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Car Camping Essentials List: Camp with Confidence

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An overview of all the car camping essentials you need for an overnight trip.

What are you up to this weekend, why not spend a night outdoors? So often we are all bogged down by work, life, and obligations to friends and family that sometimes we aren’t up for a full weekend getaway and need something easier. That’s why overnight car camping has become so popular in recent years, it’s easy, it’s cheap and can be just enough of an escape to feel refreshed without losing the forest for the trees.

We all love a great quick getaway, so where are you going, and what do you need? This is everything you’ll need for an overnight camping trip, and how to power it with the new Infinity 1500 portable power station from Growatt!

Before we get into the car camping essentials packing list, let’s go over why car camping is the best. Car camping means loading up your car with everything you need for a night or two and hitting the road. It’s so much easier than buying a plane ticket to another city, or something like backpacking where in both circumstances you might spend days or weeks obsessing over an extra 10 ounces of weight so that you’re under the carry-on weight limits, or you’re sure that you’re able to carry that extra few granola bars on your back when hiking through the mountains.

car camping essentials

Air travel and plane tickets mean printing out boarding passes, arriving early, finding parking or taking an uber, waiting for your flight to board, delayed flights, waiting for checked luggage, taking taxis, booking hotel, expensive food, even expensive charging adapters and passports if you’re traveling internationally, and while the destination is often worth the journey, it’s important to remember that these things take time, planning, and preparation, all of which can barely be done in a weekend, and certainly not overnight.

backpacking camping

Backpacking is another form of camping that can be done overnight for those who dare. Barebones, lightweight, feet to the floor, walking from dawn to dusk backpacking can be done pretty much anywhere, and pretty much anytime, but the same limitations apply. The pack list has to be even smaller, and the gear has to be even lighter, meaning that even if you’re not paying for a hotel, it could still easily be more expensive if you’re sleeping in your $600 ultralight weight tent with a fancy synthetic down sleeping bag. The gear is a barrier, the harsh realities of the trail are a barrier, and that’s why in 2018 77 million Americans went camping and 61% of households have a family member who goes camping, but only 3.4% of total Americans go backpacking at all according to the Outdoor Participation Report.

So what is the best type of camping?

Car Camping is the ultimate fun filled, bring anything, go anywhere adventure that will leave you wondering, “Why don’t I do this more often?”

Car camping is for everyone, and it is the most common type of camping that we all do. Whether you’re a seasoned backpacker, or a first time beginner, the thing we all have in common is that we’re driving to the mountains, to the desert, to the beach, and going camping! Car camping means that we can travel at our leisure, it means that we can take what we want, and most importantly, it means we can have all the luxury items those outrageous backpackers are leaving behind. Additionally, they might want to pay attention as well because those items are usually left in the car at basecamp for when they return. 

car camping essentials list

Packing up the car and hitting the road doesn’t need to be complicated, typically there’s plenty of room for the three essentials and everything you could ever want or need; Food, Water, and Shelter are easily covered when you can bring all the things you already have, and the few that you’ll need. Furthermore, since you’re not a minimalist backpacker, you can bring the right tools for the job! No more tiny backpacking stoves, refillable water bottles and sleeping bags, now you can bring full a full sized grill, plenty of water, a cooler, and your blankets from home, but also all the things that might be considered luxury items like an electric kettle for hot water, outdoor lighting and lanterns for when the sunsets, bluetooth speakers to set the vibe, and portable power station like Growatt’s Infinity 1500 to power your backcountry  journey.

When you’re camping, all food is good food, but imagine taking it to the next level while actually making your life simpler. Typically when people go camping they make a run to the grocery store for all sorts of granola snacks and power bars, maybe some dried fruit or a dehydrated meal, but what if you could simply bring your groceries that you’ve already got at home?

Even when you’re technically outside, a home cooked meal is no problem when you’ve got an electric grill powered by a portable power station that can output 2000W continuously. The world is your oyster when you can cook as if you were right at home, make any recipe, bring any food, and grill away! Furthermore, an electric cooler or mini fridge can also be powered at the same time thanks to Growatt’s best in class inverter technology and the Infinity 1500’s massive electric power storage.


Water supply shouldn’t be a problem when you can easily bring a gallon or more per person per day, but what gets even more interesting is all the lovely things car camping allows you do bring that spice up the outdoors. Want a warm cup of tea before bed, or a hot cup of coffee in the morning? Don’t bother with inefficient and small camping stoves or light up a propane burner that might not be allowed in fire prone areas, use the right tool for the job like Darbin Orvar using her electric kettle to boil water outside for her unique coffee and freshly ground beans. 

Or maybe you are in a seriously remote area and you didn’t bring enough water, or figured that you’d just refill from the local stream, that’s easy enough when your electric kettle powered by a portable power station can boil water, making it ready to drink in a minute or two.


Every king needs a castle, and every queen needs a throne, camping shelters come in many shapes and sizes but typically, car camping allows for you to bring whatever shelter or tent you’d like while also bringing your mattress of choice. For some that means a large canvas cabin with built-in bug netting and a luxurious air mattress filled by an electric air pump, for others that might literally mean a yoga mat and a sleeping bag, but hey, we don’t judge! 

The average 2 person tent is going to have plenty of room for everything you want to keep covered and dry through the night, but larger tents for couples, or the whole family might have more room for activities, and provide opportunities for things you may not have considered. On the edges of the summer camping season, the sun might begin to set earlier than normal and lighting will be not only necessary but essential for basic things like making dinner. Imagine if that in addition to your everyday lantern you also had a set of outdoor lights that could provide a warm glow over camp every night. While that might be difficult to power off of your car’s battery, it’s no problem for the Infinity 1500 which will have you covered. You can even have multiple strands of lights, one on the picnic table, one for the cooking area, and one in the tent. All of this can be plugged directly into one of the 12 outlets on the unit itself.

car camping tent

Another great use case for portable power stations in the outdoors actually allow for more people to get outside by making it possible to use power hungry electrical devices like a CPAP breathing machine or an electric heater for the tent in cold weather. These two devices are easily powered for multiple nights by the Infinity 1500, and can literally be lifesaving, and until recently, it was nearly impossible to use these devices outdoors without a loud gasoline powered generator.

Car Camping Essentials

Everyone going camping should consider packing the following items before heading out. While some of them are essential and some are nonessential, the beautiful thing about camping is that we can all choose our own adventure, and now with the advent of portable power stations like Growatt’s infinity 1500 and it’s 800W of solar capability we could easily turn an overnight car camping trip into an indefinite sabbatical.






2500+ Calories per person per day  

1Gal+ per Person per day

Tent, rain gear and backup shelter systems

Infinity 1500 to power anything and everything 

First aid kit and tool kit

Oatmeal, Nuts/seeds, fruits & flavorings 

Water filtration system or kettle to boil water & backup chemicals for safe drinking water

Clothing for all conditions including: Rainjacket & pants, Hat, Multiple pairs of shoes. 

Solar Panels for staying more than just the weekend

Alternative transportation: Bikes, Skateboards, Kayaks, Canoes, Wakeboards etc. 

Pasta & Sauce


Tarp & Coverings

Electric Grill

Passive Entertainment: Cards, board games,puzzles etc. 

Lentils & Beans


Extra ground stakes

Cooler or mini fridge

Active Entertainment: Football, Soccerball, 

Rice & Bread


Extra Rope 


A plan for: Hiking, swimming, walking, paddling, birdwatching etc. 

Meat & Fish 


Emergency Blanket/s 


Green Leafy Vegetables

Electrolyte Mixes

CPAP machine

Broccoli & Cruciferous Vegitables

Electric heater 

Fruits & Berries 

Charging cables for all devices

Chips & Salsa

Granola Bars & hiking foods

Lots of snacks!

That’s it! That’s everything you need and need to know for a successful car camping trip. The most important thing though, is while you should always be prepared for anything, definitely don’t overthink it, and always pack an extra pair of socks! 

Tips: Other stuff to possibly add


  • Sleeping bags
  • Sleeping pad, cot, or air mattress and pump
  • Hammock and straps
  • Camping blanket
  • Pillows
  • Camp chairs
  • Tent and footprint
  • Lantern

Tool Kit

Whether your tent rips or you just need to light a fire, a tool kit is an essential on your car camping checklist. These small but mighty tools will likely be a lifesaver!

  • Duct Tape
  • Lighter
  • First Aid Kit
  • Scissors or Knife
  • Multi-tool
  • Axe and Gloves (if you plan on cutting your own wood)
  • Firewood (locally sourced)
  • Paracord
  • Water Filter

Camp Kitchen

  • Sporks
  • Cooking Utensils: Skewers, Spoons, Tongs
  • Water Bottles And Water Jug
  • Camp Stove And Fuel
  • Pot And Pan
  • Coffee Gear
  • Cooler
  • Mess Kit
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Dish Soap, Sponge, And Bucket
  • Knife And Cutting Boards
  • Can Opener
  • Mugs
  • Dutch Oven
  • Tea Bags And Hot Cocoa Packets
  • Granola Bars
  • Trash Bags


  • Shirts pants
  • Wool socks
  • Bandana
  • Long underwear
  • Fleece pants
  • Sweater
  • Down Puffer jacket
  • Rain jacket
  • Sandals or crocs
  • Hiking boots


The toiletries you pack will definitely depend on whether or not you will have access to running water. On the chance that you end up at a primitive campsite, baby wipes and hand sanitizer are a must!

  • Shampoo or an all-purpose soap
  • Toilet Paper
  • Baby wipes
  • Toothbrush and paste
  • Hairbrush
  • Towel
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug repellent
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Deodorant

Car Camping Extras

Trip essentials to prep for time spent in the car.

  • Camera
  • Portable charger
  • Musical instruments
  • Book
  • Frisbee
  • Journal and writing device
  • Camp Games
  • Day pack
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