Written and photographed by Megan Champion
Luxury or Newfound Necessity?
“Why do you like sleeping outside? Don’t you worry about bears/bugs/snakes?”
“I need a bed and A/C…camping is not for me.”
“Don’t you miss showering?”
If you like to go camping, I’m sure you’ve heard all these questions before, often with an incredulous look and maybe even an eye-roll. Don’t get me wrong - camping is not for everyone, but it is for me!
I love the feeling of totally disconnecting and being in the wilderness. I love the campfires, the tent snuggles with my golden retriever, Apollo, and the contrast in my life. Going from the comforts of modern convenience to roughing it, just ever so slightly, makes me appreciate the hot water in my shower and the softness of my ‘real bed’ much more.
I have to say that car camping, as opposed to backpacking, is extra nice because you don’t *have* to rough it so much. You can definitely bring some of the luxuries that you have at home to your campsite. It takes a little bit of practice to know what to bring, so I am going to save you the trial and error I went through and share my favorite luxury items to bring camping!
Let's get packing:
1) Battery Operated Fan
I live in the southeast where hot and humid are the only two feelings in the summer. To help alleviate some of the heat, we purchased a battery-operated fan. It has a hook so I can hang it from the top of the tent and it even has a light on it too. The fan keeps the air moving inside the tent and makes things just a little more tolerable on those extra hot nights!
One of the reasons I like to camp so much is the feeling I get being totally immersed in nature and a hammock is part of how I get that feeling. ENO hammocks are super easy to set up (takes maybe 3-5 minutes) and are SO comfortable that you may not even miss your bed at home. Apollo even joined in on the hammock love and for a while it was the only place he would actually ‘chill’ at camp! He loves taking a nap in there and will beg to get in with us. Our hammock is the vibrant Tundra print. I love how much it pops at camp and how it is inspired by the landscapes we explore. You can see how it looks like it has streams, rolling hills, and it gives me a fun nature vibe.
3) Easy Fire Starters
I know everyone has their hacks to start a fire, but for ease and convenience, I purchased a box of easy-light fire lighter bricks. They aren’t too expensive, individually wrapped, and are weather resistant (a very handy feature if your fire pit happens to be a little damp). I typically build my fire ‘log cabin’ style and put the fire lighter right in the middle…it gets it going pretty fast!
4) Quality Coffee
While good coffee is subjective and you will find whatever brand works for you- I do think it’s worth finding a brand and system that you can look forward to in the morning! There is NOTHING like a cup of steaming hot coffee when you wake up and it’s chilly outside in the woods. I love the pour-over varieties (especially Kuju Coffee!) because it’s fast and tasty. I also bring a reusable water bottle that we fill with creamer to make it taste even more luxurious.
I absolutely love this blanket. It’s soft, durable, and it packs down relatively small, so it’s easy to bring along on your trips. It also has a cape clip so you can wear it around camp without having to hold it. This is great when you’re tending to your campfire, preparing a bowl of chili on your camp stove, or doing any other camp task, because it leaves you hands free and cozy! One side of the FieldDay Blanket is a fleece material and the other side is a colorful nylon shell fabric (the same fabric as their hammocks), so it does not pick up dirt easily, but if it does - it’s super easy to throw in the wash.
6) Collapsible Dog Travel Cot
This is my newest addition to my camping arsenal and if you have a dog, I highly recommend investing in one. It gives Apollo a place to be (when he’s not trying to get into our ENO hammock) and keeps him from laying in dirt or on hard ground. I finally made the decision to purchase this after we discovered he had laid in tree sap, and then I had to spend hours getting it out of his coat. Now he has a clean bed to use every time!
I love that car camping allows us to get outside and appreciate nature without sacrificing some of the amenities that I have come to appreciate. These 6 items really add to our camping experience, and I hope they give you some great ideas for your next trip.
Now…let’s go enjoy the outdoors!
Megan spends her time hiking and camping around the Blue Ridge Mountains with her husband and golden retriever (if they are not on a road-trip to another cool outdoor location in the US!). She is a long-time user of ENO hammocks due to a summer spent as a camp counselor along the shores of North Carolina all the way back in 2013. You can follow all her adventures now on her instagram @withourweekends!