Car camping simply means that you load up all of your gear for the trip in your car, pull into your campsite, and set up your tent on a designated tent pad. This experience can be called “base camping” as well, just near your car, instead of say, a few thousand feet below Mt. Everest. When car-camping, there's no hiking or backpacking involved in getting to your site, so the weight of your gear, or how much you pack, is of little concern as long as it all fits in your car. There's no need to skimp on any of the luxuries that will make your weekend comfy and unforgettable. See our suggestions on what to take on any trip. That means you're free to pack an air mattress, 2 coolers worth of food and drinks, and a whole bunch of cast iron to cook over the coals. You are going to cook coals, right? Good. If not, rent one of our propane stoves.
Car camping is typically done at state and local parks around the US, or you can find your own camp sites in areas that allow “dispersed camping”. And, there are privately owned campgrounds too. Campgrounds usually offer a couple of different types of sites, depending on how much “roughing it” you want to do. There are RV sites with 50 amp electrical breakers and running water, tent sites with electricity and water, and "primitive" tent sites with nothing but a fire ring and a picnic table. Choose the one you feel most comfortable with, but keep in mind, the more frills you want, the more you will pay.
Most campgrounds are quite modernized, complete with shower houses, flush toilets, and even laundromats in some cases. Heck, I car-camped once with free Wi-Fi throughout the campground! See our selection of car-camping tents for rent.
So you see, car camping has a lot of advantages and is recommended as a good first step as a wilderness experience before tackling a backpacking trip. And I would highly suggest skipping the cast iron skillet while backpacking.