27 Clever Car Camping Tricks To Try On Your Next Trip

1. Hang battery- or solar-powered string lights to light up your cozy car-sleeping evenings.

1. Hang battery- or solar-powered string lights to light up your cozy car-sleeping evenings.

No campfire, no problem: As long as the weather's nice and you have something to eat, this is all the light you need.

2. Store strike-anywhere matches in a mason jar topped with sandpaper.

2. Store strike-anywhere matches in a mason jar topped with sandpaper.

3. Build a simple platform for your air mattress to stash storage underneath if you car camp frequently.

3. Build a simple platform for your air mattress to stash storage underneath if you car camp frequently.

4. Turn a sheet into a privacy curtain by slipping binder clips into the gap between your car's plastic and upholstery.

4. Turn a sheet into a privacy curtain by slipping binder clips into the gap between your car's plastic and upholstery.

Make it ~cuter~ with that pretty tapestry from your college dorm.

5. Plop a bar of soap into old pantyhose, tie it to a water jug, and everyone can have clean hands.

5. Plop a bar of soap into old pantyhose, tie it to a water jug, and everyone can have clean hands.

6. Cover your drinks with dollar-store cupcake liners for bug-free sips in the sunshine.

6. Cover your drinks with dollar-store cupcake liners for bug-free sips in the sunshine.

You could try it with plastic wrap, but these are easier when you want a refill.

7. Secure a tarp with bungee cords for a "porch" that will keep out the rain without having to close your car doors (so you can still ~smell the rain~).

7. Secure a tarp with bungee cords for a

You'd have to eventually turn on the car to keep it from getting too warm or cold if you closed the car up.

8. Then boost up the tarp with two poles or sticks to make a covered porch for sitting, eating, and shade.

8. Then boost up the tarp with two poles or sticks to make a covered porch for sitting, eating, and shade.

9. Keep the windows open but the bugs out: cut custom magnetic window screens to attach to the outside of your car.

9. Keep the windows open but the bugs out: cut custom magnetic window screens to attach to the outside of your car.

Basically fail-proof, as long as you use plenty of strong magnets.

10. Barricade against bugs in the back by hanging mosquito netting over your open trunk.

10. Barricade against bugs in the back by hanging mosquito netting over your open trunk.

11. Hang a shoe organizer for essentials like walkie-talkies, bug sprays, and late-night flash lights.

11. Hang a shoe organizer for essentials like walkie-talkies, bug sprays, and late-night flash lights.

If you're in a car and not a pop-up camper, hang it over the front passenger seat.

12. Cut a slot in the bottom of a Glad container to avoid a squashed Kleenex box.

12. Cut a slot in the bottom of a Glad container to avoid a squashed Kleenex box.

It'll buy you time to bring the box inside if there's a surprise rainstorm.

13. Or, hook your Kleenex box onto L-brackets for a windproof paper-goods station.

13. Or, hook your Kleenex box onto L-brackets for a windproof paper-goods station.

14. Balance a foldable camping table on your bumper to create a kitchen in a small campsite.

14. Balance a foldable camping table on your bumper to create a kitchen in a small campsite.

It just needs to have legs the same height as your car's bumper.

15. Hang a closet sweater organizer on your open trunk or under a canopy for easy access to the things you need most often.

15. Hang a closet sweater organizer on your open trunk or under a canopy for easy access to the things you need most often.

16. Prevent loud tablecloth flapping: hammer in some grommets and anchor with bungee cords.

16. Prevent loud tablecloth flapping: hammer in some grommets and anchor with bungee cords.

17. Get hipster with your coffee, and boil water for pour-over or Chemex on a small propane stove.

17. Get hipster with your coffee, and boil water for pour-over or Chemex on a small propane stove.

Good coffee in the morning = a good day, guaranteed.
And reusable camp stoves are cheap.

18. Prep pancake batter in advance, and store it in disposable icing bags.

18. Prep pancake batter in advance, and store it in disposable icing bags.

When you're at camp, cut a hole in the tip and squeeze into the skillet.

19. Re-label the tops of cheap medicine containers to make a $5 packable spice rack.

19. Re-label the tops of cheap medicine containers to make a $5 packable spice rack.

20. Beat nosy bears with bear-proof canisters.

20. Beat nosy bears with bear-proof canisters.

Here, don't use a hack — be safe.
Bear bags have been used for years, but they don't always work.
Some national parks (like Yosemite) provide bear lockers, so you don't have to worry about bringing something, so do your research before you go.
Otherwise, if you're in a bear-area (bear-ea?), bring protection.

21. If you're sleeping in a tent and not your car, clear drawers = an easy-access car pantry.

21. If you're sleeping in a tent and not your car, clear drawers = an easy-access car pantry.

This is a great use of trunk space, especially if you're traveling with a family or group.

22. Know what kind of campfire works best for what you want to do, if you plan to build one.

22. Know what kind of campfire works best for what you want to do, if you plan to build one.

Love the idea of a Swedish Torch, but not the chainsaw part? Tie six pre-cut logs together with wire, and voilà.

Love the idea of a Swedish Torch, but not the chainsaw part? Tie six pre-cut logs together with wire, and voilà.

It's the perfect long-burning campfire that you can also cook on, if you have a cast-iron pot or pan.

23. Ice melts fast on hot days — help your cooler beat the heat with this quick-to-make cover.

23. Ice melts fast on hot days — help your cooler beat the heat with this quick-to-make cover.

Easy on, easy off, and you can use the cooler you already have.

24. Instead of buying expensive camping equipment, find everyday things that can serve ~dual purposes~.

24. Instead of buying expensive camping equipment, find everyday things that can serve ~dual purposes~.

That water + headlamp trick really works, btw.

That water + headlamp trick really works, btw.

25. If you'd rather wear your headlamp on your head (or avoid headlamps, period) anchor solar-powered garden lanterns in upside-down terra cotta pots.

25. If you'd rather wear your headlamp on your head (or avoid headlamps, period) anchor solar-powered garden lanterns in upside-down terra cotta pots.

Wind-proof wonders that you can put anywhere, as long as they get enough light in the day to charge their batteries.
(And of course stake 'em in the ground when you need 'em there.)

26. Pack a grab-and-go poo kit if your campsite doesn't have bathroom facilities nearby.

26. Pack a grab-and-go poo kit if your campsite doesn't have bathroom facilities nearby.

My personal rule is to only go to campsites with bathrooms, but if you're roughing it, make sure you ~actually~ leave no trace.

27. Feeling lazy?* Rent a van that's already outfitted with a bed and kitchen for just $60/night.

27. Feeling lazy?* Rent a van that's already outfitted with a bed and kitchen for just $60/night.

Happy exploring!

Happy exploring!

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