The last word information to automobile tenting

There are as many alternative methods to camp as there are campers—from glamping to overlanding and backpacking, you may personalize your expertise within the open air. When you’re new to tenting or on the lookout for a brand new method to get outdoors, contemplate automobile tenting. 

20 overlanding necessities: Gear and devices for the last word off-road tenting journey

How is automobile tenting completely different from tent tenting? It’s easy—you sleep in your automobile as an alternative of a tent. Automobile tenting is a low-barrier and cozy method to benefit from the open air with out investing in costly tenting gear. However even when automobile tenting, you may nonetheless select to drag as much as a campground and arrange a tent. 

a view of red rocks and water from the back of an open hatchback door
Photograph: Shannon Farrell

One of many many benefits of automobile tenting is your capability to decide on how, when, and the place you sleep. This contains stealth tenting. Just like boondocking, stealth automobile tenting is free tenting the place you sleep in your automobile with out drawing consideration to your self. You’ll be able to stealth camp in wild and concrete areas—however be cautious of native legal guidelines and keep secure. 

Are you prepared to look at the dawn over the mountains out of your automobile window? Or pull over to sleep everytime you really feel prefer it on a protracted street journey? 

11 states in 14 days: Automobile tenting alongside essentially the most well-known routes within the U.S.

Learn how to get began automobile tenting


Probably the most enjoyable elements about automobile tenting is researching all of the cool methods folks do it and discovering out what works greatest for you. YouTube is a worthwhile useful resource in studying arrange your car with no matter area you might have. 

Visiting and supporting native gear shops will make it easier to be taught in regards to the gear it’s possible you’ll want, like a camp range. 

Becoming a member of Fb teams and Reddit boards provides you entry to folks inside the automobile tenting group. Additionally they provide used gear offers and solutions to questions you didn’t know you had. 

two cars are parked on a scenic mountain overlook next to a popped tent
Photograph: Shannon Farrell

Purchase and outfit your automobile 

Your car is a very powerful a part of automobile tenting. A automobile you already personal will most certainly suffice on your automobile tenting wants. Simply make certain it’s dependable and spacious sufficient so that you can sleep and retailer gear. 

You’ll want applicable gear for tenting, roadside necessities, and anything you plan to make use of outdoors, like a climbing pack, trainers, or fishing gear. 

Discover native 

Earlier than you begin planning a cross-country itinerary, think about using your first automobile tenting journey as a possibility to be taught extra about your native space. Begin in a close-by park or campground. State parks are a good selection as they provide actions, facilities, and different assets to assist ease you into a brand new form of tenting. 

From tobogganing to spelunking: Wild and peculiar experiences await at these state parks

Learn how to choose a automobile for tenting

What makes a car preferrred for automobile tenting? The very best vehicles to sleep in have all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive capabilities. You must search for a car with loads of cargo area and weight capability. 

The very best car to sleep in is one which’s dependable, secure, and safe on and off the street. It’s additionally value contemplating automobiles with good gasoline mileage and even electrical vehicles, that are rising in popularity for automobile tenting

Listed here are some standard fashions for automobile tenting: 

  • Jeep Wrangler
  • Subaru Forester
  • Subaru Outback
  • Toyota 4Runner
  • Hyundai Kona Electrical

No matter what car you drive, don’t let it cease you from automobile tenting. Even a small automobile like a Toyota Prius could be appropriate with the correct setup. 

Automobile tenting necessities  

Automobile tenting necessities range broadly primarily based on the particular person, climate, and vacation spot, however here’s a record of requirements to get you began.


Coolers aren’t solely essential for preserving meals however in addition they can be utilized as a desk, camp chair, or beer fridge. Options to search for in a cooler are ice life, insulation, sturdiness, and dimension.  Look to Yeti, Pelican, and Canyon Coolers, which supply viable choices relying in your wants and price range. 

The very best coolers for the campground


You’ll rapidly discover that navigating across the campground by telephone flashlight or firelight received’t minimize it. It’s value investing in lighting for utility and ambiance functions. Headlamps, lanterns, and even photo voltaic string lights will do the trick. 


Group is vital for maintaining all the pieces orderly whereas automobile tenting in a small area. Put money into cheap bins to separate your kitchen provides, toiletries, clothes, outside gear, and different belongings. You’ll be able to even designate areas of your automobile for particular objects so you may rapidly discover, pack, and unpack all the pieces you want. 

a green hatchback car with its trunk open with a bed setup in the back
Photograph: Madeleine Balestrier

Sleeping pad

Except for the car, your sleep system is essential. There are a number of methods to method the way you wish to arrange your automobile for sleeping. Would you like a system that simply folds up for day use? Are you touring solo or with a associate? You’ll be able to even construct a sleeping platform to create more room and group. 

To maintain issues easy, begin by investing in a top quality sleeping pad. A sleeping pad could be something from a self-inflating pad to an expensive mattress topper. 

Different objects to contemplate on your sleep system are pillows, sleeping baggage, blankets, and quilts. You may additionally wish to carry a tent for nights whenever you wish to change issues up. 


Quite a lot of stoves work for automobile tenting. A preferred and inexpensive possibility is the basic two-burner Coleman range. When you’re touring solo, a backpacking range just like the MSR PocketRocket is ample sufficient and saves area. Different objects so as to add to your camp kitchen are a forged iron skillet, sharp knife, camp sink, utensils, and a folding desk. 

Should-have RV kitchen equipment

Water storage

You’ll want water for consuming, cleansing, and washing. All the time have loads of water in a storage container. If you recognize you’ll be tenting close to water sources, contemplate investing in a water filter

a green hatchback car with its doors open is parked on a scenic mountain overlook
Photograph: Madeleine Balestrier

Automobile tenting suggestions and tips 

  • Crack open reverse home windows whenever you sleep for a cross breeze and to keep away from moisture build-up within the automobile. 
  • Buy a GPS and satellite tv for pc communicator for off-the-grid contact, and let somebody know your plans. 
  • Boil water, pour it right into a heat-safe water bottle, and place it in your sleeping bag for extra heat on chilly nights.
  • Convey pre-packaged meals, like in a single day oats or pancakes, or plan one-pot recipes for whenever you want a simple meal with minimal cleanup.
  • Carry money for native outlets and campgrounds that may not settle for bank cards. 
  • Obtain maps, films, music, and podcasts to be sure to can entry them even with out mobile phone service. 

Learn how to plan a automobile tenting journey 

Touring on a whim with out a plan could be releasing, however for newbie automobile campers, plan your journey forward of time. It will ease stress and assist keep away from some unforeseeable circumstances.

Here’s a record of apps and web sites to assist plan a automobile tenting journey:

  • Roadtrippers options all the pieces from campgrounds to issues to do, locations to eat, and street providers alongside the best way. 
  • Campendium helps you discover locations to camp, with in-depth evaluations from different Campendium customers. The app options boondocking websites, free campgrounds, RV parks, and extra. 
  • iOverlander options locations to camp off-the-beaten-path. It’s helpful find locations to stealth camp in city locations, like Walmart and Cracker Barrel.
  • In a single day RV Parking is one other useful resource for locating stealth tenting choices.
  • is a good useful resource for locating federal campgrounds, like Bureau of Land Administration (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service websites. You can even make reservations by means of this web site. 
  • GasBuddy is an app that will help you discover the most cost effective gasoline in your street journey. 

Different assets which are standard with automobile campers embody Google Maps and AllTrails. It’s additionally value checking with gear shops in your vacation spot as these will usually share native suggestions and present situations. 

How do I comfortably camp in my automobile? 

To comfortably camp in your automobile, begin by investing in a sleep setup, evaluate native ordinances if stealth tenting, and perceive your car’s security precautions. 

How can I maintain my automobile cool whereas tenting? 

To maintain your automobile cool whereas tenting, you can also make or buy insulation shades, sleep with reverse home windows cracked open for a cross breeze, and use a battery-powered fan. 

The place can I sleep in my automobile legally? 

You’ll be able to legally sleep in your automobile in campgrounds, choose companies, some relaxation stops, customer facilities, BLM Land, and different locations throughout the U.S. For specifics to your space, make the most of In a single day RV Parking or the opposite standard automobile tenting apps and web sites listed above. 

Do I must crack a window to sleep in my automobile?

It’s secure to go away your automobile home windows shut whenever you sleep in your automobile so long as the engine is off, however you’ll most certainly be extra snug if you happen to go away your home windows open barely (relying on the local weather).

The place is the most secure place to sleep in your automobile?

The most secure place to sleep in your automobile is in authorized automobile tenting areas, whether or not that’s a campground, BLM land, huge field retailer, relaxation cease, or a customer heart. 

How do you cowl a window sleeping in a automobile? 

There are a number of methods to cowl a window whereas sleeping in a automobile. You should purchase window covers or curtains or purchase a roll of Reflectix (insulation) materials and make your individual window covers. 

Automobile tenting could be staying at or close to a trailhead earlier than spending a couple of days climbing within the backcountry. It may be pulling into a brand new city late at evening or waking as much as a spectacular view on public lands. 

Learn how to discover a secure place to park your RV or van for the evening

It may also be a method to save cash throughout a cross-country street journey. It provides you the flexibleness to sleep wherever you need as a result of you’ve gotten all the pieces you want in your automobile. Automobile tenting is simply one other car, actually and figuratively, for an journey into the outside.    

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