Apopka: Sales
Mon - Fri: 8:30a - 8:00p
Sat: 8:30a - 7:00p
Sun: 12:00p - 5:00p
Kissimmee: Sales
Mon - Fri: 9:00a - 7:00p
Sat: 9:00a - 7:00p
Sun: Closed
Mobile: Sales
Mon - Fri: 9:00a - 8:00p
Sat: 9:00a - 6:00p
Sun: Closed
New Smyrna: Sales
Mon - Fri: 9:00a - 7:00p
Sat: 9:00a - 7:00p
Sun: 12:00p - 5:00p
Olympia: Sales
Mon - Fri: 9:00a - 7:00p
Sat: 9:00a - 8:00p
Sun: 10:00a - 6:00p
Vero Beach: Sales
Mon - Fri: 9:00a - 7:00p
Sat: 9:00a - 7:00p
Sun: Closed
West Palm: Sales
Mon - Fri: 9:00a - 7:00p
Sat: 9:00a - 7:00p
Sun: 12:00p - 5:00p
Level Up Your Car Camping Experience: Tips and Essentials

Level Up Your Car Camping Experience: Tips and Essentials

Posted at Thu, Nov 9, 2023 10:45 AM

Level Up Your Car-Camping Experience

So you’ve been doing a bit of car camping – good for you!

You’ve developed a routine and learned good camping skills. You know what to pack, and how much. You can pitch that tent or bed down in your vehicle like a pro. You know your way around commercial and state or national park camping areas. You’ve figured out the lay of the land, so to speak.

Now it’s time to go farther, literally and figuratively. Off-road and off the beaten path. Into the wild and – with apologies to Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters – out beyond the fences, where adventure commences, and you can gaze at the moon till you lose your senses.

You’re ready to wander over yonder. You’re ready for the backcountry.

Before we get to some insights that can help you feel like an authority your first time out, let’s talk transportation.

Going out past the pavement means you need a vehicle that can stand up to rugged conditions and provide safety, shelter and comfort while you’re on-site. If you’re shopping, consider a classic four-wheel -drive vehicle with low-range gearing as well as higher ground clearance than typical vehicles.

Set your GPS for adventure:

Fords are always up for a quest and the Bronco Sport and Expedition are particular favorites among car-campers. The Bronco Sport has standard AWD and a roof rack that can accommodate roof-top tents for those who like to sleep on, not inside, the vehicle. The cargo management system helps you organize your gear, and the rubberized floor makes clean-up easy. Plus, you can choose from a variety of camp-friendly options and accessories.

Prefer to spend your snooze time inside? The Expedition, Ford’s largest SUV, offers a roomy interior. With 10.6 inches of ground clearance (in the Timberline trim), the vehicle will take you almost anywhere, and the six-mode terrain management system makes the trip easy.

Truck campers lean toward the Ranger for its smaller footprint and trail control system that lets you take on challenging off-road routes. The F-150 is a perennial favorite for its long list of accessories and upgrades as well as its superior suspension and off-road abilities. Consider the hybrid model paired with a built-in generator if you want to bring a little power to your campsite.

No matter what your preference, you can be ready to be an expert with these tips:

Consider the total weight – the payload, also called GVWR or gross vehicle weight rating – of your vehicle as well as the volume of your gear. You can find the number in the owner’s manual or on the inside of the driver’s door jamb.

Weight is important for a couple of reasons. First, if you’re off the grid with no camp stores in sight, you’ll need to bring everything with you, from toothpaste and toilet paper to the toys that make camping fun.

More importantly, overpacking can cause serious damage to your vehicle and your experience – tire blowouts or slow leaks, engine wear, decreased fuel efficiency and decreased visibility out the back window, to name a few issues.

Do the math and don’t cheat. When you add up the poundage for the human occupants (and no, you do not weigh what you did in college), pets, sleeping bags and pads (and maybe a tent), sufficient food and water and cooking gear, a cooler, camp chairs and all the miscellaneous items you’ll need, you’ll see 1,100 coming up fast. And you haven’t even counted the kayaks on the roof rack yet.

Learn the seven principles of Leave No Trace. Good campers aim for minimal impact on the environment and don’t trash the wilderness.

To summarize:

  • Plan ahead and prepare.
  • Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit and prepare for extreme weather, hazards and emergencies.
  • Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
  • Stay on maintained trails and designated campsites, or hike on rock, gravel, sand, dry grasses or snow. Camp at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
  • Dispose of waste properly.
  • If you pack it in, pack it out. That includes trash, leftover food and even toilet paper.
  • Leave what you find.
  • Leave rocks and plants alone and never disturb cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
  • Minimize campfire impacts.
  • Use a lightweight stove for cooking and lanterns for light. Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings and keep fires small.
  • Respect wildlife.
  • Don’t follow or disturb wildlife and never feed the animals. Store your food securely.
  • Be considerate of other visitors.
  • Be courteous and yield to other users on the trail. Avoid loud voices and noises.

Set up like a pro.

  • Consider bringing a waterproof canopy, which provides shade from direct sunlight and shelter in case of rain or snow.
  • Look around for safety hazards such as dead trees or branches before parking your vehicle or pitching a tent.

Sleep like a pro.

  • Sleep with your head toward the front of the car. Flat locations are best, but if you must park the vehicle at an angle, position it so you can sleep with your head above your feet. Bedding down toward the front also gives you more elbow room.
  • Ventilation is key to preventing moisture and fogged-up windows in the cabin. Open the sunroof or a window just enough that a person or animal can’t get in.
  • Use a sleeping bag that will keep you warm. In the United States, a bag rated to 20 or 30 degrees Fahrenheit can provide toasty snoozing during most three-season outings.
  • Consider window coverings for additional privacy.

Pack like an expert.

  • In addition to the items you already know you need to bring, add headlamps and battery-powered lights to the list. They’ll help you avoid draining your vehicle’s battery.
  • Consider bringing a utility ax and a solar charger or rechargeable power pack.
  • Elevate your camp cuisine, because burgers and dogs won’t cut it.

Printable check-lists:

Safety Tips for Solo Female Travelers

And now — we nom:

Start with some pie-iron crepes for breakfast.

Almond-apricot baked brie makes a nice appetizer, followed by Cornish game hen cooked in a Dutch oven or sea bass accompanied by grilled zucchini and roast potatoes.

Finish up with strawberry shortcake. And yes, you need whipped cream. Need recipes? No problem.

Okay, you’re ready! Congrats on your promotion to expert and get out there and enjoy your expanded car-camping horizons.

Expert Level Camper Certificate

© 2024 Mullinax Ford | Privacy Policy

**The Up Front Price includes Mullinax Discounts, Factory Rebates, and Ford Credit Financing Rebates. The price may also include Trade Assist , Business Owner Rebate, or Owner Loyalty Rebate when available. For more information speak directly with a salesperson. In addition, you may be eligible for other Rebates (College, Military, or Private offers) not included in the Up Front Price. Ask your Salesperson for more details.

*Although every reasonable effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained on this site, absolute accuracy cannot be guaranteed. This site, and all information and materials appearing on it, are presented to the user "as is" without warranty of any kind, either express or implied. All vehicles are subject to prior sale. Price does not include applicable tax, title, license.

Privacy Policy| Privacy Requests