How good is car camping? Free from the zip-stretching, gram-counting limitations of hiking gear you’re free to go mental with luxury. Your car is a bottomless pit that will swallow your every desire. Camp chairs? Check. Cast iron frypan? But of course. Coasters? Mate, we’re not hiking, but hey, is there a trick to closing your boot?
It’s easy to get carried away once the four-wheeled-steed enters the equation. There’s a whole industry dedicated to car-camping gear that rivals the furniture in my apartment, but how necessary is it? Recently, in a move that you may deem masochistic, I’ve realised that we might not need it at all.
Here’s why I car camp with hiking gear:
You Can Use It Anywhere
You’ll often see my bright orange Exped snow tent hiding next to my car at the campground like some kind of gigantic fluro limpet. Nearby tents that resemble wartime field hospitals tower over my tiny dome while their owners stand, fully upright, beneath their canopies. But bugger them, I’ve only got one tent.
Whether it’s your tent, camp stove, airbed or any other piece of camp gear, you’ll be able to use a lighter weight hiking model from cliff to carpark, removing the need for the extra expense of gear double-ups (and taking the strain off your poor garage/bedroom/gear closet under the stairs when it comes to storing it).
You’re Forced To Engage With Nature
Why anyone would drive for 5 hours into the bush, spend a solid afternoon erecting a canvas homage to the Taj Mahal, only to hunker inside away from the trees, is beyond me. By taking hiking gear, you’re forcing yourself to engage with nature. And isn’t that the whole point?
Going bush helps reset your ideas of necessity. It’s all too easy to succumb to the creature comfort but you might find yourself coming away unfulfilled. Taking hiking gear keeps you minimalist and outside.
Keep The Back Seat For Mates!
You’d be amazed how much gear you can stash in the boot if everyone’s packing light. Taking the least amount of cars possible is better for the environment, tops for the petrol-money-split and slightly less excruciating for i-spy. No brainer I reckon.
Practice Makes Perfect
Some people like fiddling with new gear. In fact, some people seem to genuinely enjoy the struggle of deciphering a new piece of equipment so much that it becomes the main event. Those people are called Dads (no offence Dads) and I’m not about that life.
There’s only so much time that should be wasted sussing out a new stove or remembering which pole goes where on a glamping tent. If you’re using the same gear weekend in, weekend out, you’ll be finessed in no time, leaving more time for the main event, whether that’s exploring or chilling.
The Grab Bag
If you’ve been using your hiking gear to car camp and your gear is pared down to a minimalist singularity, you might qualify for The Grab Bag. Whether it’s a three-day sojourn through the wilderness or an overnighter at a mate’s farm, you’ll slice your packing time in half with a centralised bit of kit. Real pros might even have underwear, toiletries and whiskey ready to go, just add the specifics and hit the road.
** The author appreciates that camp chairs are pretty sweet, but advocates restraint when it comes to features.
Wondering what hiking gear to pack?