The best car camping gear to bring on the road with you, from mattresses to fire pits

Car camping is on the rise. In July 2020, interest skyrocketed as UK accommodation prices soared and more people were looking for adventure on home shores.

As an affordable solution that doesn’t involve booking a campsite or pitching a tent, car camping allows you to explore more, park up almost anywhere (within the law), and wake up to spectacular views and gorgeous sunrises. Plus, as a car offers more protection than a tent, it means your camping season can be extended beyond September and October, as it’s much easier to keep warm in the car during the depths of winter.

But as with any kind of camping trip, getting the right gear is essential. And while you need fewer accessories with car camping, there are a few must-pack items you’ll need.

The most important, perhaps, is the mattress and finding one that will offer a flat, comfy bed to snooze on can make or break a trip, so you’ve got to choose wisely. Your bedding choice is also important: some opt for a duvet and pillow, but in colder weather, you will need a reliable thermal sleeping bag.

Then there are the accessories that will elevate your car camping experience. You could consider a side or tailgate awning, which creates a “living space” just beyond your car doors, and you’ll want some good tech, like portable speakers, lighting and a powerbank to charge your devices when you’re not running the car’s engine.

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Our writer has tested all the equipment in this round-up rigorously, putting it through its paces on a camping trip to the Cotswolds. Each item has been tested both on the road and in the home, ensuring their longevity with multiple use. So, if you’re planning on a car camping adventure this summer, our guide to the essential kit is sure to make your trip a breeze.

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