Gear Hub: Car Camping Essentials

If you know me, you know I’m always game for sleeping in the back of my car. From month-long cross-country road trips to trailhead naps for alpine starts and everything in between, I couldn’t even begin to calculate the nights I’ve slept in the back of various vehicles.

I just returned from my most recent road trip and can confidently say I’ve dialed in a solid (and comfortable!) sleeping and storage system. Keep reading for my top three picks for a no-build car setup!

Yakima SkyBox NX18car camping - yakima sky box

Skis, dog gear, camping necessities — the list goes on. With a wide variety of hobbies, I feel like I’m always adding more gear to my must-have list. The SkyBox NX 18 from Yakima has 18-cubic-feet of storage space for all the gear (I think) I need.

I’ve been using this cargo box for over a year and can confidently say it’s the sturdiest one I’ve encountered. The lock and internal components of the handle are made of metal, making security and strength top tier. The box opens on both sides allowing ease of access to all the things.

Being able to safely and securely store all the items my hobbies require on the top of my car allows for more passengers, dogs and overall space — and more room for sleeping!

4Knines SUV Cargo Linercar camping - liner

When I purchased my 2023 Subaru Forester, lovingly named Betty White, I knew I needed something to protect the integrity of my new car. The SUV Cargo Liner from 4Knines is exactly what I was looking for. The liner is made from heavy-duty polyester, with cotton quilted padding, waterproof film and a non-slip base. The liner secures onto the backseat headrests and perfectly drapes over the back bumper when unfolded. As someone who always has a dog in the mix, I knew protecting the bumper from nail scratches would be necessary.

Not only does this liner protect the upholstery of my cargo area and my bumper, but it has multiple zippers for split-seat configuration. This allows me to keep the liner under my dog’s crate while also being able to access one of the backseats for human passengers without bunching.

The last six months have been filled with lots of ski touring, muddy runs, car camping and a cross-country move. No matter what was on the agenda, this liner stayed in place. If you enjoy recreating outdoors but want to keep things clean — this cargo liner is where it’s at.

Klymit Insulated Static V Sleeping Padcar camping - sleeping pad

When I was packing for my most recent road trip and realized my old sleeping pad was nowhere to be found, my best friend Nikki offered to loan me hers. Little did I know I’d be falling in love! The Insulated Static V Sleeping Pad from Klymit has given me some of the best nights of sleep on the road thus far; and, as a 5’10” side sleeper, it’s not always an easy feat.

This sleeping pad is unique because not only does it have a V-shaped body-mapped design, but the carefully constructed side rails cradle you, inhibiting air movement throughout the night. This allows you to move and feel supported. Not to mention blowing it up and packing it down has been an absolute breeze — who doesn’t love added convenience when on the road?

I can’t attest to tent camping with the Insulated Static V, but it is on the top of my packing list for upcoming backpacking trips. The sleeping pad comes with a matching bag keeping everything neat and tidy when not fully blown up. If you’ve yet to find a comfy sleeping pad for all your adventures, be sure to check out Klymit’s Insulated Static V!