Packing A Car For Camping

Packing A Car For Camping

There are some diehard campers that only take their backpack with them when they venture into the wilderness, but most of us prefer to have our trusty vehicle with us. Taking your car camping is commonplace as it helps you reach your destination quicker, but also gives you a whole lot of space to bring supplies along.

Just like any other aspect of camping, learning how to pack your car is a skill that gets better every time you do it. There are some car camping tips that will make life easier, so if you’re new to camping or just want to get more efficient at packing, this article could be for you.

We’ve found the best ways to pack all types of cars, from the very small to larger SUVs. With some careful planning and a knowledge of what goes where, and the things you should leave at home, you’ll be an expert at car packing for your next trip and have all of the room for the essentials.

How To Pack Different Cars

Group Of People Preparing For Camping

The size of your car will have a lot of input on how much you can take, but it doesn’t mean you need something big just to fit everything. These are some of the common types of cars people take camping and how to get the best use out of them:


A pickup is ideal for camping as there’s minimal space used by seats and passengers, and lots of space in the back. However, that doesn’t mean you should just throw everything in and hope for the best. The best approach is to store everything in large plastic containers and keep a rain cover on the back, just in case of bad weather. These cars sometimes allow for roof racks which can give you even more space.

How To Pack An SUV

SUVs seem to be made for camping, but it’s less about having the best SUV for camping and more about knowing how to pack it, and most of them are designed the same. Try not to pack anything in the seats up the front, even if they’re spare, as you don’t want things flying around near the passengers. Finally, make use of any built-in roof racks or secure other things to the top, like kayaks or tents.


It might seem smaller than an SUV, but most sedans have plenty of boot space. To get the most use out of them, you might also consider using a roof rack or tying something safely to the top of the car. This will maximize space and save anything from sticking out of the back.

Small Car

Most people hesitate to take their compact car camping, but there’s no reason it doesn’t have enough room. You may need to limit what you’re carrying and probably use the back seats for storage, but it’s got ample space for a family of four when done right. It’s all about using the space wisely and learning camping gear storage ideas, like nesting items inside one another.

Car Packing Tips

Regardless of what type of car you have, there are some tips that are always going to be useful. Keep these things in mind and adjust them to suit your vehicle, as you may have more or less room than required.

Plan, Plan, Plan

Checking Campers List

Write a list a few days before you go, the morning that you leave, lay all of the items out next to your car so you can look at them. This will help you pack correctly and get it in the right order the first time.

Heavy First

Lay the foundations with the heaviest items first and then pack on top of them. Large containers and kitchen boxes are good ideas for what should be on the bottom.

Leave Holes

Don’t just try to fill in every single space as you pack, because you’ll inevitably have to go back and do it again. Try to leave holes of various sizes that can be filled once you’re done by packing in the last minute items.

Zippers Out

Packing any bags with zippers on them should be done carefully so that the zipper is up and easily accessible. That way if you need anything on the trip you’ll be able to get to it easily.

Sleeping Pad Versatility

Instead of storing sleeping pads and bags all rolled out, unroll them and use them in the packing process. They can be a bumper between two items or used to stuff into spaces to prevent moving.

Timing Is Everything

If you’re going to be arriving late, you’ll want your camp kitchen readily accessible so you can cook first and unpack later. Think about timing and how it relates to the order you’re packing things in.

Snap A Picture

Packed Car

When you’re all packed, take a quick picture on your phone of the finished product. This will help you recreate it quickly on the way home and save time.

Making The Most Of Your Car When Camping

When the trip is over and it’s time to head home, it’s important to spend just as much care and thought packing your car to leave as you did when were leaving. By planning it out and putting things away in their correct space, the work once you get home to unpack the car will be minimal and it won’t feel like a chore.

There are plenty of benefits to taking your car along on a camping trip, but most of them are only possible when packed correctly. Take your time planning and organizing the space you have to truly get the most out of our vehicle.