In our corner of the world, the hillsides are igniting in every shade of green under the sun, Mount Hood is starting to shed some winter layers, and the rivers are juicy with early summer runoff. We couldn’t be more excited to finally announce that car camping season is upon us!
While purists may scrutinize pack weight, freeze dry organic meals, and leave behind all but the absolute necessities, it’s hard to beat the simplicity and kid-friendliness of car camping. Plus, fresh fruits and veggies and a case of adult beverages are somehow even more enjoyable around a campfire under a blanket of stars.
If you’re new to camping, search for nearby state park, national forest, or national park campgrounds. By sticking to designated campgrounds, you’ll all but ensure that there will be plenty of resources and amenities like potable water, bathrooms, and other campers that—when bribed with sweets—might have some insider knowledge about swimming holes or nearby trails. And by staying close to home, you’ll allow for the chance to bail if something goes wrong. And, apart from national parks, these are all great places to bring pets along.
Before you embark, be sure to do some research. As camping grows in popularity, some campsites book far in advance. Plus, each site tends to have particular rules and regulations to ensure the experience is positive and safe for all visitors.
If true solitude is what you seek, research nearby public lands. More often than not these areas allow dispersed camping. There’s hardly a better feeling than rolling down the windows, listening to your tires crunch on a dirt road, and finding an epic campsite off of a spur road. In alignment with good Leave No Trace practices, only pitch a tent where you’re sure someone has done it before, and never build a new fire ring. Trust us, sites like these are all too easy to come by.
While there is always something to be said for minimalism, it’s fun to set up a home base in the backwoods. The most important piece of advice we can share: don’t let price be prohibitive. Some of our best memories have been made in garage sale gear (don’t believe us? Brendan Leonard of Semi-Rad wrote an entire blog post about it). But, if you’re in for cold, hard gear recommendations, here’s what we suggest for a casual, fair-weather weekend outside:
Rooftop Tent: Tepui Kukenam Sky Tent
Sleep Gear: Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed Duo
Camp Stove: Coleman Classic Propane Stove
Other gear considerations include camp chairs, a cooler, lights, a lightweight camp table if there is no picnic table nearby, games (light up bocce ball is always a hit), and BUG SPRAY. The best part of car camping, though, is that everyone has a different experience. The most important consideration of all, though, is ensuring your party practices the principles of Leave No Trace. That way, the wild places we roam stay wild for generation after generation.