Car Camping TentWhether the campsite is the main attraction is the major attraction or to be used a base camp for nearby activities, car camping has become a summer pastime for a lot of people these days. Car camping involves loading up all your gear in a car, truck, SUV, van, or mobile home, pulling into the desired camp site, and then setting up the tent on the chosen tent pad. This type of camping is also called “base camping”.

Car camping involves no backpacking or hiking to get to the site, so how much you pack and the weight of gear will not matter as long as they fit in your car. One need not hold back on the luxuries that will make the weekend comfortable and relaxing such as air mattresses, coolers, cooking wares, etc.

This type of camping is usually done at local and state parks in the US, in privately owned campgrounds, or you can choose camp sites that permit “dispersed camping”. Various campgrounds offer special sites, depending on your preferences and lifestyle, such as:

  • Amusement Parks – several amusement parks charge fees for parking, while some also have special areas for RV’ers.
  • BLM Land and Federal Wildlife Refuges – ideal for bird-watching or viewing wildlife at dawn. Overnight camping are sometimes allowed, but make sure to ask the ranger first.
  • Casinos – Overnight camping are also sometimes permitted, and even a complete RV hookups.
  • Parking lots – A lot of 24-hour Wal-Mart stores unofficially allow car camping overnight on their parking lots, as well as several restaurants, shopping malls, etc. However, never stay longer than 12 hours, and make sure to leave by 9:00AM or when customers start arriving. Regular courtesy requires buying something at their store or eat at the restaurant.
  • Rest Areas – Police usually let car campers stay overnight and these places are often very well patrolled, but in some areas car camping is not allowed (generally imposed to keep vagrants, delinquents, solicitors, etc. away).
  • RV Campgrounds – these are the most obvious place to spend car camping. Amenities, however, differ with location.
  • State parks – Do some research first to be sure that car camping and/or RVs are allowed.
  • Truck stops – Car camping in these areas are usually allowed just make sure you are not blocking truck pathways as well as buying fuel or eating a meal at the stop.

Car camping offers a lot of advantages and can be recommended before going into a backpacking or hiking adventure. Choosing the best car camping tent, on the other hand, demands careful planning and thought to find the one suitable for your needs. There are a lot of factors that need to be considered in selecting the ideal tent, but the 4 major ones are:

  • Budget – larger tents are more expensive, but they will keep you more comfortable, dry, and will not be blown away. Cheap car camping tents might get you wet when it rains, strong winds might blow it away, and ventilation might be poor.
  • Size – this includes the number of people who will be camping with you, in addition to the weight, practicality, and privacy concerns. Larger and heavier tents will adequately provide the space needed for car or base camping, but if you want more privacy, two smaller tents – one for the parents and the other for the kids – is recommended.
  • Styles/Types – camping tents are built to withstand different weather conditions throughout the seasons of the year. Choose a tent that will meet or surpass the conditions you anticipate to happen. The recommended tents are the 3-season tents (ideal for summer, spring, and early fall) and 4-season tents (used throughout the year and can handle harsh conditions).
  • Weight – this is usually an issue for backpacking tents, but not for car camping. Large tents designed to withstand harsh weather conditions are significantly heavier than the 3-season tents.

After establishing the right size, type, weight, and setting the budget for your car camping tent, there are other extra features that you might consider to help narrow down your options:

  • Doors – doors on each side of the tent are recommended.
  • Free Standing or Not – A “free-standing” tent features a pole structure that doesn’t need stakes to keep it intact and this is ideal for camping on loose sand or rocky areas. Tents that require stakes, however, can still be secured in rocky, hard ground sites.
  • High Floor Seams – low-level seams can allow for water to seep inside the tent.
  • Interior Height– several lightweight tents get light by reducing the amount of material with a lower structure. These low-slung tents are not ideal to movement inside or for someone who is claustrophobic.
  • Pockets – These are interior storage and pockets and loops along the tent walls or overhead to organize and store camping items, to suspend lights, or hang gear.
  • Poles – color-coding in poles and straps and other features helps ease the setting up of tent.
  • Rainfly – the rainfly or outer wall must sufficiently cover the tent body to provide complete protection against the rain.
  • Taped Seams – this ensure waterproofness.
  • Ventilation – look for ventilation features like flaps, mesh windows, and rainfly doors to allow air to flow freely throughout the tent.
  • Vestibule – the tent “porch” provided by a piece of the rainfly at the doorway that provides covered shelter beyond the sleeping space.

Like all other things, caring for the tent will make the tent last for several years, or otherwise they will end up useless and eventually thrown into the garbage. Here are several tips for the proper care and maintenance of tents:

  • Make sure that the tent is thoroughly clean and dry before packing it away.
  • Store your tent in a cool, dry spot where it won’t be exposed to humidity.
  • Clean the zipper coils after every camping trip to remove sand and grit and prevent wearing down the zipper sliders.
  • Seal all areas where attachments are sewn to the fly to preserve the tent’s waterproofness.
  • The majority of tents are flame-resistant but not fire-proof so keep all sources of heat and flame away from the tent fabric.
  • UV damage from the sun can make the tent fabric brittle, making it susceptible to ripping and tearing. Choose a shaded area to set up your tent and utilize the rain fly to protect the tent from the harmful UV rays.
  • Avoid wearing shoes inside the tent and provide a mat outside the tent door to reduce dirt and other materials inside the tent.
  • Remove pitch or tree sap from the tent’s surface immediately.
  • Keep the tent poles from coming together sharply with the snapping of the shock cords for it might cause bended tips. Do not scratch the coatings of the poles to prevent corrosion.
  • Lubricate pole joints, and store them in assembled position if possible.


Car camping is the use of vehicles to get to the camp site and allows more equipment to be brought along, unlike the conventional backpacking or hiking. This type of camping has become very popular in many parts of the globe and its main focus is enjoying the campsite, doing various outdoor activities, and cookouts.

Tents used for car camping covers a wide range of selection to choose from (most expensive to moderately priced ones). Most campers prefer the high end ones that are expensive but worth their investment since they get the maximum comfort and relaxation they need. The majority of car camping tents are equipped with proper beds which can be folded, pegged out, or made to stand on the ground. Supplementary features like cabins and awnings can be added to increase the space. These tents can be towed behind cars, easy to set up and dismantle, and can be made to last longer with the proper care and maintenance.

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