Checklist before taking your car camping

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Gearing up for a camping trip? Better get your gear in check. Sure, there are sleeping bags, roll mats, and mountain money (aka toilet paper) But as well as keeping you and your campfire companions cozy, it’s important to remember that your car is coming along for the ride too. Adventures are fun—till you get a flat tire in a rainstorm.

To make sure car trouble doesn’t get in the way of the good times, here’s a checklist of must-have driving essentials, plus some extra tips for the perfect camping trip.

car camping checklist

Battery powered jump-starter

Flat tire repair kit (sometimes these two come in the same handy tool)

Windshield wiper fluid

Fire starter—lighter is fine

Fire extinguisher (Smokey the bear will salute you)

2-3 gallons of water

A small gas can

A sturdy tarp

A multi-tool

Flashlights and extra batteries

A roll of duct tape (and a roll of loo paper)

Paper towels

2 quarts of oil

1 quart of antifreeze

Extra car fuses

Marshmallows (lots!) chocolate bars, and graham crackers. Do. Not. Leave. Town. Without. These.

other camping tips for drivers

Make sure you know the score when it comes to campsite options. If you want comfort—a designated camping site is a must. If you want solitude, choose a dispersed site. National Parks, Forests and Tribal lands all have their own rules and regulations around check out, prices and facilities. Call ahead to check the deal. Private land is always an option—ask first!

Give your car a once-over before you go. Check the car maintenance intervals for the key parts in case it’s time to replace any components. Consider taking it for a full service before you head for the hills, but at the very least top up the fluids and check the oils.

Check your tires. If you’re heading off-road then you may need to change your regular rubber for something more appropriate for the terrain. This is especially important if you expect snow or rain.

If you’re feeling that call to the wild, but don’t think your car can hack the wilderness, then it might be time to change things up. Bid farewell to your old junker—sell it to Peddle—and get yourself an SUV that’s ready to roar.